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Dec 29, 2008 02:02 PM

Road Trip Recs on I-40?

My family is doing a road trip from St. Louis to Orange County and wanted to get some ideas for quick tasty local fare that we can hit along the way. We're flexible if there are worthwhile stops along the way but here's our general plan.

FYI, I've got posts in the Midwest and Texas forums too for those regions.

1/1 (Holiday) St. Louis to Oklahoma City via I-44.
- Lunch near Springfield, MO
- Dinner near Tulsa or OKC

1/2 OKC to Flagstaff AZ via I-40 (long driving day so looking for quick places)
- Breakfast in OKC
- Lunch near Amarillo, TX
- Dinner near Albuquerque or Flagstaff
(Mary & Tito's Cafe in Albuquerque perhaps, or Turquoise Room in Winslow, AZ?)

1/3 to OC via I-40 and I-15
- Breakfast near Flagstaff
- Lunch near Mohave Valley or Eastern CA

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  1. The Turquoise Room in Winslow is definitely worth a stop, but I'm not sure it will fall into your "quick" category, unless you decide to stay the night in Winslow. La Posada, the hotel in which the Turquoise Room is located, is absolutely amazing and would be a good place to spend the night.

    As for breakfast in Flagstaff, Martanne's is a local favorite for a hearty Mexican breakfast, but the morning wait can sometimes be a bit long. I'm also a fan of La Bellavia and Brandy's - I believe they are/were owned by the same person, so their menus are sort of similar.

    La Bellavia
    18 S Beaver St, Flagstaff, AZ 86001

    flagstaff, az, flagstaff, az

    Brandy's Restaurant & Bakery
    1500 E Cedar Ave, Flagstaff, AZ

    7 Replies
    1. re: Beaver Street

      Sorry, but Hensley's did not take on the Link to Place. Hope that this is the one.


      PS Mr Maestas did not find a link in Holbrook, and I could not find the restaurant in Santa Rosa, NM.

      Best Western-Hensley's
      2700 S Country Club Rd, El Reno, OK

      1. re: Bill Hunt

        This looks like the right location, though there might be another El Reno exit, since we were last through there. If it's the one, you MUST try their CFS.


      2. re: Beaver Street

        I've stayed at La Posada...eaten at the Turquoise Room for breakfast and dinner (if was alright) and will pass through Winslow, next time, altogether.
        What do you find so 'amazing' about it? It's an original building but the original furniture that was built for the building is long gone...replaced by ??

        1. re: latindancer

          La Posada got some play in the L.A. Times travel section this past November. It was one of the original Fred Harvey railroad restaurants. According to the article they have a chef who takes his food seriously there now and the current owners of the hotel put in a lot of work restoring the site, which (as has been said about too many other places) was once a destination for Hollywood royalty (circa 1930's/1940's).

          Since it was also the railroad station, it is right in front of the tracks, for any railfans who like watching freight trains go by all day.

          1. re: ChinoWayne

            Thanks! I read the original article when it was first published in the Times.
            I'm a purist, by nature, when it comes to historical architecture and how people, owners, decide how to maintain the requires education and financial resources and insight in order to restore with the original integrity...
            I pass through Winslow now with great sadness.

          2. re: latindancer

            We have always found the menus interesting and well executed. Not sure if the chef status is the same, but we've always had really good food and very friendly service.

            We do need to go for a couple of days and sample them over all of that time.

            What turned you off with regard to the food?

            Just curious,


            1. re: Bill Hunt

              I stayed at La Posada 2 years ago after reading the hype and listening to a few people who love the place. The historical background of the hotel and the reputation of The Turquoise Room is legendary and I couldn't wait to check it out. I loved, and still do, the idea that the owners work in collaboration with the Indigenous Peoples of that region and incorporate the fresh produce and other local products into their menu.
              I don't remember exactly what courses I ordered, I was there for breakfast and dinner, but I do remember what I didn't like.
              Whenever I have the chance to order elk, I do. Elk, by its own nature, is very lean with very little fat. The meat, when prepared, must be infused or marinated with creative ingredients in order to enhance it.
              The chef, in this case, not only fell short but ruined it by doing whatever was done to make it, literally, one of the toughest, most flavorless pieces of elk I've ever
              eaten. Throughout the Southwest there are restaurants I've found where the chef should be honored for his ability to take meat, like elk, and turn it into a delicacy to be remembered.
              It's that one experience that turned me off...granted I'm a restaurant's true nightmare because it's that one memory that makes me pass it over when I'm traveling through.
              I hope your experiences are different. I truly do.

        2. I agree with the Turqouise Room. I would also add a couple of others, worth the stop. Mr. Maestas's in Holbrook (awfully close to Winslow, AZ) is a great little Mexican restaurant. We usually stop there, if we do not go up through Winslow. Of the two, The Turquoise Room would be #1.

          In El Reno, OK, there used to be a great chicken-fried-steak restaurant, Hensley's Family restaurant. It was on the first El Reno exit (heading East to West), and just off of the exit. Seems that there was some sort of chain (Golden Corral?) across the road. This was the best CFS that I have had in 4 decades. Say "was," because I do not know if they are still there. If they are, I'd drive 300 miles out of my way for their CFS. Their pies were also known for hundreds of miles. Never had room for any of those, because of the CFS.

          There used to be a great little diner in Santa Rosa, NM, right off of I-40. Cannot conjure up the name now, but it was on the old Rt 66, and captured much of the romance of that road. It was about where US 84 comes in, and the "business route" to Santa Rosa begins (East to West).

          Over the decades, we have dined around Amarillo, TX, but have never had a meal that was chow-worthy. OK, the Big Texan wasn't bad, but nothing to write home about, unless you ate the whole 72 oz. ribeye, or whatever it was.

          Though we usually do not do I-40 much West of Flagstaff, I cannot recall any food worth mention. Maybe I just missed it.

          Have a safe trip,


          Turquoise Room
          303 E Second St, Winslow, AZ 86047

          3 Replies
          1. re: Bill Hunt

            Ooh... real CFS... I've only ever had cafeteria or frozen versions... will keep that at the top of our list as we make our decisions. Thanks! Meanwhile I'm trying to comb through the scads of other suggestions throughout the boards...

            1. re: filbertman

              Because of this thread, I will call the link that I offered. I am not 100% sure that it is one and the same, but the location is correct. I just do not recall a Best Western, but maybe only focused on the restaurant on those 5-6 stops, especially as we were driving on to other towns/cities to spend the night.

              I had posted to the West board, with a request for Hensley's Family Restaurant in El Reno. I never got a reply, so I assumed that they were gone. My searches for Hensley's Family Restaurant yielde not hits. The other night, I just plugged in Hensley's and got the Best Western info. It'll be worth my call, even if they are no longer a restaurant, or that we are not driving to OKC any time soon.


              1. re: Bill Hunt

                OK, just made the call. Hensley's Family Restaurant is no more. The property is now a Best Western motel. Hensley's, the restaurant, has been gone for some time now.

                Now, I am faced with the prospect that the two best CFS's that I have ever had are gone, The Hub, Meridian Mississippi (their "Chick Steaks" were the best), and Hensley's Family Restaurant, El Reno, Oklahoma.

                Sorry for the red herring, but now I know. Maybe others can come up with some great CFS spots for both of us.

                Safe trip,


          2. Agree with recs for La Posada...great food.
            If the timing is right, try Old Smokey's in Willaims (west of Flagstaff) for breakfast. Character, great cinnamon rolls, good "road food"...nothing fancy, but good and plentiful...the regulars are a kick!

            1. i would definitely try to get some new mexican mex while on this trip. it's like nothing i have had anywhere. in ABQ, there's the frontier, which serves a damn good breakfast (best bfast burrito i ever had w/ green chile and hash browns omg), and is open 24/7! for dinner, i think i went to sadie's, but this was 3+ years ago, so i would ask fellow chowhounders if the food is still worthwhile. i'm sure there's some other good ones as well. NM is one of my fave states, and there's so dang much to see & do. here is the roadfood link for the frontier:



              1. 1/2
                Dinner in ABQ or Flagstaff.

                Frontier on Central, across from UNM is fast, the price is right and the food is decent.
                Take the Carlisle Exit, make a left [south] to Central. Make a right on Central; it will be on your left, across from University. Make a left on Cornell and park on Cornell as there will be no parking on the northbound side of Central that you will be on.

                Another good choice that will be fast and easy is Bumblebee Baja Grill on 3423 Central Avenue. Their chicken is delish. Same directions as above but - it will be on your right, one block after turning onto Central.

                Across the street from Baja Grill is Flying Star. Good food, pretty fast. 3416 Central. They have a very ecletic menu and some good New Mexican Food too

                The latter 2 have better food than Frontier, but Frontier is a ABQ tradtion.

                Hope this helps.

                3 Replies
                1. re: DebitNM

                  There used to be a great "family" NM-Mex place on the Plaza in "Old Town" ABQ. Have not been in years, do not recal the name, but it was in the NW quadrant of the Plaza. Maybe someone can give the name, or tell if it is still there and worth the detour into Old Town.


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    Is this it? La Placitas


                    If so, it isn't worth the detour. Food is only so-so and it caters to, forgive me - tourists. Sorry, don't mean to sound snobbish. It really isn't any place a local would go to for a meal.


                    1. re: DebitNM

                      It is difficult to tell from the sliver of a photoghraph, but that does look familiar. If they are on the Plaza, this is probably the restaurant, that I was referring to.

                      Sorry to hear the food is not doing so well. Going back 20 years, we were in ABQ about once per year, and had some good meals at the location on the Plaza. Time does change things.

                      Thank you,