There are some fast food restaurants you'll find everywhere. KFC, McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's can be found in just about any town. While you can guarantee you'll get the same thing at each of the locations of those restaurants, it's more fun to try regional fast food favorites. Few things give you a taste of a new area than its unique foods.
While many fast food places serve burgers, many serve up regional specialties or Mexican food. In the Midwest, for example, there are a surprisingly large number of chains that specialize in burgers and frozen custard. Some of these chains have hundreds of locations. Others have as few as five. Big or small, you're going to want to add some of these to your bucket list for your next "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" inspired road trip.
When you're in the northeast, you may head to White Castle for their famous sliders. In the west, people travel for miles to find an In-N-Out Burger. Regardless of their location, these regional chains are beloved by the locals and may confuse out-of-towners. After all, who would have thought there would be a successful ice cream chain in Alaska?
What are you waiting for? Match the regional fast food favorites with their facts!
In 1948, Harry Snyder opened the first In-N-Out Burger in Baldwin Park as a hamburger stand. The stand was so small that In-N-Out puts its measurements at barely over 10 square feet.
Bob Wian sold his DeSoto Roadster to buy a hamburger stand. He named that stand Bob's Pantry. The first location opened in Glendale, California.
In 1921, White Castle founder Billy Ingram started the company for 700 dollars. The first sliders sold for five cents each.
El Pollo Loco's first location was in Los Angeles, California. Over time, the chain grew to over 400 stores. On July 25, 2014, El Pollo Loco started trading on the NASDAQ stock exchange.
Greenville, North Carolina lays claim to the first Hardee's restaurant. In 1960, Wilber Hardee opened the first restaurant and started selling his burgers.
Jack in the Box has locations in 21 states and Guam. The company estimates it serves half a billion guests per year.
Craig, Lea, George, and Ruth Culver opened their first restaurant in 1984. Craig chose the combination of burgers and frozen custard.
The first Checkers opened in 1986. Since then, Checkers and Rally's have grown to more than 870 restaurants.
Zach McLeroy and Tony Townley founded Zaxby's because they were unsatisfied with the chicken in Statesboro, Georgia. Zaxby's can now be found in 18 states.
In 1977, Jack Fulk and Richard Thomas opened the first Bojangles'. It was located in Charlotte, North Carolina. The following year, the first Bojangles' franchise location opened.
Kopp's offers vanilla, Swiss chocolate, and a flavor of the day. Custard flavors of the day have included Almond Boy and Cohenhead.
Portillo's ships its food to all 50 states. You can also order Portillo's dog bowls on the company's website.
In 1803, Wawa began as an iron foundry in New Jersey. The company added dairy farming to its portfolio in 1902. Wawa would not open its first food store until 1962.
Cook Out’s first location was on Randleman Road in Greensboro, North Carolina. Until 2009, all Cook Out locations were in North Carolina. In 2010, the first one outside the company’s home state was opened in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Steak 'n Shake opened in 1934. It currently serves over 110 million Steakburgers and 60 million milkshakes annually.
Everything’s bigger in Texas, including its burgers. In 1950, Harmon Dobson made a bigger, better burger his mission. Company lore states that Dobson wanted to create a burger that was so big it took two hands to hold and was so good customers would exclaim, “What a burger!”
Pollo Tropical was founded in 1988. Since then, it has been serving its signature grilled chicken and slow roasted mojo pork.
In 1964, Ed Hackbarth and David Jameson founded Del Taco. On the first day, they sold tacos for 19 cents and cheeseburgers for 24 cents.
Krystal opened its doors on October 11, 1932, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Despite the country being in the midst of the Great Depression, the restaurant thrived because of Rody Davenport Jr. and J. Glenn Sherrill’s dedication to a spotless restaurant and courteous service.
In 1996, Raising Cane's opened. The first day was so busy that founder Todd Graves kept the restaurant open until 3:30 a.m. to serve every customer.
Jim Hearn opened the first Hungry Howie’s in a converted hamburger shop. Since 1973, the restaurant has grown from one restaurant to over 500 locations.
In 1926, Fred Angell founded Maid-Rite. Angel also created the secret blend of meat and spices that makes up every Maid-Rite sandwich.
PDQ started as a restaurant named Tenders. In 2011, the first PDQ opened in Tampa, Florida.
The first Runza was called Runza Drive Inn. It was owned by siblings Sally Everett and Alex Brening.
TacoTime started in Eugene, Oregon. In 2003, Kahala Brands bought the chain and moved its headquarters to Scottsdale, Arizona.
Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill has over 120 restaurants in nine states. These states are New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, and North Carolina.
Burgerville uses local ingredients in all its restaurants. It also works with its farm partners to conserve nature.
Tastee Freez was founded in Joliet, Illinois. Since 1950, it has expanded to locations in 12 states.
In 1981, Adrie Groeneweg founded Pizza Ranch. Currently, it has 207 locations in 14 states.
Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers was named after Bill and Randy Simon’s father, Freddy. The founded the restaurant with Scott Redler.
Iceberg Drive In was founded 55 years ago. It is found in Utah, Arizona, and California.
Skyline Chili’s founder grew up in Kastoria, Greece. When he opened the first Skyline Chili, Nicholas Lambrinides named it after the Cincinnati skyline, which was visible from the restaurant.
Pal's Sudden Service is named after Fred "Pal" Barger. He opened the first restaurant in 1956. Today, Pal's has 28 locations in northeastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia.
The first Danny & Clyde's opened in Gretna, Louisiana. The name comes from the founders' nicknames, Big Dan and Clyde.
Winstead’s opened its doors in 1950. It’s motto is “We grind U.S. Choice Steak daily for the sandwich.”