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Mansfield Magazine

Louisiana Catfish Does Home Cooking Just Right

Nov 26, 2015 09:33AM ● By Kevin

If you’ve ever traveled the back roads of the South and stumbled upon a small, rustic catfish restaurant, then you have some idea of what to expect at Kennedale’s Louisiana Catfish just off the Kennedale Highway. This mom and pop eatery is family owned and operated and doing a brisk business serving up hot, crisp catfish, hush puppies, fries and all the fixins to seafood-loving customers who keep coming back for more.

There are a handful of Louisiana Catfish restaurants throughout the DFW area, each is independently operated by members of the same extended family. Chris Haley and his mother, Cynthia McKnight, opened the Kennedale location about two years ago. McKnight had previously operated a location in Grand Prairie. The two of them, along with Haley’s two sisters and a cousin stay busy serving up their signature comfort food.

Haley, 29, has been in the restaurant and bar business dating all the way back to middle school when he worked in his uncle’s restaurant. He was working at a bar in Grand Prairie two years ago when he and his mom decided to open Louisiana Catfish in Kennedale. “We thought there was a need for a good catfish restaurant down here,” he says. “The restaurant business is hard work but my mom and I have always loved to cook and we love doing this.” He says his mom still loves to experiment in the kitchen and that, in fact, that’s how she “accidentally discovered” their mac and cheese recipe. Lots of family recipes go into the cooking here.

Like most family-run operations, everybody does whatever needs to be done around the place, says Haley. He says no one has a title here but he’s quick to point out, “My mom always has the final say…most of the time.”

Louisiana Catfish has that authentic “hole-in-the-wall” feel to it. The older building sits just off the highway and it’s decorated with music-related memorabilia and, of course, fish and other aquatic posters and knickknacks. It’s small and cozy and has that intimate small town feel to it. You order at the counter, choose a table or booth and then wait for the goods. Haley and the rest of the family here are as friendly as can be.

When a restaurant has the word catfish in its name you know exactly what you’re going to get. Catfish here comes in two distinct varieties – fillet or bone-in steaks. But there is more than just that southern staple here. You can get pork chops, frog legs, shrimp, chicken tenders or hot links. There’s also chicken and waffles, salads and a veggie plate. There’s a special menu for kids, too. Meals come served on a bed of fries with bread, pickles and all the sauces you’d expect. You can substitute dirty rice, rice and beans or collard greens if you are so inclined. On Fridays you can enjoy all-you-can- eat catfish steaks.

The place offers catering services and around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays you can buy fried turkeys from them.

On our visit I stuck with the main attraction and chose two catfish fillets and four shrimp, served with hush puppies, red beans and rice, mac and cheese and a cold glass of ice tea. Now what’s more southern than that? I’ve had my share of fried catfish in my life and know the good from the bad. Louisiana Catfish scores well on that scale. The fish was crispy, not greasy, and had a perfect, golden-brown cornmeal crust. It had a nice fresh flavor that was not too fishy. The shrimp were much the same and were prepared without tails so you could just pop them in your mouth and enjoy. Their mac and cheese is really out of the ordinary. It’s creamy with a rich garlicky flavor. We ordered their greens only to find out they had already run out for the day. So rice and beans more than made up for it. Everything is cooked to order here, but the wait is certainly worth it.

Louisiana Catfish is located at 324 W. Kennedale Parkway, near the intersection at Corry A. Edwards Dr. It’s open Tuesday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m., Friday from 11:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., and Saturday from noon until 8:00 p.m. Call 817-563-1501 or visit them on Facebook for more information.

Written by Kerry Pipes

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