I keep waiting for the evolution toward better fast food to trickle down to high-traffic service areas.
But travelers and commuters, alas, are still largely limited to the same big chain choices or microwave burritos and such in convenience stores.
So it was a pleasant surprise when I pulled into Petro Deli, a gas station on Kansas 7 in Lansing, and saw a sign in the window advertising a fried catfish dinner for $4.99. I had to wait about eight minutes for it — a good sign. Instead of a limp heat-lamped lump, I got a generous-sized golden-crusted fillet, fried to order. Inside, the fish was flaky, moist and hot all the way through.
The fish dinner comes with a white dinner roll and three potato wedges. You can help yourself to hot sauce and napkins in to-go packets. Petro Deli also offers fried chicken and gizzards, and because the deli is inside a convenience store, the drink choices are vast.
The Petro Deli in Lansing is the second family-owned location of the Jaccard Family. The original one is in Topeka. Christy Jaccard Turley manages the Lansing location, which opened in 1996. There are three booths inside, but the store is mostly geared toward carryout service. But fried fish is best eaten piping hot, so grab an empty booth seat if you can find one. Fried fish with hot sauce is a tricky meal to eat while driving.
601 S. Main St.
Hours: Food served 7 a.m.-6 p.m. (later closing time in summer) Monday to Friday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Parking: Free in lot
Don’t-miss dish: Catfish Dinner, $4.99
Seating: Limited seating indoors; mainly set up for carryout