Regional Food Chains You Desperately Wish Would Go National
Ben's Chili Bowl
Ben's Chili Bowl has four locations, two in D.C. and two in Virginia, but its reputation has already spread across the U.S. This is no ordinary bowl of chili. The first Ben's opened in 1958, and it has become a must-visit for anyone in and around D.C. We wish this spot would go national so we could get our Ben's Chili fix more often.
This Southern spot has two locations in Nashville with one in Franklin coming soon. For melt-in-your-mouth biscuits, delicious breakfast, and craveable lunch, Biscuit Love is your destination. It was born in the South, but Biscuit Love belongs everywhere. (Get your bit of Biscuit Love in their online shop, complete with mugs, t-shirts, aprons, and brunch sets.)
Few things are more Southern than a biscuit, and Biscuitville currently provides buttery, flaky biscuits to grateful patrons in Virginia and North Carolina. Biscuitville is headquartered in Winston-Salem, and it's a favorite spot for Southern food. Browse Biscuitville's breakfast and lunch menus for an instant, mouthwatering craving. (Sweet Potato Casserole and Southern Fried Okra, anyone?) For now, though, you'll have to travel to the East Coast for a taste.
Had any frozen custard lately? No? That's why everyone needs access to a Culver's. Their menu, which originated in Wisconsin, is filled with treats like frozen custard, Butterburgers, snacks, soups, and Concrete Mixers, which are similar to milkshakes, only thicker. Culver's is growing, with locations coming soon in many midwestern states. However, the Northeast, Deep South, and West Coast are still waiting for a taste of Culver's.
This burger joint's old-fashioned style has amassed fans from far and wide. The original In-N-Out is in California, and there are also locations in Texas, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. Get the know the menu, because if you ever get to order at In-N-Out, you'll want to be prepared. (And you'll want to have their secret-ish menu at the ready.)
This spot serves kolaches, which are traditional, bite-size Czech staples. Never heard of them? They're doughy, fruit- or meat-filled, and oh-so delicious. They may be hard to pronounce if you've never heard of them, but they're certainly not hard to crave. Kolache Factory locations can be found in Texas and Oklahoma, but they do ship out of state, so you can get a taste no matter where you live.
Milo's has been an Alabama mainstay since 1946. For burgers, chicken sandwiches, and crinkle-cut fries, you can't beat Milo's. Their much-loved sweet tea is billed as "the South in a glass." If you can't make it to a Milo's shop, you may be able to get a taste of their tea, as it is sold in many grocery stores in the U.S. (Find the retailers that carry Milo's here.)
Shake Shack is on the move. This cult-favorite burger joint started out as an NYC-only spot, but it's now treating burger lovers across the country—in Atlanta, Lexington, Houston, and Miami—to tasty burgers, perfectly crispy fries, and Shack Sauce galore. The more widespread Shake Shack becomes, the happier we all are.
Steel City Pops
The whole country needs to be exposed to the refreshing, simple charm that is a Steel City pop. This Alabama-based pop shop has locations in Texas, Kentucky, and throughout Alabama, so if you happen upon a Steel City Pops shop, don't pass it up. Pops are a summertime staple, but thanks to Steel City Pops, we're craving them year-round. (We'd recommend the Buttermilk and Coffee pops, for starters.)
Billed as the original Mexican patio cafe, Taco Cabana has over 160 locations in Texas. Their inexpensive fare is great for catering and large orders, but it's especially delicious in the A.M., with breakfast tacos, breakfast burritos, and breakfast burritos galore. (Order a few breakfast-taco boxes for your colleagues at the office, and you'll be the M.V.P. of the work week.)
For a Mediterranean-inspired meal, look no further than Taziki's. It's slowly but surely growing in scale, with locations across the Southern states providing us with a sprawling menu of fresh Mediterranean selections. But our friends in the Northeast, Midwest, and West deserve a taste of these gyros, dolmades, soups, and salads too.
Texas residents have Torchy's Tacos cravings at least once a week. Former Texas residents have been known to spend their lunch hours browsing airfares to the Lone Star State, all while dreaming of Torchy's. The queso. The guacamole. The breakfast tacos. It's all delicious. Headquartered in Texas, there are now over 30 Torchy's storefronts with locations in Oklahoma and Colorado too.