The Most Popular Fast Food Chain in Every State
Move over McDonald's and Chipotle—these treasured regional fast food spots should be on your bucket list!
Jack’s is proof that sometimes the simplest food tastes the best. Their menu is filled with “All About the South” flavor, including from-scratch biscuits for breakfast and hand-breaded chicken for a killer fried chicken sandwich. Like this? Don’t miss the best recipes from Alabama.
Raising Cane’s, Phoenix
Celebrate Louisiana-style fried chicken all over the southwest with a stop at Raising Cane’s. It doesn’t get much better than thick-cut Texas toast and crinkle-cut fries! A side of their special sauce is a must-order, and you’ll want to dip just about everything in it. These treasured recipes all hail from Arizona.
Whataburger might have started in Texas, but people in Northwestern Arkansas lost their minds when they got a location all to themselves! In addition to the classic Whataburger, you can get Texas favorites like Taquitos with cheese or chicken biscuits with honey butter sauce. Don’t miss our best fast food copycat recipes.
In-N-Out Burger, Baldwin Park
You might be able to find the famous In-N-Out Burger in a few states these days, but this regional fast food chain is still the most popular joint in its founding city. They have a simple menu that’s full of secret choices—like animal-style fries.
(For anyone who’s not on the West Coast, you can copycat In-N-Out with these recipes!)
Good Times Burgers & Frozen Custard, Boulder
Really, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu at Good Times Burgers & Frozen Custard. This quick-service chain uses all-natural Angus beef in their signature burgers. You have the option to get regular fresh-cut fries or insanely good Wild Fries—and you should definitely opt for the latter! Psst! This is the secret technique for making extra-crispy oven-baked french fries.
Shake Shack, New Haven
You might find most of Danny Meyer’s burger joints in New York City, but the Connecticut locations are unbelievably popular. Shake Shack rivals any fast food burger, with their signature ShackBurger and their concrete-thick milkshakes. If you’re veggie friendly, opt for the ‘Shroom burger. Here’s how to make your favorites at home.
To outsiders, Wawa is just a convenience store, but locals know that it’s so much more than that. People are obsessed with the regional chain, thanks in large part to their made-to-order hoagies. You’ll love using their touch-screen ordering system to secretly add double meat (no one will ever know).
PDQ is all about quality—it’s even in their name, which is short for People Dedicated to Quality. You can watch employees hand-bread and fry your chicken tenders in their open kitchen, and they make all their sauces in house from scratch, every day. Florida food isn’t only key-lime. Try these outstanding recipes from The Sunshine State.
Harold and Kumar might have gone on a quest for White Castle, but that’s because they didn’t know about the Southern favorite burger chain, Krystal. Their tiny, square burgers are addictively good—and easy to eat by the handful. Don’t forget to ask for a side of grits! Here are 50 more southern sides you can make at home.
There’s no reason to visit McDonald’s when you can stop at Hawaii’s favorite regional fast food joint, Jollibee. You’ll fall in love with the Amazing Aloha burger (which features a special sauce, slices of pineapple and smoky bacon), and you can’t go wrong by ordering a bucket of their crispy fried Chickenjoy.
Psst…You might be surprised to see where Jollibee ranks on the top 10 fast food fried chicken joints.
This city might be famous for the Chicago dog, but Portillo’s is famous for all the rest of the hot dogs. Each menu item includes an all-natural hot dog with the perfect snap, along with all the best toppings. You could even skip the hot dogs altogether and get a mouthwateringly-good Italian Beef Sandwich. Can’t make the drive? These Portillo’s copycat recipes will tide you over.
Pancheros, Iowa City
What Chipotle is for the country, Pancheros is for the Midwest. They hand-press their tortillas fresh for every order—it’s literally made seconds before they fill it! You can’t go wrong with any of their burritos, which they mix up before wrapping it up so you’ll get the perfect bite every time. These homemade tortillas are surprisingly easy to master.
Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, Wichita
Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers not only has a killer milkshake, but they keep it old-school with their famous steakburgers. If you haven’t had a side of their fried pickles, you haven’t lived! Did you know you can make “fried” pickles in the oven? Here’s how.
Culver’s is well-known for their Butterburgers, which are juicy and craveably good. This Midwest staple recently became Kentucky’s favorite, and not only for the burgers. They also have some special items on the menu, like a good old fashioned fish fry and deep-fried cheese curds.
Dat Dog, New Orleans
No visit to the Big Easy is complete without a stop in Dat Dog! They offer a number of regular hot dogs with an option to smother them in etouffee—like a crawfish stew. They also have some regional favorites, like alligator sausage and crawfish hot dogs. Ask for chef’s choice to get some wild toppings added to your dog! Then, check out these 20 more ways to make your hot dog more fun.
You’ll find all kinds of Northeastern regional sandwiches on D’Angelo’s menu, but you can’t leave without getting the Maine favorite: the lobster roll. You can get a humongous 29-inch roll to share, or opt for an individual roll and add bacon to make it a BLT. Find more home-grown dishes from Maine here.
Thrasher’s French Fries, Ocean City
Thrasher’s French Fries is an Ocean City tradition. There are no burgers or hot dogs on the menu here—just a bucket of vinegar-doused French fries. It’s the perfect snack while you’re walking the boardwalk.
Calling all Marylanders! Do you recognize the most iconic food from your state?
Hungry Howie’s, Madison Heights
Hungry Howie’s knows one thing for sure: pizza crust is usually pretty boring. That’s why they flavor their crust on every single pizza! Choose from cheese crust, sesame, ranch or everyone’s favorite: Cajun-flavored. Experiment by adding your own flavors to our favorite recipe for homemade pizza crust.
Taco John’s, Duluth
You might be able to find Taco John’s in 23 states these days, but there are more locations in Minnesota than anywhere else. This regional chain differentiates itself from the Taco Bells of the world by offering “West-Mex” flavors, including their potato oles (deep-fried tots shaped to look like French fries). These recipes are the best we’ve found from Minnesota
Get your fill of fried chicken by stopping in at a Zaxby’s, a Southern staple. They make their own Texas toast, with the perfect amount of garlic I may add. On your way out, pick up a few extra packets of the Zaxby’s sauce—it’s everything you could ever ask for in a dipping sauce. Follow our step-by-step guide for how to make the best-ever fried chicken.
Lion’s Choice, St. Louis
Move over Arby’s! Missouri regional fast food chain Lion’s Choice is making killer slow-roasted beef sandwiches. They pile that thinly-sliced roast beef high on a buttered steam bun, making it completely irresistible. Don’t forget to order a side of horseradish sauce for dipping your fries. Here’s how to make our version of the menu item at home.
Taco Treat, Billings
Taco Treat still uses the same recipes they developed back in 1958, because there’s no reason to change a good thing! In addition to their Indian fry bread tacos and famous deep-fried bean and cheese burrito, you definitely have to try the tater treat supreme. Who couldn’t love tater tots smothered with cheese?
Runza is so beloved in Nebraska, they have over 84 locations in the state! The regional chain sells sandwiches by the same name, a German-inspired stuffed roll filled with meat, onions and sauerkraut. You can also get a more modern version filled with ooey gooey American cheese.
(For anyone not in Nebraska, here’s a Runza copycat to make at home.)
Taco Time, Las Vegas
I only have three words for you: Crispy Beef Burrito. These crispy burritos are small enough to be a snack but filling enough to be completely satisfying. (Try our copycat recipe!) You’ll won’t want to forget a side of the Taco Time dipping “ranch” (which is probably nothing more than sour cream with herbs, but still so delicious).
Mr. Mac’s Macaroni and Cheese, Manchester
Mr. Mac’s Macaroni and Cheese may only have three locations, but they’re certainly worth seeking out. They elevate the fast food dining scene by serving up freshly-made comfort food in cast-iron pans (unless you’re getting it to go, of course). They offer all the classic favorites, including a gourmet Chicken Bacon Ranch mac.
Cheeburger Cheeburger, Howell
Cheeburger Cheeburger is all about huge burgers. Their Famous Pounder starts with 20 ounces of raw meat and it weighs a full pound after it’s cooked. It’s so big, they’ll put your picture on the wall if you finish it in one sitting! Guess which Jersey local has his own line of wines.
Twister’s Burgers and Burritos, Albuquerque
Remember the fast food joint “Los Pollos Hermanos” from AMC’s show Breaking Bad? Well, it doesn’t actually exist, but the filming location is New Mexico’s favorite burger and burrito joint, Twister’s. They have the best curly fries in the state, which are even better when they’re smothered in red sauce or green chile. Can’t make the trip? Making curly fries at home is easier than you’d think!
Golden Krust, Brooklyn
It’s all but impossible to pick a favorite NYC fast food joint…until you visit Golden Krust, of course. This Caribbean bakery is serving up the best jerk chicken around, and don’t forget to order a flaky patty filled with tasty meats, too. Don’t want to wait in line? This jerk chicken recipe has rave reviews.
Bojangles’ Famous Chicken n’ Biscuits, Charlotte
North Carolina natives love Bojangles, the famous fried chicken that’s never frozen. It sits in the marinade for 12 hours before they finish it with a super spicy breaded coating. Move over KFC—the South just found a new favorite fried chicken!
Pizza Ranch, Fargo
Pizza Ranch didn’t invent the pizza buffet, they just do it right. You’ll find a variety of pizza crusts, sauces and toppings on the buffet, along with crispy fried chicken and desserts. If you don’t see a pizza you like, just ask—they’ll pop one in the oven for you. Here are 13 more things you’d be surprised to know about Pizza Ranch.
Skyline Chili, Cincinnati
Skyline Chili does one special thing to really set their chili apart: adding a pinch of cinnamon. You wouldn’t think you couldn’t taste it under the mountain of cheese, but you totally can! Order the chili Cincinnati style (over buttered noodles) or go for their popular chili cheese coney dog. Try your hand at making Cincinnati chili at home.
Taco Bueno, Oklahoma City
North Texas-born Taco Bueno offers serious value for the price. (You can get some combo meals for less than $3.) Along with serving up huge burritos, you have to try their best-seller Mexidips and Chips—a layered dish with corn tortillas, guacamole, queso and refried beans. Here are our favorite recipes from Oklahoma.
Burgerville might have started in Washington, but they’re well-loved in Oregon. (Did you know that their locations are completely wind-powered?) They have a nice variety of toppings for their free-range beef burgers, but the locals’ favorites are topped with seasonal flavors (including marionberry sauce). Don’t miss these 50+ burger toppings you need to try.
Sheetz—the combination gas station / fast food restaurant—is insanely popular in Pennsylvania. They offer made-to-order sandwiches that let you pile the toppings high, along with some pretty killer sides. (The jalapeno bites and loaded totz are amazing!)
Pollo Campero, Providence
Pollo Campero is not just a standard chicken restaurant—they do it with real Latin flair! This Guatemala-based regional chain recently expanded to the U.S., offering up citrus grilled chicken and side dishes that really shine (including street corn salad and yucca fries). Here’s the best comfort food from around the world.
Waffle House, Greenville
Outside of its founding state of Georgia, no place has more Waffle House locations than South Carolina. When you live in the South, you know this chain will always be open 24/7/365 and there’s nothing better than getting hash browns your way (smothered, scattered and chunked, please)! These copycat recipes are sure to please.
Erbert & Gerbert’s, Sioux Falls
Erbert & Gerbert’s knows one thing about sandwiches: you don’t want to fill up on the bread alone. So, they scoop out the “guts” to make room for more filling! No matter what you get, add their famous Peppadew mustard to the sub—you won’t regret it.
Want to make the best sandwiches on Earth? Follow our guide.
Pal’s Sudden Service, Tri-Cities
You almost know that Pal’s is going to be good from the look of their buildings. The bright blue paint with large burger and hot dog statues line the outside of their lightning-fast drive-through locations. You won’t find a lot of variety on their menu, but their burgers are some of the best in the business. Get more favorites from The Volunteer State.
Torchy’s Tacos, Austin
This fast-casual Texas taco chain quickly went from a single food truck to the state-wide favorite. You’ll find all kinds of tasty tacos at Torchy’s Tacos, including one called the Trailer Park that’s stuffed with fried chicken, green chilies and fresh pico de gallo. In case you run out of options, here are 45 taco recipes to enjoy.
The Iceberg Drive Inn, Salt Lake City
The Iceberg Drive Inn has been a family tradition in Utah since the ’60s, back when it was the first drive-through restaurant in the state. You’ll definitely want to get one of their stiff milkshakes, and don’t forget to add crispy, fried pastrami to your burger (it’s out-of-this-world good)! Next, don’t miss the best diner in your state.
Al’s French Frys, South Burlington
Vermont is regularly voted one of the healthiest states in the nation, so it’s no surprise that their most popular fast food restaurant only has one location! Al’s French Frys not only has crisp and tender French fries that are prepped on site, but they also serve up killer burgers and creemees (soft serve). Love french fries? These recipes are for you.
Consider yourself lucky if you live close to the family-owned chain Biscuitville! Their flaky, delicious biscuits are prepared in house every 15 minutes so you’ll always get a fresh one. Just make sure you get there before 2pm, because this favorite breakfast joint closes early. Can’t make it before closing? This celebrity has the best biscuit recipe ever.
Dick’s Drive-In, Seattle
Dick’s Drive-In is a must-stop anytime you visit the rainy city. Their burgers use high-quality ingredients (including never-frozen beef) but you can get a double cheeseburger for as little as $2.90. What’s not to love about that?
Eat’n Park, Morgantown
Eat’n Park is only available in three states—Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia—so consider yourself lucky if you’ve been there. They have a killer all-you-can-eat salad bar, and their late-night menu has something for everyone. You almost can’t leave with a signature Smiley cookie that will keep you smiling all day long. Psst! Here are the most popular cookie recipes from every state.
If you’re looking for custard heaven, you found it in the Wisconsin-based Kopp’s. In addition to their wide variety of custard flavors, they always feature a flavor of the day. You can also find some of the best greasy burgers around at Kopp’s. Here’s how to make our version at home.
Original Hamburger Stand, Casper
You know you can’t go wrong with a burger from a place called the Original Hamburger Stand, but they make some killer chili dogs, too! Don’t leave the state without trying a Junkyard Chili Cheeseburger. It includes a secret recipe chili sauce and French fries stuffed inside the bun.