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Fill ‘er Up: Five Gas Stations with Great Grub

Libby Wiersema Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 30 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.
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Smoked meats, hand-crafted sauces and freshly made sides elevate the menu at Roy’s Grille.

South Carolinians know just where to go to fill their tanks and bellies. Indeed, a gas pump can be one of the best indicators that a great local dining experience is just on the other side of those convenience store doors. Hand-patted burgers, smoky barbecue, tacos and burritos, meat-and-three plates – some of the most unassuming pit stops are home to some of the most surprising culinary finds. 

Here are five iconic convenience stores where you can fill up, fuel up and even snag a few provisions for your home kitchen.

Roy’s Grill, Lexington
Tucked inside an unremarkable Exxon station in the small town of Lexington is this rather remarkable eatery where “made from scratch” is the rule. Chef Chris Williams runs the show, serving up some of the state’s most delectable shrimp and grits, barbecue, fried chicken, burgers, pork chops, ribs, fresh vegetables, homemade biscuits and much more. Special touches include bacon that is cured and smoked in-house and Williams’ lineup of signature barbecue sauces.

Peach Stand, Fort Mill
Beyond the busy gas pumps, there’s a whole lot of gastronomic activity going on inside the Peach Stand, so named for the area’s surrounding fruit orchards. This one-stop hot spot houses a butcher shop, bakery, produce and specialty products market, ice cream and gift shop as well as a bustling cafe where breakfasts are hearty and lunches are classic and comforting. Made-to-order omelets, French toast, biscuits and gravy and more draw locals and travelers on I-77 to the table. Signature sandwiches like BLTs, patty melts, cheesesteaks, burgers and Reubens are generous and accompanied by house-cut fries. House-made tuna and chicken salad are notable crowd-pleasers, too. In season, don’t leave without a basket of local peaches.

Burrito Express, Hardeeville  
Burritos, fajitas, flautas, tamales, tortas and tacos are not your typical convenience store fare. And that’s just fine for this hopping little grill’s many fans who saunter in daily for an authentic Tex-Mex fix. Order up a plate sided with beans, rice and your choices from the salsa bar. And how about some chilaquiles for breakfast? Yeah, you can get that famous dish here, too, along with a variety of omelets.

Mr. Bunky’s, Eastover 
Whether you need a home-cooked breakfast, lunch or dinner, Mr. Bunky’s has you covered and then some. A steam table, brimming with tempting offerings like fried chicken, catfish, hamburger steak, mac and cheese, rice and gravy, okra and lots of other veggies, is the star of the show. There’s also pizza, subs, and for breakfast, pancakes, French toast, omelets, biscuits and just about anything your heart desires first thing in the morning. A cut-to-order meat counter, groceries, hardware and consignments make this an especially unique stop for provisions.

Cooper’s Country Store, Salters 
For more than 75 years, this old-timey country store has been serving the needs of locals and those travelers lucky enough to have heard about the salt-cured smoked hams and pit-cooked ‘cue. While some folks stop in for gas or to pick up fishing, hardware and building supplies, there’s a growing foodie following afoot, too. Stop in and find out why Cooper’s is a local institution. 

 

Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 30 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.