Friday, December 5, 2008

The Catfish Hole; a review

Friends and neighbors, I don’t do this often. I’m always hesitant to recommend restaurants since my tastes may not match other folks’. But I gotta tell you about the experience I’ve just had….

My buddy and I were heading back from Colorado. Having crossed the panhandle of Texas and all of Oklahoma we were feeling a little hungry, the biscuits and gravy we’d had for breakfast in Dalhart, TX long since gone. Now Miss Baby, my buddy’s girlfriend (see Brother Dave Gardner’s “Chuck and Miss Baby” routine) had told him about a catfish restaurant in Ft. Smith, Arkansas that she had found on the web as she followed our progress. And from the web site she though it looked pretty good.

So we stopped at the first Ft. Smith exit and did something decidedly unmale; we asked for directions. Several people in the gas station knew exactly which restaurant we were talking about and gave us directions. Not very good ones as it turned out because we couldn’t find it. So we came to a side road (see Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant”) i.e.: the Alma, Arkansas/US 71 exit and jumped off of I-40. Off the side of the side road (ibid) was a Shamrock gas station so we pulled in. Eric, the nice young man in the station, said yes he knew exactly which restaurant we were talking about….but it was about six miles back. However, if we wanted the best catfish in Arkansas it was just up the road. A place called the Catfish Hole. Eric said to ask for Jeannie. So we went.

Now I’m going to tell you like a friend and a brother: this was undoubtedly the best restaurant experience that I’ve had in many a day. Everyone in the place could not do enough for us. Every waitress that passed our table asked: “can I get y’all some more tea/coffee; are y’all ready for some more catfish; are y’all doing ok; is there anything you need?” And the food was out of this world.

The fried dinners menu included: catfish steaks (bone in), catfish filets (no bones), fried shrimp, scallops, ocean clams, and frog legs. And that was just the seafood. Then you could get a combination of any two or three of the above. So I got the catfish filets (small catch) and frog legs. Oh. My. Gawd. The catfish was lightly breaded, and fried to perfection. Not the least bit oily. The frog legs…….tasted like chicken. Well what am I supposed to say?!? They were wonderful! And the fixin’s: hushpuppies, kosher dill pickles, green tomato relish and coleslaw (that came out before the meal) weren’t bad either! My buddy got a combo of catfish steaks (small catch), shrimp and frog legs. We were in heaven….

So we finished up. As we sat there wondering when we were going to be able to move again, Jeannie walked up. “Are you going to try one of our deserts?” she asked. We groaned. “Oh you’ve got to try our fried pies!” Fried pies? Fried pies??? Those little turnover looking thingies that are fried? Er, what kind do you have? Not that we had room for one, mind you….

“We have apple, cherry, peach, blueberry, coconut……” WAIT! You’ve got a fried coconut pie?? “Yes, do you want it with ice cream?” What could we do? We split one; with ice cream. OH! MY! GAWD! Now my mother made fried apple pies when I was a kid but they weren’t anything like this. Jeannie brought us a freshly fried coconut pie with a bowl of ice cream on the side. The ice cream tasted homemade. We asked; it wasn’t. I repeat: the ice cream tasted homemade. And the combination of the ice cream and fried coconut pie was out of this world!

So how do you get there? Glad you asked! And if you didn’t ask, what’s the matter with you?!?

Take the Alma, AR/US 71 exit off I-40. If you’re coming from the west: turn left at the bottom of the ramp. If you’re coming from the east: turn right. Go to the first traffic light past the Interstate (second if you’re coming from the west) and turn left between the Taco Bell and the Bank of the Ozarks. You will see a sign saying “Catfish Hole”. Turn right and look for a building with the sign below on it:

Walk inside and enjoy. Period. Paragraph.

And ask for Jeannie; or her daughter Bailey; or any waitress wearing this tee shirt:

They’re all good! And you won’t be sorry!

The Catfish Hole
24 Collum Lane West
Alma, AR 72921
[Click on the title above, or date stamp below, to see the full article.]


  1. The wife loves catfish. The one time I tried it, I couldn't finish it. It actually tasted like how I imagine swamp would taste.

    Probably the way it was cooked.

    McDonalds fish sandwich is da Bomb!

    *running away now*

  2. I think this website pretty much sums things up,
    ,, have a looksy.


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