Every couple of weeks, I have an appointment with a cardiologist at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital, down in Midwest City. When I’m there, I’m usually trying to pass every blood test they give me—they say it’s not a competition, but I’m pretty sure I see Santa Muerte standing over the doc’s shoulder, winking—that by the time every needle in the place has punctured my skin, I’m hungry for something to, at the very least, reenergize my mostly broken spirit.
Located in front of the Heart Hospital is a Phillips 66 gas station, one that I have never really noticed before; desperately needing to grab a hot cup of coffee, I happened to came across yet another Oklahoma gas station that, remarkably, is a hub of homemade eats, serving up the food your Okie grandmother would probably have filled your plate with, eventually earning yourself a trip, ironically enough, to the Oklahoma Heart Hospital.
The filling station of edible note is Jimmy’s Paris Plaza 66, 7801 S. Sooner Road, and out there, where much of the world seems to end, it might as well be the best four-star restaurant in town for the Joe Lunchboxes of the area—around noon, about half the working-class area must show up there, with every color of uniform from army fatigues to road-worker orange representing at high noon.
Well, all of them and one dude with a trach in his neck and a need for a hefty cup of coffee.
While Jimmy’s apparently has specials everyday—it was Monday, so that means Fried Pork Chops—instead I opted for a real gas station irregularity, the Salisbury Steak ($7.49). Served from a steaming silver tray—high-school cafeteria-style—the server’s ladle swam about four-to-six inches deep in the brown gravy, fishing out a couple of those memorable round steaks for my foam plate.
Additionally, they also gave you two sides—I chose their corn and sweet potatoes—as well as an odd piece of buttered French bread. Sure, the line had all of the usual gas station fare, from crispitos and pizza to more tempered selections like onion burgers and po’ boys, but it was their serving line items that most people—at least most of the people in here that day—come in for a hot foam plate of.
Armed with a large coffee and a can of Diet Coke by my side, I settled at a nearby table, eagerly digging my strong plastic cutlery into the Salisbury Steak; with a thick, oniony gravy that really dressed up the whole project, the steak itself was tender and grey—probably old hamburgers given a new lease on life—but, quite honestly, it was a memorable piece of meat and definitely the best Salisbury Steak I’ve ever had…in a gas station, at least.
The sides were positively robust though—the corn was, once I dropped a bomb of pepper on it, above standard and the sweet potatoes, drowning in their own viscous orange-fluid, were absolutely terrific. Taken slightly bit aback, I realized I haven’t had sweet potatoes this good, even in a high-rated, much-loved and critic-proof restaurant in the city, as of late. They checked off all the right boxes for me.
The syringe-marks on my arms mostly healed, I threw my gravy-besotted foam plate in the garbage can, happily satisfied with this true workingman’s lunch. Thinking about it now though, I might try to schedule my next cardiologist’s appointment on a Thursday—I’m kind of wondering just how good the gas station Meatloaf Special is. Cómpralo ya!