The first stopChicago, IL

Lou Mitchell's sketch by Chandler O'Leary

This post is part of an ongoing series called 66 Fridays, which explores the wonders of old Route 66. Click on the preceding “66 Fridays” link to view all posts in the series, or visit the initial overview post here.

If you’re going to start Route 66 in Chicago, start your trip right with a meal at Lou Mitchell’s diner. Nicknamed the “first stop on the Mother Road,” I can’t think of a better place to break your fast or mark the beginning of a journey. Also, since the place opens at 5:30 on weekday mornings, you don’t have to derail your whole day with a stop here. (Tangent! One of my few complaints about living on the West Coast is that nothing opens early. A huge thing I miss about Midwestern living is being able to run errands and go out to eat at the crack of dawn!)

Lou Mitchell's sketch by Chandler O'Leary

And if you go, you best come hungry. Not only are the plates enormous (double-yolk eggs!), but even the simplest breakfasts turn out to be five-course meals there. Leave room for the doughnut holes, is all I’m saying.

Lou Mitchell's sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Now, the food and history are reason enough to eat at Lou Mitchell’s. But the icing on the proverbial cake, for me, was the lettering. Hoo boy, there is more gorgeous, vintage, hand-painted sign lettering in there than can be found in some entire cities. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

Lou Mitchell's sketch by Chandler O'Leary

All I can say is thank goodness this place is still here, still largely untouched. It seemed like a good omen for embarking on an Americana pilgrimage. Long live Route 66, long live Lou Mitchell’s.

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Comments (3)

  1. Lois Chemainus BC

    My family hails from Toronto, Ontario. Due to the never ending invitations from our American cousins during the late 1950’s we moved to San Pedro California. House, cottage and possessions were sold and only the living room rug (early “wall to wall”) that my mother couldn’t part with traveled with our family strapped to the top of the car. Dad didn’t need to spend much time planning our trip as Route 66 was laid out before us. What an education in history and geography for 3 kids 10 years and under. I’m so excited about reliving that trip through your blog and artwork and will be in your back pocket for the next 65 weeks.

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