Heaps of golden fried catfish have been served on these grounds for more than four decades. Originally this was the site of Herbert's Fish Camp and Music Hall. A few years ago, the original structure burned and Herb shut the place down. A small town in Mississippi just isn't right without a Catfish House. The Hodge family purchased the property and completely renovated it into The Catfish Wagon.
We've been to the Catfish Wagon, which is located on Hwy 42 just across the Perry County line from Petal, several times now. I guess it's pretty much in the Runnelstown Community. It's a very large, open family style restaurant. They're proud to serve only Mississippi farm raised catfish and will show you the boxes if you ask. The decor is rustic/redneck with at least a dozen deer heads, bass, bobcats, turkey and other indigenous game mounted on the walls.
The wife and I took in a dinner there over the weekend, I ordered the all-you-can eat catfish platter, while the wife ordered the five piece fillet dinner.
They start the mean by serving a large bowl of better than average cold slaw that's a sweet mayo based with sweet and sour undertones. It's finely chopped cabbage and I believe that it is home made.
My wife loves fried dill pickles and we got an order of those as an appetizer. I've had them before at the Catfish Wagon and they've been fine, but someone went crazy with the salt shaker on this batch and they were very salty, editable but just barely.
Now on to the main attraction - the catfish fillets.
The service in bringing out the platters was very reasonable, the fish was fried golden brown.
They use a very nice cornmeal fry that is lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika and possible a little onion powder. The fillets were crispy on the outside and flaky and tender on the inside. You can tell that they fry at a very high temperature. They offer raw onions and tomatoes to compliment the meal. Their home made tarter sauce is fresh, tasty and much better than any pre-packaged you may get at some places.
The fries were good, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. My wife reports that the hush puppies were pretty average, I rarely eat hush puppies and was more concerned with the fillets to be honest.
If you judge solely on the fried fillets, this is one of the better catfish houses in South Mississippi, their fries and hush puppies could be better.
I've never had a negative experience at the Catfish Wagon and I've eaten there several times. It's a bit out of the way and you could find yourself waiting half an hour at times, because they do a good business, but all in all if you love good fried catfish this place is well worth a try.