11 Top Route 66 Restaurants | Where To Dine On The Mother Road (Rt. 66)

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The quintessential American road trip is to travel Route 66. Big-city eating is available on both ends, with Chicago and Los Angeles appealing to the discerning palette. Along the way, you’ll come across regional favorites, must-try family-run eateries, and, of course, pie all-American apple, chocolate, and cherry, to mention a few. In any case, these Route 66 eateries will satisfy your appetite.

Don’t miss out on these activities along Route 66 that will let you immerse yourself in the city (get them while they’re hot!):

  • From Las Vegas: Grand Canyon South Rim with Snacks & Lunch
  • Las Vegas: Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam & Route 66 Tour

Route 66’s 11 Best Restaurants

Begin your Road Trip of places to eat along Route 66 in Chicago since you’ll want to spend time exploring this gourmet haven. These are two restaurants on opposite ends of the eating spectrum that each have a goat in their name.

Billy Goat Inn

+1-312-222-1525430 North Michigan Avenue, Lower Level, Chicago, IL

Although while Chicago has Chicago-style pizza and hot dogs, an all-American road trip seems more suitable to begin with an all-American cheeseburger.

Although the menu is simple, the cuisine is legendary, and the atmosphere is lively. William Billy Goat Sianis purchased the Lincoln Tavern in 1934. Since it was located across from the then-Chicago Stadium, its clients were mostly Chicago sports aficionados. As a goat fell from a passing truck and sauntered into the Tavern, William Sianis transformed into Billy Goat. Sianis adopted the missing animal, grew a goatee, and changed the name from Lincoln Tavern to Billie Goat Tavern.

Chicago natives John Belushi and Bill Murray were inspired to compose the Saturday Night Live spoof Cheezburger after visiting the Billie Goat Pub. The menu at Billie Goat Tavern, like the Olympia Caf in the cartoon, is restricted. As sides, they have chips, no fries, and an additional piece of cheese.

This Route 66 restaurant is well-known for its simple cheeseburgers. The meat is served on a Kaiser bun created especially for the Billie Goat Pub. These toasted buns, according to Julia Child, are what make the burger. The burgers are served with catsup, chopped raw white onions, and Billie Goat Tavern-exclusive Kosher dill pickle chips. But, there will be no lettuce or tomato on top. They were all devoured by Billie Goat.

These Route 66 burgers are created with fresh, all-natural beef that has never been frozen. The burgers are thin so they can be rapidly seared on a flat-top grill. The four burger sizes correspond to the number of patties piled on the bread. A single patty equals a quarter-pound burger, two equals a quarter-pound burger, three equals a half-pound burger, and four equals a half-pound burger. The cheeseburger is complete when you add cheese.

If you’re not in the mood for a cheeseburger, there are many egg and other hot sandwich options to choose from, such as a ham and cheese sandwich.

Breakfast plates are available with ham, bacon, or steak and eggs.

Pro Tip: This is the initial location; however, alternative locations may be found on their website. Pre-order online to avoid waiting in line.

The Girl and the Goat Tavern

312-492-6262809 W Randolph Street, Chicago, IL

Girl & the Goat Tavern is a more premium Chicago restaurant. Chef Stephanie Izard was crowned Bravo’s Top Chef and popular favorite. Izard received the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef in the Great Lakes in 2013. Girl & the Goat was named Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation in 2011.

The cuisine, as the name suggests, is mostly focused on goat. There’s goat liver mousse, goat satay, and confit goat belly on the menu. My favorite empanadas are the goat empanadas. The entrée is accompanied with a grilled pineapple-blueberry Pico, roasted poblano crema, and queso fresco.

With exposed brick and ceiling pipes, this Route 66 Restaurant offers an upmarket modern ambiance. Hardwood flooring and clear-glass fence walls enhance to the contemporary vibe. There is normal table seating as well as bar seating, a comfy lounge, and four chairs along the cooking line. If you sit there, you may be asked to pitch in.

Pro Tip: Goat legs may be ordered over the phone. You must phone the restaurant since they do not accept internet orders.

The Chicken Basket from Dell Rheas

+1-630-325-0780645 Joliet Road (Route 66), Willowbrook, Illinois

Dell Rheas Chicken Basket, a Route 66 fixture since 1946, is the place to acquire your chicks. They offer lunch and supper and are an excellent stop on the way into or out of Chicago.

Despite the fact that they cook 2,000 pounds of their famed fried chicken every week, I thought their all-you-can-eat lunch buffet, which includes a salad bar, was a wonderful deal.

Their chicken is free of cages, non-GMO, hormones, and antibiotics. The birds never freeze. Dell Rheas marinates the chicken for 24 hours before handing it out and cooking it to order. The fried chicken supper is accompanied by a soup and salad bar, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and handmade biscuits.

Its delicious macaroni and cheese is classic American fare. Since Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives visited Dell Rheas, their recipe for the Colorado River of Cheese and Macaroni can be found on Food Network’s website.

What’s a Route 66 restaurant without pie? Caramel apple walnut pie, personal cherry pie, fried blueberry pie, or key lime pie are available. My personal favorite is the cherry pie with vanilla bean ice cream. It’s large enough to share, but why would you want to?

Pro Tip: Allow 30 minutes from the moment you order until it arrives at your table if you want their world-famous fried chicken.

Rich & Creamy

Joliet, Illinois +1-815-740-2899920 North Broadway Street (Route 66)

Although not a restaurant per per, is the excellent spot for a bite before or after seeing the Route 66 Visitor Center. With the numerous soft-serve mixes, it’s another all-American experience.

They do not accept credit cards.

Smoke + Salt

+1-314-727-02006525 Delmar Boulevard, St. Louis, MO

You can know you’re getting there because the fragrance of Saint Louis-style barbecue strikes you strongly from a couple of blocks down the way. Outside, cords of wood are heaped up, ready to be fed into the smoker.

Everything at Salt + Smoke is produced from scratch, from the fries to the pies. Every table has four types of barbecue sauce: Hotangy, My Sweet Bestie, Mustarolina, and I Cannot Even.

Salt + Smoke combines two Saint Louis staples, barbecue and toasted ravioli, to make a delectable burned end toasted ravs snack.

The prime brisket sandwich is served on a brioche bun with a spread of burnt end mayo and topped with crispy deep-fried smoked onions. I chose the pit beans with bacon and smoked pork and the cream corn to go with it. Unlike several BBQ places, the creamed corn did not include jalapeño, therefore the taste was sweet rather than spicy.

Route 66 is famed for its pies, and Salt + Smoke boasts some of the best. The classic apple pie a la mode comes first. It’s served in an oval dish to keep the fluids contained, and it features a bottom crust as well as a delightfully flakey top crust. Vanilla ice cream completes the dish.

The chocolate pie is my particular favorite. The rich dark chocolate custard is served on a brownie-like foundation with a flaky bottom crust. The top is topped with a dab of whipped cream.

Pro Tip: Order online for pick-up or delivery to avoid lengthy queues.

Missouri Hick Barbecue

Cuba, Missouri +1-573-885-6791913 East Washington Street

Meats are smoked for 12 hours overnight using wild cherry wood. To go with your barbecue, you’ll have a choice of five sauces: honey, spicy-sweet, smokey, original, and hot and smokey.

Dennis Meiser is a talented carpenter as well as a BBQ pitmaster, and his restaurant is an outstanding showcase of his talents. The restaurant’s tables and chairs are all handcrafted. The cedar stairs leading to the balcony was constructed by Meiser. The richly forested panelled décor throughout the restaurant adds warmth, while light fixtures made from metal pails and washtubs complete the aesthetic.

The pie is the dessert to order, as it is at other Route 66 eateries. The specialities of Missouri Hick Bar-B-Q include coconut cream and cherry pie.

Pro Tip: Take some of the Missouri Hick Bar-B-Q tastes home with you after the trip by purchasing some of their bottled sauce.

The PrairieFire Grille

Elk City, Oklahoma +1-580-225-6865422 South Main Street

PrairieFire Grille is an all-American steakhouse located in the historic MKT (Missouri-Kansas-Texas train line) Railroad Station, which dates back to 1910. The restaurant offers a charming appeal with unusual architectural characteristics including stained glass, crystal chandeliers, and an embossed tin ceiling.

A mother-daughter combination, Mary Kilhoffer and Amy Vickers, co-own and run the restaurant.

The emphasis is on scratch cooking with fresh ingredients. Even their salad dressings are created in-house.

A 16-ounce bone-in ribeye, an eight-ounce filet, and a New York strip are available. The two six-ounce grilled pork chops are my fave. Wonderfully prepared with a spicy-sweet apricot chipotle sauce and served over wild rice. Each steak is served with a salad and a choice of two sides.

Despite the fact that this is predominantly a meat restaurant, they feature a number of vegetarian and vegan alternatives.

Pro Tip: They warn that some of their meals are considered hot, so carefully study the menu and check your waitress.

Rancho Huge Texano

Amarillo, TX +1-800-657-71777701 East Interstate 40

The Big Texan Steak Ranch, famous for its free 72-ounce steak meal, is one of the top eateries along Route 66, with its larger-than-life picture ops with the Texan, the cow, or the rocking chair.

Seventy-two ounces, or four and a half pounds of free steak, IF you can finish the full dinner in one hour.

The 72-ounce steak dinner challenge began soon after the restaurant debuted in 1960 and consists of a shrimp cocktail, baked potato, salad, bread and butter, and, of course, the 72-ounce steak. If you fail the challenge, the supper will set you back $72.

The Choza

+1 505-982-0909905 Alarid Street, Santa Fe, NM

If you’re looking for a green chile fix, La Choza is the place to go. Their award-winning red and green chili is gluten-free and spicy.

It is housed in the original adobe headquarters of Mercer Ranch and has a vibrant and colorful southwest vibe.

A flour tortilla is loaded with onions and pinto beans, then topped with cheese and drenched with green chili to make the burrito grande. Posole, lettuce, and tomato are included in the burrito. Posole is a traditional pueblo stew made with Nixtamal maize, a red chile, meat, garlic, and oregano.

The fish tacos are one of my favorites. Two folded flour tortillas are filled with sautéed fish, a spicy sauce, avocado, and sliced cabbage. The meal is topped with a tropical pico de gallo comprised of pineapple, tomato, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime. The side dish is Spanish rice.

Olives that are too fatty

Flagstaff, Arizona is located at 2308 East Route 66.

Although Fat Olives is an Italian restaurant that provides genuine Neapolitan-style Italian meals, the wood-fired pizza oven is the star of the show. The handmade Italian wood-fired oven is honored in the open kitchen.

Fat Olives delivers genuine Neapolitan thin-crust pizza. Each pizza component is exceptional.

A crust created with finely ground Naples Caputo 00 flour yields a wet dough and, lastly, a crispy crust. The dough is made up of just four ingredients: flour, water, yeast, and salt. It is evidence for a full 24 hours.

The house-made pizza sauce at Fat Olives is produced from Italian San Marzano tomatoes, which contain fewer seeds and more meat than other sorts. The flavor is less acidic and more sweet.

The mozzarella cheese is prepared by hand every day, resulting in a creamy white cheese. Fat Olives pizzas include no part skim, low moisture mozzarella.

The ambiance is relaxed and welcoming to families. There are a variety of sitting choices available, including a covered terrace.

Pro Tip: Their 700-degree pizza oven ensures that your dish arrives swiftly. It bakes a delicious pizza in 90 seconds.

Santa Monica Pier represents the conclusion of Route 66, and from there you may explore the large metropolis of Los Angeles and the surrounding region.

The Bluewater Grill

630 Lido Park Road, Newport Beach, California +1-949-675-3474

This is off Route 66 in Cannery Village, however it is toward the end of the line when you tour the area. We chose to make use of the ocean and a charter fishing boat. We’d spent a twelve-hour day deep-sea fishing and were hungry for our harvest.

The restaurant seemed formal and posh at first glance. Not where I’d expect to prepare my fish. For fear of misinterpreting the charter-fishing tour leader, I discreetly stated to the host that we had brought our own fish. He wasnt startled at all, as he said, Excellent! I quickly learned that, sure, the Bluewater Grill prepares and serves your fresh catch. Not a problem!

The gently beer-battered fish is crunchy on the outside yet moist on the interior. Our fish was served family-style, with house-made tartar sauce and lemon halves. We couldn’t decide between a beer-battered and grilled variant. After deciding on the beer-battered recipe, they grilled a few pieces to compare. Both were wonderful. The fish was served with fries and coleslaw.

Even if you haven’t gone deep-sea fishing, this is a restaurant worth visiting. Bluewater Grills’ boat, Pilikia, delivers harpooned swordfish every day. Other fresh seafood is purchased straight from fishermen by the chef. Every year, they serve around 40 different types of sustainably caught fish on their menu.

Landlubbers may choose from a variety of non-seafood options on the menu. Non-fish options include chicken under a brick, baby back ribs, a New York strip, and a cheeseburger.

Which of these Route 66 eateries do you want to try the most? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below!

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