The Country Market at the Flying J Truck Stop

What’s in your pockets? Here’s what mine look like. This can mean only one thing: Must be time for breakfast!

It’s a lovely winter morning in Central Florida.

Morning like this, makes you want to go for a nice, slow, leisurely drive, and maybe find some pancakes.

We’re taking it smooth on the spindle this morning.

Even when you’re driving slowly, wearing sunglasses and groovin’ at a bluesy pace, sometimes, my Main Man Marek, you need to stop for fuel. For your belly. And for your vehicle.

Don’t you love a speedo that says 160? I am NOT going to tell you how far to the right I’ve had that needle. My mom reads these blogs, you know. Let’s just say that things get reallllly interesting when that tach needle hits 7.

Lucky for us, we ran out of car-gas and belly-gas just as we’re coming up to the Flying J. Look at all those TRUCKS!

Some of our dedicated readers are going to cry foul on this one. It’s a chain. That’s against our policy. But look, man, it’s hard to deny the draw of pancakes and 50 big rigs right there. Plus, it’s not like we have investors and a board of directors to answer to, so I’ll ask you, dear reader, to allow us this Peterbuilt detour into a chain breakfast, just this once!

We visited The Country Market at the Flying J truck stop at 11555 East Sligh Ave. They have a web site here. The Flying J was actually recommended by Tampa Bay Breakfasts fan Loren, because he knew Marek’d like the trucks. And Loren didn’t know it, but I liked the CB radios! I’m actually a long-time truck stop fan, from back before I got hitched to Marek’s mom, when every two weeks I’d drive all night from Biloxi to Ocala just to see her. The Flying J outside Mobile was a regular coffee stop for me, and I always had a CB in the car back then. I was sexxxy like that. (That’s like regular sexy, but with three Xs to jazz it up. That’s the way the kiddies are spelling it these days.) My autobiography is titled, “Love and CB Radios.”

How do you know you’re in a truck stop in Florida? This is how you know.

Inside the Country Market was pretty empty, just a few truckers at the counter. Marek went off in search of the perfect seat for us. It’s just Marek and Andy today. Ivo stayed home to help Favorite Guest Reviewer Mom with her baby-goo-goo practice.

First thing that happens is a kids’ menu and crayons. That’s always a nice touch. We, as you might have surmised after all these breakfasts, like kid-friendly. The rest of the menu was pretty standard, and did include my personal favorite, blueberry pancakes.

Remember what was in my pocket when we started? They all came out.

We counted several times. Yes, indeed, there are THREE Lightning McQueens here. And also, what to you think Wingo is looking at? Shifty character, that Wingo.

So you, dear reader, are saying to yourself, how do I get to be a Tampa Bay Breakfasts Guest Reviewer? After all, this is one of the most rare and coveted honors in the entire vast field of Breakfast Braggadocio.

Well, it’s simple. You make a good suggestion for a breakfast in our territory (Hillsborough, Pinellas, and the Levy/Citrus/Marion tri-county area), and you let it slip that you have an above-average, nearing-pathological fixation on breakfast. I’m talking about being “this close” to having to see a therapist about your pancake problem. Basically, you’re just like me and Marek. Which is how we came to know our new Tampa Bay Breakfasts Guest Reviewer, Loren.

Don’t let his smile and friendliness fool you, he’s Serious About Breakfast, just like us. And he knows how to play cars. That’s a valuable skill on our team, as you might imagine.

While Loren and I were playing cars, Marek was busy with the morning coffee. I found the coffee to be truck-stop-standard (which is a compliment, by the way), but I also noticed that the bottom of the cup showed up a few times. That’s not the best thing that can happen to a cup of coffee, in my opinion.

Does this look like fun or what?

Breakfast came just in time to prevent an outbreak of rioting. Marek had pancakes and bacon. I had blueberry pancakes and bacon (that Marek ate). Loren had eggs and hash. We all had coffee. We all had it all, and that’s no lie.

TBB Fan, top-rated Tampa food blogger, The Restaurants at My End of the Universe, and fellow Dunnellon High School graduate Cat pointed out to me that 2010’s bacon heists were her favorite part of Tampa Bay Breakfasts. Cathy, this heist is for you. YOINK!

So The Country Market at the Flying J truck stop. Nation-wide chain, but not really on the same chain-y-ness as, say, Dennys or IHOP. Like many people, when I see the “IHOP” sign it always makes me think “Amenhotep.” Still, nation-wide chain. We have to keep that in mind as we assess the goodness of breakfast here. These are some really good blueberry pancakes. Not the best I ever had in the history of pancakes, but still, really good. Worth a visit if you need gas already.

Loren said the hash and eggs were pretty reasonable. I’m going to tell you, take his word for it. This guy has a Personal Hashbrown Vendetta. He understands just how serious breakfast is. Marek asked him what time it was. Loren replied, “time for breakfast, little fella.”

After breakfast Marek played “cars and jelly,” a new game he made up. I took this picture.

Marek asked me for the camera. He took this picture.

He actually took 24 pictures just like this, but I’m only showing you one. If I used every picture he took, I’d need to buy everyone new computers so they could see it all.

The bill came. $23 for three breakfasts isn’t too shabby.

Marek paid the bill. And apparently went around handing out our cards. He took some and left and came back without them, so who knows?

Loren was suitably impressed with Marek’s ability to wander around aimlessly waving a twenty and a fin until someone took it from him. I assume he actually paid the bill as he brought back change, but it’s not like I really know what kind of deals he’s doing over there.

Before we wrap this up, let’s look at the gator heads in the shop one more time.

So we had three breakfasts for $23, which is pretty good. We saw gator heads and rivers of Big Rigs. The pancakes were really good. The bacon was worthy of Marek eating his and mine. The hash and eggs met with approval. And we had Loren, who started out a perfect stranger with a predilection for breakfast and ended the morning as a new friend. We’re going to deduct a half a pancake for this being a chain and for the coffee spigot moving slow a few times, but we can’t resist giving this Flying J experience a Tampa Bay Breakfasts four-pancake rating. Thanks, Loren, for joining us!


After breakfast, Marek and I went to TBB Fan (and another Dunnellon High School graduate) Jeff’s house, where Marek beat Sarah at tetherball. Oooh, is she going to be mad when she hears I said that.

And after Marek went to bed, I went to Sacred Sounds at Sacred Grounds to watch Aleshea Harris perform. As you may recall from last year, Aleshea is The Tampa Bay Breakfasts Official Poet of Breakfast. If you do one thing in 2011, make it finding an Aleshea performance.

Breakfast. Tetherball. Poetry. Just a normal day.

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