Friday, May 20 2022

If you love regional fast food, you’re probably aware of the heated debate that regional chains spark among their fans. Which is better, fans want to know: Whataburger or In-N-Out? In-N-Out or Culver’s? At Culver’s or at Freddy’s? Just about every pairing imaginable has been, and continues to be, even now, right now, being aired online, on Twitter, Reddit, and food media. This is the debate that never ends.

That is why USA today The annual ranking of the best regional fast food might seem a little cheeky to some. Does the publication really believe it can settle such a tense debate as, say, Sheetz vs. Wawa? Or Biscuitville versus Bojangles? Yes, they do. And what’s more, their 2022 list of the top ten regional channels includes names you may never have heard of.

But the ranking is not as biased as one might think. USA today worked with a panel of experts to choose an initial group of candidates. These nominees were then put to a popular vote among the general public. We’ll look at the top five in this article, but before that, Candidates #10 through #6 deserve an honorable mention. They were respectively: In-N-Out Burger, Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, Biscuitville, Schoop’s Hamburgers and Runza.

Culver’s/Facebook

The Wisconsin-based burger chain took fifth place on USA today 2022 list. Culver’s is beloved by fans for its buttery burgers and fresh frozen custard. With around 780 stores in total, mostly concentrated in the Midwest, the brand has a loyal customer base, making nearly $2 billion in sales in 2020.

cheeseburger
WhatsApp / Facebook

Home of Whataburger Patty Melt, In-N-Out’s big rival, the Texas-based chain claims fourth place on the list. Whataburger is present in 14 states and has approximately 844 stores. Like Culver’s, the quick-service concept punches above its weight in sales, raking in more than $2.5 billion during the pandemic.

pdq spicy chicken fillets and fries
PDQ / Facebook

Short for “People Dedicated to Quality,” this chicken chain, inspired by a North Carolina-based mom-and-pop concept called Tenders, was founded in 2011 in Tampa. PDQ is famous for its chicken fillets and nuggets, and for its use of fresh ingredients. And fans are obsessed: The chain only had 56 units in 2020 but managed $115 million in sales.

fried chicken sandwich
Sheetz / Facebook

The second-best regional fast food chain in the United States isn’t even a full-time fast food chain! Both a gas station and a sandwich shop, Sheetz is famous for its varied menu, fair prices and 24/7 availability. In 2019, it had 608 stores and annual sales of over $7 billion.

dick's drive-in cheeseburger and fries
Dicks Drive In Restaurant/Facebook

This year’s winner is this tiny, eight-unit chain, based exclusively in Washington. Even more surprising? Dick’s Drive-In didn’t even make the top 10 last year. Decades after its founding in 1954, it continues to delight customers with made-to-order burgers, hand-cut fries and individually whipped old-fashioned milkshakes.

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