Not all gas station food is created equal.
Grabbing a bite to eat at a gas station is usually nothing to get excited about—chips, candy, or maybe a hot dog. But not all gas station food is created equal. You might have to go a little out of your way, but here are a few places that are worth going the distance for as you hit the road on your next trip.
GREEN CLOVE IN MERIDIAN, MISSISSIPPI
Po’ boys are most often associated with Louisiana, but don’t let that stop you from having the excellent shrimp version here. And when they say it’s overstuffed, it truly is. You won’t believe the number of shrimp falling off the French bread loaf. They also serve other Southern fried favorites including oysters, chicken, okra, and hush puppies.
2200 Mississippi 39
LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS
The store serves a great muffaletta and an Italian roast beef po’ boy that’s truly divine. You can also get a fresh-from-the-griddle burger, a bowl of chili, or beans and cornbread. And pick up some of Stagecoach’s no-bake cookies on your way out.
6024 Stagecoach Rd.
Billeaud’s Meat & Grocery
SHELL IN BROUSSARD, LOUISIANA
Cracklins are a Cajun delicacy, and Billeaud’s has been making some of the best since the 1800s. You can also pick up a link of fresh boudin or other traditional Cajun meats at the butcher counter.
11 E. Main St.
CITGO IN PRINCETON, KENTUCKY
Kentuckians are rightfully proud of their barbecue, and Heaton’s is a prime example of why. The stacks of hickory wood in the parking lot tell you all you need to know about their freshly smoked pork and brisket. Plus, they bottle their own hot and mild sauces.
619 Marion Rd.
MARATHON IN GRAY, KENTUCKY
Chili buns are an East Kentucky favorite. They’re nothing more than a few spoons of chili in a hot dog bun, but their devotees hunt them down. If a chili bun isn’t what you’re looking for, stop by in the morning for perfect biscuits.
10135 N. US Hwy. 25E
Tipsy Pig BBQ
SHELL IN LILBURN, GEORGIA
Barbecue is one of the South’s signature foods, and because of that, we tend to be picky about which is best. This is a local favorite, serving Brunswick stew and juicy pulled pork with sweet Georgia-style sauce.
3020 Five Forks Trickum Rd.
JOHNS ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA
This might look like a rundown gas station, but the fresh seafood here is among the best in the area. And you won’t find deviled crabs here. Instead, on the menu they’ve been elevated to “Jesus” crabs.
3832 Savannah Hwy.
French Market Express
Natchitoches meat pies are deservedly famous, and you’ll find them on the menu in some of the best restaurants in the South. Try the pies hot and fresh here, or pack a cooler to take home.
5109 University Pkwy.
Harold’s Country Club
YEMASSEE, SOUTH CAROLINA
Harold’s Country Club is certainly unexpected. Stop in for country-fried steak on Thursday. It’s served with mashed potatoes and gravy, garden peas, coleslaw, biscuits, tea, and Mrs. Mary’s Lemon Cake. On Friday nights, you’ll find wings, and Saturday evenings are reserved for steaks, paired with karaoke, of course.
97 Hwy. 17A & 21
JP’S GENERAL STORE, FEED STORE, AND TRUCK STOP IN ABBEVILLE, ALABAMA
Catfish and fried chicken are some of the most popular items on the menu, and for good reason. But don’t miss out on the other diner favorites. If you’re around early in the day, try the full Southern breakfast.
3749 State Hwy. 10 E.
The Chevron in Oxford is home to an Ole Miss institution: chicken on a stick. It’s the perfect late-night snack after a college party…or any time. Local author Jack Pendarvis has waxed eloquent on this foodstuff along with a slew of other food-loving Southern folks. Have one, and you might write an ode to this fried goodness as well.
502 S. Lamar Blvd.
Pinnacle Station Local Market
SHELL IN ROGERS, ARKANSAS
Belgian chocolates, designer cakes, exotic produce, caviar, fresh seafood—you name it, and you can find it here to take home. Eat-in choices include Ark-Mex specialties, burgers and sandwiches, gelato, and Roman-style pizza.
2000 Promenade Boulevard
TYBEE ISLAND, GEORGIA
Lowcountry cuisine reaches gourmet heights in Charleston and Savannah, but its down- home roots can be found here. There’s nothing fancy about the Sundae Cafe, but the food is delicious and authentic. You’ll find shrimp and grits, sweet-and-spicy pistachio-crusted tuna, whole fried flounder, and everything from steaks to burgers.
304 First St.
EXXON IN CAPE CHARLES, VIRGINIA
This might look like your typical coastal gas station, with tourist souvenirs and standard fare. But in the back you’ll find Sting-Ray’s, a restaurant that takes advantage of local seafood by serving crab cakes, marinated shrimp, stuffed flounder, and more.
26507 Lankford Hwy., Rte. 13
CONOCO IN WAUTAGUA, TEXAS
Walk down the aisle of chips and hang a left at the drink cooler, and you’ll suddenly find yourself surrounded by elegant décor and an open kitchen. The food is as surprising as it is superb. They even have a Sunday comfort food menu.
5901 Watauga Rd.
Saxaphaw General Store
SAXAPHAW, NORTH CAROLINA
The store offers a huge selection of local, seasonal, and organic goods. Wash down some goat cheese from a nearby dairy with an organic spritzer or a classic Cheerwine. Or go for a Cane Creek hot dog or local beef hamburger. Daily specials focus on what’s local and in season — so local, in fact, that vegetables often come from their garden across the street.
1735 Sax-Beth Church Rd.
SHELL IN WEST, TEXAS
Kolaches are king at the Czech Stop. You can choose from sweet or savory versions along with great deli sandwiches. While you’re there, stock up on Czech-style charcuterie, breads, and sweets.
105 N. College St.
LOWEST BEST PRICE IN WASHINGTON, DC
This eco-friendly stop offers a taste of Uruguay and other parts of the globe. Enjoy a sandwich or empanadas along with fresh fruit juices.
1400 W St. NW
Lee’s Fresh Sushi
BP IN MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
From curries to tortas and sushi to kolaches, amazing ethnic food also awaits you at gas stations if you know where to look. The sushi at Lee’s is made fresh throughout the day, often while you wait. You’ll find a good assortment of rolls as well as delicacies such as squid, seaweed salads, and shumai (dumplings). You can also pick up Japanese drinks and snacks.
6646 Poplar Ave.
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By Paul and Angela Knipple