Perhaps the best part of any road trip is the built-in excuse to stop and eat some extremely bad-for-you, yet delicious, roadside food. Have you ever been on a road trip with someone who packed their own carrots and sandwiches for everyone? It’s the worst. If we’re going to be spending 4 hours in a car together, we’re at least stopping for 200% of my RDA of sodium and all of the bad kinds of unsaturated fats. That’s a fact.
We did a two round snake-style mock draft of the ultimate road food. Big Sandy forgot to draft twice at the end of the first round so his loss was our gain. I’m sure we omitted a lot of good choice so continue the draft in the Komments.
If you are anywhere between Pennsylvania and North Carolina, the only correct answer to this question is Sheetz. I get it: You can get a gas station sandwich anywhere. Sheetz is awesome because you can walk in, poke a touchscreen to order stupid shit like mac and cheese bites on a hamburger, NOT TALK TO ANYONE, pay, and walk away satisfied. Other places have copied this formula, including the inferior midatlantic chain, Wawa – but Sheetz did it first, and Sheetz does it the best. You people in Philly can suck it. Now, if we could only buy beer in our Pennsylvania gas station restaurants.
2. Eric Sollenberger
Most people don’t know about the kolache which is a damn shame. They’re a Czechoslovakian pastry primarily found in Texas that’s one part breakfast taco, one part Chinese BBQ pork filled baozi, and one part danish. Anytime you drive on a Texas highway between Austin and Dallas, or if you decide to travel to Houston for some ungodly reason, you have to swing by either the Czech stop or Hruska’s to pick up a few. I always get three: breakfast sausage & cheese, jalapeno and cheese, and mixed berry/cream cheese.
I’ve only been a few times, but on a road trip back to Chicago, passing the Culver’s by the Mars Cheese Castle means you’re almost home. It’s one of the only chains in America where you can get cheese curds as a side, which is something that you probably don’t appreciate if you haven’t been to the midwest/don’t like things that are pure and good. Plus, frozen custard that’s actually pretty damn good. They are few and far between on most road trips. It’s one of the holy grails when you see it on that green-ass “FOOD” sign on the highway, along with Popeye’s, Checkers, and Sonic. It’s really a shame that there’s no culture around Culver’s like there is for In ‘n’ Out or Whataburger in Texas. It absolutely deserves it.
Also they serve things called Butterburgers and the pro move is to get lots of cheese from the cheese castle and then put that cheese on top of your burger when you go to Culver’s because Wisconsin.
4. Old James
There are roughly 3,947 of them on I-35 between Kansas City and wherever you’re headed in Texas, so you’ve probably driven past a Braum’s before. Stop in and try a cherry limeade next time. They’re delightful.
(Sidebar: I was introduced to kolaches about 6 months ago. Changed my life. And butterburgers are good AF too, and now I’m starving.)
5. Johnny Sugar
The pepperoni roll
A common gas station treat in Morgantown, West Virginia. My Dad lived there for a bit in 2008-2010, and I became quite a fan.
Spilly tip: Pepperoni Rolls taste best when cooked over a roaring Morgantown couch fire
6. PFT Commenter
Anythings food if you swallow enough of it. If not Skoal then at least Big League Chew, chewed open-mouth with the window down. Nothing like grape BLC in one cheek, doritos in the other, and the syrupy ocean of Mountain dew getting swished back in forth in your mouth likes it has its own tide thats controlled by the beat of the latest Puddle of Mudd track on the stereo.
7. Dave Rappoccio
The only place I’ve ever stopped to eat on the road is Subway because their food is the only fast food that doesn’t turn my stomach into a knot.
8. Christmas Ape
They’re far enough away from anywhere I usually go that I will hit one up if I pass it on a road trip. I’m sure if I had it with any regularity, I would disdain it for the garbage food it is.
I like Waffle House because literally everything is cooked in butter, and it’s always open no matter how late at night I’m driving. The siren song of greasy diner food is impossible to resist. The smell of gasoline from people filling up right next door is just part of the experience. The faded yellow sign says I won’t be bothered by anything healthy while I’m sitting in those booths from the 70s.
10. Big Sandy
They’re fucking everywhere, you can be southern without the requisite racism, and the little golf tee game is goddamn addicting and why don’t I ever do better??
Good ‘ol 7-11.
Everything in there is frozen and warmed slightly on disgusting rollers. They have little mini-tacos filled with what I can only assume are leftovers from used cans of Skoal. Their pizzas are likely just pillaged from their own freezer section and nuked in a microwave. Their chicken legs taste like animal abuse. Those hot dogs will stay there until someone buys them, no longer how long that is. And yet, I buy this food, and five exits later on the Interstate I feel like I’ve just shaved a few more months off my life.
12. Christmas Ape
They used to be plentiful when I was a kid. Now the few that remain mostly exist at rest stops along 95 in the northeast. Biscuits on fleek, as the brands say.
13. Dave Rappoccio
I only eat there for the articles
14. PFT Commenter
If theres one thing the rest of the country could learn from Louisiana besdies pretty much everything else, its that there shoud be drive-throughs where they sell you a cup of 151 proof rum infuse daquiris with a little bit of paper on the end of your straw so its not technicaly a open container.
15. Johnny Sugar
The preferred snack of Bobby Hill, and for good reason!
16. Old James
The KFC Taco Hut
(30 minutes later everyone has their head out a window)
Steak ‘n’ Shake
It’s always the last stop on the road trip before you call it a night, and that’s because it’s open until 2 AM. It’s an oasis, a sign that you’re almost done. That you have some time to sit down and eat. And eat. And maybe have a shake. And eat. And then maybe try and win a plushie Spongebob at the claw machine that they have for some reason.
And then you take the world’s biggest shit at the hotel the next day.
18. Eric Sollenberger
They’re tiny and they don’t taste particularly incredible, but I can eat about a dozen of them and the name of the game on road trips is killing time.
RobotsFightingDinosaurs: people get really pissed off when you confuse krystal and white castle even though they are straight up the same company and serve the same food
The key to good road food is getting something that’s easy to eat while weaving through semis. (Just kidding kids! Never eat while driving! Also say no to drugs!) Popeye’s is decent enough chicken, and it comes boxed in such a way that it lends itself well to one-hand-eating. Of critical importance: biscuits. In fact, you could just get a box of biscuits and call it a day.