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Southern Flavor At Boxcar Diner

On the outside, the classic-styled, shining steel diner on East Second Street may look like a throwback to the 1950s, but on the inside it’s simply home to Louisiana cooking.

The restaurant, Biscuits and Barbeque, boasting a menu of homemade Southern classics like crawfish and jambalaya dishes, opened in March 2012 under the leadership of co-owners Joan Gallo and Tom Sullivan. The pair also own The Delta Grill in Manhattan—which started bringing New Orleans to New York in 1997—and certainly understand how to make Cajun cuisine authentic, even if the Mississippi River is a few thousand miles away.

“We had another partner, who has since passed away, [and] he grew up in New Jersey,” Gallo said. “But when he was 18 years old he went down to Louisiana to work down there and he’s the one who fell in love with the food and the culture and it was his idea.”

With the added help of Sullivan, the trio set out to earn the reputation the eatery now carries. Creoles, gumbos, smoked meats and pulled pork can be found scattered about the menu although chicken and waffles may be the most popular dish, Gallo said. All ingredients are fresh and all cooking is done on the premises, she said.

“We cook everything to order and I think people appreciate the freshness of it,” Gallo said when asked about her success. “I really do…It’s not prepackaged food.”

Gallo, a Mineola resident herself, can often be found bouncing between restaurant locations. However, she is not alone in her travels. Biscuits and Barbeque receives customers from all over, including Plainview, Port Washington, Great Neck and even Staten Island, she said.

“There’s not that many places that are as authentic as we can be, being in New York,” Gallo said, attributing the business’ popularity to the rarity of Louisiana food in a Yankee state. “So I think that’s part of it too.”

But locals and those who work in the community - mostly hospital and court employees—certainly stop by during the lunch rush, according to Gallo.

Every day Patricia Lynch, a Mineola resident, can be seen sitting at the counter, sometimes twice in the same day.  

“It is everything,” Lynch said when asked if it’s the cuisine itself, the service or both she comes back for. “The food is awesome. Everything is from scratch.”

Lynch said she has many favorites the restaurant offers, including blueberry pancakes on the weekends and mac and cheese Monday through Friday.

“[The mac and cheese] has brie in it,” she said. “That’s the secret.”

Jake Cunningham, the restaurant’s manager, has worked at Biscuits and Barbeque for the last year. For him, a Manhattan resident and longtime friend of Gallo and Sullivan, the daily specials are his recommendation to new customers.

“The specials are outstanding across the board,” Cunningham said. “We have a brisket special that we provide five or six times a week and it’s very well received and very delicious.”

Although Lynch recommends the brisket for newcomers, other specials include a pork shank, which is Cunningham’s personal preference, and ribs, a customer favorite.

Gallo has also had much praise from loyal customers, which is what makes all her work worthwhile, she said.

“Every once in a while you’ll get somebody who says ‘That’s the best thing I’ve ever had,’” Gallo said, “and that can happen to me 22 times a day and I’m never going to get tired of that.”

Biscuits and Barbeque is at 106 East Second St. in Mineola and can be reached at 516-493-9799.