20 must-try restaurants along Illinois Route 66

Kevin HoffmanReboot Illinois

September 15, 2016

The 300-mile stretch of Route 66 that connects Chicago to St. Louis is a treasure trove of roadside attractions, historic sites and good eats.

With so many restaurants dotted along the Mother Road, it’s tough to pick out which ones best capture the nostalgic charm that draws travelers from all over the world.

While this isn’t a definitive list of the best restaurants on Route 66, they are some of the most famous and best reviewed.

In no particular order, here are 20 must-try restaurants on Illinois Route 66 (click on the linked text in the description for more information about the restaurant and the address).

article image Credit: Flickr/Randy von Liski

Cozy Dog Drive In

Springfield

Family-owned and operated since 1946, Cozy Dog Drive In is home of the famous hotdog-on-a-stick, which is coated in a special recipe batter that sets it apart from its corndog competition.

article image Credit: Facebook/Polk-a-Dot Drive In

Polk-a-Dot Drive In

Braidwood

Known for its burgers, chili-cheese fries and malts, Polk-a-Dot Drive In will bring you back in time with its 1950’s flair.

article image Credit: Facebook/Wine & Cheese by TCC

Wine & Cheese by TCC

Plainfield

Dine on some fine wine and artisan cheese at TCC’s indoor café or outdoor patio in downtown Plainfield.

article image Credit: Facebook/Ariston Cafe

Ariston Cafe

Litchfield

Founded in 1924 by a Greek immigrant before relocating to its current location in 1935, Ariston Cafe is one of the oldest restaurants on the Mother Road and a member of the Route 66 Hall of Fame.

article image Credit: Facebook/Route66OldLogCabin

Old Log Cabin Restaurant

Pontiac

Originally opened in 1926, this rustic roadside restaurant has been serving up hearty, home-style cooking to locals and tourists for decades.

article image Credit: tallgrassrestaurant.com

Tallgrass Restaurant

Lockport

If you’re looking for something a bit more upscale, make a reservation at Tallgrass Restaurant where its fancy French fare has won the “AAA Four Diamond Award” for 21 consecutive years.

article image Credit: Facebook/Crossroads Cafè

Crossroads Cafe

Marshall

Whether you’re in the mood for breakfast, lunch or dinner, Crossroads Cafe has all the country comfort food you could want, and at a good price.

article image Credit: thechiliparloronline.com

The Chili Parlor

Springfield

A staple in Springfield, The Chili Parlor has been serving the capital city’s favorite chili since 1945.

article image Credit: whitefencefarm-il.com/

White Fence Farm

Romeoville

White Fence Farm certainly knows a thing or two about cooking chicken. Using a top-secret breading recipe that dates back to the early 1920s, they pressure cook fresh chicken before flash frying it for three minutes. The result? “The World’s Greatest Chicken.”

article image Credit: Facebook/Whirl-A-Whip

Whirl-A-Whip

Girard

First opened in 1957, Whirl-A-Whip is best known for their deep-fried tacos and 50 flavors of ice cream. The iconic walk-up restaurant still uses the 1950s-era Whirl-A-Whip ice cream machine instead of scooping out of a tub.

article image Credit: homecutdonuts.com/

Home Cut Donuts

Joliet

Home Cut Donuts has been making deliciously fresh donuts every day for the past 50 years. Customers can watch the donuts being made through a glass window. And don’t forget to try the coffee!

article image Credit: publiclandingrestaurant.com

Public Landing Restaurant and Banquet Center

Lockport

Known for its scenic outdoor patio and lush landscaping, Public Landing Restaurant is considered one of the best alfresco dining spots in the Chicagoland area.

article image Credit: Facebook/Weezy's

Weezy's

Hamel

About 30 miles to the northeast of St. Louis in the tiny town of Hamel, you’ll find Weezy’s, a casual bar and grill that embodies the spirit of Route 66.

article image Credit: Yelp

Merichka's

Crest Hill

Famous for their “Poorboys” and hand-ground beef, this family-owned and operated restaurant has become a landmark in Will County since opening in 1933.

article image Credit: Facebook/Decamp Junction

DeCamp Junction

Staunton

Back in the 1930s, this historic roadhouse had a dance hall, tourist cabins, gambling and a brothel. That made it a lucrative target for gun-toting gangsters who pulled up in a black car and robbed the bar of its slot machines, alcohol, guns and cash. While its days as a prohibition-era hangout are long gone, it has earned a new reputation – for having really good pizza.

article image Credit: tinroofjoliet.com

Tin Roof

Joliet

For some unique craft cocktails, fresh farm food and plenty of bacon, try the Tin Roof in downtown Joliet. It opened just a couple of years ago, but it still gives off a vintage vibe.

article image Credit: jubelts.com

Jubelt's Bakery & Restaurant

Litchfield

Jubelt’s is a family-owned restaurant and bakery that has been around since 1922. In addition to its fresh baked goods, this third-generation eatery serves breakfast all day, as well as soups, sandwiches and burgers.

article image Credit: Yelp

Joliet Route 66 Diner

Joliet

This vintage diner is a must-try for breakfast and brunch lovers near Joliet.

article image Credit: thepalmsgrillcafe.com

Palms Grill Cafe

Atlanta

From the 1930’s music and blue-plate specials to the retro décor and award-winning pie, you’ll feel like you just stepped out of a time machine when eating at this small-town gem, which is right across the street from the giant Paul Bunyon statue.

article image Credit: Facebook/Old Route 66 Family Restaurant

Old Route 66 Family Restaurant

Dwight

Opened in 2001, this Route 66-themed family restaurant is a fun place to stop in for a burger and handmade milkshakes.

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