During our visit to Joplin, Missouri we took some time to visit the downtown area. This section of the city falls on the path of Route 66, so it draws a wide variety of travelers every year. After taking in some of the sights, we had worked up a big lunchtime appetite, so we made a stop in the Red Onion Cafe. The restaurant was pretty busy, but we were still seated almost immediately.

We want to thank the Red Onion Cafe for their hospitality. Rest assured that all opinions are our own.

Red Onion Cafe can be busy with a variety of diners during meal times.

Popular Place

This day’s lunch crowd was clearly a mix of local business people, residents, and a few travelers, like us. The hostess escorted us to our table near a window, and along the way I scoped out some of the dishes that were at other tables. There were lots of conversations taking place, but the place didn’t seem too noisy. Once we were seated, we began reviewing the menu options. We had contacted the restaurant in advance, and John Starchman, the manager, was there that day. He came out and introduced himself, and we talked about what dishes are most popular at the Red Onion Cafe.

Smoked Chicken Dip is a favorite with many diners at Red Onion Cafe.

Local Favorite

Earlier in the morning we had made a stop at the Joplin Tourism office to meet  our contact, Carrie Puffinger. During a lengthy conversation, the subject of lunch came up. Carrie was excited to hear that we had chosen the Red Onion Cafe, and was happy to suggest some of her favorites. One dish she raved about was the Smoked Chicken Dip. She made it sound so appealing, that we couldn’t pass it up. A blend of smoked chicken and cream cheese is topped with peppers, jalapenos, and red onion. Crispy tortilla chips serve as the instrument to devour this delicious dish.

Grilled toast points work well to aid in eating the cream cheese based bruschetta dip.

Appetizers Galore

The menu has plenty of starter choices, and John wanted us to taste one of the most vibrant. The Bruschetta Misto is concocted with a large dollop of herbed cream cheese as the base. To this they add diced tomato that is flavored with basil and garlic. They also add to it marinated olive salad. Plenty of grilled focaccia bread wedges were on hand to carry the spread to our mouths. Both of these appetizers were unbelievable, and had us coming back for more. We started to wonder if we would have any room left for the main courses.

Grilled Chicken Salad filling is made with big chunks of fresh ingredients.

Staying Light

Knowing well that we would be packing in plenty of calories in the starters, we decided to hang back a little on the main dishes. Crystal chose the Chicken Salad Sandwich, which is served on grilled whole grain bread. The filling is a good mix of chicken, walnuts, celery, and grapes. The ingredients are chunky, so each bite has lots of flavor. Her meal came with the choice of a side, so she picked a house salad.

Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad is packed with a variety of flavors.

Red Onion Cafe offers a good selection of entree salads, which was exactly what I was in the mood for that day. I chose the Mandarin Orange Salad, which comes in a hefty sized bowl. A blend of mixed greens is topped with onion, celery, grilled chicken, and mandarin oranges, The addition of candied almonds adds a sweet crunch to the dish. It was a really good mix of flavors that had me continuing to nibble, even after I announced that I was stuffed.

Shamrock Cake is a decadent dessert option.

Sweet Ending

When we entered the restaurant, we noticed a cooler filled with sweet treats. John had mentioned that these are created by a local resident, and the selection rotates. As I was moving around the place taking pictures, I ended up near the case chatting with John. Everything in there looked amazing, but especially the Shamrock Cake. I had to ask for more details about it. It is a staggering creation of Guinness chocolate cake layered with Jameson chocolate ganache. The richness doesn’t end there, as it is topped with a Bailey’s Irish Cream buttercream frosting. Just the description made me gain two pounds. While it sounded absolutely scrumptious, we had to pass. Not only were we stuffed to the gills, but our next stop was a candy shop. Looks like a lot of walking will be needed after this trip.

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