Chef Ray Gage stands behind his restaurant’s white-tiled counter, clutching his CB radio microphone like some barbecue chefs might clutch their tongs. The radio is just as crucial to his roadside barbecue business as the slabs of meat roasting in the smoker out back. That’s because Ray advertises to passing truckers via CB channel 16, jotting down orders and delivering them to surrounding truck stops or demolition derbies.
Rays knows his meals must be hearty enough to fuel the bellies of truckers barreling down I-55. To that end, he smokes thick slabs of beef and pork on beds of hickory in the small shack behind his restaurant, and slathers them in sweet, tangy sauce. He then serves hunks of meat with dollops of traditional southern sides, such as baked beans and potato salad.
Stuffy's carves out a gargantuan chunk of menu space to accommodate the gourmet girth of its signature stuffed burgers. For the Stuffy burger ($5.49), cooks mistake a 7-ounce burger patty for a safe-deposit box and stuff the densely packed meat disk with soon-to-be melted cheese. Chefs then pad bottom buns with your choice of lettuce, tomato, pickles, grilled onion, banana peppers, and grilled mushrooms, and bombard toppings with a choice of three types of mayo, seven types of sauces, and 14 kinds of burger-related knock-knock jokes. Match orders to hunger levels with a small ($3.99) or double ($7.99) burger, or add in a large order of hand-cut fries dusted with savory Old Bay seasoning ($2.59).
Back Yard Burgers serves up North American Black Angus burgers hash-marked to order on genuine flame-licked grills. Third-pound patties dress for dinner with lettuce, vine-ripened tomatoes, red onions, dill pickles, and a condimental trio of ketchup, mustard, and mayo ($3.59). Or gussy up for patty prom with premium add-ons such as coleslaw, chili, sautéed mushrooms, bacon, and more ($0.35–$0.60 per topping). The grill masters also flip the first white meat, prepping Hawaiian chicken sandwiches with grilled pineapple, mustard, mayo, and lettuce ($4.09). Away from the flames, feel free to enjoy a loaded baked potato ($2.79) and a wide range of pairable plates such as chili cheese fries ($2.59 for regular size), garden salads ($2.19), and sweetly baked fruit cobblers ($1.99).
Hailing from humble beginnings in a renovated Mississippian gas station, McAlister's Deli has revolutionized the concept of fast food with healthy fare recognized by Parents in 2009. Premium ingredients, such as Black Angus roast beef and black forest ham, pile upon stuffed potatoes or artisan bread, sating hungers and silencing stomachs before they recite bank-account numbers. As patrons wait for servers to deliver meals, they sip signature sweet tea, swirled together onsite daily from pure cane sugar and a rainforest-certified black-tea blend as dictated by a closely guarded recipe.
Throughout the day, the cooks at Southern Dawgs can be found grilling up Nathan’s all-beef hot dogs and slathering them in mouthwatering condiments. Diners can opt to haberdash their eighth-pound Da Dawg hot dog or quarter-pound Da “Big” Dawg hot dog with toppings such as sauerkraut, banana peppers, spicy brown mustard, and bowler hats, or order a dog laden with chili and cheese. The encased meats can be scooped up à la carte or paired with a combo of chips and Pepsi products including Pineapple Crush and Peach Crush.