Southeast Texans, in particular, are noted for loving their fresh, succulent seafood straight from the local waters. If you have a hankering for some really good fried or broiled catfish, head on over to Mike and Terry Hamilton’s Catfish Kitchen, located at 3620 College St. in Beaumont.
Plan on looking for a parking place, as the parking can be full to the brim, forcing a wait for someone to leave. Filled parking spaces usually mean good food is being served inside the restaurant.
According to Mike Hamilton Jr., the manager of the restaurant, parking is often that way and he is happy about the fact that old customers continue to return and new ones hear about the restaurant every day. Hamilton said he was literally raised in the restaurant business and remembers being taken to Tuffy’s in Mauriceville, a restaurant his parents owned for some 10 years. He says he grew up knowing that choosing, cooking and serving good food was what he was meant to do in life, and he seems to enjoy his professional career very much.
Mike and Terry Hamilton, young Mike’s parents, own the restaurant on College, but Mike Jr. says he is there most of the time. “Dad is a state representative and today, he is in Austin taking care of business. Mom (Terry Hamilton) handles all of the desserts and everything here is homemade, except for the cardboard on the bottom of the famous pies and cakes.” Terry is also credited for decorating the attractive seafood restaurant with nautical accents. Many readers will remember the tasty homemade yeast rolls that were always a crowd pleaser at Tuffy’s and will be pleased to know that they are available at Catfish Kitchen, as well. The waitstaff brings hot, fresh rolls to the tables as they come out of the oven.
Mike and Terry Hamilton’s Catfish Kitchen has been open a little over a year, and the Hamiltons feel it has been a very successful enterprise. They continue to shop relentlessly for fresh seafood, use family recipes for the batter, seasoning and sauces, and serve up hot catfish, shrimp, lobster and steak, as well as many other mouth-watering treats as fast as the food can come out of the busy kitchen. Mike Jr. said one of the most popular concepts is the open buffet where you have the privilege of tasting many items for one low price.
The fried shrimp and catfish on the buffet are excellent. The fish was perfectly seasoned, not too much, and not too little, and piping hot. The shrimp was delicious and plentiful. The french fried potatoes in particular got rave reviews. Mike Jr. said that he was disappointed in some of the french fries he had been offered from food service companies and kept searching to find one that was different, held a lot of flavor, and meshed well with the other food. He finally hit on one that is battered in special seasoning before it is deep-fried, and it proved popular not only with Mike, but also with the customers.
“We do our very best to keep the buffet foods hot, tempting, tasty and readily available,” said the young manager. “Some of our customers come in just for the buffet because every member of the group can get what he or she wants most.”
The busy restaurant is open from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and from 11 a.m. until 3:30 pm on Sunday. The Hamiltons employ about 22-25 people to cover all of the shifts.
Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.