The South's Best Catfish Joints 2020
When it comes to the Southern food experience, there are a lot of things locals will bicker over, depending on what part of the region we call home: The pronunciation "praline," the best coast for shrimp, and the proper base for barbecue sauce come to mind. But there are a few universal truths that we can all agree on: Instant grits aren't really grits; collards call for a little splash of hot pepper vinegar; and catfish tastes best when eaten in a no-frills, no-fuss establishment. This year, as part of our annual South's Best awards, we're celebrating those beloved restaurants that serve up the tastiest plates of catfish in the South. Can't you just see them in all their crispy, golden-fried goodness? Maybe a little tartar sauce. Perhaps some hushpuppies on the side and a little coleslaw. Here are the ten best catfish joints in the region, as voted by our readers.
10. Catfish Hox (Marietta, Georgia)
Marine-turned-executive chef Phil Creasor is happy to serve you a classic catfish platter with hush puppies, but he's also down to change things up. Adventurous eaters can go for the catfish & waffles or his award-winning catfish street tacos with chipotle lime aioli.
catfishhox.com, 770-726-9925, 2595 Sandy Plains Road, Suite 101, Marietta, GA 30066
9. Uncle Larry's Restaurant (Chattanooga, Tennessee)
Sure, you can order the pork chops or the chili dog, but when the sign in the window declares, "Fish so good it will smack you," you'd be remiss to go with anything but. And don't skip Uncle Larry's "smackem" sauce, his fired-up take on tartar sauce.
unclelarrysrestaurant.com, 423-757-5894, 736 East M. L. King Boulevard, Chattanooga, TN 37403
8. Catfish Kitchen (Benton, Kentucky)
You'd be hard-pressed to find a more down-home dive experience than this one, where the cabin walls are peppered with memorabilia and you can feed the turtles in the pond out back. The catfish comes fried, unless you call ahead to ask for it baked instead.
facebook.com/CatfishKitchen, 270-362-7306, 136 Teal Run, Benton, KY 42025
7. Rosehill Seafood (Columbus, Georgia)
"When life hands you lemons, squeeze them on a piece of fried fish." That's the guiding ethos of this family-owned seafood spot, where the menu has you covered on the fried fish front, from mullet to rainbow trout. We'll take Elwanda Murphy's Facebook review as advice and stick to the catfish: "Best catfish I've ever eaten and at 76 years old, I have eaten a lot of fish!"
rosehillseafood.com, 706-322-4410, 2621 Hamilton Road, Columbus, GA 31904
6. Mandeville Seafood (Mandeville, Louisiana)
Leave it to a Louisiana eatery to have a menu that offers 17 different kinds of po boys, including the humblest (and least expensive!) of them all—the French fry po boy, which is exactly what it sounds like. But if po boys aren't your thing, buy the fried catfish by the pound.
mandevilleseafoodmarket.com, 985-624-8552, 2020 HWY 59, Mandeville, LA 70448
Check Out The South's Best Catfish Joints
5. Parramore Too Restaurant (Blountstown, Florida)
Don't let the nondescript exterior fool you, say patrons. The catfish fingers (and enormous portions that guarantee leftovers) more than make up for it. Lunch specials change daily and are posted on their Facebook page. Be sure to bring cash—they don't take cards.
facebook.com/parramore-too-restaurant, 850-674-3400, 16438 SW Chipola Road, Blountstown, FL 32424
4. Atlanta Highway Seafood Market (Gainesville, Georgia)
The market's Biloxi, Mississippi-born founder, Phoung Le, brings in fresh Gulf seafood at least four times per week, then serves it on a Cajun-Creole-forward menu that includes red beans and rice, po boys, and etouffee.
atlantahighwayseafood.com, 770-287-8277, 227 Atlanta Hwy #900, Gainesville, GA 30501
3. Johnny's Catfish & Seafood (Shreveport, Louisiana)
Fans of this Shreveport staple give it high marks for the food and the service. The owners aren't stingy with the secret to their success, either: You can buy four-pound bags of their corn flour-based breading and recreate the crispy catfish at home.
johnnyscatfish.com, 318-686-3695, 5130 West Bert Kouns Industrial Loop, Shreveport, LA 71129
2. Maggie's Galley Seafood Restaurant (Waynesville, North Carolina)
The mother-daughter operation chooses a local charity to support each month, through sales of a selected appetizer, entrée, and drink. Try the North Carolina catfish cooked to order—blackened, broiled, grilled, or fried. If you're feeling a little more adventurous, they also serve Okefenokee gator.
maggiesgalley.com, 828-456-8945, 1374 Sulphur Springs Road, Waynesville, NC 28786
1. Taylor Grocery (Taylor, Mississippi)
The popular grocery store-turned-restaurant 10 miles outside of Oxford is open only for dinner and only on Thursday through Sunday nights, so prepare to wait on the wide wooden porch. Order the whole fried catfish, which comes with hushpuppies and two sides (the fried okra is a good choice). If you don't know your way around a whole fish, ask the friendly wait staff; they'll show you how it's done. Oh, and it's BYOB.
taylorgrocery.com, 662-236-1716, 4 County Road 338, #A, Taylor, MS 38673