If you thought gas station food meant microwaveable burritos and the world’s most questionable dogs rotating in a heat box, then think again.
Across the country, talented chefs are taking up kitchens in America’s most visited pit stop. The days of grumbling stomachs and resorting to questionable food are long gone. You can finally refuel the car, and your belly, in one stop. Mark your maps, because you will want to fill’er up when you reach these revolutionary spots.
1. Kinara Urban Eatery
Where: Sturgeon Bay, WI
Where else can you grab a gyro, Chicago dog, or spice filled Indian food? Bringing culture to the table, you seriously can’t stop here without trying the Indian food. Chef Archana is offering up authentic recipes from her home country.
Try the minced lamb meat seasoned with Indian herbs and spices topped with a mint, cilantro spread. Or go for the handmade Kati rolls stuffed with authentic Indian fillings.
2. Green Spot
Where: Dallas, Texas
Green Spot Market and Fuels is like an oasis in the middle of a fast food countryside. After eating nothing but junk food, anything colored green without the use of food dye sounds more than appealing.
Stop in early for a Tex-Mex breakfast or cruise by during lunch hours for grilled shrimp tacos.
3. Fast Gourmet
Where: Washington D.C.
This late night urban eatery is keeping the masses fed until 5am on those long Friday and Saturday nights. Sandwiches ranging from the Big Mason BBQ to the ever popular Cuban are pumping out of this Valero. And the signature dish, it’s hard to pass up.
The Chivito is packed with tenderloin, bacon, and all the other fixings you could possibly want between two pieces of bread. This ‘which’ was made to satisfy a booze filled belly.
4. Seoul Food
Where: Silver Spring, MD
Dining in is best when savoring these Bibimaps. Large bowls of sticky rice, baby greens, carrots, daikon, red radish, an egg sunny side-up, and your choice of steak, chicken, pork, or tofu, make up these sensational bowls.
And the kimichi? You can’t stop and not get a heaping of kimichi on whatever you order. Locally sourced and guaranteed fresh ingredients, the Korean and Japanese style cuisine is anything but your average greasy gas station eats.
5. R&R Taqueria
Where: Elkridge, MD
If you thought gas station Mexican food meant a squishy microwaveable burrito, then please, stop at this taqueria to taste the real thing. Tortas, tacos, huaraches, and sopes are a few of a wide array of no-microwave required authentic Mexican menu items.
Chef Rod takes pride in making everything from scratch – like the handmade tamales and daily made salsa. One bite and you’ll forget you are inside a Shell gas station.
6. Pon’s Thai Cuisine
Where: Asheville, NC
Tucked inside an Exxon station is a kitchen no bigger than a college dorm room. Unlike your dorm, this restaurant is pumping out some of the best Thai food around. Tom kha, curries, noodles, and even crispy duck. My favorite, the spicy noodles.
If you go, call the order in advance. This spot is no kept secret around the locals and the wait can be an hour, easy.
7. Blue Pacific
Where: Birmingham, AL
Apparently gas stations make for excellent Thai food restaurants. Patrons will line around the corner to get a taste of authentic Thai in this southern Hoover station.
With rice dishes like the Yam Kai Dao – a fried egg salad with green onions, carrots, and thai chili peppers tossed in a spicy and sour sauce – it’s no wonder why.
8. Chef Point
Where: Watagua, Texas
Fine dining in a Conoco gas station? That’s right. Lobster Mac and Cheese, Angus Ribeye, and Shrimp Scampi make the list. But the most impressive item on the menu? That would be the Bloody Best. You start with a beer or mimosa, then comes the craziest Bloody Mary any gas station, or bar for that matter, has ever seen.
This double sized cocktail-like concoction is stacked with the Better Than Sex Fried Chicken, a Nolan Ryan slider, waffle fries, grilled shrimp, jalapeno pepper, pickle spear, and of course, bacon. Yeah, that’s right. There is even a doggie menu.
9. El Carajo
Where: Miami, Florida
With authentic Spanish tapas on the menu and over 2000 wines to choose from, you may want to get a hotel room for the night. Ceviche marinated in citrus fruits topped with plantains, dates stuffed with Spanish chorizo wrapped in bacon, and traditional seafood paella are just a few of the tasty tapas to choose from.
And if wine isn’t your thing, there is a well stocked selection of craft beer and sake. In fact, they have the largest sake collection in the southeastern US. With a selection like this, you know you can’t pass up this BP station. I mean, what other gas station is serving up filet minion?
10. Whoa Nellie Deli
Where: Lee Vining, California
If you just spent the afternoon marveling at the salt tufas at Mono Lake or are anywhere near Yosemite, then you must stop at the best gas station restaurant on the west coast. One of my personal favorites, this Mobil is always a pit stop when visiting the Eastern Sierras.
Get the Famous Fish tacos with mango salsa and ginger slaw or the Lobster Taquitos with tomatillo salsa. Be sure to treat yourself to a margarita, or share a pitcher. After fighting through the tourist crowds that flock to Yosemite, you’ll need it.