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[DFW] Looking for the perfect "Catfish Joint"

I'm not a huge fan of fried foods, but lately I've been craving fried catfish. I've been to 2 places in the last week and I couldn't rave about either - in fact, one was just plain bad.

Catfish Sam's in Arlington has wonderful fried catfish - non-greasy, big and meaty with a crunchy cornmeal exterior - no batter folks. Unfortunately, the sides were lackluster. And the hushpuppies were these weird tubular things that tasted like ...... nothing.

Catfish Co in Hurst is not worth a look. The catfish were more like pre-fab frozen fish sticks. The pintos were served at room temp and again - the extruded hushpuppies. What's up with those?

Over the years, I've been to Hook, Line and Sinker and of the 3, it's probably the best. It's been a while, but when I was last there, the catfish were pretty skinny (flat). If they could just serve the same meaty catfish that Catfish Sam's does, it'd be worth the drive for me (from Grapevine) for the sides and pups.

Anyone have any suggestions for good, big, meaty fried catfish filets with a cornmeal crunch, great, flavorful sides (pintos, slaw, fr fries, etc), and hushpuppies with some (green) onion and maybe a little garlic. Icy cold beer wouldn't hurt the cause!

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  1. If you don't mind the drive, the best place I've been to in a long while is actually in Princeton, about ten miles east of McKinney. It's named Catfish Heaven II. They have pinto bean soup that is wonderful. Their cole slaw is creamy and sweet. They have a salad bar that is crunchy and fresh and they have the most wonderful bread-n-butter pickles that have pickled jalapenos added. Mmmmm-mmmmm! My husband hates catfish so I haven't been in a while. My co-workers loved it and we went every Friday. The couple who owns and runs the place are ex-petroleum folks. I can't remember their names, but don't miss this place because it's a drive. Stop in to shop in downtown McKinney if you need more of a reason to go.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ltcannon

      I'm crazy about the fried catfish filets at Big Shucks. Personally, I thinks it's the best in town.
      Hook, Line & Sinker does very good catfish as well but, I really prefer the tarter sauce at Big Shucks.

    2. The Catfish House in Carrollton at Old Denton and Frankford. It's fantastic and most of the sides are really good. I am not a fan of the Hush Puppy as I always have to save my room for the fish so no help there but great Onion Rings Green Tomato Relish. Fries, cole Slaw etc. He also serves fantastic fried Oysters.

      1. Catfish Heaven II in Princeton is OUTSTANDING. We eat there regularly. My wife likes to go on Thursday for the all you can eat boiled shrimp, but I can't lay off the catfish. The beans are good, the pickles are killer, and the baked potatoes are old school.

        Places like Catfish Heaven are getting harder and harder to find.

        Wendy's up around Henrietta Oklahoma is good too.

        1. Thanks for the recs! My dog came from Princeton, so I know exactly where that is and I have a friend in McKinney, so I'll definitely have to try the catfish up that-a-way.

          I really thought there'd be many more places named. It kind of begs the question: Is good catfish in these parts as elusive as good BBQ is in these parts. Makes me wonder.

          3 Replies
          1. re: CocoaNut

            Not really there are other good catfish joints, it depends if you want all you can eat. For instance Big Easy in Plano does a decent Cat, but not quite the same since no Hush Puppies.

            I would also kinda recommend "The Duck In" http://www.theduckinn.net/ all though I have not been there in years, friends tell me it's still good. It was the best in town for many years. Also just as a side note I saw the "Blues Brothers" ... perform there years ago with Donald Duck Dunn and Matt guitar Murphy...

            1. re: irodguy

              COOL!

              Duck In would be a much more reasonable drive from GV.

              Per their website:
              "They have decided to hold on to Nellie's catfish , tartar sauce, hush-puppies, and salad dressing recipe's."

              Doesn't appear to be anything pre-fab here!

              1. re: CocoaNut

                The Duck Inn in it's day was by far the best Cats around DFW. I have to remind myself to get over there some time. The last time I was there was when the old owners still ran it. I took a 93 year old friend of mine who had a lake house there in the early 50s. She told the story to the then owner about the owners have a "bad son" who went to reform school and was a trouble maker.... The fellow replied that would be he and that reform school got him on the strait and narrow. He must have been in his 50s at least. This would account for the fact that the "kids" retired. My 93 year old friend made it to 97 and never lost her Alabama down home charm.

          2. Try Catfish Cove on Belt Line Rd. in Mesquite south of 1-30 and Belt Line. It's family owned, loyaly frequented by oldtimers. It's been there forever! Excellent breading on the fish, comes with hushpuppies, choice of fries or baked potato, with old fashioned salad bar with slaw, potato salad, marinated carrot salad, pickled okra and green tomatoes, etc. It's definitely a red neck type place, like stepping back into the 50s & 60s. Some nights featuring live oldtime country music. It's always full, especially on weekends and very reasonably priced. "It's not over until the fat lady sings!"

            1. turn it into a weekend, rent a cabin on the river or Caddo Lake and go to Big Pines Lodge near Uncertain, TX. All you can eat whole, fresh catfish tues-sat.

              1. The last place I tried and thought it was quite good, was Fish City Grill in Southlake, on Southlake Blvd. Lots of good seafood, but I go for the catfish every time. I get the cole slaw and a side of fried pickles.

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                Fish City Grill
                2750 E Southlake Blvd Ste 130, Southlake, TX 76092

                1. Flying Fish, I-30, south on Montgomery. Big Menu, Good Food. Owned by the folks that run the Flying Saucer and 8.0 in Ft Worth (and Dallas, I'm told).

                  http://www.flyingfishinthe.net/

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: dlcole

                    Thanks for the reminder of Flying Fish. I've heard about it from other sources. From looking at the menu, it reminds me of Hook, Line and Sinker???

                    Unfortunately, I've found myself on somewhat of a "diet". Cholestrol, it seems. So the consumption of this fried goodness will have to be put on hold for a bit. But, at least there are some good pointers to follow-up on!

                  2. I'm curious, is Hook Line & Sinker a local chain or franchise?

                    1. Tonite was to be the night for the Duck Inn's cats. I googled them to get the map loc and saw a couple of reviews listed, which I read - one reported that the restaurant had closed. So I called. Disconnected. Drat!

                      1. does the Addison Point still do AYCE on thurs nights?

                        1. I had to be in Dallas today, so went to the Flying Fish (Luther Ln @ Preston) for lunch and was very impressed with the flavors of most everything. Dlcole - thanks for the heads up to this little seafood dive!

                          The large fried oysters (4) were golden on the outside and so minimally cooked on the inside, it was like eating them raw with a nicely light and flavorful crispness on the outside. However, I wonder if they were farm raised , as opposed to wild, as they had a very mild taste, missing the muddy brineyness that I so like in oysters.

                          The catfish fillet, though extremely small at about 4" x 1-1/2" was equally well cooked and tasty, but to reiterate - tiny! Tiny could also be used to describe the small "poppers" of hushpuppies, of which there were only 2, but oh, my gosh - they actually carried a background flavor of onion - something that I've missed in other "manufactured" varieties that I've eaten of late. I'm certain the fries were from a bag out of the freezer, but they were respectable. With all of this fried goodness, the grease factor on the fingers was kept to a minimum.

                          This combo (8.99) came with paper cups of a flavorful (oniony again) tarter sauce and red sauce which could be further doctored at the table thanks to a compliment of amendments: multiple hot sauces (no tabasco), worchestershire, lemon wedges, and a crock of grated, but mild and watery, horseradish.

                          A side order of slaw (1.99) was the only item that was completely non-descript unless you are a purist about your cabbage. Whatever it was dressed with had zero flavor, but was adorned with a sprinkle of paprika. Next time I think I'll opt for the fried green tomatoes.

                          For the lunch hour on a Thur, the place was packed. My friend and I arrived about 12:45 and shared a six seater table with another party of 2. By about 1:15, there were any number of tables available. Though truly a casual seafood dive of an eatery, it was occupied by 90% business folks given it being in Preston Center. Definitely on my list for return trips. See link above to get to the full menu. (And I still plan making it to Princeton one day)

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: CocoaNut

                            Hushpuppies just seems to be one of those things that people can't make right in mass.

                            I mean a good hushpuppies should have onion, corn, maybe some jalapeno in it. If it's just straight cornmeal and water there is very little flavor.

                            1. re: Dallassooner

                              catfish corner in seven points has great hushpuppies

                              1. re: Dallassooner

                                S&D Oyster Company on McKinney has excellent hush puppies.

                              2. re: CocoaNut

                                Had lunch at Flying Fish in Addison today for the first time. I had the two piece spicy fried catfish basket. The pieces were very small, as mentioned above. The breading/crust was pretty good but it was thicker than the fish itself. I did enjoy the hushpuppies. Probably the best ones I've had in a while. The prices are also a little high, even the lunch specials.
                                I think I will stick with Hook Line and Sinker when I am in the mood for Fried Catfish.

                              3. I might recommend two places that I think have great fried catfish. One is Hatch's Corner in South Fort Worth. This is actually a Soul Food place, so instead of hush puppies, you might get some collard greens or macaroni and cheese. Anyway, the catfish here is excellent. It is about 2 miles South of I-20 on Forest Hill (on the right, look for it).

                                Another place is Tommy's hamburgers on 7th in Fort Worth (by Michaels). They have a catfish basket on Fridays as a special, but they run out quick. Pretty good.

                                The best place ever, is the yearly Arlington Bar Assn. BBQ at a ranch in Rendon every October. But you'd have to wait until October and find an invite. Excellent!

                                1. VERN'S in deep ellum, Dallas, is not a fried joint but very good cornmeal catfish with southern sides.

                                  1. I am amazed no one has mentioned Top Cat on Lemmon or Catfish Connection in S. Dallas. BOTH of these places are better than Hook, Line & Sinker (which is a good place btw).

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                                    Catfish Connection
                                    2464 W Kiest Blvd, Dallas, TX 75233

                                    1. I know it's probably outside the realm of D/FW proper, but I'd definitely give the nod to Huck's in Denison - even having made the drive from Grapevine. Fried to light-medium golden with a bare and delicately crispy cornmeal coating, they serve a deliciously tender and meaty channel catfish. Word flourishes as they are, it is what it is. I would happily make the drive again - but would find a route that bypasses the construction horror at 121/75 ~~~

                                      The fried okra is freshly made, but with a light batter exterior rather than my preference of cornmeal, the slaw is creamy with a mayo dressing as is the tarter sauce. The only letdown were the hushpuppies which badly needed an onion spike for flavor, but at least they weren't those little extruded, sweet cylinders of ???.

                                      Bonus: A gratis treat of green tomato relish is served while you wait for your order. Simple ingredients of crunchy green tomatoes, a bit of sweet, a bit of sour and a bare bit of heat at the back of the throat.