Route 66 Amarillo

Amarillo, Texas

Amarillo's stretch of Route 66 provides the perfect dusty backdrop to a series of classic Texas roadside restaurants and dive bars.
Beck Tavern - Columbus Dive Bar - Interior
There are few things as romantic as the idea of cruising Route 66 through the American southwest, stopping at every dive bar and hole-in-the-wall diner along the way. Amarillo has captured a concentrated dose of that feeling along the city’s 6th Avenue corridor, a dense collection of bars & restaurants, most with deep historical routes. The GoldenLight Café lives here, the oldest restaurant in the city and one that conjures up imagery of a Wild West prison (in a good way).

The recommendations below dot this Route 66-dominated stretch of Amarillo road, surrounded by countless other options playing off the nostalgia of what Route 66 represents. Admittedly, there’s a little too much food on this itinerary to be taken down in a single afternoon, but what better challenge is there than a dive bar drinking, diner eating endurance race.

The Stops

1. Aldaco's Tacos

3623 SW 6th Ave, Amarillo, TX 79106
Google Map
(806) 374-4945

Why not start with some diner-style Mexican food, right? Aldaco’s Tacos sits on the western end of the 6th Avenue corridor in Amarillo, offering classic, hole-in-the-wall style Mexican food. For the many, many drinking options yet to come on this itinerary, a good base is important, Aldaco’s offering a delicious avenue to just that in tandem with nearby Moe Dogs Grill (below).

2. Moe Dogs Grill

3515 6th Ave, Amarillo, TX 79106
Google Map
(806) 681-1933

Converted gas station. Check. Extensive hot dog menu. Check. Frequent home to classic car drive-ins. Check. Moe Dogs Grill is about as Route 66 as it gets, complete with a hot dog and burger menu that packs a heavy and considerable punch. The words ‘bacon’ and ‘pepper’ can be found littered throughout the option, perfect complement to the blazing Texas sun outside (or maybe that’s what the cold beer is for).

3. The Handle Bar

3514 6th Ave, Amarillo, TX 79106
Google Map
(806) 803-9538
Web Site Link

And now the drinking begins. The Handle Bar sits directly across the street from Moe Dogs Grill, a biker version of a similar model with maybe a bit of an emphasis on the drinking end of the spectrum. Covered outdoor seating is available for those visiting when the Amarillo temperature isn’t 300 degrees. Food is available here too of course but three eateries in a row is pushing it. It’s time for a bucket of beer and some onion rings if you’re pushing the limits of your appetite.

4. Broken Spoke Lounge

3101 6th Ave, Amarillo, TX 79106
Google Map
(806) 373-9149

The nostalgia for Route 66 is clear along this stretch of Amarillo road, but Broken Spoke Lounge is more a classic Texas roadhouse than it is a road-side dive bar. The décor couldn’t feel more Texan and the secluded indoor vending machine area that dispense cigarettes and coffee is just the right kind of character for a place like this. And for those braving the heat, be sure to check out the makeshift lighter museum on the small outdoor porch.

5. The GoldenLight Cafe

2906 6th Ave, Amarillo, TX 79106
Google Map
(806) 374-9237
Web Site Link

As mentioned, The GoldenLight Café is Amarillo’s oldest restaurant and, presumably, one of its oldest dive bars too. Inside, a small bar area flanks a flat top that cranks out burger after burger, but the space stretches on a bit, curving around to a handful of low tables underneath a mural depicting regulars of years gone by. The dive bar has added a next door concert venue to expand its influence, but this is the dive bar king of the area, to be sure, and yet another way above average hamburger if you’re on a different kind of bar crawl.

6. Smokey Joe's

2903 6th Ave, Amarillo, TX 79106
Google Map
(806) 331-6698

Smokey Joe’s looks a bit like a ranch house you might expect to see somewhere a little more remote than a densely packed Amarillo city block. Wide and low, the building wins the frontage game for this part of Route 66, its signage making no secret the connection Smokey Joe’s has with the timeless route. Mercifully, the shaded porch space is plentiful here, running the length of the building and providing an excellent view of the tourists and regulars streaming by.

7. Braceros Mexican Grill

2822 6th Ave, Amarillo, TX 79106
Google Map
(806) 220-2395

If Aldaco’s Tacos provides the hole-in-the-wall Mexican experience, Braceros is its sit-down cousin, a Mexican restaurant with a very Texas panhandle feel to it that happens to double as a nice little bar in back. The food is substantial in every sense of the word, as delicious as it is plentiful. If somehow this Amarillo dive bar crawl has left you hungry still, Braceros is an excellent spot to cap the food portion of the day before transitioning in a liquid evening.