Review: Catfish Charlie’s
5830 McArdle Road, Ste. 12
Corpus Christi, TX 78412
Hours: Sun – Tues, 11:00 a.m – 9:00 p.m.
Wed & Thurs, 11:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Fri & Sat, 11:00 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Catfish Charlie’s has been a popular local eating spot for thirty years, although historically not one of my personal favorites. It is heavy on, yep, you guessed it, fried catfish, along with other fried seafood, mainly shrimp, plus a little southern homestyle like chicken fried steak and some Louisiana style dishes like red beans and rice with ham. It’s always been the focus on seafood that has kept it from being a personal favorite in the past. I am not a big seafood fan, largely because of how badly it’s usually handled in restaurants (I’m looking at you Red Lobster). Ironically, Catfish Charlie’s has become one of my little girl’s favorite places. She loves the catfish and fried shrimp. Go figure. Anyway, it was her wishes that found her and I at Catfish Charlie’s in that kind of quiet period that is too late for lunch and too early for dinner, accompanied by my parents, whom she had talked into going with a cute little song about her love for the place.
The general decor of Catfish Charlie’s is rural and country, with an interior that gives almost a bar vibe, not so much due to its set up as to the level of darkness. Even in the middle of the afternoon, as in the timing of our visit, the restaurant is dark. I personally don’t have an issue with that, as I find it cooling and relaxing, although it can also be said that it can mask a lack of cleaning, although I saw no proof of that and had no issue with at least the dining room cleanliness as far as I could discern it given the low light situation. We were able to choose where we preferred to sit, and it was only moments before a competent and friendly waitress was there to take our drink orders. The service was very good throughout the time we were there. Our order was taken quickly and the food was on our table in a very reasonable amount of time.
The meal started out with complimentary jalapeno hush puppies. There are the primary reason I usually agree to go to Catfish Charlie’s and they weren’t a disappointment. Served hot out of the oil, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside with just the right amount of jalapeno for spice and flavor. They came with both red sauce and tartar sauce, of which I prefer the excellent red sauce with it’s spicy horseradish bite. The tartar sauce came across as kind of plain to me. For the entree, I decided on the chicken fried steak with french fries and beans and also the red beans and rice with ham. My little one decided on the fried shrimp and french fries.
The chicken fried steak isn’t the standard frozen from a food service company chicken fried steak that has become popular nowdays. It was well seasoned and prepared in house. The coating was crispy and the steak was actually more than a barely paper thing piece of something which was a very welcome change from some of the chicken fried steaks I’ve had other places (I’m looking at you, Niko’s). The only real complaint I have about the chicken fried steak was that the coating really didn’t stick to it that well after I started eating, which is minor at best. Overall, it is in the top ten chicken fried steaks I’ve had recently, possibly in the top five. The cream gravy was well done and properly seasoned. I was pleased with the amount of gravy on the steak. Unfortunately, the french fries were very standard and nothing special. Their only saving grace was that the red sauce is excellent and they were a good platform for enjoying that. The beans were well seasoned and quite enjoyable. Again with the red beans and rice, it was well seasoned and the rice was cooked perfectly. The ham was perfect for my tastes, but it may be considered overcooked by others depending on tastes. It was right on that line, but the flavor was very good and I enjoyed it. My daughter loved the shrimp and fries on the child’s plate.
All in all, I can, at least based on this visit, recommend a visit to Catfish Charlie’s for a good homestyle southern/cajun style meal, heavy on seafood but also with a few other things like chicken fried steak thrown in. I enjoyed both the chicken fried steak with cream gravy and the red beans and rice with ham, and the jalapeno hush puppies with red sauce were fantastic as always. My little one highly recommends the fried shrimp and fries, although in reality the fries are pretty standard restaurant fries. Regardless, Catfish Charlie’s makes her baby approved list, and also gets my recommendation as a local favorite worth visiting.