Bring back the exotic flair of Ed & Fred’s Desert Moon with this chicken salad recipe

·2 min read

This popular Lexington restaurant was only around for a little over a decade but it made its mark: People still talk about dishes they loved at Ed & Fred’s Desert Moon.

My favorite (I ordered it practically every time) was the lime chili pesto linguine. (Ed & Fred’s had great meat-free options, entrees that could hold their own.)

Others raved about the hot Anasazi chili, or the unique calzones (smoked salmon?), the BLT made with smoked turkey, guacamole and spicy mayo, or the Caribbean smoked chicken salad. That is the recipe we found in the Herald-Leader archives for this part of our Taste of the Past series that has included other favorites like DeSha’s made-from-scratch cornbread and Stanley J’s potato salad.

Ed & Fred’s opened in 1992 at 249 E. Main St. Owned by Doug and Judy Eifert, the restaurant was named for Doug’s father Fred and for the father of original partner Mary Jane Sloane, Ed.

From the beginning the menu was described as “eclectic” by reviewers. And the place was known for its art almost as much as its food. Patrons of downtown Lexington plays and galleries often enjoyed a meal at Ed & Fred’s after a show.

Clockwise from bottom, Brie and Wild Mushroom Empanada dinner, Linguine with Tomato and Herbs, and Lime Chile Pesto Linguine were some of the dishes at Ed and Fred’s Desert Moon in 2001.
Clockwise from bottom, Brie and Wild Mushroom Empanada dinner, Linguine with Tomato and Herbs, and Lime Chile Pesto Linguine were some of the dishes at Ed and Fred’s Desert Moon in 2001.
Ed & Fred’s Desert Moon restaurant in November 1997, after the move to the new location on what is now called Grand Boulevard.
Ed & Fred’s Desert Moon restaurant in November 1997, after the move to the new location on what is now called Grand Boulevard.

After about four years, the restaurant moved to a new location not far away on Grand Boulevard, into the site of the former Del Frisco’s Restaurant. A loyal fanbase took the move and other changes in stride.

The larger space was designed to feel cozy and to show off the artwork of local artists. “We wanted to give our restaurant a different flair so it would be different from every other restaurant in town because there are a lot of restaurants here,” Judy Eifert said at the time. “The art has played a part in that, and it would be a whole different restaurant without this particular art.”

It was ahead of its time in many ways: I think this is the first upscale place I saw with a polished concrete floor, for instance.

Ed and Fred’s Desert Moon owner and chef Doug Eifert.
Ed and Fred’s Desert Moon owner and chef Doug Eifert.
Ed & Fred’s Desert Moon restaurant used their wall spaces to display art work. Seen here is a painting by Rodney Hatfield, titled “Stone Woman”. Friday Nov 21, 1997.
Ed & Fred’s Desert Moon restaurant used their wall spaces to display art work. Seen here is a painting by Rodney Hatfield, titled “Stone Woman”. Friday Nov 21, 1997.

But at the end of 2003, Ed & Fred’s closed for good, with little fanfare after serving New Year’s Eve dinner. At the time, Doug Eifert said that increasing competition for downtown diners took a toll.

The building on Grand Boulevard was already owned by Nancy Barron and Associates, who expanded into the former restaurant space.

The Eiferts moved to North Carolina and opened a restaurant in the Outer Banks, serving some of the old Ed & Fred’s favorites to a new crowd.

Dajio Restaurant in Ocracoke closed last year and the Eiferts have retired.

Doug and Judy Eifert in 2013, after they opened Dajio Restaurant in Ocracoke, N.C. It’s since sold and they have now retired.
Doug and Judy Eifert in 2013, after they opened Dajio Restaurant in Ocracoke, N.C. It’s since sold and they have now retired.
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