A Taste of History at Litchfield’s Ariston Cafe
The Ariston Cafe in Litchfield exemplifies the American dream. Founded by Greek immigrant Pete Adam in Carlinville in 1924, the cafe relocated to Litchfield in 1929 and moved to its current location along Route 66 in 1935.
The oldest restaurant on the Mother Road, the Ariston remains owned and operated by the founder’s son and grandson, Nick and Paul Adam. Today, tourists consider the Ariston a must-stop attraction, and locals view it as an institution.
“So many of our customers have become our friends, and our friends have become our customers,” Nick says. “Some people eat with us every day. Others eat here three times a week. We know them, and we know their families. Sometimes greatrandchildren will come in and tell us their great-grandparents used to eat here.”
The menu has an enticing mix of hand-cut steaks, fried chicken, seafood, pasta, hot sandwiches and Tex-Mex favorites such as enchiladas, burritos and tacos.
“We’re known for our prime rib on Friday and Saturday nights as well as our Sunday buffet, which has an omelet station, hand-carved roast beef, ham and seafood,” Nick says.
And to many, nothing exceeds its legendary homemade desserts, from the fresh baklava to cheesecake and Reese’s pie.
“In 2014, we had visitors from 43 different countries, and several of them had been here before,” Nick says. “We always reach out to our customers. They sign our guest register, and we take pictures with them behind the counter. Some even send us Christmas cards. We strive to be very attentive to our guests.”
The Route 66 Hall of Fame inducted the Ariston Cafe and the Adam family in 1992. In 2006, the U.S. National Register of Historic Places listed the cafe, ensuring its place in history.
[infobox alignment=”full” title=”If You Go…”]The Ariston Café
Location: 413 N. Old Route 66 in Litchfield
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Closed Mondays.)
Phone: (217) 324-2023