Route 66 – The 14 BEST TOP Restaurants & Diners along Mother Road – Where to eat?

The best restaurants on Route 66 The best dinners as well

Many people ask me: What are the coolest restaurants and diners along Route 66? What are the best places for dining along Route 66? This is my list of the top 10 restaurants and diners along Route 66, in the order they appear from Chicago to Santa Monica.

Each one includes the name, mileage, a detailed description, helpful information, address, and GPS coordinates. For even more options, be sure to check out my Route 66 travel guide “Route 66 Travel Guide – 202 Amazing Places,” available on Amazon. Are you ready to discover my top ten picks? Here they are:

1. Cozy Dog Drive In

GPS: 39.762376, -89.648797
ADDRESS: 2935 So. Sixth Street, Springfield, IL 6270

The best dinners and restaurants on Route 66 - Where to eat?

Springfield, Illinois is a city steeped in history and home to some unique and delicious food. One of its most famous residents was Abraham Lincoln, who lived in the city for many years before becoming President of the United States. Today, visitors can learn about his life and legacy by visiting various historic sites and museums in Springfield.

Another must-visit spot in Springfield is the Cozy Dog Drive In restaurant. This restaurant is famous for serving the classic American food, the corn dog, on a stick. The corn dog was invented by Ed and Virginia Waldmire, who opened Cozy Dog in 1949. They served a hot dog coated in a thick layer of deep-fried cornmeal batter and served on a stick, which quickly became a hit with customers.

What’s remarkable is that even after 70 years, the Cozy Dog still uses the same recipe developed by Ed Waldmire back in 1946. So when you visit the Cozy Dog, you can taste a little bit of history.

In addition to the food, visitors can also explore the restaurant’s collection of postcards and maps designed by Bob Waldmire, who was an artist and traveler. He traveled extensively along Route 66, which runs through Springfield, and drew inspiration for his art from the people, landscapes, and landmarks he encountered on his journeys. His parents, Ed and Virginia Waldmire, were the ones who first introduced the corn dog to the world, and their legacy lives on at the Cozy Dog Drive In.

2. Rock Cafe

ROUTE 66 : 753 MI / 1212 KM Stroud, OKLAHOMA
GPS: 35.748804, -96.654457
ADDRESS: 114 West Main Street, Stroud, OK 74079

Rock Cafe is a historic place on Route 66 where fans can eat great food.

The Rock Café is a historic restaurant located in Stroud, Oklahoma that has gained fame for its connection to the movie Cars. John Lasseter, along with a research team from Pixar Animation Studios, visited the café in 2001 and met with the owner, Dawn Welch. This visit inspired the development of the character Sally Carrera for the movie Cars, and Pixar made multiple trips to the café from 2001 to 2005 for further research and inspiration.

Originally built in 1936, the Rock Café opened its doors to customers in 1939. Its iconic neon signage was installed in the late 1940s, and it quickly became a popular spot for locals and travelers alike. The café’s interior is filled with items left by the Pixar and Disney crew, as well as gifts received during their time working on the Cars movie.

In 2007, the café was also depicted in a work of art by traveling artist Bob Waldmire. Waldmire was known for his depictions of landmarks and scenes along Route 66, and the Rock Café was a natural subject for his art.

Today, the Rock Café continues to attract visitors from all over the world who come to see its historic neon sign, sample its delicious food, and soak up the nostalgia and charm of Route 66. And for fans of the movie Cars, a visit to the Rock Café is a must-do experience.

3. Pops 66 Soda Ranch

GPS: 35.658185, -97.335526
ADDRESS: 660 U.S. Rte 66, Arcadia, OK 73007

Soda Ranch the best restaurants on route 66 - where to eat along the mother road?

Pops 66 is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a unique soda experience. The specialty beverage maker offers an impressive collection of 700 different kinds of soda, sparkling water, and other refreshing drinks. And if you’re feeling hungry, Pops 66 also serves up some great food to go along with your drink.

The restaurant first opened its doors in 2007 and quickly gained a reputation for its signature bacon-flavored soda. While this might not be to everyone’s taste, it’s just one of the many unusual flavors you can try at Pops 66.

One of the most striking features of Pops 66 is its building design. The structure incorporates a cantilevered truss that extends 100 feet over the gas pumps and parking area in the forecourt. This unique design makes it easy for visitors to access the restaurant, even if they’re driving a larger vehicle.

And you can’t miss the roadside sign – a giant soda bottle that stands 66 feet tall and weighs an impressive 4 tons. It’s a true icon of Route 66 and a popular spot for photos.

4. Lucille’s Roadhouse

GPS: 35.538409, -98.659633
ADDRESS: 1301 North Airport Road, Weatherford, OK 73096

Where to eat on Route 66? This is one of the best restaurants for quick stop along Route 66!

Lucille’s Service Station may have closed its doors, but its legacy lives on in the form of Lucille’s Roadhouse. This Route 66-themed restaurant in Weatherford, Oklahoma offers a unique blend of retro diner charm and upscale steakhouse elegance.

Whether you’re looking for a hearty breakfast, a satisfying lunch, or a delicious dinner, Lucille’s Roadhouse has something for everyone. From classic diner fare like burgers and milkshakes to high-end steak and seafood dishes, the menu is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters.

But it’s not just the food that makes Lucille’s Roadhouse a must-visit destination on Route 66. The restaurant’s decor is inspired by the iconic roadside stops of the past, with vintage gas pumps, classic cars, and other Route 66 memorabilia on display throughout the space.

5. The Big Texan Steak Ranch

ROUTE 66 : 1051 MI / 1691 KM AMARILLO, TEXAS
GPS: 35.193783, -101.755081
ADDRESS: 7701 I-40 East, Amarillo, TX 79118

If you would like to eat a big steak visit this restaurant on Route 66

Welcome to Amarillo, a city with a rich history and plenty of charm! Founded in 1887, Amarillo is known as “The Yellow Rose of Texas” and is home to some of the most breathtaking sunrises and sunsets you’ll ever see.

But that’s not all Amarillo has to offer. If you’re a fan of big, juicy steaks, you simply have to visit The Big Texan Steak Ranch. This iconic restaurant offers a challenge like no other: eat a 72-ounce steak in under an hour, and the meal is free! But be warned, this is no easy feat. If you can’t finish the steak in time, you’ll have to pay the full price.

Of course, if you’re not up for the challenge, The Big Texan also offers a variety of other delicious steak and BBQ options. From filet mignon to brisket, there’s something for every carnivore to enjoy.

But it’s not just the food that makes The Big Texan a must-visit destination in Amarillo. The restaurant is also home to a gift shop, a brewery, and even a shooting range, making it the perfect place to spend an afternoon or evening with friends and family.

So if you find yourself in Amarillo and craving a good steak, be sure to stop by The Big Texan Steak Ranch. Whether you’re up for the challenge or just looking for a great meal, you won’t be disappointed!

6. Kix On 66

GPS: 35.171603, -103.713019
ADDRESS: 1102 E Rte 66 Blvd, Tucumcari, NM 88401

Inside old Diner on route 66 - great places to eat on Route 66

Looking for a classic American diner experience on your Route 66 trip? Look no further than Kix On 66! This nostalgic counter-style diner is the perfect spot for a hearty breakfast or lunch, serving up all your favorite classic American meals.

But Kix On 66 is more than just a great place to eat. It’s also a slice of Americana, with a history that dates back to the mid-1960s when it was a Denny’s restaurant. Today, the vintage American diner counter and bar stools transport you back in time to the golden age of American diners, and the friendly staff will make you feel right at home.

Whether you’re in the mood for pancakes, burgers, or a classic diner sandwich, Kix On 66 has something for everyone. And with its prime location on Route 66, it’s the perfect place to stop and refuel on your journey through the heartland of America.

So if you’re looking for a taste of nostalgia and a great meal to boot, be sure to check out Kix On 66. You won’t be disappointed!

7. 66 Diner

GPS: 35.082163, -106.630702
ADDRESS: 1405 Central Ave NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106

Old Route 66 vintage diner - You should stop here for a lunch

If you’re looking for a true blast from the past, be sure to stop by the 66 Diner on your Route 66 trip. This diner may have opened after the decommissioning of the famous highway, but it has its roots in a 1940s Phillips 66 gas station that has been beautifully converted into a retro 1950s-style diner.

Inside, you’ll be transported back in time with the diner’s vintage décor and classic diner menu, featuring all your favorite American comfort foods. And outside, be sure to check out the impressive collection of vintage signs on display, which offer a glimpse into the rich history of Route 66 and the many businesses that once lined its path.

8. Route 66 Diner

GPS: 35.528926, -108.703323
ADDRESS: 2502 E U.S. Rte 66, Gallup, NM 87301

Breakfest on Route 66? Visit Route 66 diner for great food and service.

Welcome to Gallup, a city steeped in history and culture. Established in 1881 as a vital railroad hub for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, the town was named after the company’s esteemed paymaster, David Gallup. Today, Gallup is a gateway to the rich Native American experience, with the Navajo Nation, the Pueblo of Zuni, and the Hopi Reservation located nearby. To kick off your visit, head to the famous Route 66 Diner for a delicious meal that will transport you back in time to the 1950s. The diner’s interior is decked out in classic 50s style, making it the perfect backdrop for a quick photo. Savor a hearty lunch or treat yourself to one of their famous chocolate shakes. Either way, it’s a must-visit spot in Gallup.

9. Galaxy Diner

GPS: 35.192161, -111.661948
ADDRESS: 931 West Historic Route 66, Flagstaff, AZ 86001

Galaxy diner one of the best dinners on Route 66

Experience the nostalgia of the 1950s at the Galaxy Diner, a must-visit spot for foodies. This original diner will transport you back in time with its retro décor and vintage vibes. You’ll love the walls adorned with photos of classic movie stars from the golden age of Hollywood. And don’t forget to take a seat at the authentic counter, complete with a genuine imitation jukebox playing hits from the era. Don’t miss out on the chance to enjoy delicious food in a charming, old-school atmosphere at the Galaxy Diner!

10. Mr D’z Route 66 Diner

GPS: 35.189262, -114.057233
ADDRESS: 105 E Andy Devine Ave, Kingman, AZ 86401

Where to eat on Route 66? The best restaurants and dinners along Mother Road.

Step back in time and experience the magic of Route 66 at Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner, a vintage 1950s eatery that pays homage to the glory days of The Mother Road. Originally opened as the Kingman Café and Kimo Shell Station in 1939, the Dunton family transformed this historic site into a charming diner in the 1980s. Today, you can still see remnants of its gas station past in the front dining room, where the old pumps once stood.

The menu is filled with family-inspired dishes, many of which were created by owner Roy Dunton himself, including the world-famous Mr. D’z Root Beer. The diner is adorned with fascinating Route 66 memorabilia and has even welcomed famous visitors like Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King. And don’t forget to check out the stunning Route 66 mural painted on the diner’s parking lot – it’s a true work of art!

11. Oatman Hotel Restaurant & Saloon

ROUTE 66 : 1837 MI / 2956 KM OATMAN, ARIZONA
GPS: 35.026394, -114.383217
ADDRESS: 181 Main St, Oatman, AZ 86433

Oatman great restaurant on Mother Road 66 - Where to eat on Route 66?

Step into the Old West and visit Oatman, the most authentic Wild West town you’ll encounter on your journey. This historic town began as a small mining camp in 1915 when two prospectors struck gold worth $10 million. Despite the area being settled for years prior, Oatman truly came to life thanks to this discovery. The town is named after Olive Oatman, a young girl from Illinois who was taken captive by Native Americans and later sold to the Mohave tribe. She was released in 1856 at Fort Yuma, but not before the tribe had tattooed her face in the custom of their people.

Oatman is famous for its wild burros, or donkeys, which roam the village and are often fed alfalfa cubes sold by local shops. Visitors love petting these gentle creatures and taking pictures with them. Make sure to stop by the historic Oatman Hotel Restaurant & Saloon, which was built in 1902 and is a true sight to behold. Every inch of wall space is adorned with dollar bills from customers and travelers alike, making it a one-of-a-kind dining experience you won’t forget!

12. Bagdad Cafe

GPS: 34.819653, -116.64329
ADDRESS: 46548 National Trails Hwy, Newberry Springs, CA 92365

Bagdad Cafe - Historic place, great restaurant for quick stop

Discover a true cinematic gem on Route 66 at the Bagdad Café, made famous by German filmmaker Percy Adlon’s 1987 indie cult classic. Located in the heart of the Mojave Desert, this dinky roadside café is a must-visit for international film buffs and anyone looking to experience a taste of the past. Prior to its cinematic fame, the café was known as the Sidewinder Cafe. However, once the producers selected it as the location for their film, it became an iconic stop on Route 66. The cafe’s owners recognized the film’s enduring popularity and officially changed the name to the Bagdad Café in 1995. Don’t miss the chance to visit this historic spot and experience a piece of cinema history!

You can also check my post: Route 66 – The 10 BEST Must-Watch Movies/Films Shot on Mother Road

13. Emma Jean’s Holland Burger Cafe

GPS: 34.561266, -117.313623
ADDRESS: 17143 N D St, Victorville, CA 92394

Emma Holland Historic place - great restaurant for Route 66 travellers

Get ready to step back in time to the golden era of Route 66 in Victorville! As you travel down D and Seventh streets, you’ll pass through Old Town Victorville, with its charming Main Street feel. Don’t miss a stop at Emma Jean’s Holland Burger Cafe, founded by Bob and Kate Holland way back in 1947. Richard Gentry, a cement truck driver on Route 66, was a regular at the cafe from day one and eventually bought it in 1979 for his wife Emma, a waitress at the diner.

The cafe was renamed Emma Jean’s Holland Burger Cafe in her honor and remains a family-owned business to this day. Though Emma Jean and Richard have since passed away, their son Brian and his wife Shawna continue to serve up homemade, from-scratch dishes just as Emma Jean would have done. Take a seat in this classic diner and experience a taste of the past!

14. Mel’s Drive-in

GPS: 34.015171, -118.486653
ADDRESS: 1670 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404

Mel's Drive in in Santa Monica - the best restaurants on Route 66

Welcome to the iconic Mel’s Drive-in in Santa Monica, the perfect final stop for your Route 66 journey! Originally known as the Penguin Coffee Shop and later a dental clinic, the building was transformed into the retro-style Mel’s Drive-in in 2016. The restaurant pays homage to the classic diner era with a menu of burgers, fries, and milkshakes.

Mel’s Drive-in is not only known for its delicious food, but also its appearance. The building’s Googie architecture, featuring eye-catching neon signs and futuristic design, is a nod to the mid-century modern era. With its fun and lively atmosphere, Mel’s Drive-in is the perfect place to end your Route 66 adventure!

👍 Find out more:

Route 66 travel guide 202 amazing places

Discover the best stops along the Mother Road in my travel guide, “Route 66 Travel Guide – 202 Amazing Places”, which is available on Amazon. This is the ultimate travel guide and pocket reference for anyone wishing to experience the nostalgia and wonder of America’s Route 66! MUST-HAVE for all Route 66 travelers. Visit 202 places on Route 66 with “Scan QR and go” for easy navigation.


Traveling on Route 66

Mark Watson is a California-based member of a Los Angeles Motorcycle Club and a keen traveler. He’s traveled the entirety of U. S. Route 66 seven times on his Harley-Davidson. He strives to interest others in the historic drive to keep the legendary Route 66 alive. He also traveled through the Alaska Highway. He is an author of bestseller books on Amazon: “Route 66 Travel Guide – 202 Amazing Places” and “Alaska Highway – 202 Best Stops”.

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