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May 24, 2014 06:06 AM

2 lunch stops (takeout) on road trip through S. Illinois / Missouri / Kansas


My wife and I will be moving across country this summer (Philadelphia to SF), and I have a question for the segment of our trip between Nashville and Denver.

Here's the caveat: we are traveling with our 2 dogs, and can't leave them in the car in between cities. So… we are looking for unique spots that have the option to takeout - eat outside or in our car.

We will be driving through Illinois rt 24/64 then spending a night in Kansas City, then driving I-70 to Denver. We would appreciate suggestions for the following, and I greatly appreciate your time:

1) Lunch stop between Nashville and Kansas City
2) Dinner in KS - Thinking Oklahoma Joe's
3) Lunch stop between Kansas City and Denver, CO (Cozy Inn?)

We are in our 30's, fairly well traveled and love to find food/experiences in our travels that are unique to their location. I generally prefer to err on the side of healthier foods, but am entirely willing to go the complete opposite - if its worth it. I try to save my atherosclerosis inducing treats to ones that count.

Thank you all for reading this and your responses. Excited to see this side of the US for the first time.

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  1. If your route through southern Illinois takes you past Marion, IL, and I believe it does, then you'll be close to some of the very best barbecue in the country. It is served up at the 17th St. Bar and Grill in Marion, and Yes, they do take-out. Founded by Mike Mills (called "the legend" for all of his wins in the field of championship barbecue), it's not to be missed if you're anywhere near it. While I have not been to this particular location, anytime I'm in southern Illinois, I want Mike's Q. One day I'm going to have them ship some to me, 'cause it's just been too long.

    1. Agreed that Okie Joe's would be a good choice for take-out in K.C. If Anthony Bourdain says that it is one of the 13 restaurants worldwide to eat at before you die, who am I to argue?

      Kansas City to Hays KS is about 270 miles. If you can make it that far, Gella's Diner does their complete menu for take-out. They have a few local specialties on their menu, like the Bierock, a meat pastry served with cheese sauce, said to have been brought to Western Kansas by the Volga Germans.

      1. Sometimes when traveling we piece our way across an area and split a sandwich or whatever so we can try more things. :-)). Sometimes with regional favorites, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
        Between Nashville and KC there are quite a few considerations.
        If you are looking for BBQ, consider the following.

        Paducah-Starnes has a chopped pork on toast sandwich that is a regional thing.

        Murphtsboro-17th Street BBQ. We spend a fair amount of time in this area and the one in Marion is not as good the last 2 years but the original still is. We usually cut over to Illinois hwy 3 to take the back road and you can go through Murphysboro that way. You can take 3 up to St Louis or cut across to Missouri at Chester, Il.

        St Louis- Bogarts and Pappys of course, but Sugarfire is my favorite because of the inventive use of q, sides and really great pies. The St Charles location just opened and has more room outside. I haven't been yet to that location, but by all reports, it is great and as good as the original. With your dogs it might be the best option. You can even park and order from your car like a drive in or they have picnic tables.

        If you didn't want BBQ, you could try St Louis Pizza. Fratellis is just off of I 70 at Zuhmbel Rd in a shopping center and you can get it to go. It is thin crust with slightly sweet sauce. I would get the sausage. Crust, sauce and sausage are all homemade. It has that St. Louis delicacy provel cheese but I think they would put mozzarella on it if you didn't like that. They are not open for lunch on weekends. Also at the same exit but the other way is 4 Seasons Bakery. Butter-sugar-eggs. It is tiny but wonderful.

        Columbia, Mo is also a great food town.

        In KC one of the great bargains is the Happy Hour at Story Restaurant if you are there Tues-Fri. The bar menu is half price 4- 630 I believe and you can sit outside. I don't know if you will still have the dogs with you for dinner. but you might call and ask if you can bring them on the patio if you need to.

        Also don't miss Glacé ice cream. Very unusual and intense favors, by chocolatier Christopher Elbow. We have been to similar places in other cities even in NOLA and none have come close to Glacé.

        Search Columbia and St Louis on this forum for more.

        1 Reply
        1. re: wekick

          I'm sorry to hear that about the 17th St. BBQ outpost in Marion. I'd only ever been to the one in O'Fallon, and sadly, that's gone now. One day I *hope* to visit their HQ in Murphysboro.

        2. wow you are chugging through the miles, Nashville to KC has to be at least a 10-12 hour drive. most places on that stretch, especially in smaller towns or quiet neighborhoods) with an outdoor space - a sidewalk, patio, whatever, are pretty laidback about good dogs (leashed by the table, mind you). but most will bring them a bowl of water (and one for you to add their food if you ask.

          and kudos to you for recognizing this is not the time to be leaving dogs or children in unattended cars!

          1. Woodyard in kck has a patio if you're worried about the pups. Very good cue.