Dining Along Route 66: A Missouri Road Trip for Foodies
Get your foodie-fix on Missouri’s stretch of Route 66.
This 483-kilometer swath of iconic roadway features a wide range of mom-and-pop eateries, local favorites and memorable destinations. Be ready to go a bit off-road where more good-eating adventures await.
In scenic Devil’s Elbow, on the Big Piney River, bring your appetite to the motorcycle-friendly Elbow Inn Bar & BBQ. Here, you’ll enjoy heaping plates of barbecued ribs and other meats as well as fresh-made sides like coleslaw and green bean casserole. Save some quarters for the jukebox.
About 40 minutes south, in Lebanon, don’t miss Dowd’s Catfish and BBQ. The restaurant is known for its Southern hospitality and Bayou-style food favorites like fried catfish and barbecue.
At Dowd’s Catfish and BBQ, you’ll find rural Missouri staples such as fried catfish and beef brisket.
Keep heading south another hour to Springfield, Missouri, the birthplace of Route 66. For a taste of history, grab a burger at the Steak ’n Shake on St. Louis Street (Route 66), which dates to the early 1960s and still displays its original neon signs. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Keep an eye out for classic cars as you explore downtown, home to foodie favorites like Black Sheep Burgers and Shakes.
Black Sheep Burgers and Shakes specializes in inventive burgers like the Foodie, topped with boursin cheese, caramelized onion and truffle mayonnaise.
Picturesque Carthage, an hour west of Springfield, bursts with Victorian charm. Stroll the Courthouse square and refuel at Whistler’s Drive-Up. This iconic restaurant has been serving fresh (never frozen) hamburgers since 1953.
The mining town of Joplin, less than a half-hour drive southwest of Carthage, is another great pit stop along Route 66. When planning your road trip, be sure to check out downtown Joplin, which lies on historic Route 66. After a stop at the Route 66 Mural Park, grab a bite to eat at the Red Onion Café.
Home-style comfort food reigns at the Red Onion Cafe. Save room for freshly made soups, salads, burgers and more.
Road Trip Stops
Veer off Route 66 just a bit for even more crave-worthy destinations. Go upscale in St. Charles with a sustainable, organic meal at New American hotspot Prasino. Or, dig in to a stunning Levee High Apple Pie at Kimmswick’s The Blue Owl. Stop for breakfast in Osage Beach, on Lake of the Ozarks, at On the Rise Restaurant – famous for its beignets. Or, stay for dinner at Pappo’s Pizzeria and Pub, where each pie is baked in the stone hearth oven. Enjoy the impressive creations of culinary students in Branson at The Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks. Go rustic at Billy Gail’s Cafe, a log cabin that attracts crowds with its light, fluffy, plate-filling pancakes. Don’t skip Branson’s Billy Bob’s Dairyland, an old-time diner featuring giant burgers, piping-hot chili and, of course, hand-spun shakes and ice cream treats.
The Blue Owl in Kimmswick, Missouri is famous for its towering apple pies that feature 18 Golden Delicious apples and homemade pie crust.
Missouri is serviced by Kansas City International Airport (MCI) and Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL). Additionally, regional airports in Columbia (COU), Branson (BKG) and Springfield (SGF) provide convenient access to and from hub cities such as Dallas, Chicago, Phoenix, Atlanta, Denver and Houston. Missouri offers cross-state Amtrak services, including stops in St. Louis and Kansas City.