olivette station in olivette photo by zachary linhares

3 awesome under-the-radar restaurants inside gas stations around St. Louis

If you ask us, there’s something rather joyous to pushing through the dross of the average American gas station and finding quite a different picture on the other side. No, we don't want Skittles or Doritos; we don’t wish to rescue some gnarly old hotdog from its eternal rotation on greasy rods. But we do perk up for naan, for basmati rice, for meaty burnt ends and excellent Buffalo wings. It’s really true – these places exist. Here are a few examples.

3 Bay BBQ & Bakery
3 Bay started life in a trailer, in the parking lot of Town & Country’s Phillips 66, but it wasn’t long before it moved into the gas station’s vacant garage space. That was nine years ago. In the time since, owners Rick and Carol Grosz have become known for “the best pulled pork this side of the Mississippi.” This judiciously sauced pork sandwich (served on a brioche bun) is as simple and as good as it gets. Served with fiery homemade chips, it’s even better. It also makes an appearance atop mac and cheese in the Mac Attack. And if you’d rather a pulled chicken sandwich, that’s called a Mother Clucker. Meanwhile, Carol Grosz is responsible for the baked goods, and if the divine and absurdly moist banana cake is any measure of her expertise, here’s my question: When do we next need gas?
14195 Clayton Road, Town & Country, 636.227.1208, 3baybbqandbakery.com

O’B. Que’s
This one’s a little more slick. Known by locals as the “Gucci Gas,” this Phillips 66 serves as host for some pretty ripping Texas-style barbecue. Yes, you still may have to bypass those godforsaken sausages, those boxes of Mike & Ikes, but once you’re through the door of O’B. Que’s, the term “Gucci Gas” starts to make sense. It’s pristine here and just what you want when you’re in the mood for some fat Buffalo wings and a burnt-ends flatbread. Service is swift. Orders arrive on trendy metal trays and are very generous. What’s also nice: If your pump’s a-pumping, you can dash in and grab a pound or two of meat to go: brisket, turkey, et cetera, or even a smoked half-chicken on the bone.
158 Long Road, Chesterfield, 636.778.9675, obques.com

Olivette Station
Who knew (possibly many won’t) that the Pakistani family who owns the little BP on Olive Boulevard had decided to do away with their service garage to make way for a new enterprise called Olivette Station? We salute it. What’s more boring than a car inspection and, conversely, what is more delightful than a vegetable samosa with a crisp, thin wrapping; chana masala (chickpea curry) with naan, or chicken tikka masala with basmati rice, coriander chutney and pickle? The operation is homespun to such an endearing degree that when our chai came out, it was followed by a big plastic jar of sugar and a spoon. Food is technically for takeout only, though there is a small seating area, and the menu – written by hand – sits on the counter clipped to a small board.
9680 Olive Blvd., Olivette, 314.991.3082