We all know that America is the land of the free, the brave and the hallmark for democracy. America is also the home of fast food. The fast food market has seen a lot of change over the decades but it’s still as popular as it’s ever been. While the big brands and franchises have corned every part of the globe, there are some fast food restaurants that have stayed local. These little gems can only be found in certain regions of the country; and although they are firm favourites with the locals, they have never ventured outside of their respective areas, which to many of us is a real tragedy.
10. Original Tommy’s
We start our list with one of California’s truly great fast food restaurants. Original Tommy’s first opened it’s doors back in the 1940’s and it soon became a must for all burger lovers. Starting out with just one small stand, Original Tommy’s sold Burgers and Hotdogs, but with a twist. The difference between Original Tommy’s and it’s competitors is the now famous chilli which topped everything. Expanding rapidly, Original Tommy’s soon had 30 restaurants to its name. Sadly for most of us, they are restricted to the Los Angeles area, with the exception for the three locations in Nevada. As the decades have moved on, Original Tommy’s may have added more than Burgers and Hotdogs to their menus, but the chilli is the same and can be topped on any item on the menu. This may not be gourmet food but when it tastes this good, no one is complaining.
9. Big John Steak & Onion
There are certain foods that will always be linked with places; New York Pizza, Texas Ribs, Kentucky Chicken, and the list goes on! However, on top of this list reigns the Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich. Forever will the idea of putting cheese on steak be linked with the city of brotherly love. So, if you find yourself far from the East Coast, driving through Michigan and you’re looking for an alternative take on the Philly Cheesesteak then look no further than Big John Steak & Onion. Starting out as a Fried Chicken restaurant, Big John Steak & Onion, quickly changed focus and turned it’s attention to the Cheesesteak sandwich. Big John Steak & Onion uses the best and freshest ingredients, along with its tasty signature steak, to give you their own spin on a true American classic.
8. Jack In The Box
In today’s society the world is becoming a lot more health conscious and fast food restaurants are trying their best to follow suit. Most restaurants are adding healthier options to their menus as well as listing ingredients and even calories as they strive to stay ahead of the competition and keep on top of trends. With that in mind, it may be refreshing to some to find a restaurant that still delves heavily in the unhealthy side of fast food. Founded in the early 1950’s , with it’s trademark Burgers and Tacos, (which it still serves today) Jack In The Box quickly became an American institution. While it does offer healthier options, Jack In The Box is mainly interested in comfort food. Waffles can be used as bread and you can even have your Burger with a side order of Tacos, which of course are deep fried. Sometimes all we need is a night out at Jack In The Box.
7. Ted’s Hot Dogs
When most of us think of fast food, our minds automatically jump to Burgers, Pizzas or Fried Chicken. While these are a staple of yummy goodness, we can’t forget about the simple, yet classic Hotdog and they don’t come much better, or more classic, than Ted’s Hot Dogs. Founded way back in the 1920’s by Greek immigrant Theodore Spiro Liaros, Ted’s started life out as a horse drawn Hot Dog cart. Taking advantage of the construction of the ‘Peace’ bridge between Buffalo and Canada, Ted’s Hot Dogs quickly became the work-mens favorite fast food. Once the bridge was complete, Ted’s Hot Dogs bought a more permanent location there. Soon Ted’s Hot Dogs became a must have snack for the locals of Buffalo. While Ted’s may have expanded on it’s menu over the years; adding Burgers and Sandwiches, Hot dogs are still people pleasers. With a range of toppings and sizes, they are a must have for anyone passing through upstate New York.
Next we turn our attention to the states of Oregon and Washington as we bring you Burgerville. A success story founded in the early 1960’s, Burgerville had a simple dream of supplying America with good, clean wholesome burgers. Sticking with an ‘old school’ style Burger, Burgerville has come a long way since it opened it’s doors. It now boasts several new items to its menu such as Breakfast sandwiches and even Fish & Chips. Founded in 1961, Burgerville prided themselves on using locally sourced ingredients, which was rare for the time. Not only that but Burgerville has seasonal menus; the side dishes, fish, fruits and even cheese differ depending on the seasons. Burgerville have found a very strong way of integrating fast food with local produce, an act that bigger chains are slowly starting to pick up on. The chain is also committed to using 100% wind power for all its restaurants and headquarters. Those passionate about the chain call Burgerville fast food for the future.
5. Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers
If there is one thing that every fast food list needs, it’s a great Southern Fried Chicken place. What could be better, or more Southern, than Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers? Founded in the not too distant past of 1996 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Raising Cain’s Chicken Fingers started with a simple business plan: serve finger-licking good chicken. A plan they executed perfectly. While working as fishermen, the founders originally wanted to name the restaurant ‘Sockeye’s’ Chicken Fingers after the salmon they fished for. However, they didn’t want to confuse people as to whether they were a seafood restaurant or a Chicken restaurant, so they decided on a name change. The chain takes it’s name from the founder’s dog a yellow Labrador named ‘Raising Cane.’ Years later the restaurant still prides itself on a limited menu, this way it can focus and specialize on, you guessed it, Chicken Fingers. Sticking with a simple premise may have helped make Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers a real power house in fried chicken.
4. Waffle House
When it comes to food, especially junk, nothing beats the stuff we ate in our childhood. The smells, the tastes and the textures all seemed more intense and satisfying when we were younger. Out of all the foods on the market, few connect as well with children than waffles. Although there are many Waffle diners in the U.S., Waffle House has become the face of this childhood favorite fast food. Opening it’s doors in the mid 1950’s, Waffle House has prided itself on its warm, friendly and of course delicious Waffles. Although the menu has been known to confuse people (hash-browns have their own language after all!) this hasn’t stopped Waffle House from becoming fast food’s unsung hero. Waffle House raised the bar for all diners. Even rap stars like 2 Chains have sung their praise. Kid Rock once got into fight at a Waffle House in Atlanta in 2007. The chain is open all night and while all the other chains are busy focusing on speed, with the number of drive-thrus skyrocketing, Waffle House has built its reputation on table service. Although they still consider themselves junk food, they are one of the last chains that still serves speedy grub right at your table.
3. Burger Time
Most restaurants on this list start with one goal: serving cheap food fast. That’s a simple mantra and while most expand on it, some decide to stick with it. The likes of McDonald’s and Burger King may have expanded and expanded, ever changing and adding to their menus. While they may have cornered almost every market in the known world, some feel it cost those giants that little something extra that made them special in the first place. Luckily, for those people who feel that way, there is Burger Time. Although only founded in the late1980’s, Burger Time has kept to the simple practices of days gone by. They are known for their great Burgers. The fan favorite is the ‘Bigger Burger,’ a whopping 1/3 pound of flame grilled meat that puts rivals to shame. Eighty percent of their sales come from the Bigger Burger alone.Their small menus may make Burger Time seem vintage; their outdoor restaurants offer only drive-through or walk up service. But when you make Burgers your number one priority then you know they are going to be good and most North Dakota locals will agree that Burger Time have perfected the perfect Burger.
2. Del Taco
If there is one benefit to fast food, it’s satisfying that midnight hankering we sometimes get. We just want something tasty and quick. When this happens, people usually rush off to their nearest Del Taco restaurant ASAP. Opening in the 1960’s, ‘Casa’ Del Taco made a huge impact in its first decade. Fusing Mexican and American cuisine, ‘Casa’ Del Taco flew into profit, which quickly lead to other restaurants opening up, as well as dropping the ‘Casa’ from the name. Soon Del Taco was a must have for any resident of California, though the company has had its fair share of ups and downs in recent times. It was near bankruptcy in the early 90s before expanding and prospering again by the 2000s. In 2019 Del Taco introduced vegetarian Beyond Tacos in partnership with Beyond Meat. The company caters to vegans with several meat-free options on its menu. Del Taco has also benefited greatly from using mascots to promote their food and restaurants. Although Del Taco has always prided itself on it’s fusion variety, it’s the Mexican cuisine everyone comes for and the star attraction is the infamous Burrito. So whether it’s a quick snack or a Hearty meal, Del Taco does it all. Unfortunately for most of us, DelTaco stays mainly on the West coast with a few more in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah.
1. White Castle
Harold and Kumar had it right. The number 1 entry on our list of fast food restaurants we’d wish were everywhere is the glorious White Castle. It’s hard for us to understand just how this pioneer of the fast food world hasn’t taken over the globe like its rivals have done. Credited with starting the fast food movement long ago in 1921, White Castle brought the world square Burgers, or ’Sliders’ to you and me. The Burgers and the iconic logo have been a staple in U.S culture for decades. In 2014, Time magazine named it the most influential burger ever. Many other chains have tried to recreate the square patty concept. In 2018, White Castle began selling meat-free Impossible Burgers that closely mimic the taste of their original slider. Although White Castle may have branched out from their roots in the Midwest by selling their Sliders in local grocery stores, they have yet to expand further. Some are happy about this as it makes their part of the world unique, but most of us would love to see a White Castle in our town. There are over 420 outlets, mostly located in the Midwest, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Compare that to McDonald’s with its 36000 restaurants worldwide and you get an idea of how rare this little burger gem is. It’s easy to find more great BabbleTop videos. Just tap on that screen. And if you haven’t joined our notification squad yet, show us some love and slam that subscribe button and click on that bell.