This being Show Me Eats grand reopening, it only makes sense to focus on a pair of small, well-run, out of the way eateries. After all, that’s where most of the good stuff’s at. The honor of going first today falls to Heuer’s Cafe in Hallsville.
I stopped into Heuer’s last week on my way to pick up some pork from Crocker Farms, about five minutes outside Hallsville. The cafe is tucked into a nondescript, sheet-metal strip mall near what passes for downtown Hallsville. A tanning salon resides next door. Inside you’ve got smoking and non, this not being Columbia after all and a comfortable, homey feel. It’s schlocky Americana everywhere but hey, you’re at a cafe in Hallsville.
The menu offers diner standards like pork tenderloin and burgers as well as an impressive array of slightly more adventurous fare like fried oysters and liver and onions. Mid Mo Dining Guide’s got the menu here. I went with fried okra and a burger with curly fries.
The burger and fries were excellent, I will say that. But the fried okra was the best I’ve ever had. Crispy, lightly breaded and absent of any sliminess okra sometimes gets, they were either fresh and prepared on site or the best job of prepackaging I’ve yet seen. And the buttermilk sauce served on the side was a nice touch as well.
565 N. Route B
Hallsville, MO 65255
I don’t order hamburgers at Mexican restaurants. Never tried the fish at Morton’s. And who the hell is ordering the “boursin and pesto torte” at Boone Tavern? So when I stepped into Catfish Corner for the first time the other day, I really didn’t need to see a menu. They have plenty of other options – gumbo and fried okra sound promising – but for visit number one, it was always going to be four fried catfish pieces.
The interior is one large, open room with lots of blonde wood and more schlocky Americana. Again, if I were in downtown Columbia this might be a turnoff, but a few miles out past Quaker Oats and you almost need the flag-waving teddy bears and whatnot. Plus, it’s not a put-on like the crap Applebee’s or Cracker Barrell beats you over the head with.
And then the fish came out. Four lightly golden, simple cornmeal-fried catfish strips with a bowls of jalapeno hushpuppies and coleslaw on the side. The menu had listed green tomato relish was available by request and as I feel unnaturally compelled to order anything with “green tomato,” “Cajun” or “blackened” in the description, that was definitely added on. An order of hushpuppies produces four. Oddly, you can get two more if you want – free of charge. Same thing with the coleslaw. For me, four of the dense, punchless hushpuppies (seriously, where’s the heat?) were enough.
The fish? Oh, the fish. I truly believe that you’d have to catch, filet, batter and deep fry the catfish yourself (preferably with a can of cheap beer in the other hand) to get anything better. Very light breading, not too salty. Nary a hint of fishyness to the sweet catfish filets. They were wonderful. I’ve yet to try Mississippi Fish Shack – and the reports are mixed – but it’s going to take some doing to top Catfish Corner.
6307 Leupold Court
Columbia, MO 65202