The trick with a place like Voodoo Queen is a carefully cultivated air of nonchalance that belies just how much owners Brandon Young and Evan Shannon actually care about this little dive bar in the Second Ward. Voodoo Queen isn't too far away from their other venture, Moon Tower Inn, meaning Young and Shannon can split their time between the two and ensure that everything is running smoothly while managing to make it look incredibly easy.
Witness the food that Voodoo Queen serves every night, from 4 p.m. until 2 a.m. By all rights, Voodoo Queen doesn't have to serve food at all. It could easily exist as a blacklight-illuminated bar serving Schlitz and shots of Fireball whisky while The Crow plays on TV and fish swim lazily in the tank behind the bar. Which it does. And if this is the sole purpose you need Voodoo Queen to serve in your life, it will do so admirably. But you'd be missing out on some of the most remarkable bar food in town.
The po-boys here are my favorite item, on a surprisingly long menu that also includes sandwiches like The Dead Elvis (peanut butter, bacon, and bananas drenched in maple syrup), chicken and waffles, red beans and rice, and a so-called $20 burger on Texas toast that's actually only $9.01 (and worth every cent).
Aside from fitting the seductive bayou theme that Voodoo Queen invokes, the po-boys are truly excellent fare in and of themselves, thoughtful and expressive in even their smallest details (though purists will likely debate me over the soft, decidedly un-New Orleans-like bread they're served on). The cold-cut ham po-boy features a roasted jalapeño-ancho chile coleslaw and chipotle pimento cheese, both offering a smoky tang that's a perfect match for the thick ham. The roast beef debris po-boy is more like a short rib sandwich, the fatty roast beef dripping out of every open side, topped simply with Provolone, mayo, and crunchy red cabbage for texture.
On my most recent visit to Voodoo for a po-boy—one of the great hidden culinary treasures of the East End, I believe—I was sad to find that my roast beef po-boy was uncharacteristically salty. I ate a few bites before turning to my side of hushpuppies (as airy and crunchy and wonderful as always) and my friend's burger, chalking it up to a kitchen mistake on a manic Monday night.
But even this detail didn't escape Young, who posted a message of apology to Voodoo Queen's Facebook page the following day:
Is this more than you'd expect from a dive bar that sells sandwiches? Maybe, and that's precisely what makes Voodoo Queen so great.
Voodoo Queen, 322 Milby St., facebook.com/liquorandladies