This place serves more than 50 tons of catfish each year.
If you're looking for the South in South Florida, Catfish Deweys is the place to go. Owners Dewey and Shirley Culbreth serve more than 50 tons of the beloved, bewhiskered, freshwater fish each year. Step inside, and except for a photo of Don Shula, you'd think this was a country barbecue joint -- one with more than 200 seats. There's a lot of wood -- booths, tables with picnic-style checked tablecloths, walls decorated with mounted catfish and memorabilia. It's a friendly place, with waitresses in overalls giving quick, chipper service.
Catfish Deweys' all-you-can-eat specials and solid, rib- sticking fare has attracted a steady stream of hungry diners -- for 12 years in its original location in Fort Lauderdale and one year in Tamarac, where we dined.
Along with catfish (which you can get fried, grilled or broiled), you'll find Southern specialties such as frog legs, barbecue shrimp or baby back ribs, as well as hush puppies, coleslaw and sweet potato pie. But you don't have to do Dixie here: alternatives include New York strip, grilled rainbow trout, shrimp scampi or daily specials, such as Alaskan snow crab legs.
Prices are reasonable, particularly for all-you-can-eat specials, but all dinners include salad or cole slaw, hush puppies and choice of fries, sweet or baked Idaho potato, rice or grits. Hearty appetizers While this is plenty of food, we sampled two of five appetizers offered. Barbecue shrimp are stacked on two skewers with grilled onions and green bell peppers, all slathered with Dewey's delicious homemade barbecue sauce ($4.95), with lots of vinegar. We liked it enough that we'd get the dinner version, with twice as many shrimp ($11.95).
A bowl of the shrimp gumbo is brimming with veggies -- heavy on green beans, onions and green peppers, with rice, carrots, okra and corn. What you might not find is much shrimp -- we found two although the menu calls the gumbo a hearty soup "based on shrimp and okra." But it's good, with Cajun spices -- though it probably won't have enough kick for the true gumbo lover. Soak up fresh warm rolls (selection changes; we had pumpernickel).
Dinner salad is simply a plate of shredded iceberg lettuce, with a cherry tomato, one slice of cucumber and smidgen of purple cabbage, served with an assortment of dressings -- we had a well-balanced Italian. A better choice was the cole slaw, crisp and slightly sweet.
Catfish options Catfish lovers have options here. Get your cats whole or boneless, breaded and fried (in canola oil) -- the choices for the all-you-can-eat specials ($10.95). Or if you prefer, order a pound of catfish broiled or grilled, in lime juice and lemon pepper ($9.95).
Our dining companion, who is from Mississippi (which qualifies him as a near-expert: about 80 percent of the catfish sold in the United States is farm-raised in Mississippi) suggested we try it the way most Southerners do: fried. We did wimp out on the whole version though, which some say is more flavorful. Our plate was filled with a mess of catfish. Some of the filets were cooked a tad too long, but once we cut the edges of the breading off, we found the fish sweet and moist. Many restaurants tend to cook fish a little longer than needed, probably because a lot of diners like it that way. We were too stuffed to order any more, but if you have a big appetite, you can eat a lot of fish here, as well as slices of raw onion, lemon wedges, a side and hush puppies.
If you're a hush puppy fan, you'll love these. Buttermilk in the batter is likely the key; along with a crisp shell made with cornmeal, corn flour and wheat flour, not greasy. Two came with dinner, but we found out later that you can ask for more. A baked sweet potato is a welcome break from the typical fries.
Tasty frog legs Another Southern specialty, frog legs are also available fried or sauteed ($11.95; half-order appetizer- size, $5.95). We bypassed the fried version this time in favor of a light saute in butter and garlic. We won't say frog legs taste like chicken (although they do). If you like frog legs, these little gams are flavorful and meaty, kind of translucent, and you get a pound. Grits are rich and buttery.
Don't want seafood? Try baby back ribs ($10.95), a full rack, tender and slathered with more of Dewey's sauce. Come on Wednesday and get all you can eat for the same price.
A bonus for families: Kids' meals are $4.95 -- and servings aren't skimpy. The fried chicken brings large boneless filets, like oversize chicken fingers but better than anything at a fast food joint, with fries and hush puppies.
Before you waddle out, try the homemade sweet potato pie, warm, with a whisper of spices, topped with whipped cream ($1.95). Or choose creamy, fruity cheesecakes or other desserts of the day.
- American, Seafood
- Lunch, Dinner