Wander into California History

When you walk into Poor Red’s Bar-B-Que, you’re walking into history!

Whether you’re starting with their signature Gold Cadillac cocktail (a mouth-watering Poor Red’s original) or are there to indulge in a night of ribs, chicken, or a juicy burger, Poor Red’s delivers a quality experience with a fun atmosphere making it an About Town Deb favorite!


The Gold Cadillac is famous at Poor Red’s. It was invented here in 1951 by Frank Cline and is an enticing combination of Galliano, White Creme de Cacao, and Cream. You must try it when you visit! I got to sit down with Executive Chef, Dean Hiatt, over one of those incredible Gold Cadillacs while he walked me through the Poor Red’s experience.


There’s no better place to start than with onion rings! Dean told me the secret to Poor Red’s delicious onion rings – before they are battered, these handcrafted, hand dipped rings get special treatment – the lining of the onion is removed so when they are dipped into their brown beer batter, the good stuff stays on without pulling the onion out of the ring ensuring that each bite you take is just as perfect as the last. These rings are so good that the restaurant goes through 180 lbs of onions each week! They go through an entire keg of beer every 10 days, just for the batter for the onion rings.


Taking a bite into one of Poor Red’s burgers is an experience you won’t forget. Dean makes sure that each patty has just the right mixture of fat and protein. “Fat is flavor!” Dean explains. You can taste the freshness in these burgers that are made with local brioche bread, house made thousand island dressing, red leaf lettuce and tomatoes from a farm just 4 miles down the road from Poor Red’s. Local and fresh are staples in all of Poor Red’s dishes – “Every chef wants to use the most local and most fresh ingredients there are, period.” admits Dean.


Nothing compliments a burger better than a wedge salad! Poor Red’s uses a full half head of lettuce with bleu cheese dressing, cherry tomatoes from down the road, house pickled red wine vinegar onions, pepper for functional garnish, and…you guessed it…housemade bacon bits!


Deb’s pick? The ribs! They are to die for! While Dean’s favorite dish differs with his mood, the locals agree with Deb – the ribs are an absolute must. Last year Poor Red’s sold over 15,000 full racks of ribs.


As if the food and drinks aren’t enough – the atmosphere is incredible. History emanates from every corner of Poor Red’s, which offers outdoor and indoor dining options! Originally built as a Wells Fargo weigh station in the 1800’s for miners during the Gold Rush, Poor Red’s has gone through many transformations. From that weigh station, the building became a brothel (that burned down twice with the town!), then became a pharmacy, and finally was converted to Kelly’s Bar in the 1910’s or 1920’s – this building is part of California history! As the story goes, Kelly’s was owned by Kelly and Red Sather. Kelly was selling drinks and Red was selling ribs out the back until 1948 when the two partners agreed to play a dice game to determine who got to buy the other out of the business. Red won and Poor Red’s was born!


Poor Red’s has become a local favorite that seats up to 150 patrons with indoor and outdoor dining. The menus and drinks are the same no matter where you choose to sit, but if you decide to dine outdoors, you can even bring your dog with you! The restaurant offers a Pooch Menu with Salmon, Filet, Chicken, or Flank Steak – yes – for your dog! “If you have a Great Dane, I might just slip him an extra piece of bacon.” States Dean who loved and misses the breed.

Great for parties of all ages and sizes, Poor Red’s is an About Town Deb #DebsPick!

“Come early, come hungry!” – Dean Hiatt, Executive Chef.

Thank you to Poor Red’s! If you’d like more information, you can visit their website at PoorReds.com.


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Debbie McCarthyAuthor posts

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McCarthy serves as a Northern Nevada Host and Producer for About Town Deb, Digital media Influencer and Event Photographer