Thursday, November 10, 2011
A Pie-Five for Route 66's Birthday
Launch from Lou Mitchell's in downtown Chicago. Yes, it's renowned as a breakfast place, but since more than 35% of Americans admit they've forked into pie for breakfast, according to the American Pie Council, there's no need to be shy about ordering the fruity, a la mode slice-of-the-day (weekends only) to chase your double-yoked eggs and complimentary donut holes.
Motor on to Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket in Willowbrook. As comfort food connoisseurs, the Rhea family knows deep-fried bird and mac-and-cheese can only be capped by warm, buttery, blueberry pie. At least that's what filled plates recently; the selection rotates.
Next up: the Old Log Cabin in Pontiac. Coffee, conversation and Crisco-based crust are its recipe for success, along with loads of classics to choose from. Banana cream? Butterscotch? Cherry? Rhubarb? All here and accounted for (until lunchtime).
When you hear a collective "mmm" rising from the cornfields, you've reached Atlanta and the time-warped Palms Grill Cafe. Thick slabs of gooseberry, peach, sour cream raisin and other retro pies tempt from a glass case. Bonus: Tall Paul, a giant statue of Paul Bunyan clutching a hot dog, watches from across the street.
Then it's on to the Ariston Cafe in Litchfield, one of Route 66's oldest restaurants. Post meatloaf dinner, the waitress hauls out a big ol' dessert tray stacked with Reese's, Snickers, apple and other pies. Consider it fuel for the long drive onward, because friend, you're still in Illinois. You've got 7 states and 2000 miles to go to reach the end of the road.