Californians tend to get scrunchy faces when you mention any sort of food sold in a gas station. It’s a pained look at your obvious ignorance for even suggesting such a horror.
Not so when you venture east of the Mississippi, where a fill-up means more than just petrol. In fact, gas stations from Pennsylvania to Louisiana routinely have some of the best homemade fried chicken and barbecue at small-town pitstops where restaurants are few and far between. Among the most popular: Krispy Krunchy Chicken, a Louisiana-style fried chicken spot with more than 2,300 locations in 41 states.
What may shock and surprise you: It’s pretty darned good.
Sonoma County now has two of its very own, in Geyserville at AJ’s Mini Mart (21079 Geyserville Blvd.) and the newest at the Fuel and Food Market (4856 Old Redwood Hwy., Santa Rosa).
What makes KKC worth a stop? We loved the crispy crust and tasty seasoning that made it a stand out even among more bespoke versions at local restaurants, and definitely a step above KFC. The breast meat was a little drier than ideal, but ours had also been sitting under a heat lamp for a while. Also impressive were “boudin balls” (think poor man’s arancini, made with ground pork and rice and fried into a crisp, mouth-blistering nugget. Plus, its a bargain for a quick lunch or family, with a two piece combo with biscuit just $3.99 and a 12-piece family combo with biscuits and fries for $16.99.
What makes the Redwood Hwy. KKC especially notable is that you can load up on fried chicken, honey biscuits so short you’ll wonder if there’s a single can of Crisco left in the universe while also stocking up on Indian food staples like ghee, basmati rice and aloo bhujia (fried potato snacks).
It’s a curious combination, but one worth seeking out just for the culinary adventure. Just make sure to grab a few napkins.
If you go: The family that runs the Larkfield gas station still seem a little mystified about some of the dishes and fresh chicken can be a little limited at lunch, but if you ask, they’ll fry up some fresh in a jiffy. There’s a little picnic table outside, but we suggest taking it to go and finding your own little bit of heavy to enjoy your KKC.