I’ve got a treat for those traveling across Kansas Highway 36. Do you need to jump off to grab a quick bite or have a sit-down meal? Here is a list of several places to choose from in each county situated across the state. My list of where to eat on Kansas Highway 36 is prepared from east to west, starting with Cheyenne County and ending with Doniphan. You’ll find a wide array of food choices, and many will knock your socks off. Happy travels.
Counties Across US Highway 36
Majestic Service Truck Stop and Restaurant (St. Francis) is a one-stop-shop for fuel, convenience store items, truck parking, U-Haul rentals, and food. There are two restaurants in this popular shop—Subway and a full-service restaurant. My friend Sara and I ate breakfast at Majestic, and boy was it delicious. I recommend the omelets, which come with a choice of sides and bread. I picked hash browns and toast. The locals gather here daily for food and coffee and will instantly make you feel right at home.
Tin Roof Baking Co. is a force to be reckoned with. Owner Christina Zimmerman has a lovely restaurant, makes delicious homemade food and pastries, plus has a warm welcome for dining guests as they come through the door. I loved the chicken salad croissant, served with macaroni salad (my choice) and chips.
The beautiful pastries were calling my name, but I didn’t succumb. Check out the daily specials (such as Chicken Pot Pie) and the sweet hand-written recipe shared on the wall by Christina’s grandmother. That really warmed my heart.
Big Ed’s (Bird City) is an awesome place to enjoy supper, and just a hop, skip and jump off Highway 36. I met friends there for dinner, had terrific service, loved the vibe and ambiance, and ate a tasty steak dinner. My steak came with a side salad (praise be for Dorothy Lynch dressing!), baked potato, and yummy green beans.
Save room for a homemade cupcake, which I had to take with me, but ate every bite.
MOJO Espresso & Bistro was a great way to kick off the day with a super tasty breakfast and coffee drink in Atwood, Kansas. I threw down on some French Toast with sliced strawberries and crispy bacon. It was so good. Pair your breakfast with your favorite tea or coffee drink, including lattes and espressos. Need a suggestion? Try the cookie batter chai. Nom.
MOJO Espresso & Bistro serves lunch, appetizers, soup, and various sandwiches and even has daily specials. They are closed on Sundays.
Lunch was from My Place, also in Atwood. I was still full from breakfast, so I only had a Hot Ham & Cheese sandwich and a bag of chips. I also had the best unsweet tea I’d had in days. My Place’s staff is super friendly, and this eatery recently won “Best Pie in Rawlins County,” awarded by US 36 Highway Association, Inc.
For dinner, check out Park Hill Restaurant for Mexican food. Sara and I tried the raved about homemade sopapillas, refried beans, and queso dip. Yum! The queso dip was extraordinary. I could eat this appetizer every day.
The Park Hill sopapillas, what the restaurant is known for, come in baby, regular, and extra-large sizes. We both ordered the regular but should have chosen the baby size. You can also pick your fillings: chicken, ham, beef, bean, or beef and beans. You can also get with or without cheese if someone would ever want to do that.
Breakfast in Oberlin was from Mom’s Kitchen, and it was so good. Check out this picture-perfect breakfast with eggs cooked to order, grilled biscuits, sausage patties, and delicious gravy. The crunchy-edged hash browns were the icing on the cake, plus our adorable waitress (Rebecca)was pleasant, attentive, and a real asset.
The Landmark Inn has a wonderful restaurant, mercantile shop, and bed and breakfast property in the historic bank building in downtown Oberlin. Meals are served in the Teller Room, a beautiful setting with high ceilings and big windows. The menu changes daily, but rest assured you’ll find something satisfying.
I had the Monte Cristo sandwich and a cup of the most delicious ham and bean soup. Both were tasty and filling. I had learned about the delicious pies and desserts at The Teller Room from a friend, so I did try a slice. Yummy, the flaky homemade pie crust was spot on, and the toasted almonds on the top were the icing on the cake. I would love to try the famous Sunday brunch.
FYI: The Landmark’s website is ancient. See this place in person to see what amazing things they have going on.
You can enjoy lunch or dinner from The Re-Load Bar and Grill in downtown Oberlin, a great place for a meal, watching sporting events, or having an after-work beer or cocktail. Re-Load has daily lunch specials, a great beer list, pizzas, and a menu full of goodies.
I ate a flavorsome BLT with a side of macaroni salad, while Sara had a steak sandwich that she really liked. We started with an order of fried pickles with ranch dressing. Re-Load is closed on Sundays.
The most interesting restaurant I encountered on my journey across Highway 36 in Kansas was Destination Kitchen, part high-end kitchen and gourmet foods store, part full-service restaurant with a brick oven pizza and salad bar in downtown Norton.
I struggled with the menu since there were so many good choices, but I eventually chose a trip to the salad bar and a bowl of tomato soup. I hit the jackpot! The salad bar was well stocked with everything you expect to find, plus some bonus items, like garbanzo beans, sunflower seeds, carrot sticks, and cottage cheese. It also had a divine broccoli salad that I love, like the one from the old Betty Crocker cookbooks.
The selection of homemade pastries and desserts was spectacular. Stop in of the morning for a melt-in-your-mouth sticky bun or cinnamon roll and scones and other pastries.
Another place for lunch and dinner in Norton is 110 Bar & Grill. I had a great bar food item—Philly Cheesesteak Fries, made from hand-cut fries and had a whopping amount of meat, cheese, peppers, and onions. That dish hit the spot.
The 110 Bar & Grill owners are super friendly and very hard-working. It’s a popular place in town, and it was apparent why. 110 Bar & Grill is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
By all means, detour to Oz Brewing in Phillipsburg for good beer and fantastic food. The brewery is fun and whimsical, done in shades of marigold and black, with Wizard of Oz nods throughout, and the best play on cyclones I’ve ever seen. I tried the Liquid Courage Stout chocolate coffee porter, and oh my, was it delicious!
Oz Brewing’s menu consists of smoked meats (pulled pork, Turkey, brisket), chicken fingers, and a mac & cheese side dish, to name a few. Though closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, I’m betting this is the town hotspot.
One can find breakfast or lunch at Third Street Bakery. I heard about this local treasure two counties over, so I couldn’t wait to try it. They serve eggs, pancakes, burritos, and an incredible selection of doughnuts and other pastries for breakfast. For lunch, have a burger, sandwich, or soup. I had a Chicken Philly and macaroni salad, which was the best side item of my whole trip.
A slice of peach pie was calling my name. It was very satisfying and had fat sugar crystals on the top of the crust. My food was really good, and the restaurant was packed—a sure sign of happy customers. Third Street Bakery is closed on Sunday.
You’ll find a nice selection of morning sweets at Happy Acre Baker in Smith Center. They’ve also added homemade loaves of bread to their menu most recently. I can attest to the fantastic cinnamon rolls and chocolate chip cookies, great for road trips.
For someone who isn’t a big pizza fan, to say that the pizza was dy-no-mite is a big statement. That’s how I felt about Center Fire Pizza in Smith Center. The hours are short on Sunday, but plan accordingly and have a well-made pizza with brilliant combinations or a salad, one of the biggest sellers.
I ate the Santa Fe pizza with green chilies, red onion, sriracha, chicken, bacon, and ranch. The pizza had an excellent crust, it was cooked perfectly, and the ingredients didn’t overpower each other. It was so good, and the pizzeria was packed in no time.
Jiffy Burger is a popular spot in town for soft-serve ice cream treats, burgers, and fries. It is decorated in a 1950’s theme and has both indoor ordering and seating, plus a walk-up outside counter. They are best known for the cheese curds. I had a hot fudge sundae covered in decadent fudge sauce—no complaints here.
Las Canteras Mexican Restaurant seems to be the town’s top pick for dinner in Smith Center. I concur that the food is excellent and the service very attentive. I ordered Chicken Nachos, which were truly big enough to share. The queso and salsa both get a thumbs up, too. Need your food to go? No problem, they can easily make that happen.
Sweden Creme in Mankato wins with the perfect Reuben sandwich and award-winning fries. I’ve eaten famous Reubens around the country, and none were as good as this one. The sandwich was so well made, and for $9.99, it comes with your choice of any side item. I picked fries. Another item I was contemplating was the burger with cream cheese, jalapeño jelly, and pepper Jack. Yum.
Save room for what I’m calling the best ice cream in Kansas. Sweden Creme’s Brownie Mudslide is aah-mazing! Sara had a banana split; also a bit hit. I’m picky about soft-serve ice cream, and this one was very creamy and delicious. I loved everything about this local eatery, which had a drive-thru and friendly staff who knew the products and were confident in making recommendations. Sweden Creme is open daily from 11 AM to 9 PM.
The hours of Buffalo Roam Steakhouse are a bit confusing, lunch Tuesday through Friday (11 AM-1:30 PM) and dinner Tuesday through Saturday (5-9 PM), but the food and service are off-the-charts. I went for dinner and was happy to see a full buffet selection. There were seven main courses, a salad bar, many side dishes, soup, dinner rolls, and dessert. The pasta salad was some of the best I’ve ever eaten, with a nice spicy kick.
You can also order from the menu, with starters like fried cauliflower or Mac and cheese bites and main courses ranging from a Prime Rib sandwich to Baked Cod Almandine. The dinner rolls are homemade, and they have real butter, which are reasons enough for me to visit again and again. Buffalo Roam Steakhouse has themed buffet nights Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The first Saturday of the month is a seafood buffet.
We found impressive pizza from Wood Shop Pizza & Furniture, but you’ll have to catch them during dinner hours Thursday and Fridays only. The Crab Rangoon pizza is brilliant, and I loved every bite. I also tried one of the creative combinations, the Honey Sriracha Pepperoni with cream cheese—be still my beating heart. Besides pizza, Wood Shop Pizza also has pasta dishes, salads, subs, and wraps.
Belleville has a rockin’ bowling alley, Tuxies Ten Pin & Grill, which serves food, such as burgers, fish, chicken, and assorted appetizers. It is a beloved local institution by the town’s folks. Probably 20 locals urged me to go there. Tuxies Ten Pin is super clean and plays good music, too.
Feathered Nest is a two-fold business. First, it’s a huge home decor, home accents, gifts, and custom furniture store. Second, it’s an upscale espresso bar with a host of coffee and teas, pastries, pie, etc. Be sure to pencil in a long time for your store visit because it is busting at the seams with gorgeous pieces, smell goods, and gourmet foods.
In the town of Scandia, try another tasty lunch option, T.A.G.’s Grill & Bar. This eatery has a warm and welcoming atmosphere, with a bar for quick service or traditional dining room seating. They have an arsenal of sandwiches, burgers, wraps, and chicken, of which I had a Turkey Club on a pretzel bun with a side of cottage cheese. Though I didn’t order a salad, I eyed several beautiful ones coming from the kitchen that made me wish I had.
T.A.G.’s Grill & Bar is open daily from 7 AM until 9:30 PM, except for Sunday when they close at 3 PM.
You’ll find a minimal menu but good food at the darling little Haddam Cafe in Haddam, Kansas. On the day I was there, taco salads were one of the daily offerings, which was pretty darned good. You could pick the meat you wanted, plus they were not greedy with ingredients.
Besides the daily special, you can pick a meat and potatoes entree (think liver & onions, baked pork loin, fried chicken, etc.) or a burger. Haddam Cafe is closed Saturdays and Sundays.
In Linn, Kansas, doors are open to the public to eat at the Linn American Legion Club. The crowds pack in for a really great dinner and fresh salad bar on certain weeknights. I went for Prime Rib buffet night, and it was delicious. You can check the FB page to see what the specials are. Dinner is served Thursday through Sunday evenings, 6 PM-9 PM. They also have a Sunday noon buffet from 11 AM to 1 PM.
There is also a separate dining room area with a bar crowd, great for happy hour and chatting with the locals.
In Home, Kansas, Little Hap’s Bar and Grill is a big hit with the locals and workers. I went for the juicy burger, almost too big to eat, and tater tots. Other menu items include chicken strips, beer-battered fish, chicken livers, salads, nachos, and sandwiches.
Little Hap’s also has a daily special that goes quickly. Arrive early if you wish to get a taste of it. Little Hap’s Bar and Grill is closed Sundays but open from 9 AM to 8:30 PM every other day.
In downtown Marysville, you’ll find an awesome full-service restaurant and bar for lunch and dinner, Wagon Wheel Cafe. The restaurant is spacious, and the service is attentive. I chose the flavorful Tri-Tips, which came with two side items. I chose coleslaw (good and creamy) and white cheddar macaroni and cheese, which were A+.
Wagon Wheel Cafe is a fun place to come for a drink or to watch your favorite sports teams on TV. A few other things on the menu that caught my eye were burnt ends, homemade spinach artichoke dip, and Italian nachos. Hard pass on the Rocky Mountain oysters. The restaurant is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Another jewel in downtown Belleville is the EMpTy Cup Coffee Bar & Bistro, a great place to grab breakfast, sweets, and your favorite coffee and tea drinks. They even had cold brew, which I appreciated. I had the Greek omelet with toast, which was a perfect choice, though the Grilled Bacon PB&J and Blueberry French Toast were close contenders.
Don’t skip the dessert selection, which may cause your jaw to drop from all the luscious, tempting cakes, pies, cheesecake, and mini-Bundt creations. EMpTy Cup is closed on Sundays and opens at 7 AM daily.
The savviest restaurant along Kansas Highway 36 is Brick Street Furniture CO + Wine Lounge in Sabetha. My suggestion is to go for lunch, so you can also enjoy the alluring salad bar, and because people come from all over to eat dinner here, namely on weekends. Before you ask, yes, this business shares a space with a furniture and housewares shop full of sophisticated goods you can purchase while you are there. What a bonus!
In Seneca, have breakfast or lunch from Allie’s Cafe, a local eatery with great breakfast dishes, sandwiches, and pie. If you have the chance to try the raisin cream, eat that first. OMG, it is so wonderful. While flavors change daily, they may include peanut butter, blueberry, coconut cream, chocolate, strawberry-rhubarb, and lemon meringue. Allie’s is closed Wednesdays and Thursdays. Hours every other day are 6 AM to 1:30 PM.
There is a local chain of El Canelo Mexican Restaurants in East Kansas, and they always deliver delicious meals and fast service. I can eat Mexican food for lunch and dinner, can’t you? I’ve eaten at the one in downtown Seneca (Nemaha Co.) and Elwood (Doniphan Co.). Nemaha wins for the most romantic restaurant, but the best service and menu go to Doniphan County’s El Canelo. Either restaurant is a tasty choice, though.
Sweet Pea Bakery is a do-not-miss quick stop in downtown Seneca. You’ll find an incredible bounty of pastries and sweets here, with the best donuts along Kansas Highway 36. I’m always mentioning how good the strawberry sweet roll was, but the cinnamon rolls are a close comparison.
Hiawatha has a few nice dining choices. First up is First Street Bar & Grill, where the locals hang out. There is a standard menu with bar favorites, burgers, chicken fried steak & chicken, and a daily special posted on their Facebook page. I went with a basic ham and cheese sandwich with crinkle fries. The iced tea was good, the food was tasty, and the service was on point. I can see why the locals are so crazy about it.
I ate a trio of Greek, Thai Peanut, Chicken, Bacon, and Ranch street tacos for lunch at Rogue Street Tacos. The tacos are made to order, and the list changes weekly or monthly. You can find great combination tacos for vegetarian, chicken, beef, pork, and a few other options. What a great addition this eatery is to the Hiawatha downtown. Rogue Street Tacos is branching out soon with a food truck, so be on the lookout.
Rogue Street Tacos also has excellent coffee options, including iced lattes. They are closed on weekends.
Lunch is a must at The Bread Bowl, serving creative sandwiches, soup in homemade bread bowls, awesome side dishes, and an arsenal of sweet treats. Check the chalkboard for today’s specials and available pies and cakes. I had the Smoky Blackberry Chicken sandwich (homemade bread) with smoked gouda, bacon, onion, and a fabulous blackberry cream cheese sauce. All of the side items sounded good, but I chose Mac & cheese and the broccoli salad. I think I hit the jackpot.
Save room for one of the gorgeous slices of cake or pie for dessert.
Kirkwood & Co, in Highland, KS, is an upscale restaurant with a fantastic menu and enjoyable atmosphere. I love that the restaurant owners created it because they wanted somewhere nice to eat and take their friends and family. That speaks volumes about the quality package they deliver.
The Kirkwood & Co menu consists of great appetizers (wings, nachos, fried stuff), burgers, sandwiches, and gorgeous salads. Neither Sara nor I ordered a salad, but after seeing so many come out of the kitchen, we could have kicked ourselves for not trying the Santa Fe Chicken Salad. I had a burger with bacon jam and green beans as my side. Kirkwood & Co also has a Sunday brunch, though the menu is not online.
Kirkwood & Co is open daily until 9 PM, serving lunch and dinner. Happy hour is Monday through Friday, 2- 5 PM, with discounted appetizers and drinks specials.
Some of my meals were paid for as a result of a road trip assignment for various entities. As always, opinions are 100% mine and unbiased.