The next best thing to hitting the road is thinking about it. So even if the pandemic is keeping you from traveling right now, don't let it keep you from enjoying the thought of getting out on the road some day.
One of my favorite parts of any road trip is the food. We'll get to your favorite road trip snacks in a future post, but for now, let's focus on the Great American Road Trip Meal — burgers.
Yes, you could fill up at the Golden Arches or any of the thousands of other national burger franchises that stand off freeway exits from coast to coast. But why not try something you can't always find back at home, instead?
I get it — what if you're just looking for a good, quick meal and you're not wanting to add an extra, out-of-the-way destination to your trip? You've still got some great options out there that are not the ubiquitous McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's. Remember these names and give them a try next time you're out on the road.
Culver's has expanded far beyond its Wisconsin roots, and it's a must-stop for me whenever I see one at mealtime on the road. The Butterburgers are top-notch and the fried cheese curds an indulgent side dish. If I'm not feeling a burger, Culver's offers a nice deep-fried fish sandwich and some locations offer a tasty pot roast, too.
800+ locations in 10 states: Menu and Locations
You'll find this Texas institution throughout the state, as well as in several neighboring states. Go for the signature Whataburger (maybe with jalapeños?), or try the Patty Melt on what the rest of the country calls Texas Toast.
Steak 'n Shake
600+ locations in 31 states: Menu and Locations
This was my go-to place for burgers growing up in Indianapolis. The Steakburger remains one of the great deals in fast food, and I'm a sucker for well-made shoestring fries.
You won't find many locations of this New York-based chain out on the Interstate, but it's a great choice often found near many attractions. (There's one next to The Wheel in Orlando's ICON Park.) The burgers might look small, but they are deceptively filling.
The oldest operating In-N-Out stands within walking distance of my home in Southern California. Located on the west coast, with a few locations in Texas, In-N-Out is all about the burgers. No chicken, hot dogs, or salads here.
100+ locations in 22 states: Menu, Locations
I wanted a Florida chain on my list, and readers I polled on social media suggested BurgerFi, an emerging chain based in the Sunshine State. This is the only one on my list I haven't tried yet, but readers endorse these double-patty burgers. I also love the name for the "Conflicted Burger," which features one beef and one veggie patty.
Let me throw in three honorable mentions. California's The Habit Burger might have made my list if I had published it six months ago. But in March, Habit was bought by Yum! Brands, the conglomerate that owns KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. So it's about to become a big national brand, rather than the more regional ones I was hoping to feature here.
For truly local chains, though, allow to me suggest two from the Pacific Northwest. Burgerville has 37 locations in Oregon and Washington and features some great seasonal options, including berry milkshakes and salads in addition to its burgers. And Dick's Drive-In is a Seattle institution, serving basic, no-substitutions burgers that always satisfy.
After voting in our poll, please let us know about some of your other favorite burger places that theme park fans should visit on their next road trip, whenever that might be.Tweet
This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.