Favorite Gas Station of All Time

By Lisa Margonelli

Gas prices are famously up all over the country, but undoubtedly one of the most expensive places to buy gas in the lower 48 is the California town of Lee Vining, which is on the Nevada side of the Sierras, just outside of Yosemite National Park, where a gallon of unleaded will run you $3.45-$3.60.

However, Lee Vining is also the site of my favorite gas station, the Tioga Toomey Gas Mart and Whoa Nellie Deli. This is a big Mobil station, set high on a hill--or maybe it's a mountainside--overlooking Mono Lake and its famously spooky tufas.
 

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The killer attribute of this place is the "deli" which is actually a nuttily gourmet kitchen that turns out huge platefuls of food that can be consumed on the grass or on picnic tables. You can see the menu (and the bands) here. I am partial to the Herb Crusted Grilled Pork Tenderloin with apricot wild berry glaze, garlic mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables.

 The last time I was there I met two sisters, ages 17 and 12 who were mule packers--ie their family had a bunch of mules that they rent out and load up for hiking expeditions into the Sierras. They'd done their mule duty for the week and lit into Lee Vining to eat the lobster taquitos, which have a confetti-ish quality (fried pink tortillas) that suited them well. The Deli is a continuous party all summer long.

And if that's not enough, sometimes there's a trapeze.
Feel free to post your favorite gas stations below.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2009/06/favorite-gas-station-of-all-time/19761/