It’s hard to believe that this oasis of light and natural wood topped by stamped tin ceilings and dotted with artfully framed fishing lures started out down the road in 1984 as a defunct 30-year-old drive-through with 500 square feet — and without air conditioning.

“We had a deck where people could sit outside; business was very … seasonal?” laughs Van Dinger, owner of Dinger’s Catfish Café. Today customers come from as far away as Fort Worth to relax in the comfortable setting and get their “fix” of catfish and stuffed shrimp, hushpuppies and fried okra, and peach bread pudding. Even the hard-liners who go fried all the way get the benefit of Dinger’s strict adherence to canola oil.

The modestly priced, BYOB café is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Sundays they go fishing.

DINGER’S SPANISH CATFISH

(serves four)

  • 12 three-ounce catfish filets
  • 2 Tbs. Garlic divided
  • 2 Tbs. Olive oil divided
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 1 can Old El Paso Chiles chopped
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • Juice of one lime

In a bowl, peel and seed tomatoes, chop green onions and chop cilantro. Add lime juice, one tablespoon olive oil, one tablespoon garlic and the chilies. Mix well and set aside.

Combine one tablespoon of olive and one of garlic. Brush the filets with the oil/garlic mixture. Grill filets over mesquite wood for about five minutes on each side. Top with the tomato garnish.


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