Not exactly a restaurant, but you will never forgive yourself if you pass up a chance to try their maple sirup, maple cream, or the unforgettable decadence of their exquisite chocolate-covered maple truffles. "Sirup," incidentally, is the correct spelling for the product sold here. "Sirup," with an "i," refers to pancake topping in its purest form, sweetened with naturally-occurring maple sugar; "syrup," with a "y," contains added sugar and generally doesn't taste as good as the real thing.
No relation to the Hard Rock Cafe. Built from native stone removed from the ground during the paving of Route 66, the Rock Cafe is the best restaurant on the Mother Road ... or at least, the best one I've visited. Everything on the menu is fantastic. Try a plate of jaegersnitzal with spaetzle -- a German dish I can only describe as "what chicken-fried steak wants to be when it grows up" -- and a slice of oatmeal pie for dessert. Vegetarians can find fried pickles, chips and salsa, salads (including tabouli, a wonderful Lebanese dish made with cracked wheat, parsley, cucumbers and tomatoes), and a friendly staff willing to accommodate unusual requests.
Try the chorizo and eggs for breakfast. Wash it down with a cup of herbal tea if you're a teetotaler like I am now, or a mimosa if you're a champers-swilling lush like I was the last time I had breakfast there.
Home of the famous rotosphere, a spectacular neon Sputnik-looking thing that swivels and turns and really just defies description. Pictures don't begin to do it justice. Also the home of some inexpensive and absolutely delicious posole.
We had breakfast there. If we'd been in town longer, we'd have had dinner there, too. The menu included several items involving duck. To paraphrase Tanya Tucker: "When I die, I may not go to heaven; I don't know if they'll let roadies in. If I don't, just let me go to the Turquoise Room, 'cos the Turquoise Room's as close as I've been."
Excellent road food (I have dreams about those chiliburgers) served up with a side of history and a double order of humor. Longtime owner and world-famous practical joker Juan Delgadillo died in 2004, but his kids are carrying on the tradition.
A must-stop. The pasta with burnt butter and mizithra cheese is heavenly, and the murals airbrushed on the walls will amaze you. The servers were great, too; we unwittingly wandered in five minutes before closing. They served us anyway, smiled, apologized for cleaning around us, and assured us we were welcome to stay as long as we liked.
Decent food, good coffee, lousy service, spectacular architecture. Or at least, that was our experience. Well worth a stop, but be prepared to wait; we had trouble getting the servers' attention the day we were there.
A chain, yes, but a chain with terrific food, and a chain run by the incomparably cool Albert Okura, who owns the McDonald's museum in San Bernardino, and who has purchased the entire town of Amboy and is restoring it for Route 66 nuts like me to enjoy.
Best ice cream west of Ted Drewes. Stop for an ice-cream soda.
Disclaimer: This is in no way a complete list of all the awesome restaurants on Route 66. These are just some good ones that had Web sites I could find easily. I will add to the list from time to time, so check back frequently. As with the motel listings, eligibility is based on firsthand experience. In other words, if I haven't eaten there, it doesn't show up here. For a more comprehensive listing of Route 66 restaurants, visit my husband's excellent Web site.