Tulsa: The Catfish Epicenter of the World

By on July 18, 2016

Recently, persnickety chef star Gordon Ramsay enjoyed one of Oklahoma’s most compelling pastimes – noodling for catfish. Ramsay, not one to cower from a challenge, fought brilliantly to capture a mammoth Oklahoma catfish of his own. But, he could’ve saved a lot of trouble by just visiting one of TulsaFood’s favorite fishin’ holes to enjoy some of the best catfish in Tulsa.

Here is our case for why Tulsa deserves to be recognized for her amazing catfish joints just as much as her burgers and bbq.

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Sweet Lisa’s Cafe
The catfish filets at Sweet Lisa’s Café are large and in charge. All of the dishes at Sweet Lisa’s are packed with plenty of flavor, but the catfish is dialed back a little, highlighting instead more delicate, fresh flavors. The coating is a cornmeal based, studded with some spice; but really, the catfish is allowed to speak for itself. The Catfish Meal comes with your choice of sides, and from buttery mashed potatoes with the best brown gravy in Tulsa or the creamy mac and cheese, it’ll be tough to choose only two.

782 E Pine St, Tulsa, OK 74106
(918) 592-4423

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photo by : Gavin Elliott

The Lazy Fisherman
Some of the best catfish in the area can be found in a little log cabin on the other side of Bixby. The Lazy Fisherman is a family-owned restaurant that mimics those catfish fries you may have attended at your grandma’s house or at church. The menu is packed with all sorts of downhome delicacies, like fried green tomatoes that are so good you’ll want to kiss the cook. But the catfish is what The Lazy Fisherman prides itself on – and for good reason. Heaping portions of catfish are dipped in a traditional cornmeal batter and deep fried to a golden brown. The catfish is flaky and not even a bit mushy, and with a hit of Louisiana hot sauce or a dollop of the house made tartar sauce, each bite is better than the one before it.

16830 S Memorial Dr, Bixby, OK 74008
(918) 366-8305

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White River Fish Market
White River Fish Market is the gold standard for fish of all kinds here in Tulsa – including catfish. Just like any of their other ‘catches,’ you can have your catfish prepared grilled, broiled or fried. The fried version is an elevated version of the standard catfish. The cornmeal is smoother, creating a more cohesive coating and a satisfying crunch. The filets aren’t off-the-charts huge, which gives it a more even texture throughout. The grilled version proves the filet is robust enough to take the heat. Each fork-tender flake creates the perfect bite that just begs for a little squirt of lemon.

1708 N Sheridan Rd, Tulsa, OK 74115
(918) 835-1910

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The Wild Fork
You may think that Utica Square would be the last place one would find catfish. But, at the The Wild Fork but they get downright creative with their catfish dishes. For example, the Catfish and Hush Puppy Salad is a fresh take on traditional ingredients. Catfish “rods” are laid delicately atop fresh lettuces and veggies, and is then topped a creamy herby vinaigrette, while hushpuppies up the ante on standard croutons. The Wild Fork also does a Southern Five Spice catfish, either grilled or fried, that has tons of flavor, especially when paired with their herbed tartar sauce. They also pair up their catfish with their famous shrimp etouffee, which is a dynamic duo, indeed.

1820 Utica Square, Tulsa, OK 74114
(918) 742-0712

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Lasalle’s New Orleans Deli
The gang at Lasalle’s New Orleans Deli takes being N’awlins ambassadors very seriously. The bread is is shipped from New Orleans daily, the muffuletta is legit and their catfish po boy is something to behold. Two or three sandwich-sized filets of catfish are breaded with cornmeal and some serious flavor – not too salty, not too spicy. The filets are then placed into the pillowy interior of fresh baked French bread, then the whole shebang is dressed with shredded lettuce, tomato and LaSalle’s signature WOW sauce. The (appropriately named) WOW sauce really brings it all together, with creaminess, acidity and just the right heat. There is also a seafood po boy that pairs the catfish with Lasalle’s super-addictive fried shrimp.

601 S Boston Ave, Tulsa, OK 74119
(918) 582-6652

Angela Evans

About Angela Evans

Angela Evans has been digging deep into the booming restaurant scene of Tulsa since 2010. Her foray into food journalism began with The Urban Tulsa Weekly, but soon expanded to write for TulsaPeople and The Tulsa Voice. Her quirky but informative take on cuisine earned her a Tulsa Press Club Newsie for “Best Critic” in 2014. Finding those hidden gems around town is her passion, as she searches high and low for the best fried chicken or the newest spot to woo your beloved. She also loves shining the spotlight on the chefs, farmers and restauranteurs who keep Tulsa’s cuisine scene vibrant and diverse. After a brief stint out West, she has returned to Oklahoma and has brought her appetite with her. So join Tulsa's own bon vivant on her epicurean adventures.

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