Re-experience life in a fun and simpler time with a trip on iconic Route 66 in the Show-Me State. Set your imagination and senses free: feel the wind in your hair, admire the restored neon-lit motels and motor courts, stop often at roadside attractions and tourist destinations. When you pull over to fill your tank – and by that, I mean your belly – you can choose from everything from greasy spoons to sweet shops, tasty pizza to food challenges … and so much more.
There are so many great places to eat, you may want to slow it down and spend a few nights on Missouri's stretch of the Mother Road. Here is just a sampling (note – slight detours off the route may be required):
Instant Karma Gourmet Hot Dogs, Joplin - The varied menu has options aplenty, including vegan choices, not to mention creations like the Cubano (a bacon-wrapped hot dog with pickles, mustard, Swiss cheese and pulled pork).
Supertam on 66, Carterville - Indulge in an ice cream treat with flavors like Superman, cotton candy or Zanzibar chocolate and browse thousands of pieces of Superman memorabilia in the museum.
Whisler's Drive-Up, Carthage - In business since 1953, this joint knows a thing or two about making awesome burgers. Oh, and five double cheeseburgers for $14? Yes, please!
Steak 'n Shake, Springfield - Okay, so, putting a chain restaurant on the list violates the laws of "cool," but this neon-lit spot (1158 E. St. Louis St.) is a Route 66 institution, dating to 1962. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places, for Pete's sake.
Route 66 Hot Dogs, Springfield - Sometimes simple is the best: hotdogs and cold drinks from an old grocery store built in the 1920s on the Mother Road. The dogs are delicious and if your timing is right, this spot has movie nights, too.
Joe's Diner, Strafford - This small local diner is a bit rustic, but the food is amazing with glorious greasy burgers. And trust me, don't pass on the onion rings.
Route 66 BBQ & Catfish, Strafford - Discover the best kept secret in Greene County, featuring fresh, hickory-smoked meats, hand-breaded catfish and homemade tartar and barbecue sauces.
Yogi's Pizza, Conway - Excellent sauce, fresh dough and savory ingredients help make Yogi's one of the top pizza stops in Missouri. It won the Rural Missouri magazine editor's choice award for "Best Pizza in Missouri" for 2017.
Hopper's Pub, Waynesville - This charming pub/restaurant sits right on Route 66 in the downtown area, a few steps from other Route 66 attractions. A diverse menu and dozens of beers on tap makes this must-taste experience.
Elbow Inn Bar and BBQ, Devils Elbow - A popular hangout for generations, the bar serves up tasty barbecue and cold drinks.
Cookin' From Scratch, Newburg - Okay, big eaters, here's your chance. Check out the Route 66 King of the Road Challenge: eat a 66-ounce burger (with bun) – covered with nine slices of American cheese, paired with more than a pound of French fries, and topped with pickle slices, lettuce, tomato and onion – in 66 minutes or less for a T-shirt, free meal, picture on the restaurant's Wall of Fame and a plaque.
Slice of Pie, Rolla - There's no denying the big appeal of the pies at this small bakery in Rolla. They've got pies galore, from traditional apple and peach to sweet potato and custard. It's totally cheating if you pass off one of their pies as your own when preparing meals for family and friends.
Missouri Hick Bar-B-Q, Cuba - This Missouri original has earned a reputation as one of the best barbecue joints in the Show-Me State and along the entirety of Route 66. All the classic options are there, from ribs to smoked chicken to pulled pork. Try a classic taste of Missouri with the pork steak sandwich.
Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, St. Louis - Let's be honest, it doesn't get much better than a sweet frozen-custard treat (think one with salted caramel and crumbled up pretzels) on a warm Missouri day. Or a cold Missouri day. Or a hot Missouri day. Or a mild Missouri day. You get the gist, right?
Eat-Rite Diner, St. Louis - Known for "slingers" (chili slathered over sausage, eggs and potatoes), this classic diner has limited seating and a big following. It's unabashedly a greasy spoon ... and it totally works.
These are just a few of the dining options you find on Route 66 in Missouri. Find more restaurants and sights to see on your Missouri road trip and remember to share your photos with us on Instagram and Twitter using #MissouriAdventure.
Written by Barb Brueggeman