10 Gas Station Foods Across the Country That Are Worth the Detour

Whoa Nellie Deli
Photo: Denise Molnar

While you may think of Slim Jims, Twinkies and watery coffee as three of the only gas station food options, some remarkable food and drink is coming out of those little convenience stores. Yes, we're serious. While the place where you pump your gas may not seem like the ultimate dining destination, there's actually a long history of gas station restaurants getting real love in America—after all, KFC started inside a humble gas station, and if that isn't a success story, we don't know what is. Today, fill stations across the country are offering snacks so good that people are seeking them out as foodie pit stops rather than quick places to pee. So, if you don't want to settle for a sad rotating weenie under a glass-cased heat lamp, try one of these must-stop, gas-station dining destinations, from spectacular Indian food in Philadelphia to a roadside breakfast sandwich made from a chef with a Michelin-starred background. Road trip, anyone? —Hillary Eaton

01 of 11

Royal Farms Fried Chicken

Royal Farms Fried Chicken
Courtesy of Royal Farms

If you live in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia or Pennsylvania, you have the distinct privilege of enjoying some of the best fast-food fried chicken à la gas station in the form of Royal Farms. This Southern gas station chain is famous for their crispy fried chicken, flaky dinner rolls and breaded potato wedges known as "western fries." If a glance at chicken-filled buffet trays glowing golden under the heat lamp alongside lotto tickets and Lays chips puts you off, check yourself and just order it already. Locations abound, and some are even coming to New Jersey soon.Royal Farms, Many locations in DE, VA, PA, MD

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10 Gas Station Foods Across the Country That Are Worth the Detour

Watery coffee, Slim Jims, and Twinkies aren't the only gas station food options.

03 of 11

Mr. Kabob

Mr. Kabob
Courtesy of Mr. Kabob

In Michigan, Mr. Kabob is king among gas station food. What started as a simple Mediterranean grill serving dishes like babaganoush, chicken kafta, crispy falafel and (of course) kabob from a gas station in Berkeley, Michigan has now grown into four locations scattered across the state. To say this family-owned spot is something of a local Mediterranean legend is an understatement.Mr. Kabob, Many locations in MI

04 of 11

Royal Chef Indian Restaurant

Royal Chef Indian Restaurant
Courtesy of Royal Chef Indian Kitchen

This Philadelphia Indian spot is just one example of Philly's spectacular Indian food offerings, a few of which, like Royal Chef Indian, just so happen to be inside gas stations. While there is dine-in or takeaway of favorites likes chili pakoras, goat biryani and karahi lamb, the best experience is takeaway.Royal Chef Indian, 455 West Dekalb Pike, King of Prussia, PA, 610-265-3742

05 of 11

The Growler Guys

The Growler Guys
Courtesy of The Growler Guys

While beer on tap at a gas station may seem counterintuitive to the whole driving thing, you can now fill a growler and get fresh drafts of premium microbrews to go while also filling your tank. Originally opened in a Shell station in Bend Oregon (they've now expanded to locations in Washington, as well,) the OG Growler Guys location boasts over 30 local, hard-to-get-your-hands-on beers on tap.The Growler Guys, Many locations in OR and WA

06 of 11

Billeaud's Grocery

Billeaud’s Grocery
Editha Schoeffler

Attached to a Shell station in Broussard, Louisiana, Billeaud's Grocery is often regarded as the home of the best boudin and crispy pork cracklings in Cajun country. This iconic gas-station food stop may get tourists lining up for their signature rotating plate lunch and a side of the boudin, but it's no less beloved by locals.Billeaud's Grocery, 111 E. Main St., Broussard, LA, 337-837-6825

07 of 11

Rudy's Country Store & BBQ

Rudy’s Country Store & BBQ
Courtesy of Rudy’s “Country Store” and Bar-B-Q®

One of Austin's premiere gas-station dining experiences, Rudy's Country Store & BBQ may have expanded past dining with a view of the pump at their new locations, but the oldest one (opened in 1929) still holds true. Those in the know go for the classic smoky brisket that's slathered in the house BBQ sauce, but other standouts include baby back ribs, chopped pork and the jalapeño sausage.Rudy's Country Store & BBQ, Many locations in TX, OK, CO, NM, AZ

08 of 11

El Carajo

El Carajo
Courtesy of El Carajo

Spanish tapas and wine inside a gas station? Yup, and some pretty damn good ones at that, especially considering its location: inside a Mobil gas station. This family-run restaurant has already been running two generations strong and with their plates of crispy sardines, bacalhau fritters, paella and thoughtfully curated wines, it's no wonder El Carajo is one of Miami's most prized dining secrets.El Carajo, 2465 SW 17th Ave Miami, FL 33145, 305-856-2424

09 of 11

Andrae's Kitchen

Andrae’s Kitchen
Courtesy of Andrae's Kitchen

Before opening Andrae's Kitchen inside a Cenex station in Walla Walla, Washington, chef and owner Andrae Bopp cut his teeth at such revered institutes as Balthazar and Le Bernardin. Yes, we're serious. Bopp has taken his culinary talents and translated them into one of the best all-day gas station breakfasts you could ever imagine. From a fried chicken, bacon and biscuit sandwich to a hangover-curing breakfast poutine, Andrae's Kitchen has truly blessed the people of Walla Walla.Andrae's Kitchen, 706 W Rose St, Walla Walla, WA, 509-572-0728

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Pig Trail Bypass Country Cafe

Pig Trail Bypass Country Cafe
Felicia C. Nazarali

This small general-store-meets-café-meets-gas-station on the isolated edge of the Ozarks has gotten a lot of love over the years for one particular menu item: the Hooshburger. A simple, yet mild-blowingly delicious burger peppered with Iranian spices (an homage to the owner's background) is basically the dream sandwich. And yes, it's worth the detour.Pig Trail Bypass Country Café, 4223 Highway 16 Elkins, Arkansas, AR, 479-643-3307

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Whoa Nellie Deli

Whoa Nellie Deli
Denise Molnar

Inside a Mobil gas station past the eastern entrance to Yosemite Park you'll find Whoa Nellie Deli. Here, the name of the game is their famous fish tacos, which come as two flour tortillas filled with whitefish and mango salsa. Not your jam? Between the lobster taquitos, pizza, burger or ahi sashimi (whaaa?), there's truly something for everyone.Whoa Nellie Deli, 22 Vista Point Dr., Lee Vining, CA, 760-647-1088

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