8 Regional Fast-Food Chains Worth Traveling For

You're traveling for business or pleasure and you're starving. So what do you do? Stop at the nearest McDonald's, right? While there's nothing wrong with grabbing the old, reliable Big Mac and fries on the road, what if you could sample some fast-food fare you can't get back at home? These eight regional quick-serve options will help you mix it up and might even become your new favorite pit stops whenever you're en route to your work or vacation destination. The only downside? You'll wish you could bring your new discovery home!

Flickr user eknott@pdqfreshfoodfast


This restaurant chain's name, PDQ, is short for "People Dedicated to Quality." With numerous locations in Florida, North Carolina, and Texas, you can also find spots in 11 states, from Utah to Illinois.

Top menu items: Chicken tenders and nuggets that come with eight dipping sauces to choose from (try the Sweet Sriracha), as well as inventive sandwiches, salads, and bowls, like the Thai Peanut.

Healthy options: Sides range from zucchini fries to roasted broccoli to apple slices with caramel dipping sauce.

Kids' picks: What kiddo wouldn't love seasonal faves like the Oreo Peep Shake (for real)?

Flickr | Bradley Gordon


Texas-based Whataburger boasts hundreds of locales in the Southeast and Southwest.

Top menu items: These aren't your everyday sandwiches. Choose a Jalapeño and Cheese Burger or a Buffalo Ranch Chicken Strip meal. Southern favorites like biscuits and gravy and Southwestern treats such as egg tacos grace the breakfast menu.

Healthy options: Whataburger offers several menu options under 550 calories, like salads, fried fish, and grilled chicken sandwiches.

Kids' picks: Whatachick'n Strips and grilled cheese are sure to tempt the tots.

In-N-Out Burger
Flickr | Mike Mozart

In-N-Out Burger

A West Coast-based burger chain, In-N-Out Burger is beloved by Californians . . . celebs in particular.

Top menu items: It's known for burgers and fries prepared in sunflower oil — it's California, after all — and shakes. Yum!

Healthy options: Um, do fries count? Actually, patrons can get their burgers wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun or skip the bun altogether.

Kids' picks: Um, do fries count? Of course they do! And kids will love the shakes made with real ice cream that come in chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

Taco Time
Flickr | Bryan Ochalla

Taco Time

Taco Time dishes up traditional Mexican dishes with fresh ingredients. Visit a restaurant in Texas, Illinois, Wyoming, Utah, and select Midwestern and Northwestern states.

Top menu items: Crisp burritos, tacos, nachos, and Mexi-Fries (tater tots). Try 'em stuffed with cheddar cheese and jalapeño. For breakfast, try an Egg & Tater Burrito.

Healthy options: Taco salad. But still order the stuffed Mexi-Fries — we beg of you!

Kids' picks: Taco Time doesn't have a specific kids' menu, but who doesn't love chips and tater tots?

Flickr | Ryan Dickey


If you find yourself adventuring in the Midwest, Culver's should be your lunch stop.

Top menu items: In the heart of America's Dairyland, it's all about cheese! On a ButterBurger, of course. And frozen custard that comes as a shake, a cone, a sundae, you name it.

Healthy options: The Culver's menu includes "Mindful Choices" like soup, salad, and a chicken sandwich. Once you order one of these items, surely you deserve a custard treat, though.

Kids' picks: Kiddos can enjoy a mini-size ButterBurger, a grilled cheese, a corn dog, or chicken tenders. Best of all, each kid's meal comes with a free scoop of custard.

Flickr | Loren Javier


California-based Jollibee also boasts 34 locales in Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

Top menu items: Jollibee is best known for its seasoned fried chicken, Jolly Spaghetti, and Yum Burgers, served with yummy burger dressing. Try the Aloha Burger, with a slice of pineapple right on the sandwich, or the Fiesta Noodles, with pork, shrimp, and a piece of egg.

Healthy options: The Asian-inspired menu doesn't have a specific healthy section, but you could take off your hamburger bun or, well, just indulge. You're traveling!

Kids' picks: Kids will love the colorful dessert treats, like the Halo-Halo drink.

Hungry Howie's
Flickr | Larry & Teddy Page

Hungry Howie's

Hungry Howie's started in Michigan and now has 600 locations in 21 states.

Top menu items: Hungry Howie's is the home of flavored-crust pizza. Try these tasty flavors: Sesame, Butter Cheese, Butter, Ranch, Cajun, Garlic Herb, Onion, and Asiago. You can also order wings, calzones, and subs.

Healthy options: The chain offers salads, from Greek to Antipasto, as well as gluten-free menu options.

Kids' picks: Order the little ones a Junior pizza, which is four slices.

Flickr | Redi-Rock International


Zaxby's has locations in the Midwest and South and is known for its chicken.

Top menu items: Order up a chicken finger plate, a plate of Zax Snaks (including crinkle fries), or a wings meal. Zaxby's prides itself on the many sauce offerings you can pair with its food.

Healthy options: Zalads anyone?

Kids' picks: Zax Kidz offerings include grilled cheese and chicken fingers.