One of the highlights of any U.S. road trip
is hitting up fast-food joints along the way.
These grab-and-go restaurants are built around
their core communities, founded by people
who are passionate about their product, and
staffed by locals who make it all happen.
Regional fast food restaurants make traveling
in the U.S. totally delicious.
But chances are, those flavors can only be
found in certain parts of the country.
Here are a few of the most uniquely regional
fast food restaurants we wish we could dig
What began as a simple ice cream parlor has
become one of the Northeast’s favorite family
The Blake Brothers opened Friendly’s during
the Great Depression, when they were in their
early twenties — and today, you’ll find
Friendly’s all over New England and New York,
with a few locations in Florida and South
Menu items can even cost under six bucks,
which, according to MassLive, has been a source
of pride for the company, ever since a double-dip
cone cost 5 cents.
While their entrees remain a hit, though,
the real magic lies in their signature ice
cream desserts, like the Jim Dandy Sundae,
the Cone Head Sundae, and the Wattamelon Sherbet
Come for the food, leave room for the ice
Travel to Texas and the craving for queso
But Torchy’s Tacos answers the call, with
11 locations in Texas, and a few in Oklahoma
Their green chile queso is such a fan favorite
that it was specially selected to be sold
at the 2018 NFL Draft Experience.
But would you really expect anything less
from a place whose slogan is, “Damn Good Tacos”?
“Alright hold on a minute, smells like Torchy’s
Did someone say Torchy’s?”
What started out as a food truck in San Antonio
has become a beloved staple for Texans and
And even President Barack Obama.
Founder and owner Michael Rypka described
his winning flavor mashup, telling Hungry
“Some southern and some bbq and some Texas
and some Mexican and we kinda just put it
Their menu includes a variety of tacos, but
the chip and dip options have everyone coming
back for more.
Even a staff member at Visit Austin said,
“The green chili queso and homemade chips
at Torchy’s are so good that I sometimes skip
the tacos completely and just order the queso
Luckily, jet-setters can sample that queso-y
goodness on a flight out of Austin; as of
2017, a location is now open at the Austin
Pal’s Sudden Service
Driving by this place, you might think you’re
approaching the Pee Wee’s Playhouse of fast
Pal’s founder, Fred “Pal” Barger, opened his
first location in Kingsport, Tennessee in
1956, influenced by what Ray Kroc was doing
“Patty melt, patty melt put it in your hand…unwrap
one and share it with a friend… grill it
up cheese it up add a patch of onions patty
melt, patty melt get em while you can”
You’ll have to visit Tennessee or Southwestern
Virginia to try some, but it’s well worth
Pal’s is so serious about customer service,
that it’s developed its own intense web-based
training system for Pal’s employees.
This dedication to professional development
has resulted in a low-turnover rate, which
keeps Pal’s customers happy too.
Born in 2001 as a hot dog cart, newbie on
the fast food block, Shake Shack, is swiftly
becoming the home of America’s most coveted
Shake Shack exploded from its flagship Madison
Square Park store, to locations in almost
every major city in America — and several
big cities around the world.
While it’s still not as widely distributed
across the map as its competitors, this is
definitely a fast food restaurant worth traveling
According to Shake Shack, their burgers are
100 percent all-natural Angus beef, and free
of hormones and antibiotics.
Nevermind the frozen custard, flat-top hot
dogs, and the special “doggie dessert.”
But if you’re bummed there’s not a Shake Shack
near you, no worries: according to CNBC, more
restaurants are coming by the end of 2018.
…Yeah, we’re already waiting in line.
This Mexican-inspired Texas chain is an Instagrammer’s
Taco Cabana’s tacos, burritos and quesadillas
consistently rank high with customers, according
to Market Force.
But would you really expect less from a place
that serves $3 margaritas?
“It’s a real margarita with fresh squeezed
lime juice triple sec tequila … now that
is a real margarita”
The hot pink vibes may be inspired by former
night club co-owner Felix Stehling’s previous
life before he opened the “patio style” taco
stand in 1978.
But what really sets this place apart is its
Taco Cabana’s research team travels to Mexico
in search of the freshest flavors.
Corporate Chef Walter “Smokey” Waters told
the Houston Chronicle,
“When [the research and development] team
heads down to Mexico, we often find that the
most progressive areas in terms of food are
on the outskirts of places like Mexico City.”
Famous for their not-so-secret menu, In-N-Out
Burger has been immortalized in pop culture,
and its cult following spans the world.
But what is it about this West Coast burger
joint that makes it so good?
According to USA TODAY, it’s because the company
emphasizes fresh ingredients, with every burger
made to order, and no microwaves, heat lamps
or freezers in any of their locations.
And those fresh ingredients certainly pay
off: the restaurant’s revenue is estimated
to be about $870 million.
In-N-Out launched in 1948, when Harry and
Esther Snyder opened their first location
in Baldwin Park, California.
Today, hungry travelers can get their fix
in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Texas,
There are no plans for expansion in the eastern
U.S., but if you’re gonna hit up the West
Coast, In-N-Out’s got you covered.
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