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Stories from the valley

Poor Red’s Bar-B-Q: A Fun and Historic Stop in the Valley Foothills

Contributed by Paul Buttner

We recently took a local road trip to Folsom and decided to keep driving up the hill. This got us to thinking about Poor Red’s Bar-B-Q. We heard about the recent renovations and decided to stop in. I must say, they sure have done a nice job with the place.

The historic building that is Poor Red’s used to be a weigh station for Wells Fargo and eventually became a bar called Kelly’s Bar from 1927 to 1945, until the fateful day a guy named Poor Red won it in a dice game. And so the legacy began!

I remember the “old days” at Poor Red’s when the menu was nailed to the wall and there were only about 5 to 6 tables at the end of the bar. Having a couple of drinks was basically “mandatory” while you waited patiently to be seated with a loud cattle call from the dining room. However, the new local ownership group has expanded the place substantially and skillfully incorporated the rich Gold Country history, with great photos and memorabilia artfully placed throughout. The semi-mandatory stop at the bar in route to the dining room is no longer required and we really enjoyed the historic ambiance. A wonderfully expanded menu also awaits hungry souls.

In 1952, this little bar made mixed drink history by inventing a drink called the Golden Cadillac. What is a “Cadillac” you might ask? It is Crème de Cocoa, Galliano, and half and half all blended with crushed ice for about the sweetest tasting “adult milkshake” you’ll ever taste. They really are quite amazing and really hard to make them at home just like they do at Poor Red’s. However, they are happy to show you how if you drop by to say hello. After enjoying this liquid delight, they will send you home with a couple of souvenir Susan B. Anthony dollars as change—another rich Poor Red’s tradition—to help you remember your visit.

So, grab your favorite road trip buddy and head up to the foothills. Heading up Highway 50 east from Sacramento for about 30 miles, take Exit 37 onto Mother Lode Road for about 1/3 mile, merge onto Pleasant Valley Road for about 4 miles until you enter the small town of El Dorado. Poor Red’s sits patiently waiting for you at 6221 Pleasant Valley Road. Tell them the Rice Guy sent you.