Road Trip: Route 66

August 11, 2011

If you'll be getting your kicks on Route 66 anytime soon, you're bound to get hungry. Here's the best grub the Great American Highway has to offer.

Pops Soda Ranch Salsa Brava The Midpoint Café and Gift Shop Get Your Kicks on Route 66Emma Jean’s Holland Burger CafeLou Mitchell’s Frontier RestaurantCozy DogTed DrewesCafé on the RouteThe Big Texan
Where: Arcadia, OK With over 600 types of carbonated beverages from all over the world, Pops Soda Ranch is without a doubt America's number one soda station. And this place is hard to miss with it's 60 feet tall neon bottle towering over the Oklahoma plains. But aside from being a soda lover's haven, Pops also serves home-style hand-dipped milkshakes and has a classic diner menu with nostalgic signature burgers and chicken-fried steak.
Where: Flagstaff, Ariz. There aren’t many places that will prepare fresh guacamole at your tableside, but at Salsa Brava it’s a given. In fact, all meals are made to order and prepared with only the freshest produce and ingredients. And with dishes like a massive stuffed sopapilla, owner and chef extraordinaire John Conley has made Salsa Brava a tasty pit stop on the Great American Highway.
Where: Adrian, Texas The Midpoint Café and Gift Shop is located exactly halfway along Route 66 - 1139 miles from both Los Angeles and Chicago. Owner Joann makes all of her famous "Ugly Crust Pies" from scratch with a crust recipe passed down from her grandmother. The pies’ charm lies in their lumpy, misshapen imperfection; a fact that detracts not a whit from the confections' famously good flavor.
Measuring in at 2,448 miles, and stretching from Lake Michigan to the Pacific, the two lane Route 66 is a road tripper's ultimate getaway. Not only are there plenty of historic (as well as odd) roadside attractions, there are also fantastic restaurants scattered along the route. So pack your bags and follow our guide to our Top 10 unique and delicious eateries along America's quintessential mother road.
Where: Victorville, Cal. Emma Jean’s Holland Burger Cafe may be a trucker’s paradise - but it is a foodie’s paradise as well. Home to the famous Brian Burger, a juicy homemade patty served with green chiles on Parmesan toast, owners Brain and Shauna like to do things the old-fashioned way. That means making everything from scratch and serving generous portions to all who stop in.
Where: Chicago, IL Our first stop on our Route 66 tour is at Lou Mitchells in Chicago. Famous for their bakery fresh pastries and fluffy jumbo omelets, Lou’s is a must for breakfast. Founded by Lou Mitchell’s father in 1923, the second-generation eatery has been in business for over 85 years and still draws a crowd. But you will never go hungry while standing in line; each guest receives complimentary doughnut holes while they wait. Ladies and children are extra lucky because they are also offered milk duds to nibble on!
Where: Albuquerque, N.M. Needing a chile pepper fix? Frontier has got you covered. Located across the street from University of New Mexico, this funky, bright restaurant serves their signature fresh roasted green chiles on just about everything from cheeseburgers to hash browns to eggs. To finish your meal off with something sweet, try their famous buttery Frontier Sweet Roll.
Where: Springfield, Ill. The beloved corn-dog we all know and love got started here on Route 66 at the Cozy Dog Drive in. Founded in 1949 by Ed Waldmire Jr., the stand was the first to serve corn-bread covered hotdogs on a stick, coining them “cozy dogs.” Today the historical stand is ran by Ed’s daughter-in-law Sue, and his four grandsons, Josh, Eddie, Tony and Nick. The family continues to sell countless cozys while offering a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu of American diner-style favorites.
Where: St. Louis, Mo. Coined “frozen concrete”, the custard at Ted Drewes is so unbelievably thick that you can turn your cup upside down and not have a single drop drip out! Founder Ted Drewes Sr. started selling the ultra think concoction on Route 66 back in 1941 and since then, his stand has become a St. Louis landmark. So what is the secret behind their custard being so silky and dense? It’s all in the process. Unlike ice cream, Drewes' frozen custard contains less than 20% overrun (amount of air present) while ice cream typically has 100%.
Where: Baxter Springs, Kan. When Route 66 takes a quick dip into Kansas, Café on the Route is the place to stop for out-of-the-ordinary highway fare. Ran by professional chef Richard Shandell and his wife Amy, this gourmet café serves everything from nut-crusted catfish to top-of-the-line tenderloin. But the eatery hasn’t always been a hopping restaurant - built in 1870, the building was originally Baxter Springs local bank. And as a fun point of interest, rumor has it the bank was robbed in 1876 by American bad boy Jesse James.
Where: Amarillo, Texas Want a perfectly seared 72-ounce sirloin steak for free? The Big Texan Steak Ranch has a (fairly famous) challenge for you: Anyone who can gobble down The Texas King (an aged 72-ounce steak), baked potato, salad, dinner roll and shrimp cocktail in under an hour dines free of charge. A note of caution to consider: more than 50,000 steak-lovers have tried and less than 10,000 have succeeded.
Where: Arcadia, OK

With over 600 types of carbonated beverages from all over the world,  Pops Soda Ranch is without a doubt America's number one soda station. And this place is hard to miss with it's 60 feet tall neon bottle towering over the Oklahoma plains. But aside from being a soda lover's haven, Pops also serves home-style hand-dipped milkshakes and has a classic diner menu with nostalgic signature burgers and chicken-fried steak.Where: Flagstaff, Ariz.

There aren’t many places that will prepare fresh guacamole at your tableside, but at  Salsa Brava it’s a given. In fact, all meals are made to order and prepared with only the freshest produce and ingredients. And with dishes like a massive stuffed sopapilla, owner and chef extraordinaire John Conley has made Salsa Brava a tasty pit stop on the Great American Highway.Where: Adrian, Texas

 The Midpoint Café and Gift Shop is located exactly halfway along Route 66 - 1139 miles from both Los Angeles and Chicago. Owner Joann makes all of her famous "Ugly Crust Pies" from scratch with a crust recipe passed down from her grandmother. The pies’ charm lies in their lumpy, misshapen imperfection; a fact that detracts not a whit from the confections' famously good flavor.Measuring in at 2,448 miles, and stretching from Lake Michigan to the Pacific, the two lane Route 66 is a road tripper's ultimate getaway. Not only are there plenty of historic (as well as odd) roadside attractions, there are also fantastic  restaurants scattered along the route. So pack your bags and follow our guide to our Top 10 unique and delicious eateries along America's quintessential mother road.Where: Victorville, Cal.  

 Emma Jean’s Holland Burger Cafe may be a trucker’s paradise - but it is a foodie’s paradise as well. Home to the famous Brian Burger, a juicy homemade patty served with green chiles on Parmesan toast, owners Brain and Shauna like to do things the old-fashioned way. That means making everything from scratch and serving generous portions to all who stop in.Where: Chicago, IL

Our first stop on our Route 66 tour is at  Lou Mitchells in Chicago. Famous for their bakery fresh pastries and fluffy jumbo omelets, Lou’s is a must for breakfast. Founded by Lou Mitchell’s father in 1923, the second-generation eatery has been in business for over 85 years and still draws a crowd. But you will never go hungry while standing in line; each guest receives complimentary doughnut holes while they wait. Ladies and children are extra lucky because they are also offered milk duds to nibble on!Where: Albuquerque, N.M.

Needing a chile pepper fix?  Frontier has got you covered. Located across the street from University of New Mexico, this funky, bright restaurant serves their signature fresh roasted green chiles on just about everything from cheeseburgers to hash browns to eggs. To finish your meal off with something sweet, try their famous buttery Frontier Sweet Roll.Where: Springfield, Ill.

The beloved corn-dog we all know and love got started here on Route 66 at the  Cozy Dog Drive in. Founded in 1949 by Ed Waldmire Jr., the stand was the first to serve corn-bread covered hotdogs on a stick, coining them “cozy dogs.” Today the historical stand is ran by Ed’s daughter-in-law Sue, and his four grandsons, Josh, Eddie, Tony and Nick. The family continues to sell countless cozys while offering a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu of American diner-style favorites.Where: St. Louis, Mo.

Coined “frozen concrete”, the custard at  Ted Drewes is so unbelievably thick that you can turn your cup upside down and not have a single drop drip out! Founder Ted Drewes Sr. started selling the ultra think concoction on Route 66 back in 1941 and since then, his stand has become a St. Louis landmark. So what is the secret behind their custard being so silky and dense? It’s all in the process. Unlike ice cream, Drewes' frozen custard contains less than 20% overrun (amount of air present) while ice cream typically has 100%.Where: Baxter Springs, Kan.

When Route 66 takes a quick dip into Kansas,  Café on the Route is the place to stop for out-of-the-ordinary highway fare. Ran by professional chef Richard Shandell and his wife Amy, this gourmet café serves everything from nut-crusted catfish to top-of-the-line tenderloin. But the eatery hasn’t always been a hopping restaurant - built in 1870, the building was originally Baxter Springs local bank. And as a fun point of interest, rumor has it the bank was robbed in 1876 by American bad boy Jesse James.Where: Amarillo, Texas

Want a perfectly seared 72-ounce sirloin steak for free?  The Big Texan Steak Ranch has a (fairly famous) challenge for you: Anyone who can gobble down The Texas King (an aged 72-ounce steak), baked potato, salad, dinner roll and shrimp cocktail in under an hour dines free of charge. A note of caution to consider: more than 50,000 steak-lovers have tried and less than 10,000 have succeeded.
Pops Soda Ranch Missing Frame PhotographyThe Midpoint Café and Gift Shop Teresa BlackburnPatrick CoulieTydence DavisTed DrewesCafé on the RouteBill Tucker