10 Service Stations Turned Restaurants That Are Worth the Trip

May 22, 2016

Here in America, we love new things. But we also love old things. And we especially love new things that used to be old things.

It makes perfect sense, then, that plenty of restaurateurs have sought out abandoned filling stations to house their new culinary concepts. And by the looks of these places, you’d think they were made for it.

Here are some of the country’s most buzzworthy filling-stations-turned-restaurants. 

01. Barbuto – New York, NY

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With a spacious interior that used to display brand new Rolls Royce automobiles decades ago, a cozy corner location, and a menu full of rustic Italian fare, Barbuto has made quite a statement with locals and tourists alike. And with garage doors that still open up, sidewalk tables are quite popular during the warm months. 

02. Bolsa – Dallas, TX

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The founder of Settles Garage built the core of this building himself with cinder blocks, and today Bolsa pays tribute with the original garage doors, a salvaged cement floor, and other restored elements. The Oak Cliff neighborhood has been a strong, eclectic community for decades, and this charming café and wine bar fits right in with its emphasis on fresh, local ingredients.


03. Big Star – Chicago, IL

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This “bourbon and beer-focused, taco-slinging, late-night honky tonk is housed in an old gas station from the 1940s, and they keep the vibe alive with a soundtrack of classic country and rock ‘n roll. Throw in whitewashed brick walls and a steel-beam ceiling and you’ve got quite an atmosphere.

04. Cowbell – New Orleans, LA

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Cowbell isn’t the first restaurant to take the place of Billups Station, an old service station conveniently situated right by the railroad tracks. But it’s become the building’s biggest culinary success, and we think their formula for “Handmade. Simple. Delicious.” fare like burgers and tacos is the kind of mantra that would make Buddy Billups proud.

05. Early Bird Café – Davenport, OK

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Blink and you might miss the Early Bird Café, a quiet country eatery full of breakfast plates and sandwiches that sits nestled along historic Route 66. Not only are they housed in a former filling station, they even left the pumps out front—pumps that stopped operating back when gas was 53.9¢a gallon.

06. The Filling Station – Orange, CA

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There’s no mistaking the brick and mortar roots of this California eatery. Nestled in Old Towne Orange, the quality of their menu of all-day breakfasts, patty melts, and the like is only matched by their highly lauded service. (And that’s the way it should be for a place called The Filling Station, right?)

07. Garage Bar – Louisville, KY

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This former filling station was actually a historic saloon first, so it makes perfect sense that Garage Bar prides itself on a wide assortment of craft beer, seasonal cocktails and wine, and of course Kentucky Bourbon. Doesn’t hurt that this staple of the burgeoning NuLu neighborhood features a wood-fired brick oven, either.

08. Kitchen 56 – Phoenix, AZ

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When the Humble/Enco auto repair shop (and service station before that) shuttered its doors in 2006, it was known to Arcadia locals simply as the “purple building.” Now it’s known as a popular neighborhood spot for Neapolitan pizzas and wood-fired meat dishes. Doesn’t hurt that they tipped their hat to the original structure by way of recycled materials, refurbished elements, and even an old Humble sign.

09. Olio – St. Louis, MO

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From the outside, Olio still pretty much looks like the Standard Oil filling station that once occupied the building. But it’s what’s inside that’ll impress you. Nowadays, the garage door and salvaged windows mingle with modern light fixtures, marble countertops, and a menu with Mediterranean roots and European, Middle-Eastern, and North African influences.

10. Xiao Bao Biscuit – Charleston, SC

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Asian soul food” isn’t something you’ll find just anywhere, but that’s what Xiao Bao Biscuit offers with its seasonal menu inspired by “grandmothers everywhere.” Not exactly what you’d expect from an old Exxon station and auto repair shop—that still looks like an Exxon station and auto repair shop.

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Tags: Culture