Restaurant: Poor Red’s
Address: 6221 Pleasant Valley Road in El Dorado
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 11:30 a.m. to midnight, Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
I am not going to assume (because we all know when you assume something it makes a you-know-what out of me and a you-know-what out of you) everyone in El Dorado County knows the story behind Poor Red’s and its (in)famous adult beverage the Golden Cadillac.
As a relative newcomer to this county it took me a while and a bit of investigating to find out the 411 on this world-famous home grown establishment and its signature cocktail.
Poor Red’s was originally constructed as a weigh station for Wells Fargo. It was called Kelly’s Bar from 1927 until around 1945. A guy named “Poor Red” won the bar in a game of dice, and he and his wife “Rich Opal” took it over soon after.
The murals on the walls of Poor Red’s are from the ‘40s, and are depictions of former employees and patrons and Poor Red.
The paintings are not the main draw for most customers. The people from EL Dorado County and from all over the world come to Poor Red’s for the Golden Cadillac.
This concoction combines Bols White Crème de Cacao, Galliano L’Autentico, half and half and the ice made from “clean mountain water” and mixed in decades old metal blenders and served in a champagne glass.
Folks also come for the barbecue and other grub — the reason I was at the iconic stop.
I’ve been to Poor Red’s a few times and on this occasion I decided to ask the bartender what he recommended.
He suggested the pork dip, and then a regular shouted, “Get the onion rings instead of the fries.”
The bartender informed me it is an additional $3 to substitute fries for onion rings but what the heck?
I ordered the pork dip and onion rings.
Lunch seating is at the bar — the dining room is closed for lunch.
The large chunks of pork come with a piece of El Dorado “Texas toast” laid on top. This is a meal you need to eat with a fork and a lot of napkins. The onion rings were tasty, large and plentiful and the pork succulent and quite tasty. I must admit the dipping sauce that comes with the meal is somewhat lacking in flavor. It’s almost nondescript and could have benefited by adding a little heat and some additional spices.
The menu is not overly ambitious and offers a good variety of items for both lunch and dinner, and the prices are moderate and in line with other local restaurants.
But let’s be honest here, folks — one doesn’t go to Poor Red’s for the unique grub alone. It’s the ambiance, the regular characters and the downright intriguing history of the place are the reasons Poor Red’s is world-famous and adored and cherished by El Dorado County residents.
Poor Red’s is not your average restaurant and bar. It’s a piece of history, and it should be a part of every El Dorado County resident’s rite of passage. As a matter of fact, I believe it should be a pre-requisite to living in our wonderful county. Once you hit 21, that is …
Poor Red’s is located at 6221 Pleasant Valley Road in El Dorado and is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 11:30 a.m. to midnight, Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
To get more information or order food to go call 530-622-2901.