On a whim, Matt and I decided to go out to eat tonight. The left-hand lane was backed up (toward home), so we decided instead to turn right and pulled into the parking lot of the Steak and Catfish Diner at the corner of I35 and Waterloo.
Before tonight I had said “nu-uh,” to Matt’s suggestions to go to this place. The outside looks pretty run down and the tall sign simply says DINER, but sort of off-center like it’s missing a letter or something. To better illustrate my point: if there were no cars in the parking lot, you might think this place was out of business.
But, the thing is—the parking lot is usually pretty full.
I don’t know why I was easily convinced to try out this place tonight, but I’m glad we did. Inside it’s dimly lit by tube lights strung up with fishing nets and lanterns, along with some random memorabilia. Bluegrass music played inside, and there were some guitars and a banjo out for a band that was to play at some point in the evening. Unfortunately, they didn’t play while we were there.
There are peanuts in the shell on every table and after you order the waitress brings out some delicious hush puppies and green tomato relish. A nice touch! I gathered that they are famous for their all-you-can eat catfish for $10.99, but the standard catfish plate comes with 5 fillets, which is more-than-you-should eat. I got the sampler plate: fried catfish, shrimp, and chicken tenders with fried okra and the best ranch-style beans I’ve ever had. This is not health food. Matt got a big ol’ buffalo burger with some very flavorful, and not soggy, green beans. Tonight’s special was a 10 oz. rib eye for $14.99. They also had t-bones and New York strips for around $20.
Now I can see why they don’t worry too much about the exterior. Their food is good. Made with love, even. I mean, it’s obvious that they like to cook. Why else then would they go above what’s expected with the relish, delicious hush puppies, and sides? Good service, too.
On our way out we checked out the clippings posted around the door. Apparently this place used to be Italian fine dining, but the owners, the Vitales, wanted to attract more of a lunch crowd, so changed to Southern cookin’.
While we won’t go to the Steak and Catfish Diner very often, it’ll be a favorite close place to take visiting friends and family.