Gas stations are typically a stop for, well, gas. Or maybe a situation arises that calls for a five-minute trip to the store up the road in hopes that they’ll have something you think is incredibly common, only to have your hopes dashed.
Occasionally, however, you’ll walk in hungry, and you’ll take a chance on some questionable food options. Then bam! Mind blown (or so you hope).
Welcome to our list of “gourmet” gas station foods.
Tops Choice Hamburgers (Navarre)
- Where: 8068 Navarre Parkway, Navarre
- When: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sunday
Here’s one that you don’t have to go to a gas station for – unless you happen to live in Navarre. Tops in Pensacola is located in a small building on Cervantes Street with somewhat unreliable hours. In Navarre, it’s located in the Circle K at 8068 Navarre Parkway.
As a Pensacolian, you might be thinking who cares, but here is one reason: the black & blue burger. That’s right, the Navarre location has its own specialty burger. The second reason is that it makes a great meal to grab on your way home from a less-crowded Navarre Beach trip.
Tops is known for its great burgers and even greater prices. It’s hands-down the best $4 hamburger you can find – but it rivals any burger twice its price. Plus, they serve tots.
Lupita’s (two locations)
- Where: 7815 N. Davis Highway; 8620 Pine Forest Road
- When: Davis location is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day; Pine Forest is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Fast food and tacos are two ideas usually anchored to Taco Bell, which is a travesty. One Google reviewer described Lupita’s as a “strange place to find Mexican” but went on to say the food was great. After reading through our list, we think the only thing you’ll find strange is the beginning of that review. Lupita’s Mexican Fast Food is here to redefine your expectations.
There are two places you can find Lupita’s authentic Mexican food: In the Chevron at 8620 Pine Forest Road and in the BP at 7815 N. Davis Highway. Now technically, the Lupita’s at Chevron is an express location, which means you can get the food to go, and there is a drive-thru option. The North Davis location is a food truck that sits on the BP property and has covered outdoor seating for those scenic Davis Highway views.
Lupita’s serves up delicious and authentic tacos, burritos soups and even the much-coveted birria taco, and they do it seven days a week. So when you’re scooting over to El Asador on a Sunday before realizing they’re closed, feel free to give these guys a shot since they’re just down the street. A third, standalone location is also open at 6890 Pensacola Boulevard.
Hong Kong Express
- Where: 12388 Sorrento Road
- When: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday
I hear you, gas station Chinese food sounds about as appealing as gas station sushi, but hear me out on this one. Hong Kong Express offers up good food with fresh ingredients for a great price. The menu is pretty expansive, too, despite the restaurant operating in the Shell gas station, located at 12388 Sorrento Road.
You can find family dinners, chef specials that include Mongolian beef or chicken, Mandarin chicken or beef, scallops, seafood, chicken, pork and tons of other options – all usually under $10.
Taqueria Los Brothers
- Where: 463 Beverly Parkway
- When: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Taqueria Los Brothers is a brand spanking new food truck located in the parking lot of the Shell station located at 463 Beverly Parkway. The food truck just held its grand opening just a few weeks ago with authentic pork and beef tacos and tamales.
- Where: 7955 N. Davis Highway
- When: 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Be honest, you scrolled down the list looking for this one because if you know, you know. And who doesn’t after Business Insider named it the fourth best taco in America back in 2017, effectively kicking off a delicious taco truck boom in Pensacola that we’ve all benefitted from.
El Asador is located in a stationary food truck with outdoor seating behind the Shell gas station at 7955 N. Davis Highway, and if you blink you’ll miss it. This place is known for its variety of smoked meats, including asada, lengua, pork and more, and its fresh veggies. They don’t stop at just great street tacos. You can grab yourself a massive burrito, quesadillas and even whole, smoked chickens. If you haven’t been, do yourself a favor and head there for lunch today.
- Where: 20403 County Road 68, Robertsdale, Alabama
- When: Open 24 hours a day, every day
Here’s an honorary mention simply because Buc-ee’s is one of those gas stations people rave about – which is a sentence I never thought I’d write until I made a trip to Orlando and found that people were obsessed with Wawa gas stations, too. This Buc-ee’s is technically in Alabama, but it’s just a 30-minute drive and a great first stop if you’re traveling.
Buc-ee’s is less restaurant and more like the ultimate pit stop on a road trip, but it’s also occasionally just fun to stop by during an afternoon trip. If you’ve never been, you’ll find huge aisles full of snacks covered with the Buc-ee’s beaver logo and it can honestly be a bit overwhelming. Some long-time fan favorites are the beaver nuggets, Buc-ee’s nug-ees, their breakfast tacos and the pastrami Reuben. Don’t worry, there’s so much more to choose from, too. From fudge and kolaches to the meat wonderland, you’re bound to find something to enjoy.