“Here at Middendorf’s, we’re with you through thick and thin,” greets the voicemail of this beloved restaurant, owned by husband and wife Horst and Karen Pfeifer. If you’ve never been to this “Favorite Restaurant Worth the Drive,” (located off the Manchac Exit off Interstate 55) let me let you in on the joke: Middendorf’s Thin-Fried Catfish is like a fish-flavored cloud that, after its initial crunch, melts away on your tongue.

This timeless restaurant was opened by Louis and Josie Middendorf in 1934. When they retired, their daughter Suzy and her husband, Joey Lamonte, took over. In April of 2007, the Pfeifers (previous owners of the also beloved Bella Luna and of The Foundry) bought the restaurant. If a husband and wife team is the key ingredient to the success of Middendorf’s, then the Pfeifers have the perfect dish.

 “We feel very blessed,” says Karen. “We have met so many special people and friends through Bella Luna. Now, when we see them [at Middendorf’s] or meet new guests, we get to hear so many special and personal stories of why they love Middendorf’s.”

 In addition to all of the fabulous food and the timeless warm ambiance, you can book the “new building” (built in 1972) for private parties. In addition, the Pfeifers have added daily specials, a small pond stocked with albino catfish, are building a garden with herbs and vegetables and, “[we] will soon have exotic chickens running around so we and our friends can have fresh eggs,” Karen says. They also hope to begin building a new pier and outdoor deck on the empty lot next to the “old building.”

 In addition to the famous thin-fried catfish, the steadfast regulars also love the softshell and boiled crabs. If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, visit their new Web site, www.middendorfsrestaurant.com, and print out a menu to take with you on your 45 minute drive from New Orleans. You will be sure to arrive hungry and ready to ask the regular next to you what their favorite dish is, just to get started.
Editor’s Pick
Dunce in high places: Commission on Presidential Debates. In bypassing New Orleans for flimsy, contradictory reasons, this supposedly nonpartisan commission proved that either it is inept, political or corrupt. There would have been more integrity in just admitting what appears to be the truth by saying something such as “New Orleans was not included because, since Katrina, it is a politically sensitive community.” Instead, the Commission insulted New Orleans, and underscored its ignorance, by saying the city is not capable of hosting such an event while at the same time offering a debate to Oxford, Miss. The Commission performed like a group of bumbling incompetents, and about that there is no debate.