Thursday, May 15, 2008

I'd like a pack of Virginia Slims with a side of olives, please

When Courtney and I are feeling lazy or the fridge is empty, we frequently make the run down the hill to Wendy's, where we indulge in mass-marketed fried delights. Except we don't really run, we drive, and we always bring it back and eat it on the coffee/dinner table in front of reruns on the TV.

I've always been ashamed of our regular patronage of fast food restaurants, not because I give a crap about what you think about me stuffing my face with delicious spicy chicken sandwiches, but because I feel bad about all the independent local restaurants that could really use our business and probably make better food anyway while we're dropping $10 on the same tasty junk you can get anywhere in America.

Enter the Speedmart Deli. Until recently known as the Smoky Mountain Deli, it's just a couple hundred yards further than that pigtailed redhead, and for months I've been making the case for trying out what some say is the best Greek fare in Knoxville. Only problem is, it's in a gas station. Courtney has a long standing prohibition against eating food from gas stations, so every time I brought up the idea of picking up some gyros from the deli instead of yummy greaseballs from Wendy's, it was promptly shot down.

Not tonight, though. For some reason, we agreed on the gas station. It’s a small station/convenience store, and I was curious to see how they fit the deli inside as we stepped around the guy smoking out front under the awning rather close to the gas pumps. Next to the counter where you pay for your fill-up and pick up a carton of your favorite brand of menthols is another counter that I assume is the deli. I say I assume because it had a menu board hanging over it but there was not a single food item in sight, aside from the racks of chips and beef jerky behind us and a few pre-made salads in a display case. The guy guarding the cigarettes divined our intentions and yelled out the backdoor, apparently trying to find the person responsible for the hummus and tzatziki.

Feeling that my lady wasn’t too keen on the menu choices and not feeling too inspired myself, our course reversal was decided when the guy who’d been smoking on the curb out front came in through the back and started tying on an apron. As Courtney pointed out, the dude did wash his hands, but I grabbed a to-go menu and we made our escape.

So it was that we came to feast on sandwiches and Biggie fries from the greatest idea Dave Thomas ever had.

And that is the story of dinner.


Allie said...

At a previous job, all the guys in my office used to swear by the food at our local gas station. But when I went to check it out, I realized it was b/c the gas station had hired a barely legal girl to wear tiny cut offs, and halter top to grill burgers in the parking lot.

I think Courtney's rule is excellent.

Karen said...

Is it the same deli it was before the name change? I love that place but I haven't been in since it changed names. I wondered if the deli was taken over by another person as well. The sign board that advertised the deli is no longer placed on the street which made me think it wasn't the same people running it. It was usually two young women listening to Beatles music.

Aaron said...

Mara and I have a real weakness for The Wendys, an issue compounded by the fact that there is one just up the road from my apartment -- which is perfect when you wake up on a Saturday afternoon with no food in the house.

Also complicating matters: Those damn tasty spicy chicken sandwiches. Christ, now I'm hungry.

sid said...

For some reason I thought there would be more to this story.

Julie said...

Awww. Now you've gone and disappointed Sid.

But seriously, do you know what pairs excellently with a tasty spicy chicken sandwich? A Frosty Coke float. Sweet, spicy and salty. It's almost an unbeatable pair.

Meaghan said...

We frequent Moe's Southwest Grill like it's going out of business, but that may be a bit healthier than some fast food places.

I think the gas station rule that Courtney has is pretty true to its nature. Several people told us we "had" to try this Philly cheesesteak place inside a gas station here. We tried it, and eh, it wasn't so great. I don't think we ever went back, and now the gas station has been replaced by a four-story building.

Chris said...

At least you tried.

They should call the place Gas Station Greek. Now that would be cool, and lots of people would want to eat there.

nancypearlwannabe said...

I'm a sucker for the Frosty and french fries, but luckily there are no fast food places near me except burritos. And we all know burritos don't count.

Somehow you and Courtney did not strike me as fast food people. I think I like you even better for your Wendy's weakness.

Courtney said...

It's true -- even organic lovin' folks like Mickey and me occasionally fall victim to that damn pigtailed redhead.

And the gas station food rule lives on.

Noelle said...

I guess because of your blog name I assumed you ate at Denny's all the time, so the fast food thing isn't all that shocking. And if I were to guess your favorite restaurant of choice, I would have chosen Wendy's. Or possibly Arby's.

The Modern Gal said...

They renamed the Smoky Mtn. Market? I never stopped there, but I always took comfort in seeing it when I was on that side of the river. There is a good deli-like place on down Chapman on the same side of the road. I forget what it's called though.

And I certainly won't judge you on the fast food. I'm a regular at Arbys.

Anonymous said...

Smoky Mtn. Market has not been in existence for awhile now...and man I miss those hot dogs.

As for the Greek Deli in the gas station.
I like to think of myself as fluent in gas station fare. Not as much now as in college but.....
I love me some Greek Gas Station Deli.
I have not been there since the name change but sometimes, ya just gotta risk it.
If you could see the people at the pigtailed redhead you would be all icked out anyway so, I figure unless I cook it myself I am running the same risk just about.....anywhere..

surviving myself said...

I hope you got a frosty dude.

em said...

WAIT! I just drove to disc exchange at lunch and it looks like Smoky MT Deli is now closed!?!

I was adverse to gas station restaurants before I moved down here, but having lived in Hartford TN I had to embrace it as a fact of life, and now I love them.

JustinS said...

I can't do Wendy's now that they started animating her in the commercials. I'll sit there, drooling over whatever cheesy jalapeno filled goodness they're slinging, ready to jump in the car and give up on my arteries for one taste of that sin...

Then they show creepy animated Wendy making these faces that scare the piss out of me. She's worse than all the clowns and Republicans in the world combined.

stan said...

every time i purchase goods at speedmart--which is pretty regularly--i'm always tempted by the delicious-looking baklava at the front counter, but i've yet to partake. perhaps i am an unwitting abider of the no food at gas stations rule...i've never thought about it before.

Jacob said...

Mickey, I'm so disappointed in you. The dumpiest looking dives are usually the biggest culinary finds. Of course, they can also be what they look like, but not usually. Besides, remember that this place has been functioning as a Greek restaurant for a while (Kim and I stopped there for gas when we visited you) and Greek food is a little too weird for the average gas station food seeker. If they're still functioning, I find it hard to believe that they suck or are making people sick. I'm also glad to know that I'm not the only person who eats fast food and feels ashamed, but eats there anyway.

Meaghan: I'd say Moe's is a more balanced meal, but if you're packing in a whole one of those burritos like I did when I ate there, I don't think there's any savings on fat and calories.

Alexa said...

you totally just gave me an a-ha moment!!!

i like to think of myself as a foodie, it's my past time. i only support local and independent restaurants. you'll never find me at a chain restaurant. ever.

but you WILL find me at a wendy's or other fast food joint. i never thought of it like i should be buying a fast sandwich from the corner deli or diner instead of the fast food restaurant! ahhhhh!

not to mention those said sandwiches will probably be better for me. oh how i'll miss the #6 spicy chicken value meal.

Mickey said...

allie- Those guys probably go to Hooters and claim it's for the food. Then again, my grandmother took me to Hooters for lunch once and the food was pretty good. I wouldn't let her buy me a t-shirt, though.

karen- I don't know if there was a change in ownership or not because I never made it in there before the name change. That was also what spooked me because I was expecting a couple of Greek women.

aaron- I'm glad it's not just us.

sid- Damn. So sorry.

julie- That sounds like a great idea.

meaghan- Yeah, you just never know. Moe's is awesome.

chris- We sort of tried. I'll pick up a gyro there sometime. Maybe.

npw- Yep, we're human. Always remember: I'm not nearly as cool as I make myself sound on my blog, which isn't even that cool. I guess I should say I'm even lamer than you think I am.

courtney- If I ever give the Speedmart another shot, I'll do it alone.

noelle- I don't think they even have Denny's here. Actually, I think I've only eaten in a Denny's once, in Miami.

mg- Do you mean that place down near Taco Bell in the red building? That just changed names too.

krisha- Actually, the people at that Wendy's are usually pretty friendly for drive-through folks. I'll risk the deli one of these days.

surviving- No Frosty this time, though I am a fan.

em- I do know you can get a good hot dog at Pilot, but desperation makes things taste pretty good.

justins- I don't like my Wendy to have a voice, either. I wouldn't say she measures up to clowns or Republicans, though.

jacob- Preaching to the choir, man. I just got a bad vibe there.

alexa- I don't get it. So do you or don't you eat at Wendy's?

TravelingEm said...

There's a gas station in this little town on the North Georgia border with N. C. that has an amazing, really, really amazing, French restaurant inside it. It's a separate restaurant, but you know you're attached to the gas station when you go to the bathroom and it's covered in bright orange tile. Oh and there's the whole walking through the parking lot of pumps thing too. However, I used to swear off eating at a gas station, but I think I'm changing my mind. Try it!

Mickey said...

travelingem- Where is it? I'd love to try it next time I'm through that way.