Maybe you travel across the country for work and want to know the best place to grab a quick bite, or maybe you’re just curious as to which fast food chain reins supreme in your state. Either way, we’ve compiled the best fast food in each state for your foodie-viewing pleasure. As you can see, Chick-fil-A tends to dominate most states, so if you find yourself in a fast-food-pinch, know that the home of the waffle fries will always be a good bet.
1. Alabama: Checkers
You can find cars wrapped around both side of Checkers/Rally’s in Alabama. This fast food chain has placed its roots in more than half of the 50 states, winning over customers with its iconic burgers and fries. (Seriously – if you’ve never tried their fries, you haven’t lived yet.)
2. Alaska: Tastee Freez
We don’t blame you if you don’t want to travel to Alaska to experience Tastee Freez and all its glory, but if you live within driving distance of one, this soft-serve ice cream chain is a must-try for dessert. Tastee Freez can also be found in several other states, like Arizona, California, and Florida.
3. Arizona: Cold Stone Creamery
Arizona’s home to the Grand Canyon and cacti, but it’s also a proud claimant of Cold Stone Creamery. And no wonder…who wants piping hot french fries when it’s 1,000 degrees outside? Cold Stone Creamery can also be found all throughout the country, serving signature creations folded together on a granite counter top.
4. Arkansas: Whataburger
If you’ve never experienced the pure bliss of a Double Double (or anything else on the Whataburger menu, for that matter), it may be because you don’t live in the south. Whataburger is currently exclusive to Texas (where it’s HQ is located), Oklahoma, Arizona, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Lousiana, New Mexico, and of course…Arkansas!
5. California: In-N-Out Burgers
In-N-Out is practically synonymous with California these days. You can’t scroll through Instgram without seeing a tourist travelling through the Golden State, proudly showcasing their first visit to the burger joint. Is it as great as everyone says it is? Well, part of In-N-Out’s appeal is that it is exclusively on the west coast, with no plans of expanding throughout the entire country.
6. Colorado: Chipotle
Chipotle is one of the most popular fast food joints no matter where in the country you live, but it ranks at the top of the list in Colorado. And whether or not you’re a fan, you’ve got to give it up to the DIY Mexican fast food restaurant. With ecoli outbreaks and queso failures, most places couldn’t come back the way Chipotle has.
7. Connecticut: Shake Shack
Shake Shack is one of the most forward-thinking fast food places in the country. See that photo above? It’s a giant, fried portabello mushroom. The ‘Shroom Burger is one of the most popular vegetarian options in all of the fast food industry, but it’s just one of Shake Shack’s unique and delicious options. From hot dogs and burgers to milk shakes and booze, there’s something for everyone.
8. Delaware: Chick-fil-A
As you can see, Chick-Fil-A tops the list for several states, but are you surprised? With the warm and friendly staff, impeccable consistency, and to-die-for fried chicken (grilled, too, if you’re into that sort of thing), there’s really no beating this franchise. Unless it’s Sunday, then all bets are off.
9. Florida: Chick-fil-A
Sunshine and Chick-Fil-A: two of life’s greatest gifts. It’s no surprise that Floridians, too, are huge fans of the chicken chain. With more than 150 locations in the Sunshine State alone, it’s no wonder Chick-Fil-A is the top fast food joint in Florida.
10. Georgia: Waffle House
You know you’re in Georgia when you’re driving and see a Waffle House on every major street, which makes sense: its headquarters are in the Peach State. It’s as relevant for passers-through as it is for locals.
11. Hawaii: L & L Hawaiian BBQ
While Hawaii does have traditional fast food joints like McDonald’s and Burger King, they’re definitely not the most popular ones on the Islands. L&L Hawaiian BBQ is a local and tourist favorite, coined “The Comfort Food of Hawaii.” From burgers to seafood and rice and meat bowls, L&L is a must-try if you’re ever in Honolulu.
12. Idaho: Moxie Java
Moxie Java is a hometown favorite in Idaho, with locations spread across the entire state. It’s the Gem State’s best-kept secret that they decided to share with Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Carolina. With what started as a quaint neighborhood cafe, Moxie Java turned into a coffee brewing powerhouse that’s still on the rise.
13. Illinois: Potbelly Sandwich Shop
From Washington to Florida and nearly everywhere in between, Potbelly Sandwich Shop has made its mark in the US. But for Illinois? Potbelly is a way of life. Take one drive into Chicago, and you’ll see one on every corner.
14. Indiana: Chick-fil-A
Everyone seems to think there’s nothing in Indiana, but all a Hoosier could ever need is a 12-count nugget and waffle fries, right? From the cornfields to the Indy 500 racetrack, there are Chick-Fil-A locations all over the state.
15. Iowa: Waffle House
Like Indiana, Iowa is considered to be another fly-over state – unless you spot a Waffle House. That’ll stop any Iowan dead in their tracks. From endless coffee to breakfast classics, Waffle House has been running a wildly successful restaurant chain since 1955.
16. Kansas: White Castle
White Castle may have been the laughing stock of the fast food industry in the past, but lately, the tables are turning. In fact, White Castle’s vegan burger was recently named One of the Best Fast Food Burgers in America (yep, you read that right). So, before you go judging those sliders, give this underdog another change. Kansas sure has.
17. Kentucky: KFC
Kentucky’s go-to fast food is none other than its beloved KFC (fun coincidence, huh?). While other fast food fried chicken chains like Popeyes and Bonjangles’ are super successful in the Bluegrass State, KFC is by far a state-wide favorite. That’s a loyalty we can admire.
18. Louisiana: Chick-fil-A
Chick-fil-A wins again down South, where fried chicken is just about as popular as gator tail. What a convenient snack or meal to tote around the French Quarter, or the swamp.
19. Maine: Gifford’s
Mushroom burgers, beer battered shrimp, and even mixed drinks? Maine is expanding beyond it’s traditional lobster feasts at Gifford’s Kitchen.
20. Maryland: Five Guys
Nothing is more addictive than Five Guy’s fries…at least according to Marylanders. Burgers, fries, and a drink: a classic combo that never gets old.
21. Massachusetts: Dunkin’ Donuts
With such chilly winters, it’s no surprise Dunkin’ Donuts remains a warm, comforting favorite across Massachusetts. Grab a hot coffee and dunk in your choice of endless donut varieties.
22. Michigan: Dominos
Michigan has a taste for pizza, and the fan-favorite is Dominos. Maybe it’s the hand-tossed crust (which also now comes in gluten free), or maybe it’s the sauce, but whatever it is, Dominos retains loyal customers statewide.
23. Minnesota: Dairy Queen
Who doesn’t love soft serve? Well…we know who loves it more than most: Minnesota residents. In fact, Minnesota is home to one of the oldest and most iconic fast food places in all of the country – the Rogue Dairy Queen. This Dairy Queen has yet to be updated since it opened and supposedly serves “throwback” menu items.
24. Mississippi: Zaxby’s
Zalads and all manners of Zaxby’s chicken tops the fast food list down in Mississippi. With Zaxby’s claiming to “cure your craving,” Mississippi has inspired us to stop in. Serving everything from “wingz” to “tenderz,” “zalads,” and “zapettizers,” Zaxby’s made itself famous from both its food and its interesting phonetics.
25. Missouri: Panera Bread
Missouri likes to keep things fresh with a side of baked bread by choosing Panera as their favorite fast food joint. Don’t forget they also have a wide selection of smoothies and desserts to go with a salad.
26. Montana: Arby’s
Montana likes it’s fries with a side of stacked, premium roast beef, on a sandwich. However, the Treasure State and Arby’s haven’t always been fond of each other. Back in 2017, Arby’s added an “elk sandwich” to their menu, and hunters in Montana were not happy about it. Since then, the sandwich has been removed and Arby’s has made its way back into Montana’s good graces. Good gracious.
27. Nebraska: Potbelly Sandwich Shop
Nebraska loves a good Potbelly Sandwich to carry across it’s wide-open spaces. The first Potbelly opened up in Nebraska in 2014, and while there are only a handful of locations throughout the Cornhusker State, it topped the charts for the most popular fast food restaurant.
28. Nevada: White Castle
White Castle’s Slider’s have slid into the hearts of Nevada citizens, causing them to keep coming back like teenagers in love. In fact, a 24-hour White Castle is open for business on the Las Vegas strip. Is anyone surprised?
29. New Hampshire: Moe’s Italian Sandwiches
Meet Moe’s Italian Sandwiches, not to be confused with Moe’s Southwest Grill. New Hampshire is going Italiano with its love for Moe’s Italian Sandwiches. Get your Italy fix there, without leaving the States. From specialty sandwiches like the Mad Sicilian (salami, capicola, genoa, provolone, and veggies) to The Original (salami, provolone, and veggies), there’s something for everyone.
30. New Jersey: Blimpie
Jersey prefers Blimpie, over the typical sub shops like Subway and Penn Station. From cold and hot subs to paninis and salads, Blimpie has been serving the States for nearly 50 years. It’s first location was in Hoboken, New Jersey, and the Garden State has been Team Blimpie ever since.
31. New Mexico: Blake’s Lotaburger
What does New Mexico prefer? Lots of burgers…in the form of Blake’s Lotaburger. Looking at how high these brugers are stacked has us in agreement. Blake’s has been in business since 1952, starting in – you guessed it – Albuquerque, New Mexico. Out of their 75 locations, most of them are in New Mexico, with the remaining spots in Arizona and Texas.
32. New York: Sbarro Pizza
New York – who knows how to do pizza – prefers Sbarro. It’s no wonder, with its unique and innovative options like meatball pizza (two classics in one, no less). Sbarro isn’t just a north-east favorite, though. There are locations all over the country (many of which are inside shopping malls).
33. North Carolina: Bojangles’
It’s not surprising that one of the most southen states would choose from its roots: traditional chicken n’ biscuits from Bojangles’. You can find Bojangles’ locations all throughout the Tar Heel State. In fact, there are 32 in Charlotte alone, to give you an idea of how much these folks love their chicken.
34. North Dakota: McDonald’s
Because of its massive presence and history in the United States, you’d expect McDonald’s to be rated the most popular fast food place. However, the franchise is losing steam in many states – except North Dakota. The Peace Garden State is all about the golden arches this year.
35. Ohio: Wendy’s
Wendy’s is quite successful in all the midwestern states (maybe it’s the comfort food thing?), but it ranks number one in the Buckeye State.
36. Oklahoma: Sonic
Sonic offers quick window service with it’s chilled drinks on a hot Oklahoma day. The option to grab a shake or even a burger meal is probably a good reason Sonic is a favorite throughout the state.
37. Oregon: Papa Murphy’s
Oregon’s top fast food place is the take n’ bake pizza joint, Papa Murphy’s (now delivering to select locations!) If you’re not familiar with Papa Murphy’s, just imagine taking home a customized pizza made from scratch and popping it in the oven for dinner. It’s that simple.
38. Pennsylvania: Auntie Annie’s
Pretzels and Pennsylvania go together like…two Ps? We do know one thing: Pennsylvanian’s aren’t wrong for loving what Auntie Annie’s has to offer. From cinnamon sticks to piping-hot, salted pretzels, this fast food chain is one everyone needs in their lives.
39. Rhode Island: Jersey Mike’s
Hot subs, cold subs, subs anyway you’d like (as long as they’re from Jersey Mike’s) are a favorite across Rhode Island. And we can’t blame the X State – Jersey Mikes spices up their sauce with a “secret” concoction that makes every sub melt in your mouth. (If you pay close attention, you’ll realize all it is is oregano, red wine vinegar, and olive oil).
40. South Carolina: Denny’s
South Carolina values its breakfasts so much, it’s claimed Denny’s as its favorite chain. Pankcakes, waffles, or even a Grand Slam hits the Southern spot every time. Plus, most Denny’s locations are open 24/7, so it’s one of the best places (whether you’re in South Carolina or not) to grab a late-night bite to eat.
41. South Dakota: Culver’s
Famous for its “Butter” Burgers, which include a soft buttered bun to house its juicy patties, Culver’s has made a name for itself across South Dakota. The burger franchise is relatively new (it opened in 1984) compared to places like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Steak ‘n Shake, but it’s a local favorite for the states lucky enough to be graced with this gem.
42. Tennessee: Krystal
Krystal seasons its beef patty’s just right for the citizens of Tennesse: with just a little salt and pepper. Krystal locations are primarly in the southern United States (it’s HQ is in Atlanta, Georgia and it’s founding location is in Chattanooga, Tennessee), but it’s definitely worth the stop to try one of their famous sliders.
43. Texas: Whataburger
Everything is bigger in Texas, which may be why Texans prefer hearty Whataburger’s when they have a craving. Piled high with cheese and thick pattys, they’re sure to satisfy even the biggest appetite.
44. Utah: Arctic Circle
Utah has a sweet tooth, specifically for soft serve from Arctic Circle (we’re with you, Utah). However, this fast food joint is a lot more than just ice cream and milkshakes – they serve delicious burgers, fries, and tenders, too.
45. Vermont: Ben & Jerry’s
We can’t blame anyone for favoring Ben & Jerry’s decadent ice cream, even if it’s an entire state like Vermont. And while Ben & Jerry’s is most often purchased in a pint from the grocery store, if you’re lucky enough to live near one of their shops, you’ll taste the difference.
46. Virginia: Five Guys
Virginia loves its crispy fries and classic burgers with a shake side. Nothing like placing a high value on tradition when it comes to choosing a chain favorite. Five Guys is also headquartered in Lorton, Virginia, and opened its founding restaurant in Arlington County, Virginia, in 1986.
47. Washington: Starbucks
Starbucks (and coffee) seems like it’s a favorite no matter where you go. However, it’s particuarly favored by Washington citizens who indulge in premium espresso on the daily. It doesn’t hurt that Starbucks was founded in Seattle, Washington, back in the day. From local startup to the third largest fast food company in the world, Starbucks never fails to surprise us.
48. West Virginia: Gino’s Pizza and Spaghetti
West Virginians have a taste for Italy when it comes to fast food. Gino’s Pizza and Spaghetti delivers two Italian favorites all over the state (the majority of Gino’s locations are in the Mountain State); however, they also serve customer favorites like wings and subs.
49. Wisconsin: Culver’s
Culver’s burgers and their unique buttered buns are winners across Wisconsin (and the entire Midwest, as a matter of fact). Don’t forget their thick custards the next time you drive through the state.
50. Wyoming: Taco John’s
Who knew Wyoming would be the best place to grab tacos, specifically at Taco John’s? Along with traditional Mexican fast food, you can grab a side of potato rounds to still keep it American.
Were you surprised about the best fast food in each state? Let us know what you think in the comments below.