One of the great things about traveling across the country is discovering new foods. Lots of states have food that is specific to them and it can be a big treat for us to sample those goodies. However, when the trip is over and we return home, we start to long for that fast food we had on vacation. Unlike fast-food chains such as Mcdonald’s, Burger King and KFC, these restaurants are local or regionally specific. With that in mind here are 10 Regional Only Fast Food Resturants We Wish Were Everywhere. See if your favorite made the list.
10. Cook Out
For this entry on our 10 regional only fast food restaurants we wish were everywhere, we head down south to North Carolina with Cook Out. A relatively new fast food kid on the block, Cook Out opened its first restaurant in the late 1980s in Greensboro, North Carolina, which is fairly recent in the fast-food world. Boasting a great range of tasty food; from burgers and hotdogs to chicken sandwiches and North Carolina bbq to freshly made shakes. Even Quesadillas are on the menu. All this great comfort food can be finished off with a great tasting Cheerwine float. Having all our favorite comfort food covered, Cook Out is also kind on the pocket as their prices are lower than most other restaurants for the food you get. Low prices and great food, no wonder Cook Out is so popular down south. Since opening the first Cook Out in North Carolina, this burger joint has expanded to Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennesse, Virginia, Mississipi, and Maryland. Unfortunately, that’s as fas as Cook Out has expanded so far. We’d love to see this southern fast food restaurant where we live.
There are certain cities that are synonymous with certain foods; Philidelphia and cheesesteak sandwiches, New York-style bagels, Po Boys and New Orleans and Hot dogs from Chicago. All of those cities take their food very seriously and no more so than the people from Chicago and their beloved hot dog. There is even a genuine science when making a hot dog in Chicago as each hot dog must have the perfect OBR, which stands for Optimal Bite Ratio of toppings. The hot dog must also be an all-beef frankfurt on a sesame seed bun with an array of toppings. Those things are a must to create this culinary legend! Because of their dedication to this food, you can imagine how good and popular fast-food chain Portillo’s is. Starting out as a simple hot dog stand called the ‘Dog House,’ it quickly developed into the restaurant we know and love today. Over the last few decades, Portillo’s developed at such a rate that the company was bought out for a billion dollars. That’s one expensive hot dog! Now the chain is looking to expand outside of its native Illinois with restaurants in Florida, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota, and Alamaba with plans of more branches in the works. If hot dogs aren’t your thing then you should try their famous Cake Shakes. Chocolate or vanilla shakes blended with a slice of their chocolate cake. The restaurants themselves offer a slice of classic Americana as each one is decked out in a theme from a different decade with plenty of pop culture from the decade as well as pictures of stars who have enjoyed Portillio’s tasty Chicago style hot dogs.
With over 50 years in the fast-food business, Jack’s Family Restaurant has become a much-loved fixture in the Alabama area. Famous for its big burgers, Chicken Fingers, hand-scooped milkshakes, and it’s biscuits, Jack’s is a lot of people’s go-to restaurant when they want tasty fast food. Known for its great food and fresh ingredients, Jack’s actually makes their own biscuits from scratch in-store every day, as well as grinding their own coffee and hand-breading their chicken. Which is always a good sign of quality fast food. Originally Jack’s was not only one of the first fast-food restaurants in Alabama but it was also one of the cheapest as you could get a coke for 10 cents, Burger and Fries for 15 cents and a 20 cent fish on a bun. Times may have changed and food is more expensive but Jack’s still holds it’s own against any of the bigger and more famous fast-food chains when it comes to great-tasting burgers. At the moment Jack’s Family Restaurant only operates in four states; Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennesse. That may be a long way for a lot of people to go, but if you listen to the local Alabama Jack’s fans, their burgers are well worth the journey.
If you are looking for some great southern food with an extra portion of southern charm, then look no further than Biscuitville. Located in North Carolina and Virginia, Biscuitville does exactly what you would expect from the name; great tasting biscuits. Not only that but the biscuits are made fresh and from scratch, in-store and are ready every 15 minutes. Biscuitville also offers a range of great southern food such as grits, hashbrowns, homestyle gravy, and the southern sensation Cheerwine soda. Incidentally, when Biscuitville first opened, known then as Mountainbrook Fresh Bread and Milk, it actually sold primarily pizza. It then changed its name to Pizzaville and started to add biscuits to the menu. Owner, Maurice Jennings noticed that his biscuits were the biggest seller and that the breakfast rush was the busiest time of day. Wanting to capitalize on the breakfast trade, Jennings opened a biscuit focused restaurant, Biscuitville, and he concentrated on making fresh, great-tasting biscuits. The rest, as they say, is history. Now the pride of North Carolina and Virginia, Biscuitville is definitely worth a stop if you are in that part of the country as everything tastes that little bit better on a biscuit.
Pal’s Sudden Service, or Pal’s for short, is a fast-food restaurant chain in Tennesse and Southwest Virginia. The first thing you notice about these restaurants is the architecture and the outsides of the buildings. Plastered with fun, and large, statutes of food items, Pal’s lets you know exactly what kind of food they do before you even pull up to one. Oversized burgers, hot dogs, fries, shakes all stuffed full of toppings, is exactly what you get inside Pal’s. Fred ‘Pal’ Barger opened the first Pal’s in Tennesse back in the 1950s. Barger actually took inspiration from Ray Kroc and the big changes McDonald’s was having on the food industry at the time. Besides big, tasty food, Pal’s passion lies in customer care. They take customer service seriously, not just for the customers but for the staff too as they like to create a great place for people to work. This was shown to be true as Pal’s was the first winner of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. An award that is given for excellence in performance and is handed out by the President. That’s what we want to see more of; big, fun food and a passion for great workers and customer care. Sadly, it’s a long way to Tennessee, we’ll just have to hope that one day they’ll branch out and put a Pal’s in every state.
On our list of 10 regional only fast-food restaurants, we wish were everywhere, you’ll notice a lot the chains are very similar. Selling burgers, fries, hot dogs, etc. We now come to a chain that puts its own spin on fast food. Runza is a big Nebraskian fast food legend. Named after its sandwich, which was brought over by Volga Germans from Russia, the Runza sandwich is stuffed with ground beef, pork, cabbage, onions, and sauerkraut. This perfect sandwich to go has been described as a ‘warm and toasty burger burrito.’ That’s the best of both worlds, which can only be a good thing. Runza also does other food such as burgers, crinkle-cut fries, cinnamon rolls, and even chili, just to name a few. As amazing as a Runza sandwich with crinkle-cut fries sounds, you have to go to Nebraska, Colorado, Iowa or Kansas to enjoy it. Runza pride themselves on keeping their ‘local’ feel to their restaurants so Runza doesn’t look to be going national anytime soon. So it’s off to Nebraska we go!
If you are looking for a truly local and family-run fast food chain then look no further than Braum’s. This Oklahoma ice cream legend has been a must-have fast food item for decades. Anyone that has not been to Oklahoma may not have heard of Braum’s but you should. Braum’s is one of the few fast-food chains that still makes, produces and manufactures all its own products. Their main farm is in Turtle, Oklahoma in which they herd their own cows in order to process the milk and make their own ice cream. It is also the site of their main bakery for which they produce their own bake goods for each restaurant. This is one of the reasons why Braum’s has not expanded to the rest of the country as they have a rule that they won’t open a restaurant outside of a 300-mile limit to their farm. That way they can produce fresh food and deliver it to each location. Braum’s doesn’t franchise either, unlike most fast-food chains, it instead likes to keep all its restaurants under the same family in order to maintain it’s high standards of fresh, homemade food. Because of the 300-mile rule Braum’s has, the chain is limited to certain areas. As well as Oklahoma, Braum’s has restaurants in Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri. The popular items on the menu are their four-cheese burgers, frozen yogurt, crinkle-cut fries and of course, their ice cream.
The fast-food scene is overwhelmed with burger joints. There are so many restaurants that offer great tasting burgers that the market is flooded with them. While this is good news for burger fans as we have plenty of choices, one of the most popular US foods remains the humble chicken. With foods like chicken wings, legs, and tenders, chicken is as popular as ever but the fast-food world doesn’t seem to care about this. While there are some good chicken places out there, there is room for a truly great chicken place to take the country by storm and re-ignite our love of tasty chicken. One candidate for this is Zaxby’s. While many Northerners may not have tasted or even heard of Zaxby’s, it is quickly becoming one of the big boys in chicken fast food. From a single restaurant in Georgia, Zaxby’s is growing at an alarming rate with now has over 900 hundred outlets across the southern US. Having a restaurant more styled on the likes of TGI Fridays rather than a tradition fast food place is one reason it has become so popular. The other reason is simple; they make great tasting food. Concentrating on wings and breaded tenders, each with specialized sauces ranging from Asian infused, tomato-based and classic buffalo style, Zaxby’s has a great concept for a fast food restaurant and even better-tasting food. We hope this company continues to expand at the rate it has so we can see some Zaxby’s stores nationwide.
2. Arthur Treacher’s Fish And Chips
And now for something completely different. When most of us think of good fast food, we normally turn our minds to burgers, hot dogs, pizzas and fried chicken. However, there is one more option for great fast food if you are willing to go outside the fast-food box that is. Fish and Chips, that famous British dish, has found a home in the unlikely state of Ohio. Named after the actor Arthur Treacher; he was in The Merv Griffin show and played Jeeves the butler in several Shirly temple films, for anyone who doesn’t know. Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips serves up plenty of deep-fried seafood wrapped in their signature Beer-Batter and served with big, chunky fries, or chips we should say. While this fish and chip restaurant is mainly in Ohio, some outlets have popped up in New York and New Jersy. Maybe fish and chips may not be everyone’s first choice when it comes to fast food, Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips does give us a slice of British cuisine if ever we want something a bit more unique than the average fast food meal. Unless of course, we want a trip across the pond? We think a trip to Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips will be a bit easier and cheaper.
1. Skyline Chili
There is no food out there that is more regionally specific than Cincinnati Chili. In fact, we are hard pushed to find this item on any menu outside of Ohio. This is a shame as the country needs to become aware of this truly great tasting chili. If you are looking to try Cincinnati style chili then Skyline Chile is probably the best place to start. Founded by a Greek immigrant, Nicholas Lambrinides, back in the 1940s, Lambrinides has one thing in mind and that was to bring his family’s chili recipe to the world. While ‘Greek’ may not be the first word that springs to mind when we think of chili, Lambrinides’s chili started to attract attention and he opened Skyline Chili. Taking its name from the Cincinnati skyline, the chili became a big success and crowd-pleaser. The difference between chili that most people know and Cincinnati chili is all to do with the sauce. Cincinnati chili is more of a Meditarain spiced sauce that a lot of people would pair with pasta than rice, which is exactly what you get in Skyline Chili. Big bowls of chili with heapings of spaghetti, cheese, beans, and onion is just the meal to please anyone’s belly. Then there is their version of the Chili dog which is a traditional Chili dog, or Coney dog but piled high with Cincinnati Chili. Out of all the fast-food restaurants on our list, we hope that Skyline Chili makes it out of its region the most as the country really needs to try Cincinnati Chili and fall in love with it.