A chain of rest stops has become an icon for chefs and Texan food-lovers.
“Ask any Texas chef about the one must-stop spot on a road trip, and the response won’t involve an obscure taco stand or a legendary barbecue joint,” Priya Krishna writes in Bon Appétit. “Most likely, you’ll be pointed to Buc-ee’s, a chain of rest stops sprinkled along Texas highways.”
Buc-ee’s was founded in 1982 by Don Wasek and Arch “Beaver” Aplin III (notably, the mascot of the chain is also a beaver). Today, the chain has 37 locations, all in Texas.
From the outside, Buc-ee’s might not seem like much. But the food immediately sets the chain apart from other rest stops.
Chefs told Bon Appetit that their favorite Buc-ee’s offerings included beaver nuggets (caramel-coated corn snacks), handmade fudge, wild game jerky, and freshly-sliced brisket breakfast tacos.
The locations are packed with food geared toward a Texas road trip.
Offerings include hot to-go meals, like fresh kolache and chopped beef sandwiches. There are seemingly endless aisles of snack foods, from mainstream Chex-Mix to Buc-ee’s branded candies.
Buc-ee’s founder told Bon Appétit the chain does not intend to be a restaurant. Still, it offers a shockingly in-depth and tasty culinary selection.
Of course, at its core, Buc-ee’s is a rest stop.
Locations have 120 gas pumps, Bon Appétit reports, and are conveniently located off the highway.
The rest stop also takes pride in the cleanliness of its restrooms.
In 2012, Buc-ee’s New Braunfels location won Cintas’ annual contest for the cleanest public bathroom in America.
“We invite everyone to stop in to try out our award winning restrooms,” Aplin said in a statement at the time. “Maybe Buc-ee’s will be our city’s new claim to fame, the ‘Taj Ma-Stall’ of Texas… a tourist attraction in and of itself.”
These amenities have helped make Buc-ee’s a go-to even outside of Texas chef circles. Texans make their love for Buc-ees known on Twitter:
Let’s go on a buc ee’s date?
— barbs (@garciabarbara19) September 20, 2016
Buc-ee’s in Madisonville, Texas. By far the best highway stop for food, gas & restrooms in the US! pic.twitter.com/HfpKv2HsTd
— Don Stevens (@horsemandon) September 17, 2016
The only public bathroom I will ever feel comfortable using is Buc-ee’s.
— kins???? (@kinsley_emmab) September 10, 2016
I saw a Buc-ee’s on the opposite of the highway and almlst caused a 20 car pileup when I went 4 lanes over at once to exit for it????????
— ↞K↠ (@KatelynRaye14) September 9, 2016
— Queen Frostine ???? (@Kristenthemess) September 8, 2016
Now, Buc-ee’s is ready to expand beyond the Lone Star State. In March, the company announced it planned to open a location in Millerville, Louisiana some time in early 2017.
Bon Appétit reports that Buc-ee’s is preparing to lose some of its signature Texas swagger in new locations. Aplin says the chain may swap breakfast tacos and Texas-shaped waffle irons for Louisiana-friendly fair.
However, it seems unlikely Texans will ever ditch Buc-ee’s as their iconic claim to convenience chain fame.
“Even if I don’t need to stop, I find myself wanting to stop at Buc-ee’s,” Texan chef Tim Love told Bon Appétit. “When a new Buc-ee’s opens, it’s like a new roller-coaster ride. You just want to go in and see it. You don’t want to be left out.”