Friday, November 20, 2009

Kansas Travel - Exploring Route 66

Only 12.8 miles of historic Route 66 passes through Kansas' southeast corner - the smallest number of miles in any state along this legendary road. But there's a wealth of cool places to visit near this little stretch of pavement.

Fans of Guy Fieri's Food Network program, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, may remember one great dining spot that's located along the main drag of Baxter Springs - Cafe on the Route. Although I (unfortunately) didn't see the episode, that national exposure is part of what led me to the cafe. And I was blown away by this place.

After a huge breakfast at a Pittsburg, KS B & B, I wasn't ready for a big meal when I reached Baxter Springs but there was no way that I'd pass up this place. So I ordered a chicken wrap sandwich and a side of their famous fried potato salad with mustard glaze. 

The wrap tasted great but I was determined to duplicate the fried potato salad from my first bite. Skin-on potato chunks, with a bit of crunch and lots of soft, were bathed in this amazing glaze that owners, Richard and Amy Sanell, should seriously consider bottling. You get plenty of food for your money too - before the sandwich/side arrived, I also received a huge salad topped with homemade croutons and a small, light-as-air corn muffin.

Dinner entrees ranged from Chateaubriand to Apple Smoked Salmon, Pesto Pork, Honey Mustard Chicken and Nutcrusted Catfish. The Sanells also run a tasteful B & B upstairs, The Little Brick Inn.

In tiny nearby Riverton, grab a freshly made sandwich from the antique deli counter at Eisler Brothers Old Riverton Store, chow down in the sun-filled, porch-like dining area, and then browse through an amazing array of Route 66 memorabilia and souvenirs in the back room. Opened in 1925, the store draws visitors from throughout the U.S. and the world. This favorite stop for Route 66 fans gained additional exposure as inspiration for the Disney Pixar movie, Cars. After 75 years of operation, the store still offers groceries, produce, and flowers with a large side of memorabilia. 

Don't miss this spot when you cross southeastern Kansas. Better yet, make a special trip there and return home with a new appreciation of the Route and its legendary status in America's culture of the open road. And take home a Route 66 shot glass or T-shirt while you're at it.

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