Folks in Miami have plenty of options when it comes to finding a place to eat. There are gourmet restaurants and open air cafes, fruit stands and farmers markets, drive-thrus and take-out, and of course, food trucks. But one style of eatery rarely gets its due, and this time we’re making sure folks know all about it: gas station dining. And I’m not just talking about stocking up on bags of Combos and cookies. Read on and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Rest assured, you’ll never pump your gas the same way again.
1. Europa Car Wash and Cafe
Drive down Biscayne too quickly and you might miss this hidden gem in the Upper East Side. From the outside, all you see is a standard Chevron that appears like it might have a few quick sandwiches inside. But once you step in, you’ll see this place is more akin to a hotel cafe. Chic furniture surrounds you and tasty bites await. It’s a perfect place to get a car wash as you’re free to watch TV while enjoying a sandwich or wrap, coffee, or even some fine wine.
2. Pepitos Plaza
Doral is certainly the neighborhood to go to for Venezuelan eats. But would you ever imagine that some of the best bites could be picked up from inside an Exxon? Pump some gas, then mosey in for a feast of Venezuelan goodness: Sweet corn cachapas, salchipapas (that’s fries and cut up pieces of hot dog), burgers, tacos,and of course, hot dogs (topped with various sauces and potato sticks). The true piece de resistance, however, is the Doralzuela–a mountain of a burger that’s got, among other ingredients, fried egg, sliced ham, grilled chicken, avocado, cheese, lettuce, and more.
3. Taqueria Morelia
As far as Mexican food in Miami goes, few places are anywhere near as good as Taqueria Morelia. There are two locations down south, one in Homestead off Campbell, and this one, located inside a gas station deep in Florida City. Try a mouthwatering burrito al pastor, tacos de carnitas, freshly prepared guacamole, and more, at beyond-fair prices
4. Biscayne Gas
While Biscayne Gas isn’t much for dining, it’s a must for beer lovers. Their signs boast over 700 different craft beers, and you’ll see it’s no exaggeration once you walk inside. Although a bit cramped, those seeking new and interesting IPAs, ambers, and even saisons will be plenty impressed with this otherwise unassuming Shell station off US-1.
5. Milk Gone Nuts
From the outside, you’d never guess this South Beach Texaco would have much more than a few bags of Cheetos on their racks. Upon closer inspection, though, you’ll discover a bevy of healthy eats and treats perfect for the local fit-crowd. In fact, it’s actually a non-dairy milk and organic juice bar with delicious, health-conscious, plant-based goodies like chia pudding, protein pancakes, fruit bowls, and vegan soups, plus unbelieveable artisan ice pops. It’s the perfect stop for a nutritious breakfast or a great post-swim pick-me-up.
6. Mima’s Kitchen
Anyone who’s got a Cuban grandmother or at least knows a local abuelita can attest that the food at Mima’s kitchen is totally on point. Located inside a Westar gas station, this mainly Cuban eatery features delicious breakfast plates with Cuban toast and cafecito, of course. But they also do lunch and dinner justice, with their pan con bistec sandwiches, plus burgers, wraps, and more. They even have live music to make your gas station dining experience all the more worthwhile.
7. Mendez Fuel
Situated between the Coral Gables and Coconut Grove neighborhoods is Mendez Fuel, a Mobile Gas property that’s quite the diamond in the rough. While little about this gas station would entice you to walk inside, those in-the-know frequent the spot for everything from fresh-pressed juices to hangover-friendly breakfast sandwiches. Pick up a Super Detox smoothie (coconut water, apple, banana, spinach, ginger, and spirulina), or try a specialty sandwich like the Little Richard (with serrano ham, mozzarella, and basil). PS. There is beer a-plenty here as well.
8. Asian Thai Kitchen
Okay, so this one made it to the list on a loophole since it’s not located in a gas station but rather a popular convenience store in the heart of the Grove. Located inside the Kwik Stop on Grand Ave, this mini-restaurant features a full menu that includes everything from gyoza and fried calamari to pad thai, basil fried rice, and chicken teriyaki. But it doesn’t end there: they also have a few Peruvian treats like lomo saltado and ceviche mixto, because this is Miami where fusion is king.
9. El Carajo
No list of Miami’s best convenience store dining spots is complete without a nod to El Carajo, Miami’s most unique wine and tapas bar, located in the back of a Mobil gas station. This place is so nice in fact that folks often take dates here because, well, it’s fun. It began as a bakery in 2011, and those in a hurry are more than welcome to pop in for some fancy bites like gourmet empanadas, French macarons, chocolate croissants, as well as a number of sandwiches. But if you’ve got the time, you really need to sit down, order up some bacon-wrapped stuffed dates, paella, trout filet, and more. And don’t forget to select a couple of bottles of wine to open when you get back home–dozens line the eatery’s walls, and the selection is first rate.