It's time to investigate.

Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller; Food Styling: Katelyn Hardwick

If you are hungry and driving almost anywhere in the South, you will eventually see a lakeside shack, sit down restaurant, or drive thru kitchen with a giant sign attesting to the fact that they serve the best catfish around. Of course, this exact tableau can be seen in almost every city and small town and post office stop in the South where cooks are serving up perfectly crisp catfish sandwiches or Cajun filets.

While admittedly there are plenty of options for indulging in the staple of Southern cuisine, one of the region’s hidden gems is located a little further north. It should be no surprise that in a state practically polka-dotted with lakes, Kentucky has some incredible catfish options. According to Only in Your State, the best just might be Catfish Kitchen located in the sprawling wilderness area known as Land Between the Lakes, set between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in western Kentucky and Tennessee.

Found off the beaten path in Benton, near Kentucky Lake, Catfish Kitchen is a true hidden gem, although the occasionally long lines for food could hint it’s not all that much of a secret. Luckily, the food is worth the wait and the restaurant’s settings and whimsical interiors give people in line plenty to look at while they wait. The catfish is golden, perfectly seasoned, and never soggy. It’s the kind of catfish that could make even an avowed catfish hater swoon with a single bite. Baked potatoes, stewed white beans, hush puppies, coleslaw and a glass of sweet tea complete the meal. While the fried catfish is the main event, if you happen not to be a fan of the occasionally divisive fish, there are other options, including chicken, shrimp, and even frogs’ legs.

WATCH: Classic Fried Catfish

While we wouldn’t dare to say it’s the best catfish in the South—there are some church ladies who would certainly argue with us about that— if you’re looking for a top contender for the title or just a really good meal, head up to Kentucky Lake.

Advertisement