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Sep 27, 2008 06:47 AM

Dallas catfish: Hook, Line and Sinker review

I know I'm not covering new territory here, but I thought I'd chime in to add my two cents to other's reviews of this place.

My partner has been raving about Hook, Line, and Sinker, the catfish joint at McKinney and Lemmon, so we decided to eat there for dinner. The parking lot seems small, but that's because it's packed with cars at 7pm on a Friday night. We luck into a rock-star parking space, and as we walk in, the character of the restaurant is immediately obvious. It's an old style Louisiana catfish shack with a modern kitchen and a dining room tacked on. "This," I thought, "is going to be a downhome experience!"

The first thing I noticed was that the picnic benches on the porch were all packed with people who were obviously having a good time. The crowd was exuding that very positive vibe that only comes when the food, conversation and atmosphere are in perfect balance, and that made me smile! Dallas restaurants, especially in uptown, are all too often snooty places where trendy people go to eat trendy, overpriced food, and that sickens me. This was a place I wouldn't be embarrassed to bring an out-of-town friend to show that Dallasites are friendly, happy, and we can cook damned good food, too.

The order of operations is this: You wait in line to place your order, then take a number, find an open table, sit down, drink your beer and eat crackers until your food is ready. When your number is called (or your electronic puck buzzes) you pick up your dinner at the window. The tip jar at the register is for the busboys and the cooks, not for white linen service. We ordered what just about everyone does - the catfish. We also got a side of slaw and a piece of pie. They had a choice of five pies, pecan, chocolate, buttermilk, sweet potato, key lime. We chose the buttermilk.

Our luck continued to be good, as we found the perfect table outside, right off the bat. The wait for the food was a bit long, but not abusively so. At least we had the crackers and four kinds of hot sauce to snack on while we waited. Of allt he different sauces, I think I like Krystals the best in this instance. It's not as thick as the Cajun Chef and not as hot as the Tabasco, so you could really pour it on without overpowering the fish. The Tabasco Jalapeno was simply out of character for the food, and I didn't feel that it ran with the others.

When the food was ready, so were we! We fell on it like starving dogs on a pile of canned food. The fish was hot (obviously, having come from a fry vat 30 seconds earlier) and the fries were crispy. Any discussion of a catfish dinner has to begin with the main attraction - the fish. It was just about perfectt, with a flaky, perfectly cooked texture and a light, non-fishy taste. THIS is why I love catfish. The cornmeal coating wasn't overly seasoned, and had a great balance of crispness and flavor. The hush puppies were those disappointing cornmeal tubes that didn't have any onion bits in them that I could taste. They weren't awful, just typical. The coleslaw was the vinegar based sort, tasty without being greasy like many mayonnaise based ones are. It was very tasty, and I'd suggest it.

All in all, we had a great time! Next time we eat fish, I think we'll try Bill's in Arlington. I seem to remember that it was pretty damned good, and they serve the side dishes family style, so you can get all the pinto beans you want, covered in that delicious chow chow they serve. I hope Brad likes it as well as I liked Hook Line and Sinker!

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  1. Try Catfish Heaven in Princeton, TX. Really good.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kingofkings

      Is Catfish Heaven a buffet? Saw that place one time but have never been. What is good there, can you give a small report?

      1. re: Dallassooner

        It is not a buffet. The catfish, shrimp and oysters are cooked to order. There is a salad and potato bar.

        Really good coleslaw. Really good homemade pickles. The baked potatoes are old school and very good. Excellent pinto beans are also served at the salad bar. Hushpuppies.

        The catfish is my absolute favorite. Well battered, crispy, but you still taste fish. The fried shrimp and oysters are my wifes favorite.

        I recommend it. Mom and Pop (and it really is owned by a mom and a pop) places like that are disappearing every day!

    2. I like Hook, Line and Sinker. I get the fried shrimp and hushpuppies - I love those easy-to-dip-in-ranch tubes.
      If I'm not in the mood for fried food, I get the trout (the most unrespected fish out there) and it's always well-seasoned.
      Buttermilk pie is good, but if they have the buttermilk-pecan that is great!!
      On the bev front, HLS has REAL lemonade and good fresh-brewed iced tea.

      1. They also serve an amazingly grease-less whole fried catfish.

        Their grilled items are really good too. For a side, I always replace fries with grilled veggies (squash & zucchini).

        Only thing I don't really like at HL&S is the Mexican Cocktail. Bit too catsup-y for me.

        1. I love HLS, it's my go to place for grilled Rainbow trout and fried cat. They also have one of the best burgers in the city.IMHO

          1. Next time you try fish, you should wander down Mckinney for a few blocks, and visit the best seafood place in Dallas...which would be the S&D oyster company...I do not know if they do catfish, but everything they do is the best, and has been for too many years to even know at this point..As far as hushpuppies go, this is the place for the best ones in the country.....

            1 Reply
            1. re: jinet12

              Is Hook Line & Sinker a local chain or franchise? I've noticed locations in Wichita Falls and Houston.