Step Back in Time at the Palms Grill Cafe in Atlanta, IL {Route 66}

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About halfway from St. Louis to Chicago on Route 66, lies the small town of Atlanta, Illinois, home to the historic Palms Grill Cafe. As we were driving, we found the cafe in our Route 66 Dining & Lodging Guide, and it was said to be “a very special must stop” place, inexpensive, and known for its “atmosphere.” It was mid-morning, so we decided to stop for breakfast.When we stopped, we could feel the “atmosphere” already…. parking behind an old Plymouth, watching the guys across the street in a garage stop their work just to have a look-see at us tourists…. the town was really quiet. Growing up in a small town, visiting our local cafe regularly with my dad and my grandma, I figured the locals must have already been and gone early that morning, as we walked in and we were the only ones in the cafe. A guest book lay by the beautiful old cash register, filled with pages and pages of people who’d come and gone. Old-time 40’s music played overhead, notes from a big-band era ringing in our ears.The decor in this place made us feel like we’d taken an actual step back in time….old square metal tables all set to go for guests’ dining pleasure…. an old refrigerator set against the wall…. the checkered floor…. metal stools the boys decided we had to sit on to enjoy our breakfast. An old soda machine stood in an alcove, a rotary telephone on a stand beside it…. don’t think for a second I didn’t notice the actual cord plugged into the old rotary phone that sat back next to the restrooms. Yes, this place did indeed have “atmosphere.”So, how was the food, you ask? Or was I so busy enjoying the atmosphere that I forgot about the food? Their menu was chock full of delicious options, good down-home food. I personally decided on the biscuits and gravy (which I think was around $3.96) and bacon on the side, along with a nice big Dr. Pepper. Every bite was delicious. I’m not usually very picky about food…. but my biscuits and gravy have to be just right. I have to say these were pretty special.The service was wonderful. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner (breakfast being served all day long). Opening in 1934, it seems that this cafe was a major hub for the small town of Atlanta, hosting dances, BINGO games, and more. It was also the Greyhound bus station. Their website says that patrons who wanted to catch the bus had only to flip a switch, and the light on the bottom of the Palms sign would light up, signaling the bus to stop and pick them up. I have to admit, I’d love to see their sign at night, all lit up. While taking a bit of the walking tour through Atlanta, we listened to Paul Adams’ story from back in the day…. he joined the Army, and when asked where he caught the bus, it was the Palms Grill Cafe.If you’re looking for good food, amazing “atmosphere,” history, and a place to rest, the Palms Grill Cafe is just the stop for you on old Route 66.

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