Chances are, the only place you won’t find a fast food restaurant is the center of a desert. These restaurants are so ubiquitous throughout the United States that, even if you were missing most of your senses, you could probably sniff your way to a McDonald’s (and its heavenly fries).
That said, there are quite a few restaurants that don’t spread too far from their origins. And it’s a darn shame, because they’re so tasty that it’s practically criminal to not share their menus with as many fast food junkies as possible.
Here are 15 chain restaurants that you can only find in certain regions. And just a warning: if you read this while hungry, now’s the time to grab your wallet and car keys…
1. In N’ Out Burger: When you walk into an In N’ Out, the first thing you’ll notice is that there are only three options on the menu: a cheeseburger, a double cheeseburger, and a hamburger. The second thing you’ll notice is how absolutely, Earth-shatteringly delicious either of those three options are. Though the chain has over 300 locations, they’re all within a day’s drive of Texas and California distribution centers—that way, the fresh beef never needs to be frozen.
Jeremy Kieth / Flickr
2. Bojangles’: In a world of Popeyes, Kentucky Frieds, and Chik-Fil-As, it takes a really special fried bird to capture the hearts and mouths of fried chicken lovers. Bojangles’ has just the recipe for that: with never-frozen meat, 12 hours of marination, and a spicy breading concocted by (most likely) fried chicken PhDs, this restaurant is making mouths water all over the Southeast.
Bojangles / Facebook
3. Burgerville: If you like restaurants that are powered entirely by wind, then you’ll love Oregon, Washington, and Vancouver’s 50-location burger chain. Chances are, you’ll also get a kick out of it if you enjoy fresh and tasty burgers made with Oregon marionberries, Tillamook cheddar, and free-range and hormone- and antibiotic-free beef.
Burgerville / Facebook
4. Dick’s Drive-In: This Seattle-based burger joint has not only withstood the test of time, it’s practically spat in its face: for just $2.90, you can get a double-patty burger made with never-frozen beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and pickle relish. Take that, inflation!
Dick’s Drive-In / Instagram
5. El Taco Tote: After a few late-night trips to Taco Bell, you might be hesitant to call a fast food joint authentically Mexican, but El Taco Tote dons that title proudly. Founded in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, the chain is now headquartered in El Paso, Texas, and everything from its salsa to tortillas is made fresh on the premises. It also offers a family-style, make-your-own taco option.
El Taco Tote / Facebook
6. Jim’s Restaurant: When it’s 3 a.m. and you’re dying for something to eat, leave it to Jim’s to answer the call—so long as you’re in the San Antonio or Austin, Texas, areas. Open 24 hours, Jim’s will take care of your tortilla soup or chicken-fried steak cravings better than a mother who’s decided her son is nothing but “skin and bones.”
Jim’s Restaurant / Facebook
7. Jack’s: Like its name, Jack’s likes to keep things simple. Bells and whistles are nowhere to be seen on the menu of this Birmingham, Alabama-founded joint, and to its many patrons, that’s A-okay. The burgers—made with fresh quality beef—have patrons of Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennessee coming back for seconds, and the fried chicken stands out, even in the Deep South.
Jack’s / Facebook
8. Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles: When the words “opposites attract” were first uttered centuries ago, the speaker was (clearly) referencing fried chicken and waffles, right? This Los Angeles chain is capitalizing on that law of physics by combining sweet syrup and crunchy waffles with oh-so-savory chicken.
Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles
9. Krystal: Harold and Kumar may have had a wild night chasing down White Castle, but that’s only because no one told them about Krystal. Like White Castle, this Southern burger chain produces small, square burgers that you can easily guzzle down. Krystal’s burgers offer a few additional perks, too, like onions, mustard, and even a side of grits.
Krystal / Facebook
10. Sonny’s BBQ: You’d be hard-pressed to leave Sonny’s BBQ without a skin-cooling case of meat sweats and the urge to take a food coma-inspired nap. That’s because their food is just too good: pork that’s pulled or sliced; ribs served in a number of styles; and brisket, chicken, and turkey all smoked for 12 hours. With only 150 locations across nine states, criminally few people have ample opportunity for a Sonny’s gorge-fest.
Sonny’s BBQ / Facebook
11. Original Tommy’s: Chili lovers, look no further. Paradise waits in Southern California (with a few spots in Nevada) at a restaurant called Tommy’s. Sure, the burgers, hot dogs, fries, and tamales are killer in their own rights, but it’s not until each menu items receives a generous ladle of all-beef chili on top that it’s complete.
Original Tommy’s / Facebook
12. Texadelphia: This Texas chain takes Philly’s cheesesteak and gives it the old “welcome to Texas” treatment. In other words, it makes it enormous, uses Texas Black Angus beef, and then covers it in queso cheese. Enjoy a side of tortilla chips with your sandwich and enter into that sweet state of bliss brought on by excessive, tasty carbohydrates.
Texadelphia / Facebook
13. Torchy’s Tacos: This Texas restaurant makes fresh every day a number of tortilla-wrapped concoctions sure to make your produce a few weeks’ worth of saliva. The highlights? There’s the Brush Fire (Jamaican jerk chicken, grilled jalapeños, and mango); the Republican (grilled jalapeño sausage with shredded cheese and pico de gallo); and the Trailer Park (fried chicken breast topped with sautéed green chiles, lettuce, pico de gallo, and shredded mixed cheese on a flour tortilla).
Torchy’s Tacos / Facebook
14. Waffle House: There’s an old saying that goes something like “no one has ever been sad inside a Waffle House,” and once you’ve been into one of the 24/7 locations peppering the country, it’s easy to see why that made-up quote holds so much water: jukeboxes play Waffle House-themed songs, waffles are made fresh by the order, and hash browns receive the same TLC of a pampered, purse-riding poodle.
Waffle House / Facebook
15. Whataburger: Since the 1950s, Whataburger has been crushing the fast-food burger scene throughout Texas, but it’s breakfast that makes it stand up to the competition. Biscuits, cinnamon rolls, and taquitos with cheese all provide their own reasons for consumers to get up early and stop by before work. The honey butter chicken biscuit throws the real heavy punches, though, and boasts a taste so good it can practically pull the blankets off even the heaviest of sleepers.
Whattaburger / Facebook
There are plenty of fast food choices throughout the country, but only a few offer that special something that makes you willing to drive across a few state lines. Did any of your favorite places make the list? Did any miss out?
Share these delicious fast food restaurants with your friends!