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15 Best Regional Restaurant Chains in the Country

Waffle House

If you're looking for traditional home cooking 24 hours a day, there's no better spot than Waffle House. The iconic southern restaurant chain is known for its diner-like atmosphere and dishes that don't skimp on the salt, grease, or any other goodness. 

While you might see a stray Waffle House here and there throughout the nation, the majority of the chain's stores are in the south, where it was founded and is currently headquartered. 

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Bojangles

Fried chicken restaurants are a dime a dozen, but most of the national chains can't hold a candle to Bojangles. In addition to friend chicken, this regional restaurant is also famous for their buttermilk biscuits

In the 40+ years they've been open, Bojangles has managed to open over 700 restaurants, and most of those are in the southeastern United States. That being said, you're likely to find one or two along the Atlantic coast as well. 

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Culver's

If you've never had a Butterbuger, you need to get to Culver's ASAP. This burger chain is famous not only for its beef but also for its frozen custard. It's basically a dairy extravaganza every time you visit. 

If you couldn't tell from the emphasis on butter and frozen custard, Culver's is a chain from the midwest. That being said, as their popularity has grown, we've begun to see franchises pop up in other parts of the country too. 

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Burgerville

I'll give you one guess what kind of food Bugerville specializes in. While the company name might not be anything to write home about, the burgers definitely are. And they're also well-known for their slate of seasonal milkshakes that often feature fresh ingredients. 

For the most part, you're not going to find a Burgerville outside of the Pacific Northwest--most of them are in Oregon, with a few additional restaurants in Washington. 

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In-N-Out

In-N-Out might be a regional chain, but it's one that's managed to achieve national recognition. The iconic burger chain has a devoted fan base that you probably won't find at any other restaurant on earth. Even though there are over 350 locations in the country, In-N-Out is still privately and family owned, giving it a unique charm that you don't find in most major restaurants. 

If you're looking to try In-N-Out for yourself, you'll need to head to the southwest. Most of the stores are found in California, but there are a few in surrounding states as well. 

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Krystal

If you think that White Castle is the best place to get sliders in the United States, you clearly have never been in a Krystal's. While they offer all kinds of food you'd commonly find a burger joint, their claim to fame are definitely their small, square slider burgers. 

Most Krystal restaurants can be found in the southeast, and the company really hasn't crept much past those borders. You won't find a restaurant west of Arkansas or north of Kentucky. 

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Whataburger

From breakfast to burgers, Whataburger can keep you fed all day--although we don't suggest trying that for too long! The Whataburger love is so strong that they even sell their condiments, pancake mix, and bacon commercially. 

If you're looking to try this chain for yourself, you'll probably want to take a trip to Texas. That's where the company is headquartered and where you'll find most of its restaurants. 

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Jollibee

You can get a little of everything at Jollibee--from burgers to chicken to spaghetti, they've got you covered. And if that creepy mascot bee doesn't scare you off, you're likely in for a good meal. 

Interestingly enough, Jollibee is actually an international company--it was originally founded in the Philippines. However, if you're looking to experience it in the United States, your best bet is California, where an overwhelming majority of the stores reside. 

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Raising Cane's

If you don't think it's possible to create an entire restaurant chain around chicken fingers, you might want to give Raising Cane's a visit. While the chain has only been around since 1996, they've managed to make a name for themselves in the world of delicious chicken. 

The company was founded in Louisiana, which is were a majority of their stores are located. There are a few in surrounding states as well, but this is definitely a highly local chain. 

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Cook Out

Cook Out delivers exactly what it promises--cookout-style food ranging from burgers, fries, hot dogs, and an absurd number of milkshakes. 

The chain is found mostly in the southeast, but even in the region, this is kind of an underrated restaurant. But it's one secret that's definitely not worth keeping! 

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Runza

Unless you come from a family of German immigrants, you've likely never heard of the runza sandwich. Traditionally, it's a yeast bread pocket filled with beef, sauerkraut, and onions--so count us in! And if you're looking for a fast-food runza, the Runza restaurant is your best (and probably only) bet. 

Runza chains are primarily found in Nebraska, where the company was founded. However, they've got a few locations in Iowa, Kansas, and Colorado as well. They're hard to find but worth the effort! 

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Del Taco

Taco Bell might be the reigning champion of Mexican fast food across the country, but Del Taco is an impressive regional contender. However in addition to the traditional menu items like tacos, Del Taco also has you covered if you're looking for a burger and fries. 

Unless you live on the west coast, you probably haven't encountered a Del Taco in the wild. California is the state with the most Del Taco restaurants, while Las Vegas, Nevada is the city with the most. 

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Carl's Jr/Hardee's

Here's one national chain that has managed to stay regional. Whether you know it as Carl's Jr or Hardee's, you'll find virtually the same menu at both--some of the most delicious and unhealthy burgers you'll ever encounter. 

At one point, Carl's Jr and Hardee's were two different restaurants, but after a merger in the 90s, the two became one, while still retaining their individual branding. So, if you're on the east coast, you're more likely to see it called Hardee's, while west coast readers are probably more familiar with Carl's Jr. 

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Jack in the Box

You can get a little bit of everything when you go to Jack in the Box. Chicken, burgers, fries, tacos--they have all the fast food staples covered. 

However, unless you live on the west coast, you're likely in for quite a long drive to make it to Jack in the Box. There are some restaurants to be found in larger cities to the east, but for the most part they're all in California or surrounding states. 

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Wawa

While Wawa is technically a gas station/convenience store,  their food menu has managed to inspire some fans as well.  They've got everything from hot breakfast items to a full deli for lunch and dinner. 

Wawa has kind of a strange regional breakdown. Most of the stores can be found in the states that surround Washington D.C. However,  they have also recently expanded down into Florida, where they operate over 70 stores. 

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