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Posts Tagged ‘Route 66’

Palms Grill Cafe Review – On Route 66, Atlanta, IL


Palms Grill Cafe Review One of the original U.S. highways, Route 66 (US Highway 66), was established on November 11, 1926.

A few years later, the Palms Grill Cafe opened on the “Mother Road” in Atlanta, IL, about equidistant between St. Louis and Chicago (now just off I-55).

Not much has changed since then, in Atlanta, or at the Palms. The restaurant still whips up most everything from scratch on a daily basis (closed Tuesday, tho), serves breakfast all day, and offers an ever changing menu of daily specials.  This is the epitome of American home cooking.

Taking advantage of that “breakfast all day thing” meant a fried pork chop and eggs for my navigator, and for me? A central Illinois specialty, served nowhere else that I know of.  It’s called the “Horseshoe” and was created in/around Springfield, IL.

This beauty starts with two pieces of toast on the plate, your choice of protein (burger, ham, bacon, pork chop, sausage, chicken), then topped with fries, and your choice of sausage gravy or cheese sauce….or both! And sure, they’ll throw a fried egg or two on top if you want.  That makes it a “breakfast shoe.”

I went with country ham. Delish.  As were the fresh cut, twice fried fries. Not many places do that anymore.

Didn’t have room for dessert, wish I did, each day they have a selection of house made pies and cakes. This lemon cake pictured was right in front of me during lunch. Torture.

There’s a big room for events or tour buses, and the walls are chock-a-block with old time area photos.  Some vintage machines (pinball, cash register, payphone, refrigerator) dot the main room and are all in excellent working condition.

Here’s the menuAnd the daily specials.

Palms Grill Cafe Review

Fried Ham Horseshoe


Palms Grill Cafe Review

Pork Chop and Eggs


Palms Grill Cafe Review

Lemon Cake

Palms Grill Cafe Review

And directly across the street? Lookee who’s looking at you!

Palms Grill & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Palms Grill Cafe Review

Palms Grill Cafe Review



Hodaks Restaurant and Bar Review, St. Louis, MO


Hodaks Restaurant and Bar ReviewGeez, I can count on about three fingers the times I have not been disappointed when I’ve tried a restaurant that is a perennial favorite in a given city. If it’s won “the best of” multiple times, for some reason, it won’t strike me the same way.

Much to my delight, Hodaks does not fall into that black hole, despite being voted “St. Louis Best Fried Chicken 25 Years in a Row.” I agree.

I was out looking for restaurants on the “Mother Road,” or at least the remnants of same, Route 66, the old main highway that ran from Chicago to St. Louis. In my neck of the woods, I’d had the pleasure of dining at several establishments on the Route, including Lou Mitchells, in downtown Chicago at the beginning of 66 (exceeded expectations), Del Rhea’s Chicken Basket, (meh, thanks for playing), Cozy Dog and Charlie Parkers, Springfield, IL, the Country Cup, a couple places in El Reno, OK, birthplace of the Onion Burger, the Galaxy Diner in Flagstaff…..and others.

Ordinarily, fried chicken isn’t something I’d go out of my way for, tho I am fond of quality preparations. It wouldn’t be in my top 10 of things to order at a restaurant.

But here we are/were,  and it’s on Route 66, been around forever, so why not.  And besides, I needed a “good” St. Louis experience to make up for my last time there, trapped by a master con woman for three days initially, then sucker punched into spending 7 years together.

Hodaks was busy, it was Saturday lunch time, holiday weekend, but not so busy we couldn’t be seated straight away. I understand there are times when there is a substantial wait for a table.

Started with the traditional St. Louis appetizer, fried ravioli, deep-fried pasta pockets stuffed with meat and accompanied by a marinara dipping sauce.  My initial thought of just having a couple bites vanished….and did the entire plateful.  Oops.

Onto fried chicken, my choice, a pounded breast, with mashed, gravy, beans, slaw. Superb.  I mean it, superb in every aspect.

Would I go again?  You wouldn’t be able to stop me if I was passing through town. St Louis in the future will be forever two things to me, Hodak’s Chicken and Imo’s Pizza.

Hodaks Restaurant and Bar Review

Fried Ravioli

Hodaks Restaurant and Bar Review

Chicken fried chicken

Hodaks full menu.  They welcome your bulk order for events or catering, too.

Hodak's Restaurant and Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Hodaks Restaurant and Bar Review

Hodaks Restaurant and Bar Review


Dell Rheas Chicken Basket Review – Route 66 Illinois


Dell Rheas Chicken Basket Review – on old Route 66, Chicago

Dell Rheas Chicken Basket Review

Historical Marker

Based on my personal consumption, I’m  thinking their slogan should be “come for the biscuits, stay for the chicken.”

One of the original highways across America, Route 66 ran from downtown Chicago to the Pacific Ocean at Santa Monica, CA, a total of nearly 2500 miles.

It’s also been referred to as “America’s Main Street,” and the “Mother Road.” The highway was instrumental in boosting America’s migration to the west by automobile, and was full of interesting tourist stops, eateries and motels with creative architecture. I’ve written about some of the eateries in the past, including the Maid Rite and Cozy Dog in Springfield, IL, the onion burger establishments in El Reno, OK, Country Cup diner in Countryside, IL, and the Galaxy Diner in Flagstaff, to name a few.

I love driving Route 66, the trip evokes memories of a simpler time. I think it’s officially my own personal “happy place.”

The Chicken Basket grew out of a gas station lunch counter in the 30s or 40s, and opened in its present form in 1946. They are famous for – what else – chicken – and they offer it in a bunch of different forms, including a weekend lunch AYCE buffet.

The servers are very friendly and chatty, and the knotty pine room is adorned with Route 66 memorabilia. A basket of fresh baked biscuits is presented when you’re seated, and they were delicious, reminiscent to me of “Boy Scout dutch oven Bisquick drop biscuits” except these were perfect, not burned or half baked balls of dough that we used to have in scouts.

I started with an order of onion rings, large slices of sweet Vidalia’s in a crispy corn meal coating. It’s a large serving, adequate to share between two or more people.

We ordered a couple of meals, the chicken fried chicken, a boneless breast, which comes with fries, gravy, and corn “pudding.”

The menu cautions that it’s up to a 30 minute wait for the chicken, as it is all fried to order. The chicken breast was crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside, with the breading having some nice crunch. In the chicken dinner, the coating was considerably different, much lighter and less substantial, and I’m going to venture an uneducated guess that while the boneless breast was actually deep fried, it seemed like the chicken dinner was prepared more like ‘broasting,” a distinctly Midwestern thing, a deep-fry with less oil that also involves a pressure cooker. Maybe, maybe not.

In any case, unlike many legendary eateries, the Chicken basket exceeds its hype, the food is really great. Two dinners, one appetizer, two beverages and tip, $47.00.

Full menu is online if you want to ponder your choices prior to arrival.

If you’ve never driven Route 66, put it on your bucket list, even if you have the time only to do segments in one or two states. In addition to Illinois, the road crossed Missouri, a smidgen of Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and into California. It’s a very popular trip with foreign tourists, as well, and there are even “Route 66 Associations” across the globe.



Dell Rheas Chicken Basket Review

Chicken Fried Chicken Dinner


Dell Rheas Chicken Basket Review

Fried Chicken Breast

Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Dell Rheas Chicken Basket Review


Maid Rite Review – Springfield, IL


Maid Rite ReviewMaid Rite is the brand name for a franchised group of restaurants that sell what is generically referred to as “loose meat sandwiches.”   Created by a butcher in Muscatine, Iowa, there are plus/minus a hundred outlets in the Upper Midwest selling Maid Rite type sandwiches, whether they are paying to use the name, or not.

If you are not from, or have traveled through the Upper Midwest, you still may have heard to this specialty via telecoms:  Roseanne used to refer to them, and her and (then ) husband started a restaurant to sell them in his home town of Ottuma, Iowa, which was also the fictional home town of Cpl Radar O’Reilly on MASH.

So what the heck are they?  Crumbled ground beef, cooked on a steam table with a bit of mustard and finely diced onions stirred on.  A scoop is placed on a lightly steamed hamburger bun, and there you are. Ketchup and mustard on the tables.

I stopped into one of the first ones, in Springfield, IL, on the old Route 66;  the Springfield outlet is also credited with having the first fast food drive through in America.  It’s on the National Historic Register, in fact.

Their menu is simple:  Maid rites, Cheese maid rites, hot dogs, fries, soft drinks including a house-brew root beer.  Lunch is gonna cost you about $7.00. I actually think it’s kinda spendy for what it is.  BTW?  Be sure you pay attention to the “rules,” when dining in house (below).

Maid Rite Review

Original Maid Rite



Maid Rite Review

Dine in rules



Maid-Rite on Urbanspoon

Maid Rite Review


Countryside, IL – Country Cup Diner


Give me a home, where the….oh, wait. Give me a diner, on Route 66, and I’ll be one happy camper. In a distant suburb of Chicago, the town of Countryside, is the  Highway 66 exit route from the Loop, and on it, inside a bowling alley, with little signage to let you know it’s there, is the Country Cup dinner, with all of 10 tables, a counter for 8, and on this shift, about 7 employees hustling to serve the jammed packed café.

Serving a full menu 24/7, I stopped in for a corned beef, changed my mind, and went with a specialty unique to Chicago (as far as I am concerned), the “olive burger”, also referred to as the “Queen Burger” in other locales.

I’ve written about other stops along Route 66 in the past.

Everybody knows Chicago is a great hot dog town, but it’s a great burger town, as well, with one of the most (in)famous being the Billy Goat Tavern, underneath the Wrigley Building on Michigan Avenue.  The Billy Goat was perfectly poised between two rival newspaper buildings, the Trib and the Sun Times, and was where a lot of the reporters used to hang out regularly.

But the Billygoat became known to the rest of America through John Belushi’s SNL skit, where the punchline was “cheezbooger, cheezbooger, no coke, pepsi”, which pretty much describes the ‘Goat as it remains today.

Back at the Country Cup,  the coffee is fresh and plentiful, the burger was a sizzling food service patty, and the rings were hot and greasy.  And the olives?  They were just fine.  I couldn’t leave w/o grabbing a reuben to go.  I’d had a hankering for good corned beef for awhile.

If you ever find yourself in need of a nosh in this part of Chicago, check out the Country Cup anytime of day or nite.

If you’re a fan of surface streets, stay on the original Route 66 from downtown Chicago to the Cup…. Just about 20 miles, take Adams out of downtown, to Ogden Avenue, and roll out there 16 miles or so to Joliet Road.

country cup

Olive Burger

Country Cup, Countryside, IL




Crowded Space

Crowded Space


Country Cup Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Marios Pizza and Restaurant Review, Albuquerque, NM –


(Editor note – I am currently traveling and will be mostly posting reviews that I left unfinished for one reason or another, while building up a repertoire of the new places I hit!  There will also be reviews from some new reporters we have signed up).

Local favorite, going on 50 years, I was delighted to get to try it, as it has a good rep.

Spoiler alert.  I don’t know why it has a good rep.  Hand tossed crusts, and surely house-made tomato sauce, but the upside stops there.  The sauce was flavorless (meaning it is crushed and pureed tomatoes, without a hint of herbs or spices), and is probably the same product they sell by the jar as a pasta sauce.

Sausage was pre-cooked crumbles, and the pepperoni was oily and cupped, indicating a high fat content, and a low price.  Skimpy on the toppings, as well.

Mario’s would do in a pinch, if one were in Albuquerque and being pinched.   For me, that thankfully only happens once every five years or so.

Mario's Pizzeria & Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Marios Pizza and Restaurant Review

Marios Pizza and Restaurant Review

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