Carlinville/Litchfield Illinois, seriously
I am looking for a decent place to eat in or near either Carlinville or Litchfield, Illinois. These towns are on 55 between St. Louis and Springfield. I realize this is an odd request, but I'm going to be there one way or the other and would love some help in entertaining myself.
I've been to Carlinville a few times, but never had much to eat there. The one time we had a couple hours to kill between meetings, we drove around the town square looking for something that looked interesting and open, but had no luck. Lots of bars, though. We ended up at Dairy Queen.
Sorry I don't have anything to offer.
I have been to Carlinville and Litchfield with the Route 66 Club of Illinois. They did a tour along the old route and everywhere we stopped was a street fair.
What you may want to do is get a guide book for route 66. There may be a landmark diner or other place of note along the section you are visiting. I did it all the way to Arizona. It took an otherwise tedious trip and made something interesting. Our favorite was sleeping in poured concrete teepees in New Mexico.
Linked below is the Illinois Route 66 Association, if you scroll down there are links to both communities you referenced.
Once you understand the Rt 66 phenomena, you will understand there are ghost roads throughout the USA. Specifically, there are the old main routes with motels and fast food lining them, which lost their customer base when the interstate was laid out on the edge of town. Often they are the "business route" or the slow road we don't take in favor of the highway.
WEll go forth and make lemonade from a lemon!
I would follow the Route 66 recommendation and head for Litchfield to the Ariston Cafe for some generally good all American food...and some pretty decent Mexican dishes as I recall. Zubelts bakery is nearby and has some pretty good soups, etc. A bit further south at the Mt. Olive exit is the Crossroads Restaurant that has been recommended by my fellow lawmen as a good "grub" spot. As far as upscale dining, you might be a bit limited unless you head back to Springfield. Let me know if you have a bit of time before going and I will keep researching with my fellow chowhounds.
I ate at the Ariston a few years ago and found it chowish enough to plan on returning, although I've never been back up that way. It had a "real" feel to it; an old Route 66 restaurant (not really a diner), with a menu loaded with comfort food. Be sure to check out some of the old menus framed on the wall. They didn't offer beer but you could get a Bud.
AB used to just be regionally not globally dominant.
My suggestion may be a bit far for you, but if you want a dining experience, head west from Carlinville on route 108 about forty miles to Kampsville. The restaurant is just across the Illinois River Ferry on the left. All flood levels are marked in the building, and renovations only occur after a flood. When we were there last, they needed a flood. By small town standards, the food was quite good. My niece from Greenfield drove us about twenty-five miles for what she termed the best food in the area.