Images of greasy hot dogs, questionable pressed-meat sandwiches and microwaved burritos come to mind when someone mentions gas station food.
But, on occasion, the road-food stars align and you discover a place to fill your tank with petrol while also filling your hungry belly with something much more enjoyable — like crispy fried chicken, carne asada tacos or shrimp po’boys.
Here are six gas station eateries in northern Utah you’ll want to pull over for.
Kevin’s Fried Chicken
Kevin and Donna Nguyen have owned this restaurant, inside a Texaco gas station and food mart in Murray, since 2002. The eatery originally was a Chester’s Fried Chicken, but the couple decided they could make a better product — and avoid paying the hefty franchise fee — if they renamed their restaurant and used their original recipe.
The golden breading, which has a slight kick, coats real chicken — not pressed meat. And the Nguyens insist on changing the deep-frying oil twice a day, which ensures the chicken is always crisp and clean-tasting.
The most popular menu items are the chicken strips and the chicken sandwich special, which includes sides and a drink for $6.75.
Customers range from construction workers and locals to out-of-state visitors staying at nearby hotels. Kevin Nguyen, who has never advertised, won’t say how much chicken he sells in a day or week, “but it’s been good enough to raise my family.”
Kevin’s Fried Chicken • 524 W. 4500 South, Murray. Open Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Silver Summit Cafe
Casual and affordable, The Silver Summit Cafe is a popular breakfast and lunch spot for Summit County residents.
“It‘s a local secret in Park City,” said Doug Slauth, who bought the convenience store and restaurant 13 years ago with his brother Dan. “It‘s been quite a success story for us.”
The menu includes traditional egg, pancake and omelet breakfasts, while lunch is a mix of salads, soups, sandwiches, hamburgers, pizza and Mexican fare.
Customers enter through the convenience store, order at the counter and get their drinks. With 80 seats, including a patio, finding a seat isn’t a problem.
The Slauth brothers own 7-Eleven stores throughout the state — 18 in all. And while many have chain restaurants inside like Subway or Wendy’s, their Park City store — as well as the one they own in Morgan — has the original eateries, said Slauth. (See Morgan Grill below).
Silver Summit Cafe • 6065 Silver Creek Drive, Park City; 435-649-7638 or thesilversummitcafe.com. Open daily 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
MayMoes Southern Cajun Grill
Gas station restaurants may be unusual in Utah, but they “are everywhere in Louisiana,” said Jason Davis, owner of this Cajun grill in the back of the Tesoro Best Stop in Logan. The 42-seat restaurant opened 18 months ago when Davis, a native of Baton Rouge, married his wife, April, a Logan native.
The most popular item on the MayMoes menu is the po’boy sandwich, served on a French roll from the famed Leidenheimer Baking Co. in New Orleans. There also are hamburgers, pastas and daily specials. All the items come with Southern sides like hush puppies, jambalaya, mac-and-cheese balls or barbecue beans.
The tiny kitchen, visible from the convenience store, doesn’t have a freezer, so all the ingredients are purchased fresh. Everything from the creole seasoning to the sausage is made in house, said Davis.
“Just because we are in the back of a gas station doesn‘t mean we skimp.” — Jason Davis, owner of MayMoes Southern Cajun Grill in Logan
Seasonal specials can range from crab bisque to alligator pasta to smoked tasso (spicy ham) and grits. “Just because we are in the back of gas station doesn’t mean we skimp,” said Davis, who named the restaurant MayMoes because that‘s what his daughter use to call tomatoes when she was 3.
MayMoes Southern Cajun Grill • 2495 N. Main, Logan; 435-512-7407 or maymoes.com/. Open Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The tiny Mexican grill in the back of the Aggie Station near Utah State University is a hidden gem in Logan.
The menu includes tacos, burritos, fajitas, chimichangas and nachos, all of which cost under $10. The daily lunch special is a deal with two tacos, rice and beans and a 22-ounce drink for $5.50. Cups of red and green salsa are included. On Thursday, tacos al pastor is the special.
Most of everything is made fresh in the tiny kitchen, except the tortillas, which are purchased from La Fuente Mexican cafe, said store owner Patrick Casperson. The only downfall is the limited hours — 11 a.m. to 3 p .m.
At the cafe — which doesn’t have an official name — customers place their order at the kitchen window in the back, then take their ticket to the cash register near the front. After paying, they walk back to the cafe, fill their fountain drink and find a seat at one of the 10 tables. By then their order is ready.
Fortunately, the store is small and the whole system is fast, friendly and surprisingly delicious. “People are surprised at how much they like the food, because it‘s in a gas station,” said Casperson.
Aggie Station • 790 E 1400 N, Logan; 435-752-2700. Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The menu at this restaurant — inside a 7-Eleven — is small. Guests can order a hamburger, cheeseburger, chicken sandwich or fish sandwich. All the items come with seasoned fries that locals swear by.
“I don‘t know if it’s our seasoning, but they love them,” said manager Caterina Barnett.
The cafe is a favorite spot for Morgan High School students, but customers make the trek from all over the state, Barnett said.
The Morgan Cafe is the scaled-down sister restaurant to Park City’s Silver Summit Cafe.
Morgan Cafe • 404 E. 300 N. State St., Morgan. Open daily, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Logan’s original gas-station restaurant, Tandoori Oven, opened nearly a decade ago in the Sinclair station at 720 E. 1000 North. Fans were drawn to the Indian and Pakistani food as well as the unique location.
The family-owned restaurant is operating out of a temporary location while the original building is expanded. When construction is complete, the restaurant will increase from 35 to 75 seats. It will still be attached to the gas station.
Tandoori Oven • Temporarily at Blue Square, 1111 N. 800 East, Logan; 435-750-6836. Open Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.