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Farmer’s Catfish House carves unique 209 niche

Located at the crossroads of two country roads outside Modesto in Wood Colony, a small jaunt from the center of town, Farmer’s Catfish House is well worth the trip for great Southern food and service in a homestyle atmosphere.

Known as one of the best kept secrets in the Modesto area, the menu has unique items to delight taste buds with outstanding fried, charbroiled or blackened catfish, shrimp dishes, frog legs or their well-known special, a rib eye steak with ‘gator,’ along with so much more.

“We’ve been here since 1982,” said owner Tom Watkins, who came to the West Coast from Mississippi in 1979. “I had plans to open something when I got out here. We’ve made a lot of regular customers and friends here over the years.”

The interior ambiance is simple: rustic, wood and metal, providing a laid back and casual atmosphere.

“At times I have regulars consisting of church groups from Stockton and Turlock calling me to open early,” Watkins said. “We can get pretty packed.”

Watkins describes his restaurant as unique with no other place similar to it in the area, serving catfish any way you can imagine and other “delicacies from the South” with a down home country feeling.

The moment diners sit down they’re greeted by a friendly staff with generous portions of French fries, hush puppies and fresh coleslaw served family style. Beverages are served in their finest glassware – AKA Mason jars – and starters are served on tin plates.

All dinners are served with rice pilaf, red beans and a slice of French bread.

A reasonably priced Seniors Menu for those 55 and older is available before 6 p.m. for just $8.00 that includes your choice of a Cajun spiced fillet, a catfish filet charbroiled, their crawfish enchilada or fried calamari served with fries, hushpuppies, coleslaw and their cobbler.

And as most regular dinners are priced from $14.00 to $20.00, this is a great deal.

With those reasonable prices, the portions are good sized for the discerning diner who’s comfortable at a country joint of which the likes “city folk ain’t never seen.”

Watkins said a customer favorite was the rib eye steak and ‘gator’ nuggets and he highly recommends the Cajun shrimp and lemon.

To top off the meal, the Catfish House serves a fresh made peach or boysenberry cobbler with a scoop of ice cream as dessert.

Watkins said his place is so popular he’s rarely had to advertise as word of mouth promotes the hidden gem.

Watkins invited readers of the 209 to join his “cast of regulars” who come hungry and leave fully satisfied every time.


Farmer’s Catfish House
4937 Beckwith Road, Modesto, CA
(209) 526-0969
Hours: Wednesday through Saturday
3 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.