For the best pan dulce, stop at this Johnson City gas station
Feb 23, 2022
pan dulce

The bakery inside the Dixie Quick Stop gas station in Johnson City is worth a stop. Pam LeBlanc photo

Every time I pass through Johnson City, I stop at the Dixie Quick Stop.

I don’t go for the gas, although sometimes I do fill the tank. I go for the little Mexican bakery tucked inside the worn-out Valero station at 500 U.S. 281. It sells the best pan dulce, or Mexican sweet bread, this side of the Rio Grande.

pan dulce

The pastry cases are tucked next to displays of beer and chips. Pam LeBlanc photo

I discovered it six or seven years ago on a fluke. While gassing up, I noticed a sign on a support pillar beneath the awning over the gas pumps. “Bakery Inside” is all it said, and that’s all the prompting I needed.

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Racks of pink, yellow, and golden-brown pastries fill cases nestled between displays of Pabst Blue Ribbon and bags of Fritos. Customers grab a pair of tongs and bag up what they want, then tell the clerk behind the counter what they’ve got.

pan dulce

Pan ducal is Mexican sweet bread, and the Dixie Quick Stop in Johnson City makes the best. Pam LeBlanc photo

The price never seems to be the same, but it’s always a bargain.

My favorite? The little hojarascas. They’re shaped like mini hockey pucks and taste like butter and cinnamon had a love child. My husband loves the long dough twists. I also love the big sugar cookies, especially the ones with a dollop of strawberry jam pressed into the center. There’s something I can only describe as two palm-sized bowls of yellow cake sealed together with a layer of red jam that makes me swoon.

I dropped by yesterday, on my way to stay at a cabin in Fredericksburg. I left with a bag of about a dozen pastries for less than $10.

pan dulce

The hojarascas are cinnamon-flavored shortbread. Pam LeBlanc photo

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