Second Helpings: Catfish Hunter
1075 Springdale, 927-6666
Mon-Thu, 11am-9pm; Fri, 11am-11pm; Sat, 11am-10pm
The mouthwatering lunch specials attract a crowd to this casual three-year-old restaurant from 11am-2pm every weekday and we know the reason why. Everything here is made from scratch, and nothing hits the spot like good home cooking. Catfish and seafood combo dinners with a choice of two side dishes come in different sizes depending on your appetite. Seriously hungry folks go for the Big Cat, a butterflied whole catfish in a crisp cornmeal coating for only $7.95, and choose from sides like hush puppies, fries, cole slaw, beans, fried okra, or gumbo to round out the meal. Save room for homemade desserts if you can.
Catfish Hill Restaurant
Wolfe Lane, off Hwy. 71 E. in Garfield, 247-2528
A new generation of the Washington family operates this small catfish farm and country restaurant, but the fish is as wonderful as always. Order a whole catfish or several filets and they'll arrive in a lacy cornmeal coating, crisp and crunchy on the outside, sweet and mild within. This is one restaurant where you can taste for yourself that the main course was raised with tender, loving care. Worries that the proximity of the new airport would spoil the bucolic charm of Catfish Hill have fortunately proved to be unfounded.
4705 E. Ben White, 443-1698
11910 Research, 258-1853
These two large, informal fish houses have been serving up satisfying, family-sized catfish meals as long as we can remember. Just leave your tackle box in the garage. When the gang's hungry, take a crowd to eat in, call ahead to order tubs o'cats by the pound with all the trimmings, or arrange to have them cater your next outdoor fish fry. They'll fry you up a mess of fish, shrimp, chicken, or chicken-fried steaks complete with hush puppies, fries, slaw, beans, and all the necessary condiments regardless of the size party you need to feed.
Bay-Seas Seafood & More
2039 Airport, 499-0529
Mon-Wed, 11am-8pm; Thu-Sat, 11am-2am
Settled in their new location for about a year now, Bay-Seas offers a wide variety of well-prepared fish dishes based on the availability of the catch. The menu details several selections each of trout, catfish, shrimp, and red snapper in portions from individual to family-sized in a variety of combinations. We sampled a very good seafood and sausage gumbo and a catfish sandwich on white bread with a side of absolutely perfect hush puppies. Based on the flavor of those choices, we'll go back to sample more entrees and try the cook's boudin. Casual atmosphere with sports on the television and jukebox with selections as inviting as the menu.
1900 E. Seventh, 469-9038
Mon-Thu, 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-11pm
This casual Eastside restaurant next to the Huston-Tillotson campus is equipped with a drive-through window for seafood lovers on the go. The menu here is a hybrid of Southern American and Asian fried foods, offering shrimp, catfish, crawfish, oyster, and whiting in all manner of combinations with sides of fries, salad, and shrimp fried rice. We're partial to the catfish po'boy and fries with a small order of plump, cornmeal-crusted crawfish as a chaser.
Terry's Seafood Company
1151 Airport, 928-0694
Mon-Thu, 10:30am-10pm; Fri-Sat, 10:30am-11pm
Though the seafood market section at Terry's has long since been turned into a dining room to better accommodate the crowds of loyal patrons, this popular restaurant is still a favorite spot for seafood lovers. A steady stream of customers stops by to eat in while a number of folks are ordering take-out at the front window. Pull up a chair and enjoy very credible examples of the Southern frymaster's art or take home boxes of perfectly fried catfish fillets, shrimp, or chicken with all the trimmings.
Cherry Creek Catfish Company
5712 Manchaca, 440-8810
Mon-Thu, 11am-9pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-10pm
Cherry Creek is a comfortable family restaurant with something on the menu to please everyone. There's a burger for the non-fish eater, and dieters can order boiled shrimp or fish from the grill, while fried food lovers can choose from catfish (fillets or whole), shrimp or oysters alone or in combo platters with hush puppies, fries, cole slaw, and pinto beans. Southern-style po'boys come on a toasted roll dressed with tartar sauce, lettuce, and tomatoes, and make a full meal with an order of fried green tomatoes as an appetizer.
Springhill Catfish Company
Hwy. 71 W. & RR 620, 263-3244
Sun-Thu, 11am-9pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-9:30pm
If that visit to Lake Travis makes you hungry for fish, the Springhill folks will be happy to do all the work for you. The crew can all relax with a cold brew or a bottomless tankard of iced tea after a long day on the water and eat their fill of fish. Steer clear of the gumbo (it was bland on our last visit) but chow down on the very reliable catfish featured whole, in fillet dinners, or tasty nuggets with the traditional Southern sides of hush puppies, fries, cole slaw, and beans. Several good choices for non-fish eaters, as well.
Dixie's Red Hot Roadhouse
6901 N. I-35, 451-5008
Sun-Thu, 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-11pm
Dixie's is a sparkly-bright, cheery chain outfit that works very hard to create an atmosphere of rural Southern charm. The service is friendly and efficient and the menu extensive. Choose from wood-fired steaks, fried seafood platters, fresh seafood topped with Louisiana-style sauces, or Southern roadhouse entrees such as meat loaf, fried chicken, and Coca-Cola BBQ ribs. Dixie gets an A+ for the rich, spicy crawfish bisque and a giant catfish po'boy on a crisp French baguette dressed with remoulade sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles that comes with a tangled mountain of matchstick fries.
The weekly Chronicle feature "Second Helpings" offers readers the opportunity to sample tasty, bite-sized restaurant listings compiled from new and previous reviews, guides, and poll results. This week's entries were compiled by Chronicle food editor Virginia B. Wood. When you need quick, reliable information about Austin eateries, check here.