Iowa Dining February 13, 2018
Eat Endless Fried Catfish At This Rustic Restaurant In Iowa
While it’s true that more than 6 in 10 Iowans lives in an urban area, we do really like to hit the road and see the beauty of rural Iowa. There are so many amazing sites to discover, from quirky shops to charming small towns, beautiful parks and one-of-a-kind restaurants. If you travel in any direction for some time, you’re bound to discover something worth writing home about. Bluff Lake Catfish Farm is one such place – this scenic farm in southeastern Iowa serves up a Midwestern treat that will absolutely delight your tastebuds.
It's no surprise to Iowans that rural Iowa is full of incredible discoveries.
Maquoketa Caves is one spot, located right in between Dubuque and Davenport. People come from all over the Tri-State area to wander through the park and climb up to the Natural Bridge. The nearby town of Maquoketa itself is a rural paradise, with a charming Main Street lined with small businesses.
One restaurant in Maquoketa is particularly popular, all year long.
It all started in 1969, when local man Clayton Kuhlman built a pond at Bluff Lake, and stocked it with catfish for his wife, who loved to fish. The fish were top notch, and as word spread about this little slice of paradise, Kuhlman began to sell fishing rights to his lake. By 1971, the spot had become so popular that he opened a snack stand, where people could purchase refreshments, and have their fish cleaned and cooked.
Soon, the little shack became so popular, that they needed to expand!
Locals had come together to build the original shack, working for just $2 an hour (and all the beer they could drink).The townsfolk laughed at Kuhlman's attempt to build a little restaurant in their rural town, and nicknamed the spot Clayton's Folly. In 1972, though, the International Coon Dog Association wanted to host a national trial on Kuhlman's land, as it had such a great reputation. The trial meant that a real kitchen and restaurant had to be open, and so it was.
Now, Bluff Lake Catfish Farm is one of the most popular places to dine in Southeast Iowa.
People come from all over the area to join them on one of their "all you can eat" nights. On Friday nights, they offer a whole or filleted catfish, and on Saturday nights, you can enjoy their filleted haddock. On both nights, the restaurant is open from 4:00 PM - 10:00 PM. Sunday means all-you-can-eat shrimp and chicken, from 11 AM - 8 PM. from 4 - 10pm. They also have a full menu of Midwestern specials.
Be prepared for a wait!
It's not uncommon to have to wait almost two hours for a table, and they don't take reservations. There's a gift shop on site, and you'll enjoy watching the wildlife or feeding the ducks at the pond. Bluff Lake Catfish Farm's staff also serves popcorn to those who are waiting for their tables.
The wait is worth it, and you'll have a good time hanging around the farm.
There's a reason that Bluff Lake is so popular on their fish fry nights! Locals and tourists alike know that you can't get any better catfish in Iowa, and that "Clayton's Folly" was not a folly at all.
Be sure to set aside some time this spring to enjoy a meal at Bluff Lake Catfish farm - come hungry!
Bluff Lake Catfish Farm is located at
9343 95th Ave., Maquoketa, IA 52060. While you're in town, stop off at the Maquoketa Caves State Park (10970 98th St., Maquoketa, IA 52060), or visit the fascinating Clinton Engines Museum (607 E Maple St., Maquoketa, IA 52060)
What’s your favorite rural Iowa restaurant? Tell us about it in the comments! If you don’t yet have a favorite, check out
11 Amazing Hidden Iowa Restaurants And Where To Find Them.