Home Taste Restaurants Catfish Charlie’s Keeps it Cajun

Catfish Charlie’s Keeps it Cajun

For ten years, Catfish Charlie’s has been a locally-owned, comfortable, and unique restaurant nestled along the river’s edge in Dubuque, IA. It is owned by Charlie Cretsinger and Dan Dougherty. Charlie can be found cooking amazing food in the kitchen and Dan can be found concocting outstanding drinks behind the bar. Both gentlemen are native Iowans and the restaurant’s comfortable atmosphere reflects their laid back nature.

Panoramic views of the mighty Mississippi can be enjoyed from the restaurant’s multiple seating options, which include indoor seating at booths and tables and outdoor seating on the patio.

The flood wall walk and bike trail are a stone’s throw away and nearby docking facilities are available for area boaters. Catfish Charlie’s is located directly next to the Mystique Ice Area and is a great place to grab a drink and/or dinner before or after a hockey game. Shorts and sandals or jeans and a sweater are the perfect attire for dining at Catfish Charlie’s.

Dressed in my favorite jeans and comfy shirt, I enjoyed a beautiful evening at the restaurant. Dan greeted me with a warm smile and my table in the main dining room had a spectacular view of the river. The patio is dotted with umbrella-clad tables filled with folks enjoying the colorful sunset.

Dan started the evening suggesting some of Catfish Charlie’s custom designed cocktails. Their drink menu includes many river inspired drinks as well as some with a Cajun flair. Some drinks on the menu are seasonal and available May through October. One of those seasonal drinks, from Pirate Dan’s original drink menu, is the Nine Mile Inspiration Point. This deep red, frozen, sweet daiquiri-style drink is made from vodka, melon liquor, raspberry, and cranberry. Another drink from the menu is Dan’s River Water. The color of the drink lives up to its name, but the flavor is nothing of the sort. The drink is as refreshing as a nice cool dip into the water on a hot day. Flavors of orange vodka, pineapple, orange juice, and blue curacao combine to create this refreshing cocktail.

Dan insisted I try the Cajun Lemonade. This is not your typical spiked lemonade, but a Southern-inspired drink served in a mason jar. It is a mixture of Bird Dog Blackberry Whiskey, lemonade, and a habanero sweet and sour. The sweetness of the blackberries melds with the tartness of the lemonade and finishes with a tiny bite from the habanero. This was my favorite drink of the evening.

Catfish Charlie’s came out with a new Cajun-inspired menu this past summer and it has been a huge hit. One appetizer that I had to try was the Mud Bugs. These are tempura fried crawfish tails. The batter was perfect and the crawfish surprisingly tasty. The comeback sauce they are served with added a great kick. Another recommended appetizer is the baked shrimp and crab dip. This cheesy and gooey goodness is served with house-made fresh tortilla chips. If fried goodies are your thing, definitely check out their giant onion rings, fresh fried cheese curds, or alligator nuggets.

Catfish Charlie’s runs nightly dinner specials. Their new Cajun menu offers great selections to satisfy your Southern-style cooking craving. One of their dinner specials is a Cajun trio of crawfish étouffée, chicken and Andouille sausage gumbo, and shrimp and crab jambalaya. This tour-de-force of Cajun cuisine is served with Jasmine rice, homemade hushpuppies, and some of the best New England Clam Chowder that I have ever had. The trio special is served from mild to super spicy. There is definitely enough to share.

If you are not into Cajun cuisine, the regular menu at Catfish Charlie’s will keep you satisfied with salads, burgers, sandwiches, steaks, seafood, and house smoked ribs. One sandwich Catfish Charlie’s is known for is the Three Little Pigs. This mile-high sandwich starts with a hand-pounded and breaded fried pork tenderloin, then topped with Carolina-style BBQ pork, bacon, fried eggs, and Swiss cheese served on Texas toast with a side of hand-cut French fries and creamy coleslaw. Definitely an entrée that could be shared!

Catfish Charlie’s is known for their dry rubbed and smoked to perfection BBQ ribs. The ribs are slathered in sweet and tangy barbeque sauce and served with cheesy mashed potatoes and creamy coleslaw. Pair the mouthwatering ribs with perfectly battered shrimp and you have a dynamic duo for dinner.

The restaurant also has a senior menu for guests 55 and over that runs every day from noon until 6:00 p.m. This menu features sandwiches, dinners, seafood, pasta, and even a $14.99 lobster dinner. All meals are served with one side and are full size portions – definitely an excellent dining deal.

Catfish Charlie’s features a Sunday buffet that runs from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. and includes everything from classic breakfast favorites to roast beef, catfish, and other favorites. Adults are only $12.99, children ten and under are $6.99, and children four and under are complimentary. Deals like this certainly make your dining dollar go further.

Drink specials are sure to make Sunday a fun day. They include eight different Long Island iced teas that are only $5 all day. If a Bloody Mary is more up your alley, Catfish Charlie’s has you covered with 12 different varieties to choose from. Stop in on a Tuesday night after 4:00 p.m. and try one for only $3. Ladies, be sure to head to Catfish Charlie’s on Wednesday night for ladies’ night and choose something from Dan’s original drink list or their Hidden Treasures drink list. Margaritas are the drink special on Thursday nights for only $3 and Monday nights you can drink down $2.50 draft beers.

With a private room to accommodate a group of 50-60 people, you can enjoy a plated dinner or buffet while having access to the beautiful sundeck and views of the Mississippi River. If your event is being held in a different venue, Catfish Charlie’s can cater any size group and even bring along their smoker and do a hog roast on-site.

Catfish Charlie’s also owns and operates the American Lady. This million-dollar yacht is available for lunch cruises, dinner cruises, sunset cruises, and can be booked for private charter events. The American Lady can accommodate up to 132 guests and all of the food is catered by Catfish Charlie’s. There is even a full bar aboard the spectacular ship and the happy hour cruises are a perfect time to try it out. This time of year, leaf cruises are popular as the autumn foliage colors the landscape. But these cruises fill up quickly, so be sure to call for times and availability and make your reservation.

Catfish Charlie’s definitely has something for everyone, both on land and on water. Whether a relaxed dining experience for two to four people, or a larger group, they can accommodate and welcome all sizes. Call ahead for reservations, sit at the bar and enjoy a drink, or venture to the deck for a little sun. Tell them Heather sent you and enjoy!

Catfish Charlie’s
1630 E 16th St.
Dubuque, IA
(563) 582-8600

Sunday-Thursday 11:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
Friday-Saturday 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.
Senior menu daily from 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Daily drink and dining specials
Available for private events and catering
Operates and caters the American Lady

Heather Hutchinson-Schuster
Heather Hutchinson-Schuster’s love for writing and food comes from many days spent cooking and dining with friends and neighbors. She invites you to share in some of her favorite restaurant experiences each and every month in her column. If you have a personal favorite restaurant that you would like to share with her, please email suggestions to Feature@juliensjournal.com.


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