Fast food restaurants have flourished in the United States because they meet the needs of busy people by providing nutritious and delicious meals in a short amount of time. Different fast food companies in the United States have become cultural emblems, recognized the world over.
These restaurants, serving anything from burgers and fries to tacos and pizzas, have made an indelible mark on diners throughout the country. Each state’s most popular fast food business will be profiled, along with its specialties and cultural importance.
1. Alabama – Chick-fil-A
Chick-fil-A takes the crown in Alabama for its famous chicken sandwiches and exceptional customer service. Known for its slogan “Eat Mor Chikin,” this chain has garnered a loyal following, making it a staple in the state’s fast-food landscape.
2. Alaska – McDonald’s
McDonald’s reigns supreme in Alaska, as it does in many other states. The global giant’s presence in the Last Frontier is a testament to its widespread popularity and ability to cater to diverse tastes, providing comfort food in even the most remote areas.
3. Arizona – In-N-Out Burger
In-N-Out Burger has captivated Arizonans with its simple yet delicious menu and fresh ingredients. With its “secret menu” and iconic animal-style burgers, this West Coast favorite has made its mark in the Grand Canyon State.
4. Arkansas – Sonic Drive-In
Sonic Drive-In is the go-to fast-food joint in Arkansas, famous for its drive-in stalls and roller-skating carhops. Their extensive menu, which includes burgers, hot dogs, and slushies, appeals to families and nostalgic individuals alike.
5. California – Starbucks
Though primarily known for its coffee, Starbucks boasts a significant presence in California, where its cafes serve as popular gathering spots for socializing, remote work, and enjoying a wide variety of drinks and snacks.
6. Colorado – Chipotle Mexican Grill
Colorado residents have embraced Chipotle’s commitment to fresh and sustainable ingredients, making it the top fast-food chain in the state. Their customizable burritos and bowls cater to a wide range of tastes and dietary preferences.
7. Connecticut – Subway
Subway’s “Eat Fresh” approach has made it Connecticut’s favorite fast-food chain. The sandwich empire’s vast array of toppings and bread options cater to health-conscious consumers and sandwich enthusiasts alike.
8. Delaware – Wawa
Wawa, a convenience store chain, has gained immense popularity in Delaware. Renowned for its made-to-order hoagies, snacks, and beverages, Wawa has become an integral part of the state’s food culture.
9. Florida – Publix
Publix supermarkets, with their vast deli sections offering subs, fried chicken, and other prepared foods, dominate the fast-food scene in Florida. Locals often turn to Publix for quick and delicious meals.
10. Georgia – Zaxby’s
Zaxby’s claims the top spot in Georgia, captivating locals with its hand-breaded chicken fingers, wings, and signature sauces. This Southern favorite has expanded its footprint beyond the state and continues to win over taste buds nationwide.
11. Hawaii – Zippy’s
Zippy’s is a Hawaii-based fast-food chain that has gained immense popularity for its diverse menu, including Hawaiian dishes like plate lunches and spam musubi.
12. Idaho – Boise Fry Company
Idaho, known for its potatoes, naturally has a strong affinity for fries. Boise Fry Company has capitalized on this by offering a variety of unique fries and customizable toppings, making it the state’s most popular fast-food chain.
13. Illinois – Portillo’s
Portillo’s has won the hearts of Illinois residents with its classic Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches, and delicious chocolate cake shakes. This regional chain remains a beloved staple in the state’s fast-food landscape.
14. Indiana – Steak ‘n Shake
Steak ‘n Shake is Indiana’s go-to destination for delicious steakburgers and hand-dipped milkshakes. The restaurant’s vintage vibe and affordable prices attract both locals and travelers passing through the Hoosier State.
15. Iowa – Maid-Rite
Iowa residents can’t resist the loose meat sandwiches offered by Maid-Rite, a beloved fast-food chain that originated in the state. The unique taste and nostalgic appeal of this simple yet satisfying meal have kept customers coming back for generations.
16. Kansas – Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut’s iconic red-roof restaurants have been a fixture in Kansas and beyond for decades. Their deep-dish and pan pizzas, along with various pasta dishes and wings, have made them a household name across the state.
17. Kentucky – KFC
As the birthplace of Colonel Sanders and his famous original recipe chicken, it’s no surprise that KFC remains the top fast-food chain in Kentucky. The finger-lickin’s good flavors continue to delight both locals and tourists.
18. Louisiana – Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
Popeyes, with its New Orleans-inspired Cajun flavors and irresistible fried chicken, is the reigning fast-food favorite in Louisiana. Their distinctive spices and unique side dishes set them apart from other chicken chains.
19. Maine – Dunkin’ (formerly Dunkin’ Donuts)
Maine, known for its love of coffee and pastries, has embraced Dunkin’ for its wide selection of donuts, bagels, and signature coffee blends.
20. Maryland – Roy Rogers Restaurants
Roy Rogers Restaurants are Maryland’s most popular fast-food chain, famous for its roast beef sandwiches, fried chicken, and burgers. The chain’s Western theme and tasty offerings have earned a dedicated local fan base.
21. Massachusetts – Legal Sea Foods
In the seafood-loving state of Massachusetts, Legal Sea Foods reigns supreme. Known for its fresh and high-quality seafood dishes, this chain has become a symbol of the state’s culinary heritage.
22. Michigan – Big Boy
Big Boy, with its iconic chubby mascot, has been a favorite in Michigan since the mid-20th century. Known for its classic burgers and creamy shakes, this chain continues to evoke nostalgia among patrons.
23. Minnesota – Dairy Queen
Minnesota residents turn to Dairy Queen for their famous soft-serve ice cream, Blizzards, and a range of fast-food offerings. The chain’s icy treats are especially cherished during the state’s warmer months.
24. Mississippi – Krystal
Krystal, an American fast-food restaurant known for its small, square hamburgers, is the most popular chain in Mississippi. Its unique menu items and budget-friendly prices have garnered a loyal following.
25. Missouri – Panera Bread
Panera Bread’s bakery-café concept, offering a variety of freshly baked bread and sandwiches, has captured the hearts of Missourians. The chain’s focus on quality ingredients and healthier options resonates with a broad customer base.
26. Montana – Taco John’s
Taco John’s has emerged as the favorite fast-food chain in Montana, offering a mix of Mexican-inspired fare such as tacos, burritos, and potato oles. Its unique menu sets it apart from other Tex-Mex chains.
27. Nebraska – Runza
Runza, a Nebraska-based fast-food chain, is famous for its namesake dish: a traditional German-Russian bread pocket filled with seasoned ground beef, onions, and cabbage. This local delight has become an integral part of Nebraskan cuisine.
28. Nevada – In-N-Out Burger
In-N-Out Burger’s popularity isn’t just limited to California. The chain has made a significant impact in Nevada, offering its delectable burgers and iconic “animal-style” options to hungry patrons.
29. New Hampshire – McDonald’s
McDonald’s continues to be a top choice in New Hampshire, catering to residents and visitors with its familiar menu of burgers, fries, and McFlurries.
30. New Jersey – White Castle
White Castle, the original fast-food hamburger chain, has been the most popular choice in New Jersey since its founding in 1921. Known for its small, square sliders, affectionately called “sliders,” this chain remains an enduring favorite.
31. New Mexico – Blake’s Lotaburger
Blake’s Lotaburger, a New Mexico-based chain, takes the lead with its delicious green chile cheeseburgers, reflecting the state’s Southwestern culinary influences.
32. New York – Shake Shack
Shake Shack’s rise to fame started in New York City, where its high-quality burgers, milkshakes, and crinkle-cut fries have become a local phenomenon. Its popularity has since spread to other states and internationally.
33. North Carolina – Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits
Bojangles’ distinctive Southern flavors, especially its seasoned fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits, make it North Carolina’s most beloved fast-food chain.
34. North Dakota – Dairy Queen
Dairy Queen’s soft-serve ice cream and fast-food offerings continue to be a hit in North Dakota, especially during the state’s hot summers.
35. Ohio – Wendy’s
Founded in Ohio, Wendy’s has become a nationwide success. The chain’s square-shaped burgers, sea salt fries, and fresh ingredients have won the hearts of Ohioans and fast-food lovers across the country.
36. Oklahoma – Braum’s Ice Cream & Dairy Store
Braum’s is a regional favorite in Oklahoma, known for its premium ice cream, dairy products, and burgers. This family-owned chain has been serving up smiles and treats for generations.
37. Oregon – Burgerville
Burgerville, a Pacific Northwest favorite, is the most popular fast-food chain in Oregon. Known for its commitment to local and sustainable ingredients, Burgerville’s seasonal menu delights both residents and tourists.
38. Pennsylvania – Sheetz
Sheetz’s unique concept of combining a convenience store with a made-to-order food counter has made it Pennsylvania’s top fast-food destination. Its vast menu includes everything from sandwiches and salads to milkshakes and breakfast items.
39. Rhode Island – Dunkin’ (formerly Dunkin’ Donuts)
Dunkin’ remains the most popular fast-food chain in Rhode Island, where residents enjoy their coffee and a variety of donut options.
40. South Carolina – Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits
Bojangles’ Southern charm and delectable menu continue to dominate the fast-food landscape in South Carolina, winning over locals and tourists alike.
41. South Dakota – Culver’s
Culver’s, known for its butter burgers and frozen custard, has gained popularity in South Dakota. Its fresh ingredients and delightful desserts make it a favorite in the state.
42. Tennessee – Krystal
Krystal, the chain known for its small, square hamburgers, is also Tennessee’s most beloved fast-food destination. Its unique menu items and affordable prices have resonated with Tennesseans for years.
43. Texas – Whataburger
In the Lone Star State, Whataburger reigns supreme. Known for its made-to-order burgers and 24/7 service, this Texas-born chain has a dedicated following.
44. Utah – Arctic Circle
Utah residents have embraced Arctic Circle for its delicious fry sauce and signature “big burger.” The regional chain’s unique offerings have made it a favorite fast-food joint.
45. Vermont – Ben & Jerry’s
Vermont’s most popular fast-food chain is not your typical burger joint. Ben & Jerry’s, known for its premium ice cream and creative flavors, has captured the hearts of Vermonters and ice cream enthusiasts worldwide.
47. Virginia – Five Guys
Five Guys, originally founded in Virginia, has become a nationwide sensation. Known for its customizable burgers and unlimited free toppings, the chain’s popularity continues to soar.
48. Washington – Starbucks
Washington residents, like many others across the country, turn to Starbucks for their coffee fix and a variety of snacks and drinks.
49. West Virginia – Tudor’s Biscuit World
Tudor’s Biscuit World is a beloved chain in West Virginia, serving up a diverse menu of savory biscuit sandwiches that cater to breakfast and lunch crowds alike.
50. Wisconsin – Culver’s
Culver’s has earned a reputation for its butter burgers and fresh frozen custard, making it Wisconsin’s top fast-food choice.
51. Wyoming – Taco John’s
Wyoming residents have embraced Taco John’s for its mix of Mexican-inspired fare and its signature Potato Oles, making it the state’s most popular fast-food chain.