11 Regional Fast-Food Chains You Should Definitely Know About
We often think of fast-food restaurants as devoid of regional character, but there are countless quick-service establishments around the country that have generated extreme loyalty and enthusiasm among locals (and visitors.)
A new AskReddit thread posed the question, "What's the best fast-food restaurant you've ever been to?," and the responses were enlightening, to say the least. (We'll admit we hadn't heard of many of these, but we're now planning months-long cross country road trips in order to try them all.)
Below, find the cult-favorite, not-quite-as-big-as-Taco-Bell restaurants that people swear by:
"It's a midwest staple. You can't beat a ButterBurger, some cheese curds, and some frozen custard."
"Their burgers are better than most traditional restaurants, plus they serve food not commonly found in a fast-food restaurant such as fried fish, pot roast, reuben sandwiches, and cheese curds. Every item on their gigantic menu is amazing."
El Pollo Loco (California/Southwest)
"What I like about Pollo Loco is you could eat there every day and be healthy and cheap about it; I pretty much did that for a year or two."
"I'm outing myself as a Wisconsinite hardcore but: Kopp's for greasy burgers and custard."
"Texas is just a cult following Whataburger. Every Texan must make the trip to Corpus Christi at least once in their life to see the original Whataburger."
"Didn't know how crazy people were about that place until I lived in Illinois for a while."
In-N-Out (Southwest/Pacific Coast)
"I think it's partly identity. In-N-Out is the Californian burger chain. It's just what you do if you're Californian. After prom night? In-N-Out. After a house party? In-N-Out. Whatever. But it's also that it's a fresh, well-made burger that is priced absurdly well. The value is part of what makes it so appreciated."
"Damn I wish they would come up to New England."
Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers (Kansas)
"Best milkshake ever. Don't have any where I live, but Ill stop if I go through a city that has one on a road trip. Just for the milkshake."
Pollo Tropical (Florida)
"Give me some chicken ... some fried plantains ... some waffle fries and oh my god that cilantro garlic sauce... I could bathe in it. Don't judge me."
Cook Out (South)
"Best priced fast food in the country. You can get a full meal for around $5 or less."
Steak n Shake (Midwest/South)
"I recently tried Steak n Shake for the first time and it was really good, plus also one of the better values."
Sadly, the Reddit thread misses a few of our favorites. How could we not mention Runza, that beloved Nebraskan fast-food chain serving pocket sandwiches called, you guessed it, Runzas? Or Pal's Sudden Service, that fantastic road-side burger joint in the Tri-Cities region (Tennessee/Virginia)? Or Taco Time, of Western Washington? Come on, Internet.
All Reddit posts have been edited for length and clarity.