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.
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).
Chef Derrick Clark honed his craft at L’École Culinaire and converted a Cintas van into a mobile kitchen in order to share his cooking skills with A Square Meal on Wheels. He sizzles Angus burgers over the leaping flames of a grill, fills po' boy sandwiches with catfish or shrimp, and fries green tomatoes, all while parked at local gathering spots or rolling around a demolition derby track on cruise control. His food truck can be found at 7370 Winchester Road on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 11 a.m.–2 p.m., at 20 S. Dudley Road on Thursdays from 11 a.m.–2 p.m., at 6399 Shelby View Drive on Tuesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m.–2 p.m., and on Sundays at Shelby Farms from 12 p.m.–3 p.m.
In the center of a soft green room stands an old, brick fireplace that warms surrounding diners with a display of quirky dog photos and shelves lined with snacks and chips. But the friendly atmosphere isn't what draws customers to Bogies Deli; it's the sandwiches piled high with Boar's Head meats and cheeses and the sides of housemade pasta salad. Along with pastrami and turkey sandwiches, their specialties include crisp, grilled-chicken Caesars and tuna-salad sandwiches. At the front of the store, a glass display case protects key-lime squares and turtle-cheesecake slices, and a row of glass cake stands holds multi-tiered cakes and one very expensive banana.
The menu at Redhots Wings & Things offers burgers, catfish, and fried okra—but you'd be remiss without going all in on a basket of their signature hot wings. Served with carrots, celery, dressing, and a roll, wings can be ordered whole or in drums and flats, and in numbers as small as five and as big as 1,000. Try cooling off with a glass of their signature sweet tea.
Aboard a food truck, Crumpy's On Wheels prepares flavorful chicken wings tossed with such add-ons as lemon pepper, fiery Suicide sauce, and seasonings. Wings aren't their only specialty, though; the food truck's cooks also grill juicy hamburgers, fry fish fillets, and sizzle sausages. Sides such as fried green tomatoes and onion rings round out meals.