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10 Regional Burger Chains You Have To Try At Least Once

What if the best burger spots are ones you've never tried? These lesser-known spots are worth the gamble.
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A juicy, hot, fresh fast-food burger can really hit the spot. When you get the craving for a cheeseburger, haul of fries with ketchup, and milkshake or cone, time is ticking. But what if it hits when you're in unfamiliar territory? When you need a fast-food burger, you want to ensure it's excellent.

Whether on the road or just feeling adventurous, these are the best regional burger spots to try—or even plan a road trip to check out. These might be fast-food spots, but most of them earn their stripes by using high-quality whole, fresh ingredients that make the difference from that first delicious bite to the last.


culver's butterburger cheese and onion rings
Culver's / Facebook

Where to find it: Wisconsin, the Midwest, and beyond

For Midwest locals, there's no better fast-food burger than the ButterBurger at Culver's—followed by an icy frozen custard, of course. Unlike those custards, the pressed-and-seared meat at this joint is never frozen. The burger is cooked to hot perfection on the grill, and these dairy experts use fresh Wisconsin butter to lightly toast the bun. That and a slice of local cheese make for one seriously perfect burger.

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Burgerville / Facebook

Where to find it: Oregon, Washington

This Pacific Northwest-based burger chain has yet to expand beyond the borders of northern Oregon and southern Washington, but in metropolitan Portland, it might as well be McDonald's. However, the beef used in these burgers had a different lifestyle than the meat Mickey D's has been known to grind. All of the red meat that Burgerville grills up is locally raised Pacific Northwest beef, and it's pasture-raised on open grasslands, grass-fed, and antibiotic- and hormone-free. Combine that with its seasonal fruit milkshakes using Oregon fruit and the Walla Walla onion rings, and you'll see why a meal at Burgerville is an Oregonian's dream.


In-N-Out burgers
Kit Leong / Shutterstock

Where to find it: California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah

Founded in the Baldwin Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, In-N-Out is today one of the most recognizable fast-food burger chains in the country. The chain's reach stretches to seven states, but whenever a burger-loving person visits its home state of California, In-N-Out is on the list.

And, yes, plenty of naysayers argue that Animal Style is overrated, but have you seen the lines at the long, winding drive-throughs? People keep lining up because every ingredient is delivered fresh every day, and the beef on that Animal Style burger is mustard-grilled for that classic, unmissable salty-tangy flavor. Plus, unlike many other fast-food joints, In-N-Out provides a working wage and benefits to all employees. It's all part of the restaurant chain's values.

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HiHo Cheeseburger

HiHo Cheeseburger
HiHo Cheeseburger/X

Where to find it: Los Angeles

While we're on the subject of California burgers, it's time to let those of you who don't live in Los Angeles in on a little secret. That secret is HiHo Cheeseburger. The four-location mini-chain is one of the only fast-casual spots in the world where you can get a 100% grass-fed and grass-finished Wagyu burger for less than $10. Plus, the potatoes used for the french fries are non-GMO, the buns are baked from locally milled wheat daily (no preservatives added), and there's no high-fructose corn syrup in the buns, either—or in the shakes, pickles, and ketchup. As if all that wasn't enough?  There's a housemade, gluten-free, vegan patty for vegetarians.

Blake's Lotaburger

blake's lotaburger burger with green chiles
Blake's Lotaburger

Where to find it: New Mexico, Arizona, Texas

This one stands out because the burger includes an ingredient you don't usually see on menus outside of New Mexico and Arizona: Hatch green chiles. Hatch green chiles are an essential ingredient in New Mexican cooking. They're so popular that using both varietals—red and green—is a common topping called "Christmas," whether it's on burritos, tacos, or nachos. Blake's sticks with the more traditional green chile, which is also less spicy, and smears it on the burger alongside some gooey cheese, fresh and never-frozen beef, lettuce, tomato, and all the fixings. Once you have one, you'll get the hype.

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Tucker's Onion Burgers

Tuckers Onion Burgers plate
Tucker's Onion Burgers / Facebook

Where to find it: Oklahoma

This one is a regional specialty to Oklahoma, but don't discount it on account of being a single-state burger chain. Both Tulsa and Oklahoma City have strong food, hotel, and art scenes. Give Oklahoma a chance on your next road trip, and swing by Tucker's to get into the onion burger thing. As the name suggests, these burgers include the restaurant's "perfectly caramelized, crispy-on-the-edges onions." That something extra has remained the star ingredient since the 1920s when onion burgers became an Oklahoma staple.

Halo Burger

Halo Burger
Halo Burger/Facebook

Where to find it: Michigan

Continuing the super regional focus, Halo Burger is only found in Michigan. There are just eight locations, but this brand is one to watch. Dating back to 1923, Halo is one of the oldest burger chains in the U.S., often referred to as the home to "Michigan's best burger."

The joint's original take was fresh, never-frozen beef, which comes char-grilled and served with tomatoes, lettuce, and mayonnaise. Now, it's served "the works" with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise on a fresh-baked bun. It's simple and utterly delicious. If you're feeling adventurous, go for the Olive Burger—a cheeseburger with a layer of sliced green olives. Get that and a side of the Halo tots, and you're on your way to being a native Michigander—at least for a meal.

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Burger Time

burger time burger

Where to find it: Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota

Another relatively small, local chain, this one stretches to eight locations across three states. The quality of its 100% beef burgers is summed up in its slogan: "More Good Food for Your Money." If you're in and around Minnesota or either of the Dakotas, pull up for a double (or even a triple) homestyle burger, which comes with a 1/3-pound beef patty (or patties), mayo, onion, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and ketchup. Replace the fries with cheese curds or fried pickles for a real sense of place.



Where to find it: Mississippi

Founded by two brothers who worked almost round the clock to get their restaurant off the ground, Ward's boils down to two items: Big One and Lil' One. These two size options refer to burgers, yes, but the main selling point at Ward's is that the burgers are doused in signature chili, cheese, and sauce. The burgers can be served up in combos.

There are other items (chili dogs, for example) and healthier fare like salads and chicken wraps, but when you're in Mississippi, do it the Ward's way. While the burger chain is only in Mississippi, it's got locations all over the state, so once you're within the borders, you're likely to bump into one without trying. The chain also makes homemade root beer on-site, so grab a mug to wash that chili down.

 10 Restaurant Chains That Serve the Best Chili

Swensons Drive-In

swensons drive in ohio
Michelle K. / Yelp

Where to find it: Ohio

Drive-ins are few and far between these days, but Ohio's signature Swensons is still going strong. Founded in 1934 by Wesley T. "Pop" Swenson, who insisted on using fresh-ground beef, Swensons made a name for itself. To this day, the restaurant proclaims itself as America's best cheeseburger. Try it for yourself to decide, but the signature double cheeseburger with special sauce is award-winning. In place of fries, try a side of Potato Teezer, a crispy, deep-fried, gooey mix of potato, cheese, and mild jalapeños.

Caitlin White
Caitlin White is a Los Angeles-based lifestyle reporter with an expertise in food and travel. Read more about Caitlin