As a follow up to my earlier post on convenience store chains, I’d like to highlight some of the greatest locally owned and operated convenience stores in Texas.
Convenience stores provide a much needed service for the Oil & Gas industry. Not only do they provide fuel and bathrooms, they also serve as restaurants, internet cafes, and boutique stores.
Due to the vast number of hidden jewels throughout the highways and byways across the United States, I’ve restricted the focus down to stores located in and around South/Central Texas oil fields.
In case you are wondering, my ancestors were not Slavic, but most of the original settlers to these communities were. The stores and owners provide a unique look at Texas History.
Hruska’s Kolache Bakery – Ellinger, Texas
Hruska’s has long been a favorite stop for people traveling between Austin and Houston. It’s become a staple for people working in and around the Eagle Ford Shale.
Founded in 1912 by Frank J. Hruska, the store has gone through several iterations, offerings and locations. You can currently find it at 109 West State Highway 71 in Ellinger, TX.
Hruska’s is still managed by Frank’s descendants four generations later.
The current location has very clean bathrooms with ample stalls and generally little to no wait. They also offer several unique items such as signs, paintings and yard art that reflect the local and State culture. While none of these items is a must have, you can always find something interesting to enhance your home or garden.
Hruska’s also has a reasonable variety of foods. Kolaches are their specialty, but in my humble opinion their hamburgers are the best you can find between Austin and Houston. If you don’t feel like waiting in line (there’s always a line), call in about 10 minutes before you arrive – (979) 378-2333.
Lastly, you’ll find snacks ranging from typical chips and dips to locally dried jerky made from a several different meats.
All of this makes Hruska’s a must stop if you’re passing through or working near Ellinger.
Prasek’s Hillje Smokehouse – El Campo, Texas
Anyone driving south on Highway 59 through El Campo has spotted Praseks’s Hillje Smokehouse.
Prasek’s has supplied travelers and oil field workers with the perfect rest stop for the past 38 years. The bathrooms are acceptable, but their food is where it’s at.
Prasek’s baked goods are as good as you will find anywhere. They also have all of the expected chips, drinks and standard convenience store foods. But you wouldn’t stop at Prasek’s like you would a typical convenience store.
You go to Prasek’s for meat. Whether it’s barbeque, smoked, or fresh cut meats, Prasek’s is fantastic. In fact, their meat is so good, they even supply Hruska’s with some.
They have a large seating area. If you want takeout, they will wrap your meal or prepare it onsite. And if you’re really craving some Prasek’s, but live too far away, you can place orders on their website or over the phone.
In addition to food, you can purchase deer blinds, smokers and grills – if that meets your particular convenience store needs.
Given its unique offerings, Prasek’s is truly a Texas Treasure.
Czech Stop – West, Texas
Located 20 miles north of Waco, Czech Stop is a must stop for people traveling along I-35.
They provide fuel and all of the traditional services a convenience store should have. Their bathrooms don’t have a significant number of stalls, but they are always clean.
The Czech Stop doesn’t offer a variety of boutique items like Hruska’s and Prasek’s. If you need a deer blind or an oil painting, you’ll have to go elsewhere.
But, they have one specialty that surpasses any shortcomings – Kolaches. While it’s open to debate, the Czech Stop may have the best and most diverse offering of Kolaches in Texas.
They prepare all of their fresh daily and serve up a variety of muffins, brownies, breads and cookies that will meet anyone’s cravings. The best part – the Czech Stop is open 24/7.
If you are ever driving through West, do yourself a favor and stop at the Czech Stop.
There are a bunch of great local stores throughout the oil patch and these are a few that are special to me. But what about you? What are your “must stop” spots when you’re out on the road? Please post your favorites in the comments. I’m always looking for another great discovery.