Driving Route 66 is considered one of the best road trips in the country. Whether you are driving a section of this route or the entire thing, you’ve gotta make sure to stop at some classic Route 66 diners. On our family’s cross country road trip, we made sure to include roadside stops along Route 66 and find some Route 66 restaurants that were highly recommended by others. Check out this list of delicious Route 66 diners, some donuts, frozen custard, and a well-known soda shop.
Route 66 Diners
While there are certainly many Route 66 restaurants and diners, this is a short list of some notable stops for your road trip. Besides the roadside attractions, there are some classic places to stop for some Route 66 food too. While I shared some of my favorite stops from our road trip, I asked others to contribute their favorite Route 66 diners as well. Use the map below to see the location of the Route 66 diners you should visit.
The Donut Man – Glendora, California
This donut shop is an institution around town! It is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. They specialize in seasonal filled donuts like their fabulous strawberry donuts. The fruit filling changes based on what is available and fresh and they are always keeping quality at the forefront. This shop is more of a stand and less of an actual Route 66 restaurant. You won’t be able to sit as there is a window where you order and get your sweet treats.
The line is outside so if you have little ones just make sure to keep an eye out as they are located right off the main street. There is almost always a line (they are so dang delicious). We HIGHLY recommend you sample the seasonal offerings (if they are not sold out) at the Donut Man. They have a variety of classic donut types like old fashioned glazed as well as tiger tails. You can go no wrong with a glazed donut. They are soft and just the right amount of sweet. This is a great stop no matter what time of day and we highly recommend you take a pit stop and get your sweet tooth satisfied.
By Sophia Bawany of Fly Eat and Repeat
Goldies Route 66 Diner – Williams, Arizona
Goldies Route 66 Diner is a very classic, retro décor place for breakfasts, lunches, or dinners in Williams, Arizona. We would even say it has not changed since the 1960s. Portions are significant, tasty, and we recommend meals in Goldies. Whatever you choose, it will be tasty, and the excellent service makes the atmosphere feel like 50 years ago. It’s open from 7 a.m. till 9 p.m.
Breakfasts are served all day. There is a large selection of delicious omelets on the menu. Eggs are served with hash browns or potatoes and toast. You can, of course, also order an omelet with your favorite toppings. They also have waffles, cakes, oats, and grains. For lunch, you can order a salad, sandwich, or burger. There is a large selection of flavors and extras. The starters are also great. We ate bacon cheeseburger and chili burger. We also got fresh hot wings, onion rings, and a bowl of chili, which was delicious. For dinner, you can eat fish, shrimp, steak, or the famous Route 66 Ribeye. This Route 66 diner is also kid-friendly. They do offer a kids menu, including great selections of soft drinks, milk, and desserts.
Williams is one of the most charming and stylish Route 66 towns in Arizona. It is known as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon,” so it’s perfect sop on your way to Grand Canyon South Rim. Williams was the last town on Historic Route 66 to be bypassed by Interstate 40. What more to do in Williams? You can check in this post about the Best Route 66 Towns in Arizona.
Contributed by: Agnes from The Van Escape
Miz Zip’s Cafe – Flagstaff, Arizona
This little dive spot opened in the 50’s and still maintains the same retro vibe with wooden paneling throughout the restaurant. You can expect to find classic American food pretty much anytime. It is one of the many famous Route 66 diners, but we didn’t have time for much of a stop. We ordered two homemade pies (one of the menu items they are most known for) and enjoyed the generous portions between the four of us.
Turquoise Room – Winslow, Arizona
Our family had planned to stop at La Posada Hotel, in Winslow, AZ, after seeing it mentioned on a Route 66 highlights video. We arrived earlier than anticipated and decided to have brunch in the hotel’s restaurant, The Turquoise Room instead of stopping later and it was one of the best meals of the trip and our favorite of the Route 66 restaurants! The chef is a James Beard nominee and his menus seasonally change, yet have a Southwest influence. My dish, shown below, was a warm yellow corn polenta topped with roasted tomatoes, spinach, poached eggs, jack cheese, cilantro, and corn salsa. My husband ordered the green chile eggs, while my kids each ordered pancakes and bacon. It was the best Route 66 food we had!
Besides the food, the decor was so charming. This hotel has so much history! Opened in 1930, this hotel was a stop on the Santa Fe Railway and had a number of famous guests in its heyday (Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart, FDR, John Wayne, and Betty Grable, just to name a few). It was restored in the late 1990s and features beautiful gardens, local art, and updated rooms. I truly wish we would have stayed here.
The 66 Diner – Albuquerque, New Mexico
The 66 Diner in Albuquerque, New Mexico is one of the most fun diners to visit in all of the Southwest United States. The restaurant’s building used to house a Phillip’s gas station during the heyday of Route 66. The 66 Diner still evokes the feel of the 50s and 60s with a real jukebox, Elvis memorabilia, and a Pez collection. Diners of any age will love it here.
The diner is very kid-friendly and has all the standard diner foods like meatloaf, fried chicken, and hamburgers. But those with a taste for spice will want to try their yummy green chile bacon cheeseburger. After all, green chiles are a great New Mexican delicacy.
The 66 Diner is especially famous for its sweets, most of all the deliciously thick milkshakes. Try one of the diner’s unique flavors like Pink Cadillac or the Elvis, which is made with banana and peanut butter, just like the King liked it. And don’t feel guilty about indulging in both a milkshake and a slice of their warm diner cherry pie for dessert. After your meal, take a spin around the parts of the historic Route 66 that still exist in Albuquerque. You’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time for the day.
Contributed by Stella Jane from Around the World in 24 Hours
Albuquerque is one of the larger cities on Route 66, which makes it a great 2-3 day stop. Among the popular things to do in the city include taking the Sandia Peak Tramway for some stunning views of the area, visiting The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History or the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, and walking around to explore the Albuquerque Old Town area. There are many Route 66 stops in the Old Town area, as well as a very popular restaurant Church Street Cafe. In early October, Albuquerque holds a hot air balloon festival that is very popular with locals and tourists alike.
Kix on 66 – Tucumcari, New Mexico
This no-fuss eatery was one of my favorite Route 66 diners and a must-stop if you happen to be midway from Amarillo to Albuquerque/Santa Fe. This breakfast and lunch stop is a favorite of many road trippers driving through Route 66. In addition to their classic American breakfast and lunch items, there are a few New Mexico specialties thrown in the mix. The huevos rancheros seen below was outstanding! My husband ordered the Christmas burrito (which meant a combination of both red and green chile sauce) and he loved it.
The interior of the restaurant is decorated with a classic retro vibe and they do have some outdoor picnic tables with umbrellas on a patio. If you are looking to make a stop there, you can check out the New Mexico Route 66 Museum, the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum, and the Tucumcari Railroad Museum. There are also many places to stay in town too.
Midpoint Cafe – Adrian, Texas
The MidPoint Cafe and Gift Shop is situated in Adrian, Texas, at exactly 1,139 miles from both the Santa Monica and Chicago starting points for Route 66, and it is said to be the road’s oldest continuously operating café. So of course you’ll want to stop to celebrate here, at the exact midpoint of the Texas Mother Road. A hamburger, hot dog, and BLT are on the well-priced menu along with several other sandwiches. And do save room for pie, because a delicious selection is made daily on site. My choice was a divine chocolate cream.
Family-friendly seating options at this Route 66 diner includes comfy booths and swivel stools at a counter, and everyone will enjoy helping themselves to a cold soft drink from the fridge. This is also a good place to select a souvenir because the Route 66 logo items include things you might actually want. Plan to be at the MidPoint mid-day because they open mid-morning and close late afternoon.
Contributed by: Carole Terwilliger Meyers from Travels With Carole
The Big Texan Steak Ranch – Amarillo, Texas
Bright yellow and wildly over the top from the moment you catch sight of it, the Big Texan Steak Ranch has been delighting road trippers who pass through Amarillo since 1960 and is one of the best Route 66 attractions in Texas. Above all, the Big Texan Steak Ranch is known for its 72 oz. steak contest. If you dare, ascend to a small table in the front of the restaurant, and take on the famous challenge. You’ll need to eat not only a 72 oz. steak, but the many sides (salad, baked potato, shrimp cocktail, roll, and butter)… all within a 1-hour time frame.
If you succeed, the meal is free. If not, cough up $72 and take pride in entertaining your fellow restaurant patrons for the evening! Of course, the Big Texan Steak Ranch does serve up more human-sized steaks as well, along with other classic southwestern fare, for those who prefer to avoid the contest.
Kids are more than welcome (there is a kids menu), and will love the quirky grounds, which feature windmills, a giant cow statue, and cars with longhorns on their front ends, just to name a few things! It is definitely one of the most well known and popular Route 66 restaurants.
Contributed by: Kate from Lone Star Travel Guide
Amarillo is also home to Cadillac Ranch. This unique art installation has been attracting road-trippers since 1974. You can walk a short distance from the road to the half-buried Cadillacs and spray paint something for the “road gods” to remember you by. We brought our own can, but there are vendors just outside the gates if you happen to forget your spray paint.
Pops – Arcadia, Oklahoma
Make a stop at Pops on Route 66 in Arcadia, Oklahoma. Not only is this a gas station and Route 66 diner, but a place you will want to visit over and over again. It is famous for its wall of soda bottles and unique flavors. It is quite easy to find, as you drive along Route 66, you will come across a 66 foot “Giant Soda Bottle”. At night, it even lights up! So, you can’t miss it.
One of the most exciting things about Pops is that there are over 600 different soda pop choices. My kids especially love visiting Pops! We usually let them pick out a few different flavors when we go. My kids love collecting the glass bottles and bottle caps. We have quite the collection as we try to visit every summer. We also love to eat at the diner. The food and atmosphere are great. If you’re driving along this area, be sure to make this a designated rest stop on your iconic Route 66 road trip!
Contributed by: Lisa from Planning Away
Waylan’s Kuku Burger – Miami, Oklahoma
This is one of the big surprises of our Route 66 adventure! Opened in the 60’s, Kuku Burger was a popular chain for a few years, but now only one remains. It’s a local institution and a classic Route 66 diner. The lime green sign and cuckoo bird are hard to miss, yet the burgers should not be missed. While it is more of a fast-food restaurant than a diner, but don’t let that deter you from stopping here. If you are a burger lover, then this is the place for you.
All four of us ordered burgers (they come with toasted buns), and we shared a couple of milkshakes. The staff behind the counter were very friendly and the food tasted delicious! In addition, the ambiance is that of a 1960’s burger place. I felt as if I was on a movie set. I do apologize, I did not take any pictures of our burger.
Missouri Hick Bar-B-Que – Cuba, Missouri
Our family loves eating barbecue and have tried some delicious ribs and brisket in Austin, Kansas City, St. Louis, and many other places around the country. While I know that each region has a unique style and flavor profile, I enjoy tasting the variety. Being that this is located in Missouri, they offered St. Louis style ribs and they are among my tastiest I’ve had.
Missouri Hick Bar-B-Que looks like an old saloon and the decor matches. This is one of the more popular Route 66 restaurants, so be prepared to wait for a table if you come at prime time. Expect to find the usual barbecue offerings, with some twists like the Hick Mash Bowl (mash potatoes, brisket, and gravy – fully loaded), or Ory’s Spud (a huge baked potato stuffed with baked beans, BBQ pulled pork, cheese, bacon, and sour cream).
Ted Drewes Frozen Custard – St. Louis, Missouri
While I know this is not one of the Route 66 diners, it is a great stop on the go. If you’ve never had frozen custard, it is a creamier, denser version of ice cream, and it is delicious! Ted Drewes Frozen Custard has been around since the 1930s and still is quite popular in the St. Louis area. They sell all kinds of frozen custard to create shakes, malts, sundaes, floats, and my favorite – concretes.
If you have never been to St. Louis, I highly recommend at least a day or two to take in the sights of the city. We ate some classic BBQ at Bogart’s Smokehouse, learned about the history of the Gateway Arch (went up the arch and the kids earned junior ranger badges), visited the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, walked around Busch Stadium, and ate dinner at Fitz’s Delmar (a St. Louis soda factory and eatery).
Final Thoughts on Route 66 Restaurants
I’ll be honest, when my husband suggested that we incorporate Route 66 into our adventure in the Southwest, I was not thrilled. I will have to admit that I enjoyed seeing many of the roadside attractions, unique vintage signs, abandoned businesses, museums, motels, and stopping for food at classic Route 66 diners. While I did not drive the entire route from Chicago to Santa Monica, we have stopped at enough places throughout our road trip adventures that I decided to share some of our favorites.
Looking for some travel inspiration on YouTube? Check out how to plan a family road trip vacation or a cross country road trip. What did I miss? If you’ve road tripped Route 66, leave a comment with your favorite Route 66 restaurant in the comments below.
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