Diners, Drive Ins, Cafes & Restaurants
On Route 66
-Restaurant descriptions written by Brennen Matthews
Over its more than 90-year history, Lou Mitchell’s has earned a slew of laurels – from a Chicagoan landmark to a world-class breakfast joint. Its fluffy pancake, Belgium malted waffles, jumbo omelets and fresh Angus beef sandwiches have all aced the harsh test of changing time and evolving tastes. Conveniently tucked at the corner of Jefferson and Jackson Boulevard – where Route 66 began only three years after Lou Mitchell’s opened its doors, the diner fast turned into a popular venue to fill the belly for the journey ahead. Here, Route 66 commuters can also stock up on Mother Road-themed caps and T-shirts to venture off in style.
Address: 565 W Jackson Blvd
Phone: (312) 939-3111
Welcome to the spot where Elvis Presley, James Dean, Betty Boop, the Blues Brothers and Marilyn Monroe meet to glam up for snaps with Route 66 travelers. If Polk-A-Dot lures customers from afar with its line-up of beloved performers, its all-1950s interior and retro menu makes them linger longer. Its whitewashed walls come alive with an expansive collection of golden-framed photos of yester entertainment starts that hang above leather booths – adult- as well as kid-sized. Perched atop the tables, vintage jukeboxes crank up tunes such as Jimmy Clanton’s “Venus in Blue Jeans,” Elvis’ “I Gotta Know” and Bill Haley and his Comets’ “Shake, Rattle and Roll.” And if that is not enough to revive the whimsy mood of America’s Golden Age and Route 66, the meal offers certainly do the trick.
Address: 222 N Front Street
Phone: (815) 458–3377
Dixie Travel Plaza
When J.P. Walters and John Geske first opened the Dixie in 1928, it amounted to a small, single counter with six stools, all squeezed together in the corner of a rented garage. Conveniently situated at the intersection of Route 66 and Route 136, the sandwich-selling café – then called the Dixie Truckers Home – quickly expanded to become the drivers’ home away from home and McLean residents’ favorite outing spot. Family-owned for decades, Dixie, which has seen bloom and gloom and joined the Road Ranger’s travel center chain in 2012 – an event that some long-time patrons feared would shake off the establishment’s quaint, trucker vibe. Yet, Dixie’s remains a Mother Road fixture, transporting travelers back to the bygone years of roadside America and serving up great food while doing so. When there, make sure to order the pie.
Address: 501 S Main Street
Phone: (309) 874-2900
Steak ‘N Shake
Prior to the launching of some 500 Steak ‘n Shake restaurants around the world, there was but a single one. The place where it all began was in Normal, at the interstice of Main Street and Virginia Avenue and the man who started it was Gus Belt. Back in 1934, Belt headed a hybrid gas station-chicken restaurant, where beer foamed up to a considerable chunk of the profits. Yet, when the Prohibition era rolled in, Belt suddenly lost his sales-boosting gem. The times called for business ingenuity, and Steak ‘n Shake was born, serving Belt’s original steakburgers and hand-dipped milk shakes. A showman as much as a businessman, Belt would treat patrons to a show of chopping and grinding beef into steaks to prove their wholesomeness. Although this meaty ritual is long gone and the first diner is shuttered, the hospitable legacy of the very first Steak ‘n Shake lives on in the many locations in and around Bloomington-Normal.
Address: 1219 S Main Street
Old Log Cabin Inn
A not-to-miss icon on Route 66, the Old Log Cabin Inn has turned with the times – quite literally. In 1926, when Joe and Victor “Babe” Selotis opened their Log Cabin Inn, the business faced the east-aligned Route 66, which ran along the railroad tracks. Sometime later, though, the road was reoriented to the West and shifted to the backside of the establishment. Bad news for the Log Cabin Inn – but not for long. Local lore has it that its ingenious owners jacked up the construction and switched it a 180 degrees to again look at America’s Main Street. Ever since, the rustic cabin – which has changed proprietors several times – has served fluffy omelets, zesty cheeseburgers, hearty steaks and delectable pies to a steady trickle of hungry Mother Road pilgrims alongside Pontiac regulars. Local patrons delight at chatting up passing-by travelers and the diner’s guestbook – befittingly dubbed “Route 66 Travel Book” – keeps their stories long after they rave onward.
Address: Old Route 66 & Aurora Street
Phone: (815) 842–2908
Cozy Dog Drive-In
Do not ask for a corndog. Here – at the birthplace of the original hotdog-on-a-stick – the proper name is Cozy Dog. Back in the 1940s, what is today a quintessential American fare was a novel treat – then called “crusty cur” – fixed on the business acumen of Ed Waldmire, who sold his French-fried wieners to his Air Force fellows in Amarillo, Texas. Today, greeting clients from behind the counter are Ed’s grandchildren, who carry on the Waldmire legacy, which is intricately tied to Route 66 and its resurrection. As cozy as its name suggests, this establishment is not just another Historic 66 stop to satiate the palate and snap touristy pictures. It marks the juncture between a prominent local family, a classic American snack and a historic highway.
Address: 2935 S 6th Street
Phone: (217) 525 - 1992
The Maid-Rite Sandwich stop in Springfield, Illinois is among the few early-day franchise joints still open today. And not only that – it bills itself as America’s very first drive-through restaurant. Its old-time vibe oozes from its original dining tables and a short menu, which packs Maid-Rite’s classics. Operated by longtime owner Sam Quaisi, who is always down for a little chat with customers, this diner stuffs its famed sandwiches with loose meat – the one ingredient that has made the chain a fast-service staple. The perfect complement to this chewy fare – homemade root beer.
Address: 118 N Pasfield Street
Phone: (217) 523-0723
Wild Hare Café
The Wild Hare Café is not your usual, splashy Route 66 diner. Sharing a historic red brick bank building with the Horsefeathers antique shop, the restaurant spans two tiny rooms of eclectic fairy tale-like clutter of crockery, drawings, hand-painted murals and decorative pressed glass. The unique setting, composed of the Wild Hare’s private collection, befits the establishment’s luncheon menu of mostly organic pasta, beef and chicken recipes, the ingredients of which come from local farms. With many of the house-made dishes being rare takes that cannot be found at other eateries, the Wild Hare Café provides a break from the neon-sign spirit of the Mother Road, while conveniently remaining on it.
Address Phone: 104 Governor Oglesby Street
Phone: (217) 947-2100
The story of Route 66 is studded with a series of realignments that made or broke businesses. The Ariston Café is among the few that rode the road’s changes to long-lasting success. In fact, it is the longest operating restaurant along the entire 2,400-mile stretch of the Mother Road. Housed in a utilitarian brick building, the Ariston Café is quite unlike the typical Route 66 diner. Neat and charming, both the exterior and interior make few flashy references to the iconic highway. Instead, numerous articles and family artifacts, including an old Marlin, take up the space, while the menu promises to fill up the belly. Although prices may have spiked up – gone are the 1938’s rates of 85 cents for a steak dinner and 15 cents for a jug of Budweiser – the authentic lusciousness of the meals remains and is worth the cost.
Address: 413 N Old Rte 66
Phone: (217) 324–2023
Weezy’s Bar and Grill
Known for its succulent charbroiled burgers, Weezy’s is a typical Route 66 establishment, where travelers mingle with locals. Operating out of what was once intended as a house, the restaurant welcomes patrons along a horse shoe-shaped bar where draft beer is the main choice to wash down American comfort food. Among the best picks on the menu are the biscuits and gravy that come with fresh, locally produced wieners as well as the sweet homemade pies. Matching the authenticity of the meals, an old-school white-and-black checkered floor, crimson booth cushions and numerous Route 66 tokens bring forth the nostalgia for the hey-dey of America’s Main Street.
Address: 108 S Old Rte 66
Phone: (618) 633 – 2228
Among the various cafes and diners along Route 66, Luna Café, opened in 1924, perhaps boasts the most notorious history. Rumors have it that in its early days, the café frequently hosted Al Capone and his shady gang. And not only that, Luna was much more than a simple café. Its basement accommodated a gambling operation, while its second floor roused with ladies of the night – their presence discreetly announced by a lit cherry on Luna Café’s road sign. Although none of the brazen ventures continue, the food here is still worth a stop.
Address: 201 E Chain of Rock Road
Phone: (618) 931-3152
Ted Drewes Frozen Custard
Similar to many Route 66 family-run business, Ted Drewes Frozen Custard rose and grew on the shoulders of a single person – Ted Drewes Sr., a local sensation who won the Muny tennis championship nine years in a row. Drewes launched the first custard joint in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1929 before moving the enterprise to St. Louis. In just a decade, he opened three shops with the Chippewa establishment along Route 66, becoming an almost overnight success. In 1985, to better cater to locals and Mother Road commuters, Drewes’ son Ted Jr. expanded the Chippewa location from five serving windows to a whopping 12. Ever welcoming and refreshing, Ted Drewes Frozen Custard has become synonymous with Ted’s “concrete” frozen blend, so thick that it sticks to its yellow cup even if turned upside down.
Address: 6726 Chippewa Street
Phone: (314) 481-2652
Looking for the fluffiest, yummiest donuts on Route 66? Seek no further. Alongside apple fritters, cinnamon swirls and tarts, hard-to-find, vintage offers – cake donuts and long johns – grace the counter case. The best part – following family recipes from the 1950s, the amiable staff bakes donuts throughout the day, making for fresh sweets at any time. To take a hearty bite into the sugary treats, prepare some cash as the establishment does not accept credit cards for orders under $10. Or, simply, buy a couple dozen donuts – you cannot go wrong with that.
Address: 6525 Chippewa Street
Phone: (314) 645-7714
Red Cedar Inn
Right at the end of the Prohibition years, brothers James and Bill Smith grasped a business opportunity. On a Ford truck, they lugged pine logs from their family farm to the edge of Pacific on Route 66, where they erected the rustic Red Cedar Inn. James II took over the restaurant soon after its completion, and by 1940, tied the knot with one of the waitress, Katherine. The couple, joined by their son James III, fed and chatted with Mother Road travelers, including baseball legends Bob Klinger, Dizzy Dean, and Ted Williams, until 1972. Some 15 years later, James III reopened the family diner, which ran strong until the early 80s, when the Route 66 fixture again shut its doors. With a still uncertain future, but an undying bucolic aura, the Red Cedar Inn merits a visit.
Location: 1047 E Osage Street
Circle Inn Malt Shop
Three generations of Wares have dedicated their acuity and passion for hospitality to the Circle Inn Malt Shop, which first opened in 1955. In 2015, Joshua Ware took over the diner, setting out to dust off some of its rusty facets, while maintaining its old-time charm. As a result, the restaurant now offers a revamped menu of hamburgers, pork steaks, open-face sandwiches, homemade pizzas as well as original items like Grandma Ware’s pies. To sweeten any meal, the soft serve ice cream is a must try.
Address: 171 N Old Highway 66
Phone: (573) 732-4470
A great indicator to a restaurant’s worthiness is locals’ inclination to frequent it. With St. Robert residents constantly rushing in – but especially at breakfast, the Sunshine Café greets commuters from far and wide with unmatched amiability. Huge portions, friendly staff and quick service turn the diner’s comfort food into a true feast amid Mother Road memorabilia. Quite in line with the business mores of yester decades, the Sunshine Café does not accept credit or debit cards. Thus, come prepared.
Address: 688 Old Rte 66
Phone: (573) 336-3255
Joe’s Diner is yet another tiny, offbeat eatery along Route 66. Even if its space is so small that itbarely squeezes in a dozen tables, its portions are large. Among patrons’ favorites are the hand-breaded deep-fried pork lion and the hillbilly steak. For those seeking a quick fix, the onion rings are an easy and tasty choice. With creamy walls serving as canvasses for Route 66 road signage and tiny car replicas, Joe’s Diner marries good food with automobile olden days.
Address: 201 E Chestnut Street
Phone: (417) 736 - 2922
With its hillbilly vibe, Missouri Hick is a relatively young addition on the Mother Road. What it lacks in historic allure, the eatery more than makes up for with its quirky cedar décor and excellent barbecue. The two-story enterprise of barbecue master and woodcarver, Denis Meiser, the Hick takes enormous pride in its meats – daubed in special house seasoning and smoked over 12 hours on wild cherry woods. The result – finger-licking good dishes that are unlike any other on Route 66. Stop here for a little respite from the typical Mother Road imagery and for a great treat to the belly.
Address: 913 E. Washington
Phone: (573) 885 – 6791
The FourWay Restaurant is a fine example of the tangled history of many Route 66 establishments – with turns, perhaps, as many as those of the Mother Road, itself. The eatery started off as a full-service Phillips 66 gas and repair station. Built by Paul T. Carr to feature a three-vehicle garage, the venue turned a profitable business, indispensable to the local community, whose youths worked there. Throughout the years, several owners have come and gone until Bill and Lynn Wallis bought the locale in 1968 and operated it as the first Mobile Gas Station until Bill’s passing away in the early 80s. Following a 2015 renovation to reflect its legacy as well as to honor the late Bill Wallis, the station-turned-restaurant now radiates a hip vibe, paired with typical comfort meals.
Address: 102 W Washington Ave
Phone: (573) 885 – 3004
Housed in a barn-like, gambrel-roofed building, Whistler’s Drive-Up has lured in travelers since 1953. Its main appeal – great hamburgers. Stuffed with pickles, red onions and mustard, Whistler’s burgers are cooked to order, a sure guarantee for their fresh, succulent taste. And do not fret about their small palm-fitting proportions – you can get five for $7. While several Whistler’s diners have sprang up in the region, Charlie Whistler’s original joint on the old Mother Road in Carthage remains unbeatable when it comes to food authenticity, Midwestern amiability and Route 66 quirkiness.
Address: 300 N Garrison Ave
Phone: (417) 358 – 4951
Just as its slogan “No frills – just good food” promises, Pancake Hut is a simple diner where the servings are hearty and the ambience homey. It opened in 1979, in the waning twilight of the golden years of the Mother Road. Despite its late arrival on the restaurant scene along Route 66, Pancake Hut has served its signature golden pancakes to hordes of hungry travelers. Apart from its fare, the diner also touts its original Chicago Coin’s Band Box, an ornate jukebox from the early 1950s. Close to Boots Court Motel, Pancake Hut makes for a filling meal in the midst of folksy Americana.
Address: 301 S Garrison Avenue
Phone: (417) 358–8481
Cave Gang Pizza
Woodfire pizza; some 70 flavours of beer and soda to pick from; and an old gas station and a sealed-off cave. Welcome to Cave Gang Pizza, which opened its doors in June 2016. Owned by Carthage locals, Eli and Vanessa Bruton, the pizzeria huddles inside a one-time filling station, the original brick décor of which has been preserved in the new restaurant. Yet, much more enticing that the station’s fixtures is its location atop the once open entrance of a cave, which sprawls beneath the town. Plastered on the walls of Cave Gang Pizza are several yellowed paper articles that detailed the townies’ jaunts inside the cave – from gaggles of boys in the late 19th century to companies of men sneaking inside to down drink during the Prohibition era. Sit at the penny-packed bar, choose from more than a dozen beers Cave Gang Pizza has on tap and listen to the mystery of the place.
Address: 910 S Garrison Avenue
Few places along America’s Main Street are as steeped in history as Wilder’s Steakhouse. Here, it is not only about Route 66; the history of Joplin and its long-time residents live on at Wilder’s. Built in 1929 by Verne Wilder, the eatery, throughout the decades, has morphed from a buffet restaurant to gamblers’ hanging quarters to a breakfast diner to a burger joint. At one time, it spanned six buildings and could host up to 750 patrons. At another, it became a sinister place when Kansas City mafia made a brazen attempt on Wilder’s life. Upon acquiring Wilder’s in 1996, Mike and Marsha Pawlus have revamped it into a fine-dining spot, preserving, however, its art deco front bar, back bar and wooden booths. With a mesmerizing past, a haute ambiance and an extensive menu – albeit, on the pricey end, Wilder’s is a Midwestern icon.
Address: 1216 S Main Street
Phone: (417) 623–7230
Cars on the Route
Meet real-life Tow Mater, the zany tow truck from Pixar’s Cars movie. With wide-eyes and a toothy smile added to match his on-screen representation, he lounges in front of Cars on the Route Café in Galena, Kansas. The diner started as a Kan-O-Tex service station, which was purchased by four women and aptly renamed “Four Women on the Route.” After Pixar representatives descended on Galena in the mid-2000s to search for Route 66 inspiration – and found it in the 1951 International Boom truck – the diner altered its name once again to cue to its link to Cars. Throughout all those shifts, Cars on the Route has emerged as a beloved Route 66 spot to take pictures with Tow Mater (here referred to as Tow Tater for trademark reasons), munch on comfort food and chat with former owner Melba Rigg – known as Melba the Mouth, a living encyclopedia on the Mother Road and Cars.
Address: 119 N Main Street
Angels on the Route
A rather new addition to the diner scenery along the Mother Road, Angles on the Route is online review board, TripAdivsor’s top rated restaurant in Baxter Springs. And deservingly so. Housed in a century-and-a-half old building, which has successively accommodated a Cooper’s Dry Goods store, a drug store, a treasure shop and a donut shop, this eatery brims with good food, historic charm and Route 66 hospitality. Opened in 2007 by Sue Gast and Sue Ramage, who have since sold it to Alan and Cheri McCamey, Angles on the Route specializes in custom-made sandwiches, soups and lemonade. Its frozen custard is the perfect sweet glaze to any lunch.
Address: 1143 Military Avenue, (Historic Route 66)
Phone: (620) 856-2266
Good people, good food, good prices and a truly good time await Route 66 travelers in the Weston’s Café. Owned and run by Don and Susan Weston, the diner is known for its amiable staff who dish out delectable home-style fare. More than the next stop along the Mother Road, Weston’s Café truly brings Baxter Springs’ residents together. The establishment’s staunch communal ties became evident in 2014 when a tornado bolted through the town, razing homes and businesses, including Weston’s Café. A mere six weeks later, and with locals’ help, the diner reopened in a newly erected building.
Address: 1737 Military Avenue
Phone: (620) 856-4414
Baxter Springs’ Smokehouse
If you are looking for flavorful barbeque to leave you licking your fingers, stop at Baxter Springs’ Smokehouse. The diner takes pride in its BBQ options, which it notably bills as the best in the Four State area of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Opened in late 2006, Baxter Springs’ Smokehouse may well serve some of the most succulent smoked meats, steaks, pull pork and seafood to be had on Route 66. Dine in, carry out or drive thru but you better not drive by this restaurant.
Address: 2320 Military Avenue
Phone: (620) 856-3287
At the Dairy King, you can eat Route 66 – literally. The venue is famous for its Route 66 cookies, molded by owner Charles Duboise in the iconic shield shape of the road’s signage. Before the garble-roofed venue became the cozy diner it is today, it served as a Marathon Gas service station. The only cue to that bygone time are the two vintage red pumps that rise to the side of the Dairy King. Stop here for special cookies, good burgers, delectable ice cream and some Route 66 history.
Address: 100 N Main Street
Phone: (918) 675-4261
Waylan’s Ku-Ku Burger
If you seek to escape the crowds, Waylan’s Ku-Ku Burger may not be your draw. Hundreds of Route 66 travelers and Miami locals trickle to this 1960s diner every day. And there is a good reason for that – the Ku-Ku signature burger. Comprising the whopping quarter pound of beef between two 5 inch buns, the burger – often flipped by owner Gene Waylan – offers a real feast. Pair it with the house’s classic waffle fries and a milkshake and you might as well have a meal of a lifetime. No wonder that back in 1977, the joint opened the first drive-thru window in town to serve the hungry hoards.
Address: 915 N Main Street
Phone: (918) 542-1696
Run by fourth generation Clantons, the diner is the oldest family-owned joint on Oklahoma’s Route 66. Most of its delectable fare still follows the original recipes of “Sweet Tater” Clanton, who ventured into the business in 1927. Must-haves here include the famous chicken fried steak – the “mac daddy” – and the calf fries (Rocky Mountain oysters). Given that Food Network’s Guy Fieri touts the Clanton’s Café, you do not want to miss it.
Address: 319 E Illinois Avenue
Phone: (918) 256-9053
Among the posher restaurants on the Mother Road, Molly’s Landing is famous in the Tulsa area for its perfectly cooked, wet-aged steaks, lobster and shrimp dishes as well as its wine selection. Operating since 1984 in a log cabin that was once intended as a three-bedroom house, Molly’s Landing – with its kitsch Midwestern décor and bucolic surroundings – is a true gourmand’s delight.
Address: 3700 N Old Highway 66
Phone: (918) 266-7853
Tally's Good Food Café
Open from sunrise to sundown, seven days a week, Tally’s Good Food Café offers more than 100 dishes over breakfast, lunch and dinner – much to the delight of even the pickiest eaters. Yet, the joint is famed for its chicken fry sandwich, which USA Today readers have voted the best in Oklahoma. A retro décor – complete with neon signs, red booths and black-and-white checkered floor – make for a retro 66 setting to complement the tasty menu.
Address: 1102 S Yale Avenue
Phone: (918) 835-8039
Ollie’s Station Restaurant
Take a break from Route 66 and dish out into the railroad past of the region. This mom-and-pop eatery features 10 scale-model trains that choo-choo their way through the dining area. The food here is also an old-time affair. Ollie’s takes pride in serving meals that many Americans may crave since their childhood years. “We are sure Mom and Grandma would be impressed with our food,” the restaurant’s website boasts. Perhaps, there is no better way to put it.
Address: 4070 Southwest Boulevard
Phone: (918) 446-0524
The oldest burger joint in Sapulpa, Happy Burger has served its signature comfort food since 1957. But do not ask for Coke to wash down your meal. The diner’s tiny interior brims with a wealth of Pepsi collectables. Regardless of your beverage preferences, however, Happy Burger prompts to “come on in and try a bite of American history.”
Address: 215 N Mission Street
Phone: (918) 224-7750
The Rock Café
The Rock Café is owned by the real-life inspiration for Sally Carrera, the hospitable Porsche 996 in Pixar’s Cars. When Dawn Welch acquired the diner, she spiced up its menu with all her favorite recipes from her adventures around the world, working on cruise ships. And much in the tradition of the Mother road, the joint’s special – yet delectably simple – home-cooked food is prepared and served by a cheerful gang of Welch’s family and friends. The Rock Café’s unique fare and homey ambiance are a treat to experience.
Address: 114 W Main Street
Phone: (918) 968-3990
“Not fast food, good food fast,” proclaims Boom-a-Rang’s slogan. This 1950s-style diner in Chandler is part of the Boom-a-Rang chain that is famed for its delicious American comfort meals. Yet, the joint’s location on Route 66 contributes to its unassuming small-town atmosphere. Add the friendly, attentive wait staff and this Boom-A-Rang could not get any better.
Address: 912 Manvel Avenue
Phone: (405) 258-6792
The Boundary on 66
The Boundary on 66 brims with history that is reflected even in the name, itself. The Boundary stands for the easternmost frontier – along the Indian Meridian – of the famed Land Rush of 1889, when thousands darted to the unassigned lands of Oklahoma. Some two centuries after that event, the diner specializes in classic barbeque that comes in hearty portions. Often crowded with patrons, The Boundary on 66 is a tiny diner of around dozen tables. So, be prepared to wait – it is all worth it.
Address: 16001 E Highway 66
Phone: (405) 277-3532
If you venture down 66 in Oklahoma and do not stop at POPS in Arcadia, you will miss one of the state’s biggest attractions. A giant metal-rimmed soda bottle welcomes visitors, while a selection of over 600 different pops awaits inside the diner. From chocolate to grapes to cola to cream to ginger to lime, the disparate flavors go on and on and on. No wonder, POPS is known as a soda ranch – it offers fuzzy drinks you never knew existed.
Address: 660 W Highway 66
Phone: (877) 266-POPS (7677)
Ann’s Chicken Fry House
The owner of Ann’s Chicken Fry House, Al Burchett allegedly resurrected the Route 66 vibe in Oklahoma City. He was the first restauranteur to decorate and dedicate his joint to the Mother Road. Following a “if you bring it, we will hang it” dictum, Burchett began collecting the vintage items customers, friends and strangers will hand to him. Soon, Ann’s Chicken Fry House – once a Cities Service gas station – acquired a large guitar collection, a retro police car and a flamingo pink Cadillac. Munching on typical Route 66 food amid all this eclectic eccentricity is quite fun.
Address: 106 NW 39th Street
Phone: (405) 943-8915
Tumbleweed Grill and Country Store
Boasting the sole general store within 10 miles of border town, Texola, Tumbleweed Grill and Country Store occupies the building of the once popular Water Hole #2 bar. It is a modest affair – but only from outside. The inside teems with the owner, Masel’s artworks, which are available for purchase, while the kitchen sizzles with the meals made to order. Fronting the forgotten ghost town of Texola, this joint is indeed a peculiar stop along 66.
Address: Texas 30 Spur Road, Off I-40 Exit 1
Phone: (580) 526-3914
Here, it is all casual and tasty – quite Western, indeed. From the handmade ground-chuck patties to the freshly baked buns to hand-dipped milk shakes, you are in for a treat at the Blue Sky. The spacious rustic sitting area only adds to the feeling that you are dining in the heart of culinary Texas. The huge portions prolong the experience.
Address: 4201 I-40
Phone: (806) 355-8100
Golden Light Café and Cantina
Opened in 1946 by Chester “Pop” Ray, his wife Louise and son Edye, the Golden Light Café raked out $10.48 in its first day of business. The oldest restaurant in Amarillo, the diner has operated in the same location on the city’s famed 6th avenue ever since its launch. Throughout the years, the Golden Light Café has changed hands several times, but has always served great hamburgers. Today, it also offers quite some entertainment with a steady line of emerging bands performing live.
Address: 2906 SW 6th Avenue
Phone: (806) 374-9237
Big Texan Steak House
The Big Texan Steak offers what the Lone Star state is known for – huge meals, cowboy antics and some challenge. That is the 72-ounce steak dare, which the first owner of the Big Texan, Bob “RJ” Lee commenced in the 1960s. The first edition – held for the delight of travelers – saw local cowboys compete, stuffing down sizable pieces of meat. In an hour, a winner emerged, when he finished 4.5 pounds of steak, or 72 ounces. Hence, the rules – whoever manages to wolf down a 72-aunce steak in 60 minutes, gets the feast for free. If you are not willing to test your stomach, however, there is plenty dishes to choose for a rather quiet yet delectable fare.
Address: 7701 I-40
Phone: (806) 372-1000
Hickory Inn Café
Housed in an unassuming, barn-like structure, the Hickory Inn Café is a must stop along Route 66. “Outstanding,” “great,” “wonderful” and “my new favorite place” are only a sliver of the superlatives that dot the TripAdvisor reviews of this family-owned venue. From club sandwiches to omelets to ribeye steaks, the breakfast and lunch menus are locals’ preferred fare and 66 travelers’ best dining find on the route. The cheeky décor – complete with a Cars-like truck schlepping a pair of cattle – adds a quirky, Texas-style touch to the gastronomic experience.
Address: 1004 Vega Boulevard
Phone: (806) 267-2569
“When you are here, you are halfway there,” the diner’s slogan proclaims, cuing to its location on the halfway mark of Route 66. Opened in 1928 as a dirt-floor, one room joint, the Midpoint Café acquired its current name when the owner Fran Houser received a phone call from the US Route 66 Association, informing her of the venue’s propitious whereabouts. For years, the MidPoint Café has treated patrons to its famous “Ugly Crust Pies.” In late 2016, however, it was reported closed and up for sale due to Houser’s illness. Despite its hazy future, the café remains a great opportunity to photograph what is a 66 icon.
Address: 305 W Historic Route 66
Phone: (806) 538-6379