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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!

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Jack's food on a picnic tableJack's via Facebook

Alabama

Jack’s, Birmingham

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.

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Facebook/Tastee Freez

Alaska

Tastee Freez, Anchorage

You wouldn’t think an ice cream shop would flourish in Alaska’s frigid weather, but Tastee Freez has managed to make it work for over 60 years. They serve more than just ice cream, too, including their famous salmon burgers. Try our copycat recipe.

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Person eating french friesRaising Cane's Chicken Fingers via Facebook

Arizona

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.

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Whataburger food on a trayWhataburger via Facebook

Arkansas

Whataburger, Fayetteville

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.

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in-n-out.com

California

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!)

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Container of thick-cut french fries Good Times Burgers & Frozen Custard via Facebook

Colorado

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.

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Person carrying tray of Shake Shack foodShake Shack via Facebook

Connecticut

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.

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Wawa sub sandwichWawa via Facebook

Delaware

Wawa, Dover

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).

Here’s why locals love Wawa.

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PDQ fries, burger and shakePDQ via Facebook

Florida

PDQ, Tampa

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.

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Krystal burger, fries and sodaKrystal via Facebook

Georgia

Krystal, Atlanta

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.

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Fried chicken falling into a bucketJollibee USA via Facebook

Hawaii

Jollibee, Honolulu

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.

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Arctic Circle double decker burger, fries and sodaArctic Circle Fry Sauce - THE Original! via Facebook

Idaho

Arctic Circle, Boise

You’ll only find Arctic Circle in Idaho and Utah, so if you don’t live nearby you’ll want to grab a few extra packages of their secret-recipe fry sauce. You’ll love the 100% Angus beef burgers and their bite-sized mini corn dogs. Here’s how to make them at home!

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Portillo's food spread out on the tablePortillo's via Facebook

Illinois

Portillo’s, Chicago

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.

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Steak 'n Shake via Facebook

Indiana

Steak ‘n Shake, Indianapolis

Steak ‘n Shake keeps the diner vibe rocking with their checkered floors and bright red booths. They’re well-known for those crunchy shoe-string fries and for serving burgers so big they have a steak knife stuck in ’em!

Check out the best burger in every state.

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Person putting the fixing into a burritoPancheros Mexican Grill

Iowa

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.

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Burger, fries and sauces on a paper wrapperFreddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers via Facebook

Kansas

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.

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Culver's burger and onion ringsCulver's via Facebook

Kentucky

Culver’s, Louisville

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.

(See all our spot-on copycats here!)

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Dat Dog hotdog beside a drinkDat Dog via Facebook

Louisiana

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.

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D'Angelo Grilled SandwichD'Angelo Grilled Sandwiches via Facebook

Maine

D’Angelo’s, Portland

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.

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The Original Thrasher's French FriesThe Original Thrasher's French Fries via Facebook

Maryland

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?

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Friendly's ice cream in handFriendly's via Facebook

Massachusetts

Friendly’s, Wilbraham

If you’ve never been to the Northeast, you may not know what Friendly’s is. This ice cream-focused chain has the best shakes around, including a Reese’s Pieces Sundae that’s absolutely to die for. Here are 12 crazy milkshakes to swoon over.

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Hungry Howie's pepperoni pizzaHungry Howie's Pizza via Facebook

Michigan

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.

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Taco John's tater totsTaco John's via Facebook

Minnesota

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

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Zaxby's sandwich in a take-out container with friesZaxby's via Facebook

Mississippi

Zaxby’s, Jackson

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.

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Lion's Choice sandwich, fries and soda in front of lit up treesLion's Choice via Facebook

Missouri

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.

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Taco Treat tacosTaco Treat via Facebook

Montana

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?

Psst! It only takes 4 ingredients to make this fry bread recipe.

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Runza sandwichRunza Restaurants via Facebook

Nebraska

Runza, Lincoln

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.)

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TacoTime wraps and drinkTacoTime via Facebook

Nevada

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).

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Mr. Mac's Macaroni & CheeseMr. Mac's Macaroni & Cheese via Facebook

New Hampshire

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.

These cast-iron desserts are SO yummy.

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Person holding up a cheeseburgerCheeburger Cheeburger via Facebook

New Jersey

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.

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Chicken patty on a bun with curly friesTwisters Burgers and Burritos via Facebook

New Mexico

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!

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Golden Krust patties in handGolden Krust via Facebook

New York

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.

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Bojangles' chicken strips, biscuit and friesBojangles' via Facebook

North Carolina

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!

Psst…Here’s how to copycat Bojangles recipes.

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Pizza Ranch pizza buffetPizza Ranch via Facebook

North Dakota

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.

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Skyline Chili chili, chili dog and oyster crackers Skyline Chili via Facebook

Ohio

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.

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Taco Bueno big box of tacosTaco Bueno via Facebook

Oklahoma

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.

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Burgerville burger, fries and shakeBurgerville via Facebook

Oregon

Burgerville, Portland

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.

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Sheetz's food on a stickSheetz via Facebook

Pennsylvania

Sheetz, Altoona

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!)

Up next: The best food from gas stations, ranked.

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Chicken strips, sandwich and multiple sidesPollo Campero via Facebook

Rhode Island

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.

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Outside of a Waffle HouseWaffle House via Facebook

South Carolina

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.

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Sandwich cut in half beside fries and a drinkErbert & Gerbert's via Facebook

South Dakota

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.

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Outside of a Pal's Sudden ServicePal's Sudden Service via Facebook

Tennessee

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.

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Torchy's Tacos taco in a basketTorchy's Tacos via Facebook

Texas

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.

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Outside of Iceberg Drive Inn on 3900 southIceberg Drive Inn on 3900 south via Facebook

Utah

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.

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Sign outside for Al's French FrysAl's French Frys via Facebook

Vermont

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.

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Biscuitville biscuit sandwich and drinkBiscuitville via Facebook

Virginia

Biscuitville, Danville

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.

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Dick's Drive In cheeseburgerDick's Drive In Restaurant via Facebook

Washington

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?

These old-school drive-in recipes are a blast from the past.

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Eat'n Park graduation cookies in a boxEat'n Park via Facebook

West Virginia

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.

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via Kopp's Custard/facebook

Wisconsin

Kopp’s, Milwaukee

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.

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Two hands full of hotdogsHamburger Stand via Facebook

Wyoming

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.

Lindsay D. Mattison
After years of working in professional kitchens, Lindsay traded her knives in for the pen. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to turn local, seasonal ingredients into beautiful meals for her family.

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