“I can’t wait until the State Fair arrives so I can get a Penn’s chicken on a stick!” As I heard these words while waiting in an event line last week, I started to turn around and tell the stranger that he didn’t have to wait until the fair opens to enjoy the treat. Penn’s Fish House has been serving fried fish and chicken, including the aforementioned item, for decades in its original location in Canton as well as in Forest, Meridian, and in several locations around the Jackson Metro.
Yes, Penn’s chicken on a stick and other items have been a staple at the fair for year, but Penn’s restaurants have actually been around since 1967. That’s the year founder and owner Roger Penn opened one of the first pond-raised catfish restaurants in the country on Highway 43 south of Canton. Known for crispy fried catfish, sumptuous buffets, and the ever-popular chicken on a stick, Penn’s has become a strong presence in the state’s restaurant scene as many others have faded from memory.
One of two locations near Jackson’s Reservoir is my usual drive-through of choice when I’m craving Penn’s fish or chicken. But since the Canton location remains the mothership, I’ll focus on this one. Assorted menus contain many of the same standards like fried fish and chicken, but items do vary according to location. Therefore, it’s best to check Penn’s website prior to dining in, calling in an order or picking food up via the drive-through window located at some of the restaurants.
Penn’s Canton location is a favorite spot for those looking for a hearty lunch buffet. For $11.29, diners can enjoy home-cooked meats, vegetables, salad bar, dessert bar, and a beverage. The Sunday lunch buffet is $11.99 offered during the same time contains similar items. A seafood buffet ($19.99) features a large variety of seafood, salad bar, and dessert bar. Again, call ahead for specific times and menu offerings.
Entrees and dinners are served with hushpuppies and two sides and include grilled or fried chicken tender nuggets (7.99) with hushpuppies and two sides; whole catfish ($12.99) catfish ($9.39), seafood platter ($13.99), combos of your choice of catfish, chicken, and shrimp ($9.49-$10.89), butterfly shrimp ($9.39), oyster ($16.89) popcorn shrimp ($8.29) and hamburger steak with gravy ($11.29).
It goes without saying - not to be missed is the infamous chicken on a stick dinner ($8.29), complete with Texas toast and choice of two sides.
You’d expect a seafood restaurant would serve great poboys and Penn’s doesn’t disappoint. Popular choices are the shrimp ($8.29), catfish ($8.89), oyster ($13.99), and chicken tender ($7.99) poboys.
Penn’s also serves an above-average burger with fries ($7.49) for those occasions when seafood isn’t what you’re craving.
On the lighter side is a salad bar ($7.99), popcorn shrimp salad ($7.59), green salad ($3.99), and fried or grilled chicken ($6.39).
Appetizers like fried green tomatoes, fried dill pickles, and fried chicken bites are in the $4 range and the perfect start to or accompaniment to any meal.
Penn’s Fish House is located at 1528 Highway 43 S. in Canton. Hours are Sunday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Other locations are in Forest, Meridian, Raymond, Madison, Florence, Brandon and Reservoir area, Ridgeland, and Flora. Check out Penn’s website for additional information: http://www.pennsrestaurant.com.