Family road trip I-70 east from Denver
We are going to drive from Denver to Cincinnati on mostly I-70 (after St louis I am sure you know the routine) this June, Back to Denver from N. Ohio on I-80. We are looking for good non-national chain (local OK) along the route. Unfortunately we do not know yet when we will be were so all points near either highway would be greatly appreciated. While I am willing to try ANYTHING my wife and kids tend to be more “picky,” they prefer a more traditional menu.
I have been hearing a lot about this place in Hays, Kansas, called Gella's Diner and the Liquid Bread Brewing Co. (http://www.gellasdiner.com/). Whenever I head west on I-70 again, I'm planning to stop in. It's part of the renovation of their downtown.
When in Hays, check out the Sternberg Museum at Ft. Hays State (http://www.fhsu.edu/sternberg/). Lots of dinosaurs.
Once you get to KC, lots of options. I'm sure folks will chime in. I-70 takes you right through KC's downtown, so check out downtown recommendations (some are here http://www.chowhound.com/topics/360297).
Sounds like your family would enjoy the Machine Shed. Right off I-80 at the Hickman exit in Des Moines. Family style, traditional.
The Hays House in Council Grove, KS (20 miles south of I-70) is 150 years young this year. Still serving great fried chicken, chicken fried steak, steaks and homemade baked goods. Worth the detour.
There are some great options in Columbia, MO. The town looks awful from the highway, but get off at Providence Rd and either go to Broadway, turn left to go up the hill and find the downtown, where you can get pizza at Shakespeares, a nice meal at Sycamore or Addison's, burgers at Booches and many other offerings. If you kept on Providence road and go past the stadium, when you get to the top of the next hill, and see the light for Green Meadows you're just a right turn away from Murry's, which would be my pick for one dinner or lunch in Columbia. Note many places in town shut down on Sunday and Monday lunch. Shake's is open almost always.
On the return trip, I'd rec Redwood near Anita IA for a dinner, or Darrell's in Hamlin for lunch. There are some good breakfast options nearby in Atlantic and Anita. Recent post has some more on these: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/386690