Fred and Red's


Cuisine style:American
Value:Unbelievable value for unbelievable food.
Service:One of a kind - genuine Midwestern charm
Atmosphere:Small 22 seat diner, roughly the same as it's been since 1923.
Where:1719 Main Street - Joplin, Missouri 64801
When:Tuesday - Saturday, 11:00am - 9:00pm - closed during the month of August for R&R.
Recommended:Spaghetti red, chili straight, hand-rolled tamales, cheeseburgers... they're all the best. Be sure to enjoy the warm crackers with the chili.

If you want the ultimate Fred & Red's experience, add lots of mustard, followed by a fair amount of red hot sauce, parmesan cheese and the chili powder to an order of spaghetti red. Mustard might sound a bit strange but if you haven't tried it you definitely do not know what you are missing.

Prices/Cards:$2.95 to $5.95
Sound:Low to normal conversation level - with food like this, few people talk much...
Miscellaneous:2,200 pounds of chili made fresh each week in summer, 4,400 pounds each week in winter...
Comments:Fred Herring and Red Wilcoxson opened the centerpiece restaurant of perfect chili and tamales in 1923. Red's son, Larry, keeps the tradition alive by cranking out 5,400 tamales every week from the original home-made tamale press Fred built in the 1930s.

How can a small restaurant with 22 seats around a bar-style counter rate the highest rating we can give? It's simple; their chili and tamales are absolutely the very best. There is no better. Fred & Red's chili is seasoned with the perfect balance of chili powder, garlic, salt, pepper and fried hamburger (no beans). It is a recipe impossible to duplicate - the memory of its flavor impedes the ability to objectively recall how to recreate the recipe.

The chili is thick and rich, steeped with the grease from fried hamburger meat and chili powder, slow cooked for hours in large pots in the kitchen. This isn't a dieter's best suggestion. No sacrifices are made in favor of reducing calories or fat over flavor, but with chili this good, no one cares. I've often found the area's leading health professionals elbow-deep in a jumbo plate of spaghetti red. There is plenty of delicious red grease for sopping up with a cheeseburger off the grill. Add a bit of yellow mustard and cheddar cheese for the maximum taste sensation you can withstand. It's tough to describe this chili - the flavor is the best flavor of any food I have ever eaten.

Fred & Red's spaghetti red (spaghetti covered with chili) is a dish sought the world over by those who have had the pleasure of having it once before. I have to ask family and friends to send care packages of frozen blocks of their chili sent to me (1 1/3 c water to 1lbs chili, slowly heated). It's a flavor that is as rich and bold as anything mankind has created. Add to this a small handful of dill pickles and sliced white onions and you're on your way to the Promised Land.

The Missouri Life website (archived) has a nice article which was published in late 2000.


I was hungry and tired,
And dead on my feet.
Been looking all over,
For a good place to eat.

When some 'fellers' went by,
I heard what they said.
They had one of those specials,
With Fred and Red.

I sauntered on down,
To the place they had been.
I looked the place over,
An then I went in.

They were standing in line
With a smile on their face.
So I knew at a glance,
I was in the right place.

It was clean as a hound's tooth,
The old timer would say.
That was nothing unusual,
They just keep it that way.

The food was delicious,
An the best of its kind.
I've looked for some better,
But none I could find.

Those gracious ladies in white,
That serve us our spread.
Are a wonderful 'barg'in',
For Fred and Red.

-- Dan Daughty

LITHO PRINTING - JOPLIN, MO 64801 37814 - AQ M-2

Restaurant Review Updated: May 29th, 2003 - 7:04am

Back to Main page