Red Onion Cafe

When a restaurant has been in operation for longer than the length of time that I’ve lived in Joplin (which is now almost two decades), that says something.


In such a fickle industry, owning a successful restaurant since 1995 says, “We’ve figured out the magic formula! We’ve listened to you, our people, and we honor you by serving you the quality food that you want.”


Thanks, Red Onion Cafe, for making me feel appreciated as a citizen.


I appreciate you right back.


The casual, urban atmosphere at Red Onion makes it adaptable for any kind of dining experience, from a date night to a business lunch, a girlfriend getaway to a family meal (regarding that – a quick thank you to all of the Red Onion servers who patiently waited on my fidgety, sometimes boisterous, toddlers over the years).


Recently, I left my family at home and joined my friends for a rare girlfriend getaway dinner at Red Onion. Without the distractions of familial responsibilities, I was able to really see the restaurant for the gem that it is.


red onion front


First of all, Red Onion is located in a quaint historic brick building in the heart of downtown Joplin at 4th and Virginia Streets, just a block off of the iconic Route 66. Inside, the restaurant is open and airy, and offers a laid-back, neighborly feeling. If you’re a local, you will no doubt run into at least one person that you know here.


Once my friends and I were seated, we ordered our drinks and an appetizer. In addition to soft drinks, Red Onion serves fantastic raspberry tea and peach tea, as well as a selection of beer and wine.


For our appetizer, we ordered the Bruschetta Misto. Red Onion’s version includes grilled foccacia served with fresh, chopped tomatoes with garlic and basil, herbed cream cheese, and a marinated olive salad.


red onion misto

Bruschetta Misto


One of the most popular appetizers here is the Smoked Chicken Dip, a creamy, smoky, spicy creation that’s served with tortilla chips. This dip is known all around town. I’ve even been with my friend when she picked up an order of this dip, transferred it to a crystal serving platter, and brought it with her to serve at a holiday party. This dip is a perennial crowd-pleaser.


For our dinner entrees, Donna and I both ordered the Chicken Tuscany, which was made with grilled chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, and wild mushrooms, and topped with a rich parmesan cream sauce. It was served with wild rice and butter fondue broccoli.


red onion tuscany

Chicken Tuscany


The tangy taste of the tomatoes and artichokes contrasted the smooth, rich flavor of the cream sauce, making my mouth very happy.


Erin ordered one of the daily specials, which was a tender steak (Red Onion’s steaks are cut daily in the kitchen) served with equally tender brussel sprouts, which Erin was excited to order since this often-underappreciated vegetable doesn’t regularly appear on menus.


red onion steak

The steak special of the day


Carrie, my vegan friend, ordered the Black Bean Veggie Burger (minus the cheese).


red onion bbb1

Black Bean Veggie Burger


Check out the pickle-tomato-and-onion smiley face on her bread. It’s a happy veggie burger!


Because I’ve eaten at Red Onion so many times over the years, I’ll tell you about a few more of my favorite items here. For lunch, I typically order the ROC Chicken Salad Sandwich, made with crunchy grapes, celery, and walnuts, and served on buttery grilled whole-grain bread.


I am in love with this rich, nutty bread. I’ve considered asking the management at Red Onion who their bread supplier is so that I can buy some to bring home. But then I realized that if I had the bread in my house, I would probably eat an entire loaf in one day so it’s probably best that I don’t know where I can buy it. Yes, these are my food-obsessed thoughts. You’ll understand once you’ve tasted this bread. Believe me.


Sometimes, I’ll order the salad version of this sandwich. It’s called the Chicken Walnut Salad and it also comes with a piece of that addictive toasted bread. I order the homemade sweet vinaigrette to top my salad.


One of the most popular dishes at Red Onion is David’s Fried Chicken Salad, which consists of mixed greens topped with coconut-breaded chicken, tomatoes, avocados, chopped egg, and cheese, and is served with a honey-mustard dressing.


Desserts are not to be forgotten at Red Onion. I’ve eaten enough desserts here through the years that I believe I have the right to claim myself as an expert.


You see, the Red Onion’s dessert selection has supported me through three pregnancies. During my second pregnancy, I ate a slice of the Caramel Fudge Pecan Cake about once a week. I noticed that it’s now listed as a best seller on Red Onion’s menu, and I think I maybe I had something to do with that.


red onion cake

Caramel Fudge Pecan Cake


Red Onion’s wide selection of high-quality menu items, coupled with its relaxed, welcoming dining room, makes it one the restaurants where I always know I’ll have a great experience.


Even with fidgety toddlers in tow.


Red Onion Cafe is located at 203 E. 4th St.
To read more about my adventures in the area, visit

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