Truck Stops

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mayor al
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2003/04/17 10:02:57 (permalink)

Truck Stops

We have stumbled into and been led to by the Stern's, some very interesting food at large truck stops across the country. I posted a description of one under the Chicken fried steak thread down the list somewhere.
Anyway, one of the best roadfood-Mainstream of America- stops we have visited has been the Dixie Truck Stop in McLean, IL. At the junction of I-55/US66 and US 136. It was in the original edition of Roadfood in the 70's and has maintained it's role even as the surrounding countryside has turned 'modern'. If you are headed up or down I-55, I recommend that you check out this icon to a bygone era.
Several companies have developed chains of stops that cater (no pun) to the trucker's, but there are lots of independent's also. I like the Petro Brother's at Corning CA on the I-5. Good food, easy access and a short run up or down the 99 beside the freeway will get you tons of olives fresh-smoked-pickled etc from stands along the road in Northern CA's olive country.
Have you had any good experiences with the common truck stop?
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    Sundancer7
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/04/17 10:14:14 (permalink)
    Mr. Mayor, you mentioned the olives in northern CA. Not too long ago while driving from San Fran to Seattle, I stopped at an exit just south of Redding and there was a huge olive store there. I bought enough olives to last me a life time. I bought olives that I don't even eat, but at the time seemed like a good idea. I got them stuffed with everything from jalapenos to garlic to sausage. I even bought an olive burger while I was there. It was OK, but not exciting. I got off at Redding and took the road west to the coast and drove the rest of the way into Seattle via the coastal highway.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #2
    johnnym
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/04/17 10:49:59 (permalink)
    Dysart's Truck Stop - Bangor, Maine. Just off 95, about two exits south of Bangor. Just plain great. Homemade fresh bread, lots of great pies, they leave the pot of coffee on the table for you, and they include baked beans with several meals, including breakfasts, which really seals the deal for me. The Maine cuisine that people from away don't think about in their obsession to find 'quaint' lobster shacks. That's ok. All the more baked beans for me. Plus the store attached the the restaurant is huge, which I think is a very important part of a good Truck Stop. You have to be able to buy almost any necessity there, at 3 in the morning, after you fill your belly.
    Irving's has a Canadian chain of 24 hour Truck Stops, with a bunch of Maine locations, and they do a pretty good job too. The food isn't as good as Dysart's, but the importance of post-midnight coffee and pie can't be overstated. I'm so happy that my hometown had one of these, and not another friggin' Denny's.
    #3
    Jennifer_4
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/04/17 17:05:17 (permalink)
    Klein's off HWY 99 in Fresno used to be a roadfood mecca. For some reason in recent years the quality has gone so downhill that the food is not worth tasting.. I've had better chicken fried steaks at chain restaurants, frankly. And no matter how I ask for my hamburger steak to be cooked, it's ALWAYS underdone.. all the sides and gravy seem to come from a can or a mix.. it's a shame.. because it used to be a hallmark of good truckstops. It's only worth a stop for traditional "how ya doin' hon" service and local color.
    #4
    Bushie
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/04/17 17:16:10 (permalink)
    Dorsett's 221 truckstop south of Austin on I-35 is a GREAT place to eat. Big, home-style meals served up with plenty of "Hon's".
    #5
    Ort. Carlton.
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/04/17 20:53:14 (permalink)
    Dearfolk,
    Although it sports a Truckstops Of America "TA" logo, Perlis' Truckstop on I-75 down by Cordele, Georgia is a good one, and still family-owned (last time I checked). It seems consistent enough that travelers stop there; it's better than anything else I've ever lucked upon in that area. (Until you get to Tifton, home of Lankford Manor, that is. But that's a WHOLE nother story.)
    For sheer home-built funkiness, there is a truckstop/repair service/motel on I-20 at the Ga. 22 exit near Crawfordville, Georgia. It was amazing to find out that the cafe is always open, and - as the waitress drawled - "We get right busy at th' oddes' hours. Folks get tired of them Waffle Houses and chain-done places and all."
    Only a mile or so down GA. 22 toward Sparta is a rubble-filled eatery of significant local renown, Heavy's Barbecue. Heavy Grant and family have been cooking and serving from their amazing jam-packed building for about 25 years. This place is also well worth a stop, although it's only open Friday through Sunday.
    At this point, let me salute the memory of Mrs. Annie Lou Bonner, who operated the Liberty Cafe in Crawfordville from 1926 until her relatively recent death - in 1999, I believe. For those of you who are unaware, the Sterns featured her place in the original Roadfood book: "Biscuits light enough to be bench-pressed by a gnat," they opined. It's descriptions like that one that have endeared them - and their work - to my heart. I intend to keep turning up "Sternable" eateries as long as possible! So many miles to go, so many meals to eat....
    Hungrily Submitted, Ort. Carlton, the Travelling Trencherman of Athens, Georgia.
    #6
    fdm813
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/04/18 05:12:32 (permalink)
    Lee Hi Truck Stop, Exit 195 I-81, Lexington Va. Clean, family run, good home cooked meals. Plenty of parking. I have a dedicated run from Roanoke to Richmond and back, five nights a week. I make it a point to stop at the Lee Hi at least two or three times a week.
    #7
    mayor al
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/04/18 13:11:52 (permalink)
    FDM,
    Is the Lee Hi truck Stop the one that has the owners collection of firearms on display in the lobby and dining area? I spent a couple of hours looking at the collection one morning. Man that guy has a museum in a Truck Stop. I remember it was on I-81 in VA somewhere.
    #8
    cfitz
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/04/18 16:02:39 (permalink)
    I'm with johnnym...Dysart's in Bangor rules. There, you can get the best liver and onions I ever ate, as well as an ashtray in the shape of a tire.
    #9
    Sundancer7
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/04/18 16:06:36 (permalink)
    Does anyone know the name of the truck stop that is just west of the quad cities of Rock Island, Davenport, Moline and something. I stopped there while traveling to Des Moines and the place was huge. they apparently have a 24 hour buffet with the regular buffet items along with those huge Iowa porkchops. Pigs must be a big deal in the corn state of Iowa.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #10
    mayor al
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/04/18 16:20:07 (permalink)
    CeeFit,
    Funny how Liver and Onions (and Bacon) is linked to Truck Stop food. We don't cook it much here at home, but seeing it on a menu at a roadfood establishment brings out the desire to check it out!
    #11
    fdm813
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/04/18 18:37:16 (permalink)
    Mayor, The one with the gun collection is at White's Truck stop, Exit 205 (Raphine) Food there is better then most, has a seperate dining room for truck drivers, cafeteria style, but still not as good as Lee Hi.
    #12
    mayor al
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/04/18 19:09:18 (permalink)
    Thanks we now have the name and exit in the log book..next trip east we will find it easily.
    #13
    Sundancer7
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/04/18 19:19:31 (permalink)
    The truck stops are interesting but the cigarette smoke and the noise sometimes overcomes the positives that are there. I have been to some truck stops that almost rivals Walmart in merchandise and groceries. That makes them more intersting because if you are a road warrior, a stop like that increases the stop value. Neat merchandise, clothing, CB radios, lotsa groceries, gas values, particularly good food and all that increases the stop value.

    I have nothing against people enjoying a good smoke and on occasion, I enjoy a good cigar. I had some great Cuban's in Buenos Aires where you can buy them legally. But some of the truck stops are over abundant with cigarette smoke and diesel noise.

    Maybe a minor complaint, but one that is a little irritating to some.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #14
    mayor al
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/04/18 19:31:56 (permalink)
    I agree 100%, my Volunteer friend, If there is one thing I miss from my SoCal life, it is the smoke-free restuarants...not just an area, but the whole establishment. I am not an anti-smoke nazi, just don't like it in my food.
    #15
    muzzlehatch
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/06/14 21:13:43 (permalink)
    Can't believe I didn't stumble on this one until now. I love truck stops! But can't say I've travelled as much as many of you, nor kept track of all of 'em. The ones that come to mind off the top of my head, though:

    Dysarts, already mentioned, Bangor ME. Top-notch food, low-key, not as noisy or smoky as many. Had a great Thanksgiving experience there a few years ago, my brother and I stopped by for some pie, it was snowy and cold, waitress gave us the story of her life and while it could have been all just for the sympathy, I felt it and tipped her $10 on a $10 order. Hey it was a holiday weekend.

    Romines, Morris, Il. Home of the 2 pound burger. Have to admit right off I've never actually eaten there; place was always too jam-packed! Stopped there a couple of times on my way to Starved Rock state park from Chicago, and the wait was ridiculous. But I did get a glance at their baked goods which looked top-bakery quality, and I've heard great things.

    P&H, Wells River, VT. In one of the Sterns' books, and deservedly so. Great maple cream pie, but basically everything's good. Nice atmosphere, seems to be the only place to eat for miles around.

    The Pine Cone, Johnson Creek, WI. Also reviewed by Jan and Michael; I had to eat in the small smoking area if I wanted to eat soon, which I did; great breakfast included some of the better sausage I've had and perfect truck-stop coffee. Very cheap too.

    #16
    seafarer john
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/06/14 22:17:33 (permalink)
    Mentioned this in a previous item, but, Someplace north of Richmond on I-95 is a big truck stop (maybe at the intersection with I-301) where a number of years ago I had my first taste of brains and eggs- memorable!
    #17
    ksgirlinchi
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/06/18 11:34:20 (permalink)
    This is the Flying J travel Plaza!! Iowa is great for a good pork chop - Farmland foods has quite a few processing plants in the area
    quote:
    Originally posted by Sundancer7

    Does anyone know the name of the truck stop that is just west of the quad cities of Rock Island, Davenport, Moline and something. I stopped there while traveling to Des Moines and the place was huge. they apparently have a 24 hour buffet with the regular buffet items along with those huge Iowa porkchops. Pigs must be a big deal in the corn state of Iowa.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #18
    mayor al
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/06/18 12:14:58 (permalink)
    I must add to the comment on Flying J Truck Stops, while they are a chain operation, the food service varies greatly from stop to stop. We have run into a couple that have been a Hardee's in truck-stop disguise with a lot of fuel pumps, and others like the one described above in Iowa. Look before you eat !!!
    In addition I will give them credit for keeping the lowest fuel prices on the highways--- we compared as we traveled the Louisville-Phoenix and return run a couple of weeks back.
    #19
    kland01s
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/06/18 12:25:50 (permalink)
    I've been to the Flyin' J on I-80 just outside of Ottawa, Il. Seemed clean, had a well frequently restocked buffet that was bland. There is not much along this stretch unless you get off at the next interchange (I think Ill. Rte 51) where there is a very busy Wal-Mart and many of the usual chains and a bottle neck of traffic snarl. At least the Flyin' J was an easy in and out.
    #20
    Michael Hoffman
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/06/18 14:00:48 (permalink)
    My favorite truck stop is the Buckhorn at Exit 34 A of Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania. The food is good and the portions are huge. There's another Buckhorn farther west along I-80 at Exit 23. It's smaller, but it's good.

    There are a couple of Flying Js in Central Ohio. One north of Columbus off Interstate 71 on Ohio 37 at Sunbury and the other off I-70 near Hebron, east of Columbus. The food and service at the one off I-71 is far superior to that at the other. I like the "country fried steak" for breakfast. They serve a very large piece of meat.
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    RenoRed
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/08/20 22:10:20 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Sundancer7

    Mr. Mayor, you mentioned the olives in northern CA. Not too long ago while driving from San Fran to Seattle, I stopped at an exit just south of Redding and there was a huge olive store there. I bought enough olives to last me a life time. I bought olives that I don't even eat, but at the time seemed like a good idea. I got them stuffed with everything from jalapenos to garlic to sausage. I even bought an olive burger while I was there. It was OK, but not exciting. I got off at Redding and took the road west to the coast and drove the rest of the way into Seattle via the coastal highway.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
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    kland01s
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/09/02 13:52:09 (permalink)
    Not a offical truck stop but workable, I discovered Christo's yesterday in Oglesby, Ill. This place is right at the northbound exit for Ill.Rte 71, an easy on/off if you are traveling I-39. I-80 is about 10 miles north so it is not all that out of the way in an area that doesn't have much else to offer except the chains in LaSalle. The building and much of what surrounds it looks fairly new with 2 gas stations and McD/Subway all sharing an entrance off Rte.71. There is enough room there that if you had a big truck, it wouldn't be a problem. Broad menu that would have something for everyone (Mex, pasta, steaks,seafood, burgers) at a good variety of price ranges. I had a open face pork tenderlion with real mashers for 5.95 which included soup/salad bar. Almost all the sandwiches and hot plates fell in the 5.95 area. My partner had mostaccioli with marinara sauce that was 7.95 but was enough food for 3 meals and came home with us. The salad bar was basic but during the normal weekdays, a very generous hot buffet is set out. Being Labor Day, it was just the basics with 2 soups (mushroom was very good as was navy bean)and pizzas by the slice. A family of 5 came in and the little ones were very happy with the pizza and chocolate pudding from the salad bar. I don't think Christo's is open for breakfast and forgot to look. Very clean, family run and a good break from driving north in a driving rainstorm. BTW, coming towards us in the southbound lane, we passed hundreds and hundreds of rain soaked Harley riders returning from Milwaukee.
    #23
    Poverty Pete
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/09/02 19:57:45 (permalink)
    I used to open new restaurants for TA. Please don't throw tomato cans at me, I was trying to bring good roadfood to the masses. I wasn't very successful. For a rare exception, try the chile verde at the TA in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
    #24
    spadoman
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/09/25 15:02:11 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Sundancer7

    Does anyone know the name of the truck stop that is just west of the quad cities of Rock Island, Davenport, Moline and something. I stopped there while traveling to Des Moines and the place was huge. they apparently have a 24 hour buffet with the regular buffet items along with those huge Iowa porkchops. Pigs must be a big deal in the corn state of Iowa.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN


    Sundancer7---are you thinking of the I-80 Truckstop at Walcott junction, Iowa? It claims to be the biggest one in the country and is west of Quad cities (by the way, the name of the fourth town is Bettendorf) Walcott has a huge trucker appreciation celebration every summer and is similar to the Sturgis South dakota motorcycle rally with fancy custom trucks and all. I'm semi-retired, retired from driving semis' that is, but travelled on I-80 enough to have had a few meals at Walcott.
    #25
    spadoman
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/09/27 04:03:42 (permalink)
    HHH at the Junction of I-90 and the Murdo, South Dakota exit, mile marker 192. Good truck stop food during the day and into the dining hours in the evening. Not so good late night except for breakfast stuff. Good roast beef commercial(blue plate)

    Eagleville truck Stop, I-35 at the Missouri/Iowa border. Good food, good service. home made soups, dressings, etc etc

    Elk Run Truck stop. US 20, 5 miles East of Waterloo Iowa. My wife loves this place and calls it the "best" truck stop. Good food, truck stop fare: roast beef, clubhouse sandwiches, burgers, breakfasts.

    Nelson's, I-94 in Clearwater, Minnesota. Bakery, sandwich shop(not subs, but real sandwiches) full restaurant lots o' breakfast selections, good food, plenty of it, gift shop, store, coffee shop along with the bakery. great pastries, cinamon rolls and pecan rolls. (I got big as a house stopping there every winter while on a seasonal job requiring travel by there daily!)
    #26
    RockyB
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/09/29 11:57:15 (permalink)
    Sundancer-7 Finds a problem with Diesel smoke & noise at Truck Stops. What in the world would you expect to find at a Truck Stop?
    I agree with the cigarette smoke, but I agree with that in any establishment.
    #27
    Sundancer7
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/09/29 12:06:01 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by RockyB

    Sundancer-7 Finds a problem with Diesel smoke & noise at Truck Stops. What in the world would you expect to find at a Truck Stop?
    I agree with the cigarette smoke, but I agree with that in any establishment.


    I do not recall mentioning Diesel smoke or diesel noise in my post. I believe I was referring to cigarette smoke and general noise, which tends to be louder for some reason.

    Come to think of it, the diesel noise is disturbing, however I was not condoning or condeming either, just my point of view.

    I occasionally stop at some of the larger truck stops but only out of convenience.

    Some have great merchandise as I compared to a mini Walmart.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #28
    dhaga
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    RE: Truck Stops 2003/12/16 00:44:50 (permalink)
    Sundancer7

    I believe the truckstop you are refering to is called Iowa 80 in Walcott IA. It hails itself as the world's largest truckstop. it even has its own movie theatre...
    #29
    Burp!
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    RE: Truck Stops 2004/02/25 14:04:43 (permalink)
    Way back in '73 I remember our family stopping along I-5 somewhere in the Stockton/Molesto area at a place I believe was called Carl's (not the FF chain). As I recall it had really good food with large portions. Years later now I've gone through that area, but usually I either didn't need to eat or simply forgot about the place.

    Has anyone been to this place recently, and how was it?
    #30
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