Ariston Cafe, Litchfield, IL

Built in 1935 (and on the National Register of Historic Places), the Ariston Cafe located on Route 66 in Litchfield, Illinois is the longest continuously running cafe along the route’s whole stretch. So I planned my trip so as to include a meal here.

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According to Wikipedia, with the exception of having added a banquet room and a few other minor tweaks, the interior of the Cafe has not been altered substantially since it first opened. In most other locations would be a bad thing, but on Route 66, it’s a selling point.

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As restaurants go it has a highly confused menu; they have: Mexican, Greek, Deli, classic American, Southern, Italian, Steak, and Seafood … with 7 different kinds of fish — where most places would do one or two

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but I guess if you’re a restaurant in a small town you sort of have to be all things to all people. That said, they also have an all you can eat soup and salad bar which had some tasty stuff on it… even if it is kind of seriously old-fashioned.

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I asked the waitress what the difference was between the pond and fillet catfish dishes. The pond catfish is two big catfish served on the bone for $15, while the fillet is one catfish filleted for $14… as two would have been too much food me, I got the fillet… but if I lived nearby I’d have ordered the pond for $15 and taken home leftovers.

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That said, the Catfish was rubbery and had a funny after taste …which I think the chef was trying to hide with all the spices. But with seven different kinds of fish, unless fish is VERY popular in this town, I don’t see how they can be serving anything remotely close to fresh.

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There was a large selection of HUGE slabs of various kinds of cake… but passed. When the owner noted that I was keeping notes about meal, posting to social media, etc., he came over and gave me two postcards and a refrigerator magnet.

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The Route 66 Welcome Center & Museum in Litchfield, Illinois

This is NOT one of the better museums along the 66 route, but it’s free. Its more of an excuse for a museum like they felt they had to have one in order to qualify for matching funding from some organization that gives grants to cities wanting to set up Route 66 stuff.

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I’ve seen places like this before, in Georgia, where there’s this one museum to a local African-American musician by the name of Royland Hayes, who had grown up in that town; where you can tell they wanted the funding for and “Arts center” essentially a ladies social center, but could only fund it by having the museum for the local guy most of them probably couldn’t name… so it’s an excuse for a museum shoved into a side room… while the population that uses the building is 90% upper class white ladies.

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That said, this museum is not actually OFFENSIVE, like that one was… (where the white community applied for funding in support of an African-American History — which they clearly could not have cared less about, when what they really wanted was the cash to fund something for themselves). In this case, it’s pretty clear what this community wanted was to build a building for their chamber of commerce and their genealogical society, on a lot that had stood empty for 20 years.  As a result, its less a full fledges museum than a book with its pages placed on horizontal surfaces, so if you wanted to you could spend a few hours standing there, in effect reading said book…. well a book, interspersed with a handful of large items, and a few display cases crammed with smaller items. But mostly, it’s a book.IMG_0562.JPG

Outside of museum along Route 66 is a neon sign for a gas station that had been on this property in the past, but that no longer exists…

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