The Dixie Quick Stop in Johnson City looks like an ordinary gas station, but I don’t go there solely to fuel up my car.
I go there for the pan dulce.
I discovered it a few years ago, on my way to Big Bend. I noticed the tiny sign that reads “Bakery Inside” on one of the poles supporting the awning over the pump area. Of course I beelined right inside, where three huge racks of pink, yellow and chocolate-colored baked goods caught my eye.
I used the available tongs to pick out cinnamon cookies the size of Carmex tubs, long pie crust twisty things, big sugar cookies and golden empanadas. The selection also includes cake slabs, bunuelos and big puffy sweet buns.
They’re also pretty cheap, as in 11 large pieces for about $7 when I stopped by yesterday on my way back from the Devils River. I watched a cook behind the cashier counter mix up an industrial-sized tub of cookie dough, place colorful spoonfuls of it on a huge cookie sheet, then pop it in the oven. At a gas station!
It’s a special treat now, a way to soften the sadness of returning home after another incredible West Texas adventure.
The station, one of the Valero chain, is located at 500 U.S. Highway 281 in Johnson City.
Go there. Now.