Dining With Denise Neil

Waiting for news on Joplin's finest dining

Fred & Red was (is??) at 1719 S. Main in Joplin.I’m back from a little weekend adventure in Joplin that I’d rather not relive ever, ever again.

And now that I am back and coming down from the ordeal, my mind keeps drifting to Joplin. My mom grew up there, and as a kid, I spent every Thanksgiving and much of my summer visiting all my grandparents and aunts and uncles there.

Even as a kid, restaurants were important to me. I lived in Dodge City, where the arrival of Applebee’s in the mid-1990s was beyond huge dining news. So I considered Joplin to be the ultimate fine dining destination. At my insistence, every single trip there included a visit to Red Lobster, where I’d eat cheesy biscuits until I couldn’t move. My grandpa — he died a few years ago — always paid the tab.

My parents also were big on Fred & Red Chili, a greasy spoon diner that, sort of like NuWay, had just a horseshoe shaped bar for seating. (Anthony Bourdain featured in in an episode of “No Reservations” earlier this year.)

Fred & Red specialized in chili, specifically chili poured over tamales and chili poured over spaghetti. The spaghetti concoction is called “spaghetti red” and my mom made for dinner all the time when I was growing up. “Can’t remember a time they were not there,” my mom said in a text message last night. “Dads says 50 or 60 years.” Actually, Fred and Red opened in 1923 and moved to its Main Street location in 1943. Dad was 1. Mom was 3.

I’ve scoured the internet today and am getting conflicting reports about whether Red Lobster or Fred & Red survived. I so hope they did.

I also got a kind note yesterday from Scott Redler, one of the founders of Freddy’s Frozen Custard. He knew my family was from Joplin, and we’d often talk about how much he liked it there. (He once had a Timberline in Joplin as well.) The Joplin Freddy’s was destroyed in the storm, though none of the employees or customers were hurt.

I’ll update this post when I get a firm answer on Red Lobster and Fred & Red.

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