You'll Be Eating Better On Your Next Road Trip

Travel stops are elevating their menus, and things are looking good.

If you take a road trip this summer, you will likely notice more and better options than ever before when it comes to dining on the side of the highway, Nation's Restaurant News reports.

Travel stops, whether offering snacks or quick-service dining options, serve the important purpose of letting us stretch our legs and grab something to eat as we recharge. However, those roadside stops have never really been known for their cleanliness nor their elevated cuisine—until now.

Rego Restaurant Group, which owns Taco Del Mar and Quiznos, signed a deal with Sunshine Gasoline Distributors, Inc, to open a co-branded location in Florida in late April. The location contains both restaurants, and 13 more dual locations are planned to open throughout Florida.

"These locations will provide guests with convenience store ease and accessibility, with exciting new flavors and menu offerings, such as portable options for on-the-go consumers," reads the release in part. "The new store designs feature flat-top grills and deep fryers so that guests can enjoy enhanced recipes with freshly prepared proteins and hot sides, like fries, alongside toasted subs."

Love's Travel Stops, another well-known chain of gas stations and convenience stores, also announced it would be expanding its franchise agreement with Bojangles, a beloved fast food fried chicken chain, with 40 new Love's-based locations in four new states. Plus, at the end of 2022, convenience store chain Kum & Go launched a new menu in Des Moines, Iowa that includes fresh food items like quinoa bowls.

"We are setting up ingredient quality standards you wouldn't normally expect to find in the convenience store space," said Natasha Ratzlaff, director of category management for Kum & Go, "in addition to ingredients you wouldn't expect such as brown rice and spinach bowl bases."

TravelCenters of America, one of the largest operators of truck stops in the U.S., has more than 450 quick-service and 150 full-service restaurants on site at its various locations. The company recently hired a professional chef to revamp the menus at TravelCenters stores. NRN reports that Chef Maira Isabel was hired to add "healthy offerings" and integrate "food trends and regional specialties" into the company's proprietary restaurants such as Country Pride and Iron Skillet.

It should be noted that convenience stores have been making moves to improve their offerings for a while now, with chains like 7-Eleven adding drive-thru options with an attached Laredo Taco Company restaurant offering beer, wine, frozen margaritas, and patio dining. Summer 2023 might just be the first season road-trippers get to feast on the fruits of this labor.