Restaurants of Route 66

Take a restaurant road trip on the historic Route 66.
By: Stephanie Cohen
Route 66 runs through 8 US states — Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California — covering 2,448 miles. Today, the historic route is no longer officially recognized by the US Highway System, but many people still travel it.

Adam Richman did just that in a recent Route 66 episode of Man v. Food Nation. He sampled some of the eats for which the Mother Road is known, and ended his journey by coaching a local in the Puffy Taco Challenge at Eloté Cafe & Catering in Tulsa, OK.

Adam's adventure inspired the creation of the ultimate restaurant road trip on Route 66. The goal was to visit as many different types of restaurants, with various food genres, as possible. The map shows the road trip with the different stops. You can see a larger version of it at our Google map. If this all sounds yummy, then jump in your car and get your eats on Route 66.
Chicago starts your Route 66 journey if you are traveling from east to west. You'll spend 301 miles in this state. Here are suggested restaurants as your eating adventure begins.

Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket
645 Joliet Rd, Willowbrook, IL 60527
Fun Fact: The restaurant was inducted into the Route 66 Hall of Fame.
Menu Highlight: Their fried chicken was chosen as the best fried chicken in Chicagoland by Pat Bruno of the Chicago Sun-Times in 1993.

Avanti's Italian Restaurant
Address: 407 Main Street, Normal, IL 61761
Fun Fact:
Brothers Guido and Albert Zeller started the business, and today it is run by Guido's 2 sons, Marcus and Richard.
Menu Highlight: The specialty is Avanti's Famous Gondola which is ham, salami, American cheese and lettuce on their own Italian bread.

Joe Rogers' "The Den" Chili Parlor
Address: 820 S. 9th St, Springfield, IL 62703
Fun Fact:
Customers have come from all over the world, including Ethiopia, Australia, Philippines and South Korea, to taste the restaurant's chili.
Menu Highlight: Well, chili, of course. Since the meat and beans are cooked separately, diners can truly customize their chili.
The next state you'll hit on your road trip is Missouri. For the next 317 miles you'll be in The Show-Me State. Here's where you'll want to stop for a bite.

Ted Drewes Frozen Custard
Address: 6726 Chippewa, St. Louis, MO 63109
Fun Fact:
In addition to selling custard, the stands also sell Christmas trees. Ted Jr. travels to Nova Scotia each year to bring back the best Canadian balsam fir trees.
Menu Highlight: The custard itself is world-famous. It comes in several flavors and can be combined with lots of different toppings. The shop's specialty, "Concrete," is popular; Adam Richman created his own when he visited.

Address: 9643 Manchester Rd, Saint Louis, MO 63119-1333

Fun Fact: There are at least 3 other Mexican restaurants called Nacho Mama's in the US (Los Angeles, Baltimore and Richmond).
Menu Highlight: The Super Tex or Mex gives you a variety of food, including tacos, enchiladas, chalupas and fajitas.

Donut Drive-In
Address: 6525 Chippewa St, St. Louis, MO 63109
Fun Fact:
Their donuts were voted the best hand-cut donuts in St. Louis.
Menu Highlight: Diners repeatedly praise the yummy chocolate icing on the donuts and say that alone is worth the trip.

A Slice of Pie
Address: 601 Kingshighway, St Rear, Rolla, MO 65401

Fun Fact: Put your credit card away because this place is cash-only.
Menu Highlight: Dessert is what draws people to this overlooked restaurant. Locals and visitors say it is the best pie, period. They offer more than 25 types of pies.
The third state on your Route 66 journey is Kansas. Only 13 miles of the Mother Road are in this state but there are still yummy stops to make.

4 Women on the Route
Address: 119 North Main St, Galena, KS 66739
Fun Fact:
Outside the gas station/grill is Tow Tater, the inspiration for Tow Mater from the Cars movies. He can be rented for events.
Menu Highlight: They have a variety of smoothies with creative names such as School Bus Breakfast, Honeymooner's Tonic and Grape Escape.

Steve's Candy
Address: 500 West 7th St, Galena, KS 66739
Fun Fact:
Bring your laptop or iPad because you'll have access to free Wi-Fi.
Menu Highlight: A popular candy of theirs is the Mine Run candy. This crunchy, sponge-looking candy was invented by accident when Joe Anthony tried to make peanut brittle.

Baxter Springs Smokehouse BBQ
Address: 2320 South Military (Route 66), Baxter Springs, KS 66713
Fun Fact:
Visit their website for a free dessert coupon.
Menu Highlight:
Known for their smoked BBQ, the sampler is a great way to try the ribs, pork and brisket.

Cafe on the Route
Address: 1101 Military Ave, Baxter Springs, KS
Fun Fact:
The cafe is located in the old Crowell Bank, which was robbed by Jesse James in 1876.
Menu Highlight: Aztec Chicken was a dish featured on the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. It consists of a chicken breast with shrimp, bacon, avocados and chilies.
From Kansas, you will travel into Oklahoma and remain in the state for the next 432 miles. Of the 8 states, Oklahoma has the second most mileage of Route 66. Here are a few restaurants to sample along the way.

Clanton's Cafe
Address: 319 E Illinois, Vinita, OK 74301
Fun Fact:
Clanton's is the oldest continually-owned family restaurant in Oklahoma. Generations of Clantons have been serving customers since 1927.
Menu Highlight: Their Chicken Fried Steak was featured in Gourmet Magazine as one of the best dishes on Route 66.

Elote Cafe & Catering

Address: 514 South Boston Ave, Tulsa, OK 74103
Fun Fact:
On the first and third Thursday of each month, from May to October, the Luchadores wrestle outside the restaurant. Get to know the Elote Luchador Wrestling Federation members.
Menu Highlight: The Puffy Tacos took on the challenger in the Man v. Food Nation episode. They consist of puffy flour tortilla shells stuffed with roast beef, chicken or black beans and sweet potatoes, topped with caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato onion relish, cheese and crema fresca.


Address: 660 W Hwy 66, Arcadia, OK 73007
Fun Fact:
Outside of POPS stands a soda bottle that is 66 feet tall.
Menu Highlight: On any given day POPS has more than 500 varieties of sodas from around the world available at their Soda Ranch.
The fiftth state on your Route 66 restaurant road trip is Texas. A total of 186 miles of the historic road pass through The Lone Star State. Only Kansas has less mileage. While steakhouses are frequent, here are 2 unusual dining highlights.

Stockyard Cafe
Address: 100 S. Manhattan St, Amarillo, TX
Fun Fact: T
his cafe is in the big sale barn at the Amarillo stockyards where they auction off thousands of cattle a week.
Menu Highlight:
Truckers and meat men stop by for the honest hash-house breakfasts: steak and eggs, breakfast burritos, salsa-garnished huevos rancheros and stacks of flapjacks.

Midpoint Cafe & Gift Shop

Address: P.O. Box 144, Adrian, TX 79001
Fun Fact:
The cafe is the mid-point of Route 66. It is exactly 1139 miles to Chicago and 1139 miles to Los Angeles.
Menu Highlight:
Ugly Crust Pies are the creation of Joann H. She used her grandmother's recipe for crust, which tastes delicious but looks lumpy and ugly.

New Mexico
New Mexico is the state with the largest stretch of Route 66 -- 487 miles. Here are 4 restaurants to try out as you take on the longest part of the drive.

Flying Tortilla
Address: 4252 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe, NM

Fun Fact: The Flying Tortilla is open for breakfast and lunch, not dinner.
Menu Highlight: The homemade meatloaf is a special family recipe that is served with mashed potatoes and gravy and fresh veggies.

Bobcat Bite

Address: 418 Old Las Vegas Highway, Santa Fe, NM 87505
Fun Fact: The name comes from the fact that treats were given to the bobcats who used to come down from the hills and settle outside the back-door of the restaurant. It was one of the few bobcat-friendly restaurants.
Menu Highlight:
Bobcat Bite is the home of the famous Green Chili Cheeseburger.

66 Diner
Address: 1405 Central Ave NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106

Fun Fact: The '50s music played at the 66 Diner can be heard on the radio at Real Oldies 1600 AM.
Menu Highlight: The trademark dish here is the Pile Up. It is pan-fried potatoes, chopped bacon, chopped green chile, 2 eggs, cheddar cheese and a red or green chile sauce on top. It comes with a tortilla.

El Ranchero Cafe
Address: 705 Highway 66, Milan, NM 87021
Fun Fact: The 49er Lounge, also in the hotel, is known for their margaritas.
Menu Highlight: Located in the El-Rancho Hotel, the restaurant has Mexican classics such as tacos, tamales and rellenos.
As you drive into the seventh state, you'll find Arizona has 401 miles of Route 66. Here are a few places to try as you make your way toward the last leg, California.

Flagstaff Brewery
Address: 16 East Route 66, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Fun Fact:
The Flagstaff Brewing Company has one of the largest selections of single malts in the US.
Menu Highlight: A popular beer is "The Great Golden Ale." Try the bagna calda which is whole garlic cloves roasted in extra virgin olive oil and butter, served with toasted baguette.

Twisters Soda Fountain
Address: 417 East Route 66, Williams, AZ 86046
Fun Fact: They have sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs named after Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Boop, James Dean and Roy Rogers.
Menu Highlight: Their signature steaks include a sirloin and rib eye.

Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-In
Address: 301 W Chino Ave, Seligman, AZ 86337
Fun Fact:
The owners love to play practical jokes on the customers. Their favorite seems to be the squeeze bottle of ketchup with the red string.
Menu Highlight: The shakes seem to get the best reviews from diners.

Linda's Deli
Address: 12826 Oatman Hwy, Topock, AZ 86436

Fun Fact: The restaurant is a small deli on the route.
Menu Highlight: Sandwiches are their thing.
The last 314 miles of restaurants on a Route 66 road trip are in California. The historic route ends at the Santa Monica Pier. But before you hit the Pacific, check out these restaurants.

River City Pizza
Address: 1901 Needles Hwy, Needles, CA 92363
Menu Highlight:
This pizza place has gotten great reviews for their secret house dressing and yummy garlic bread.

Idle Spurs Steak House
Address: 690 Hwy 58, Barstow, CA
Fun Fact:
Idle Spurs was originally designed as a home. The restaurant was built around the original house; the gardens, patios and walls are all still intact.
Menu Highlight: They are known for their steaks, such as the signature slow roasted prime rib in 8, 12 and 16 oz.

Euro Pane Bakery

Address: 950 E Colorado Blvd, Suite 107, Pasadena, CA 91106
Fun Fact:
There are 7 flavors of macaroons –- blackberry, hazelnut, mocha, passion fruit, pistachio, raspberry and sea salt caramel.
Menu Highlight: The bakery's 2 highlights are the open-faced egg salad sandwich and the sea salt caramel macaroons. Both are repeatedly were mentioned in reviews of the restaurant.

Ocean Ave Seafood
Address: 1401 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Fun Fact:
The restaurant has a wall of windows overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Pier.
Menu Highlight: The raw bar showcases the largest variety of oysters found in any LA restaurant and earned the "best dozen oysters on the half shell" accolade from The Los Angeles Times.

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