Your Favorite Fried Catfish in Little Rock

Fried Catfish Sandwich at Burge's

Fried Catfish Sandwich at Burge’s

 

We absolutely love our fried catfish in this town, so when I asked the other day on Facebook what your favorite restaurant was that serves up this Southern classic, there was a great response. Forty-six different restaurants were mentioned, to be exact. Here’s a list of every place and the number of votes each restaurant received.

Tier I (each restaurant received between 21-30 votes)

Flying Fish
Eat My Catfish
Soul Fish Café

My Take: I’ve eaten at FF and Eat My Catfish and definitely agree they are some of the better versions in Little Rock. Soul Fish was mentioned a lot, and is still fairly new to town, so that was an impressive showing for the downtown eatery.

Tier II (each restaurant received between 5-10 votes)

Bobby’s Café
Lazy Pete’s
The Faded Rose
Lassis Inn
Burge’s
Smokin’ Buns BBQ & Catfish
Grandpa’s Catfish House

My Take: Burge’s and The Faded Rose both serve up outstanding fried catfish, the latter of which is super thin and crispy. I’ve been to Lazy Pete’s a few times, but have never tried the catfish a few times. Very underrated restaurant that doesn’t get a lot of attention, but apparently serves up some mean catfish. I’ll have to go check that out in the near future. Lassis Inn has great catfish, although I’d definitely rate a few others in town a little higher, but a visit to Lassis combines food, history, and an amazing atmosphere.

Tier III (each restaurant received between 1-4 votes)

Mick’s BBQ
BJ’s Market Café
Feastro’s
Brewsters II Café
Crazee’s Café
1515 Café (Fridays)
Chicken Wang Café
Maddie’s Place
Riverside Grocery
Homer’s
Heights Taco & Tamale Co.
Cotham’s
Pig’N-Chik BBQ
Cajun’s Wharf
Cock of the Walk
Uncle Dean’s Catfish & Such
Sharks
Peter’s Fish Market
South on Main
The Oyster Bar
Saline Memorial Hospital
Homer’s West
Thirst N Howl
JoJo’s
Captain Tom’s
KJ’s
The Wing Shack Bar
C & S Restaurant
Corky’s
East End Café (Fridays)
Davids Family Kitchen
The Hook
Samantha’s
Dixie Café
Catfish City

My Take: Granted, I don’t eat a ton of fried catfish, but, damn, there are several places in this tier that I’ve never even heard of, much less eaten the catfish at. Personally, I’m a huge fan of the version Brewsters is cranking out and would rate it as the very best I’ve eaten in town.

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Quick Hits: Thoughts on My Recent Dining Out

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Fried Chicken at Table 28

I missed this regular post entry last week, so here’s a recap of about 2 weeks of my food experiences…

Checked out District Fare, the old HAM space and latest venture of Tomas Bohm. You can tell Bohm has sunk a ton of dollars into a re-model, and it all looks fantastic. The number of seats have doubled and everything is clean and sleek. I split one each of a pastrami and roasted cauliflower sandwich with a friend, and while neither blew me away, the food and service were quite commendable for a soft opening. The pastrami, although tender, seemed a bit overcooked. But the star of the lunch was the house-made mustard, which I think you can actually purchase. All and all, it was a successful first experience at District Fare and I have no doubt this place will quickly be a hit.

The Thai Chopped Salad with steak at Big Orange Midtown is a must-order. You’ve probably seen me write about it many times on the blog, so my glowing endorsement comes as no surprise.

Dinner at Table 28 was pretty damn fantastic. My perfectly cooked, medium rare duck with the signature Brussels sprouts and bacon was a hit, as was the fried chicken and shrimp scampi, but the best dish of the evening was the goat tostadas with mole and black beans. My daughter ordered it, and, at first, I thought she was crazy to do so. With all the other great options on the menu, why would someone order goat tostadas? She obviously knew more than I did, as that mixture of tender, shredded goat and mole was amazing. Hope this dish stays on the menu. One more thing … our server, Jeffrey, provided stellar service. He was attentive, knowledgeable of the menu, and just a flat-out class act.

Get the Roasted Chicken with Fried Potatoes at YaYa’s. Seriously, that dish is crazy good. Yeah, yeah, I know … it’s roasted chicken, but it’s swimming in garlic, has a little heat from the peppers, and is just a massive plate of tasty food for $19. Kudos to YaYa’s on great service on a Saturday night. It’s a massive restaurant, and the place was packed, but they still managed to get the food out in a timely manner.

Have you ever tried the fried catfish at Burge’s? If you’re anything like me, you’ve concentrated on the smoked turkey salad and forgotten about everything else on the menu. Well, my fried catfish sandwich was really good, with the only downfall being a heavy amount of tartar sauce that did its best to overwhelm the fish. No worries, I just scraped it off. The fish itself was small, thin, and crispy with a nice cornmeal batter.

I love Mt. Fuji but the Fried Tofu Udon Bowl is a pass. It’s kind of boring and the tofu is just too sweet.

Speaking of sweet, my Soy Sauce Fried Chicken at the new Kimchi (old Van Lang space) was wildly addictive, but way too sweet. That said, I ate most of the $15 plate of food with relative ease, and while the bulgogi and ribs were average at best, the chicken and good service is what will inspire a return visit. There’s certainly enough to like about this spot to go back and try out some other dishes. That said, $15 for a plate of fried chicken thighs swimming in sauce is just too expensive.

I know Terri-Lynn’s has been around forever, but it’s a spot that rarely gets much attention. They make solid, reasonably-priced food that’s served up within minutes. Simply put, it’s a quality lunch spot. Get the deviled eggs, a pair of egg halves that are as traditional as it gets. My “Sharon” sandwich with smoked turkey and a pile of creamy cole slaw, however, was a miss. The slaw just overwhelmed everything else on the sandwich. No biggie, I’ll just try another sandwich next time.

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Arkansas Ketchup Co. is Just About Ready

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Good news … a local ketchup-maker is about to release its product in the very near future. Better news … it’s pretty damn good.

Arkansas Ketchup Co. is hoping to have its unique ketchup ready for sale by this June. Owners John Crowley and Amber Davis-Tanner have created a slightly sweet, tangy, and spicy ketchup that is quite delicious.

But why on earth would you get into the ketchup business? Glad you asked.

Says Crowley, “Amber went to Oregon for vacation in 2016 and noticed that there were several companies making ketchup in Oregon. She always loved Arkansas tomatoes and wondered why no one was making ketchup out of Arkansas tomatoes. She told me about the experience, and I pestered her to pursue it and pushed her over the edge to start fiddling with recipes.”

After sampling a test batch John brought over, I can tell you this isn’t your typical store-bought ketchup. The deep maroon color and intense tomato taste are just a couple traits that really separate it from other ketchups on the market.

“You can really taste the tomatoes in the ketchup. It also doesn’t have any high fructose corn syrup or odd chemicals. Moreover, it’s not just ketchup. It’s a sauce you can put on anything you can think of. People have reported putting it on everything from eggs to fried rice to pork chops,” says Crowley.

Yes, this ketchup is versatile. I’ve eaten it on brats, eggs, baked potatoes, and, of course, French fries. Simply put … I love it, my wife loves it, and the kids love it. In June, it will be available to purchase on the website at $6 per 12-ounce bottle, with the hope of getting the ketchup in several locally-owned stores and restaurants in Little Rock.

In the meantime, go check out their Kickstarter campaign, where funds will be used to make the first official batch of Arkansas tomato ketchup. Says Crowley, “Up until now, we’ve been refining our process with tomatoes out of Florida and honey from Amber’s grandfather, Hillcrest Honey, and a few other places. We will be using the funds from the Kickstarter to buy a lot of great, vine-ripened, Arkansas tomatoes and honey.”

Here’s hoping it’s a big success.

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The Dish: Those Cookies at The Pantry

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Monthly Feature, By Jarred Kibbey

Each month, Jarred highlights one of his favorite dishes from around Little Rock.

Pretty much everything that can be said about The Pantry has already been said. Yes, it is delicious. Yes, it is one of the most consistent restaurants in Arkansas. Yes, it is a great value and ran by a great guy. But you already know all of that. What you may not know is that one of the least appreciated dishes in Little Rock is served there and they served with every meal – The Pantry cookies.

They may not look like much and are easy to overlook. A small, unassuming cookie for each patron that is brought with the check. They are no bigger than your thumb and most people think of them as an afterthought, but these cookies are fantastic (which took me many years to actually find out).

My wife and I have been going to The Pantry since we moved to Little Rock six years ago. On our first visit I knew that this was a place that we would be coming back to regularly, but I was completely uninterested in the two boring looking cookies at the end of our meal. So my wife kept eating them on each visit. What she didn’t bother to tell me was how great they are. She just kept hiding this fact from me and eating these “boring” little cookies after each meal. It wasn’t until one visit many years later when they forgot to bring the cookies out that she showed her hand and mentioned to me that they forgot the cookies. It was at this point that I realized there must be something more going on here. They are a simple shortbread cookie with a mixture of finely chopped nuts. Even writing this, it doesn’t sound exciting or even like something I would enjoy, but they are really great. A perfect ending to what is usually a fairly heavy meal (because you have to start with the Pantry Board).

What many people don’t realize is that you can order these cookies on the dessert menu. At $2.50, they are a great value and a much lighter option than the cheesecake or chocolate salami (both great, but you likely already knew that).

So next time you are at The Pantry, pay closer attention to these wonderful little bites at the end of the meal. They are truly a fantastic end to what was likely already a fantastic meal.

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