“Rusty, crack open those sandwiches I got from the gas station! I’m so hungry I could eat a sandwich from a gas station!” Chevy Chase was mocking the slices of white bread and American cheese wrapped in plastic en route to Wally World, and while I’ve never been hungry enough to choke one down, I’m not embarrassed to say that road trip gas station food is a guilty pleasure of mine. That is, if you know where to stop.

Often times on road trips, there’s no time for a real meal. Krystal burgers, frozen Coke slushies, muddy buddies and cheese crackers all just scream ‘Road Trip!’ But when you’re on the road and you’ve got to make as many miles as you can with as few stops as possible, you deserve something good to eat. If you can make the time, poke around for road food gems. Don’t be scared off by the surroundings or the local delicacies… you might have the best meal of your trip (or your life) at the same place you fill your gas tank.

I get excited when we see a Sheetz on the East Coast, and apparently I’m totally missing out because I’ve never stopped at Buc-ees in Texas. While there are those amped-up gas stations with fancy drink machines that let you make all the flavor combinations you can imagine, there also are a few special gas station spots that I’ll go out of my way to get to when I’m hungry because I know I’ll get a genuinely delicious meal.

Some of the most special to me are in the Delta. With chains few and far between, the Delta prides itself on its local fare, and this is true even at gas stations. Just east of Leland, Miss., Fratesi’s Grocery and Service Station serves a mean meatball sub and an even meaner muffaletta. Owned by a local Italian family with kitchens manned by a team of Delta women, you can’t go wrong with their house made sausage sandwich or the catfish poboy. Honestly, you can’t wrong with anything they serve.

Head into downtown Leland and there’s a tiny service station, the JIJ, that serves legit Indian food. Step right up to the counter, surrounded by e-cigarettes and bags of potato chips, and if you’re brave enough, leaf through a binder with the menu and make your order. This isn’t really a fast place, though. Place your order and go explore the Delta for the afternoon. Several hours later you’ll get your meal — made to order from scratch just for you. And even Laurel has a BBQ spot in a Shell station worth writing home about. The BBQ is somehow sweet and smoky with a slight vinegar tang.

Beyond Mississippi, if I find myself close enough to Birmingham, I’m going to try to make it to Blue Pacific Thai restaurant nestled in a gas station in Hoover and getting rave reviews. I also have a friend who not only had delicious street tacos at Fuel City in Dallas, but also got to ride a camel in the parking lot. A camel. I’d say that would totally break up the boredom of driving across that enormous state.

 

Plan Your Trip:

 

Mississippi

Dodge’s

Fried Chicken

2290 Main St

Tupelo, Miss. 38801

 

Fratesi’s Grocery

Poboys, Italian sandwiches, Hamburgers

1402 Highway 82 E

Leland, Miss. 38756

 

A Taste of India at J.I.J.

Indian Cuisine

102 N Broad Street

Leland, Miss.

 

Hog Heaven

Fried chicken, BBQ, Hamburgers, Blue Plate Specials

2515 Ellisville Blvd

Laurel, Miss. 39440

 

Fayard’s Grocery

Poboy’s

1757 Popps Ferry Rd

Biloxi, Miss. 39532

 

Alabama

Seafood Bistro

Cajun Food

5780 Woodmere Blvd

Montgomery, Ala. 36117

 

Blue Pacific Thai at Hoover Food Mart

Classic Thai

3219 Lorna Rd

Hoover, AL

 

Mustang Oil

Cajun, Creole, and Soul Food

2205 Main St

Greensboro, Ala. 36744

 

Louisiana

Danny and Clydes

Po boy’s and deli

4320 Clearview Parkway

Metairie, La. 70006

 

Jerry Lee’s Kwik Stop

Cajun & Creole

12181 Greenwell Springs Rd

Baton Rouge, La. 70814

 

Texas

Fuel City

Tacos and Fried Pies

2175 S. Town East Boulevard

Mesquite, Texas 75149

 

The Czech Stop

Bakery and Kolaches

105 N College Ave, I-35 exit 353,

West, Texas 76691-1455

Written by

If you’re looking for Courtney Creel, try looking down. Standing at only 4-feet-11-inches, Courtney is tiny yet twisted. You’ll typically find her listening to Modest Mouse or The Weeks while drinking a Starbucks Doubleshot. Courtney graduated Salutatorian of South Jones High School’s Class of 2013. She was previously employed with the Laurel Leader-Call where she was an intern, proofreader, accounting assistant, reporter and page designer. After work, Courtney returns to Ellisville where she resides with her fiancé, Justin and their daughter, Owyn Caroline. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, napping and watching True Blood on repeat. Two words: Joe Manganiello…. Wait, where were we again?

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