We were trying to decide where to go for lunch the other day when my wife suggested The Cat Shack
. I was game and thought she’d enjoy playing with the cats while we grabbed a bite to eat. The recent story in The Observer
made it sound interesting, at least. Who wouldn’t enjoy sipping some coffee while a cute little kitty plays with a ball of string, or whatever cute little kitties do in cafes.
We pulled into the parking lot on Beckley Avenue in Oak Cliff and entered, at which point something didn’t seem right. There were no cats at the Cat Shack, at least none of the feline variety. Turns out I’m a dope and had confused Whiskers and Soda Cat Café
with the Cat Shack. There would be no frolicking with balls of string during this lunch, and I was a bit surprised at my own disappointment with the turn of events, but as it happens the sandwiches more than made up for it.
The Cat Shack started as a food truck exclusively but opened up a physical location in 2021.
The Cat Shack started the first of its nine lives as a food truck in 2017 that promised “… a world-class, eating experience, rooted from the culture of Detroit,” whatever that means. While the food truck aspect still exists, the brick-and-mortar restaurant opened its doors in 2021 in South Oak Cliff and provides the same menu of sandwiches and tenders as well as freshly squeezed lemonades, all served, one assumes, by cool cats of the human variety.
One of their trademark sandwiches, the corned beef, is not always available due to the dreaded supply-chain issues and high ingredient costs. On this day, however, the restaurant's Facebook page
said it was available, so this was one of our choices along with the bang bang chicken.
Cozy little dining area with a blackboard confirming that today corned beef is indeed available.
The sandwiches are a bit pricey at $15, but they do come with fries … sort of. (More on that later.) We upscaled the fries for an additional charge to the loaded carne asada variety: grilled steak, onions, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, cotija cheese, a signature sauce and sour cream, on sidewinder fries. These have an interesting, almost teardrop, shape, and as everyone knows who prefers curly fries to regular, such things make a difference. The “loaded” descriptor is accurate, and if we're honest we almost wish they were a bit less loaded, but one cannot complain about truth in advertising.
Carne asada fries, fully loaded.
The bang bang chicken is served with a crispy breaded chicken breast, white cheddar cheese, tomato, onion, house slaw and bang bang sauce on a brioche bun. A good crunch and juicy flavor.
Bang bang chicken sandwich with house-made slaw.
The corned beef sandwich comes on either rye or an onion roll, and we chose the latter. It arrived with a pickle spear but no fries. It turns out that even though the menu says sandwiches come with fries, they do not come with the corned beef sandwich because it is a specialty item. It's not always available, so technically it's not part of the sandwich menu proper. It still costs the same $15, however; if such things matter to you, be forewarned.
The corned beef sandwich is not always available and sells out quickly when it is. You'll have to order fries à la carte.
You’re paying for the sandwich, however, not the fries, and the corned beef was just about worth it: flavorful and moist, perhaps a bit lean but not overly so. It may not have rivaled some of the best such as Katz’s
, but it also costs about half as much.
We washed everything down with a blueberry lemonade that was a great combo of sweet and tart.
Blueberry lemonade is one of the many lemonade options available.
Other sandwich options include hamburgers, the Detroiter (chicken shawarma in a pita), Creole catfish and blackened chicken. Catfish and chicken tenders are also available.
It was disappointing not to dine with cats, but that was on me. If you’re able to keep different restaurant names clear in your mind and/or pay attention to your significant other when they suggest lunch options, you could do a lot worse than eating with the cool cats at the Cat Shack in Oak Cliff.
2910 S. Beckley Ave., No. 100 (Oak Cliff). Tuesday – Thursday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Friday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.; closed Sunday and Monday.