Top 10 Burger Chains in the US


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America is the birthplace of the modern hamburger, so it’s not at all surprising that hamburger chains dot in every state. Here are the best-known US burger chains that are either operating regionally or globally.

McDonald’s

McDonalds

We think almost everyone on the planet has heard of, seen or been to McDonald’s. It is currently the largest burger chain not only here at home but worldwide, serving in 119 countries. Richard and Maurice McDonald began their food business in the late 1940s, and eventually they reorganized their establishment as a burger fast food restaurant.

Businessman Ray Kroc is credited with the founding of McDonald’s Corporation in 1955.  He eventually bought the company from the brothers and, together with setting new standards in food preparations and customer service, turned it into a multimillion global powerhouse. It predominantly sells burgers, the best known being the Big Mac and the Quarter Pounder with cheese, as well as fries, salads, wraps and frozen delights. In their international outlets though, menu slightly differs depending on the franchising country.

Burger King

The History of Burger King

Serving 73 countries through its 12,700 outlets, Burger King is also one big global player in the burger business. Its flagship food item is the Whopper, whose fresh beef patty is cooked on an open-fire grill. Aside from the usual burger trimmings, more ingredients such as cheese, bacon, mustard, are added depending on the customer’s request. In their regional and international outlets, adaptations to local flavors are incorporated into the Whopper. Aside from their beef-based burgers, Burger King also serves chicken and fish sandwiches, veggie burgers and (in some of their international branches) spicy bean burger.

Wendy’s

 

Wendy’s was founded in 1969 in Columbus, Ohio, and is now operating and serving worldwide. Its current flagship burgers consist of “Junior” burgers (2.25 ounces and are either served in single or double patties depending on the customer’s orders) and “Single” 4 ounce burgers (served in single, double and triple sizes). Its recent addition is their Hot and Juicy cheeseburgers. Wendy’s is the first fast food chain to introduce a salad bar. It also has offerings of breakfast sandwiches and the signature frozen dessert, called Frosty, which has many variants and toppings such as M&Ms and Oreo cookie crumbles.

In-N-Out

In-N-Out

This family-style burger restaurant was first established in Baldwin Park, California in 1948. It holds credit as the first hamburger stand with the drive-thru system. It’s also renowned for its fresh ingredients. Their beef patties come right off the grinder, never frozen, pre-molded and pre-seasoned unlike in many other burger chains. Customers may witness potatoes being sliced right before their very eyes before these spuds get submerged into the deep fryer; the french fries are then served unsalted.

The buns are freshly baked, too. In-N-Out branches used to be concentrated heavily on the West Coast; now it has opened its doors to expansion outside the area and into a few states such as Texas, Arizona, Utah and Nevada. It’s also a favorite of world-class chefs like Gordon Ramsey, Anthony Bourdain, Thomas Keller, Mario Batali and Julia Child. Despite its gradual expansion, In-N-Out still retains its family style goodness in its menu. The Double Double cheeseburger is a must-try for those who want to experience dining at In-N-Out.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Front door of a Five Guys restaurant

Owned by Five Guys Enterprices LLC in Lorton, Virginia, Five Guys Burgers and Fries was founded in 1986. Raves for this restaurant rest chiefly on its very good and juicy beef patties, prompt quality customer service, freedom for customers to choose their own toppings and condiments, and the relatively affordable price. Customers can see sacks of potatoes, stacking on top of each other at the dining area — an interesting feature.

While waiting for their order, the customers will still never go hungry as free peanuts are are available for munching. In 2003 Five Guys started franchising, and now it has over a thousand restaurants throughout the US and Canada – more stores are coming every day, so expect to see more of those red-and-white checkered joints popping up everywhere. Read The History of Five Guys Burgers and Fries for more information on the origins and expansion of this restaurant.

Shake Shack

Started as a hot dog cart in New York City in 2001, Shake Shack has grown into an international chain. Known for its Angus beef burgers, crinkle-cut fries, and frozen custard, Shake Shack also offers a variety of vegetarian options. Their ShackBurger is a fan favorite.

Culver’s

Another burger joint deserving to be in this list is Culver’s, whose operations concentrate in the Midwest. The Sauk City, Wisconsin-founded chain’s claim to fame rests on two things: butterburgers and frozen custard. “Butterburgers” aren’t really burgers that are fried in melted butter; but the buns are slathered with butter, thus giving Culver’s burgers a distinct flavor. Their frozen custard is like ice cream, except that it has added eggs and very smooth texture – a winner amongst frozen dessert lovers. Its sponsorship to various sports teams such as the Chicago Cubs and Wisconsin Badgers have proven to be a boon for the company as well.

Sonic Drive-In

Introduction to Sonic Drive-In

Sonic, founded in 1953, offers a unique drive-in experience. Customers can order from their cars and have food delivered by carhops, sometimes on roller skates. Sonic is known for its extensive menu, including burgers, hot dogs, and a variety of drinks and slushes.

The History of Jack in the Box

One of the longest-running American fast food chains first established in San Diego, CA., Jack In The Box was the first food establishment to implement the two-way intercom system in its drive-thru services. Its menu is slightly different from other fast casual dining chains as it offers Americanized versions of international cuisine like tacos, egg rolls, and cheese-stuffed jalapeno poppers. Its line of burgers include the Jumbo Jack, Sourdough Jack, bacon cheeseburger, BLT (bacon, lettuce, tomatoes) cheeseburger, and All-American Jack. To know more about this restaurant, check out The History of Jack in the Box.

Whataburger

Founded in 1950 in Corpus Christi, Texas, Whataburger is a beloved Southern chain known for its large, customizable burgers. The chain operates primarily in the Southern United States and is known for its spicy ketchup and taquitos.

Additional Popular Burger Chains

Burgerville

Another fast food burger chain of note is Burgerville whose branches are scattered througout Washington and Oregon. It is unique because it serves food made from locally-grown produce as well as some different items not found in other hamburger chains. For instance, Burgerville uses Tilamook Cheese, which is locally made in Oregon, for their burgers. It serves milkshakes and frozen yogurt smoothies (called Yocream) with fresh seasonal berries, pumpkins, and even hazelnuts.

Burgerville’s fresh strawberry shortcakes, sweet potato fries, sweet onion rings (the Walla Walla variety) as well as tempura-style fried asparagus are what makes it not just your usual burger chain. Burgervilles’ unconventional ways of running its restaurants is worth noting too. Aside from supporting the local produce mostly around Oregon, Burgerville does its own business practices that are environmentally sound and good for the health. It uses only trans-fat-free canola oil and free-range organic beef for their menu; it also utilizes renewable energy and does composting of their wastes.

Back Yard Burgers

Founded in Cleveland, Mississippi in 1987, Back Yard Burgers’ branches concentrate mainly on the Southern and Midwestern States. They offer a variety of burgers, including burgers made witih 100% Black Angus beef; chicken sandwiches such as the spicy Blackened Chicken, as well as turkey burgers like the Turkey Club, Wild Turkey, and Classic Turkey burger. Their frozen desserts are BYB’s hits too, most especially their milkshakes.

Smashburger

A Well Arranged Smashburger
By Celeste Lindell Flickr CC BY 20 httpscommonswikimediaorgwindexphpcurid=11058254

Part of the Smashburger’s name and slogan – “smash. sizzle. savor.” – comes from the method it prepares its burgers. Smashburger’s beef patties are made from fresh, pure black Angus beef. A ball of ground beef is put on a hot and buttered griddle, then “smashed” with a two-handed press to flatten it, thus turning it into a patty. Then it is seared and seasoned with the restaurant’s own blend of spices. There are two different burger patty presses in relation to size – one for the 1/3 pound and another for the 1/2 pound. Smashburger also allows for a wide range of topping options.

Steak ‘n Shake

Founded in Normal, Illinois in 1934, Steak ‘n Shake is known for its steakburgers and hand-dipped milkshakes. The chain offers a variety of burger options, often cooked to order, and is a favorite for late-night diners.

Habit Burger Grill

The History of Habit Burger

Established in 1969 in Santa Barbara, California, Habit Burger Grill offers chargrilled burgers, sandwiches, and salads. Known for its flavorful charburgers, the chain emphasizes fresh ingredients and made-to-order meals.

Fuddruckers

Founded in 1980 in San Antonio, Texas, Fuddruckers is famous for its build-your-own burger concept. Customers can customize their burgers with a wide range of toppings and condiments at the toppings bar. The chain prides itself on using fresh, never-frozen beef.

White Castle

white castle slides image

One of the oldest fast food chains, White Castle was founded in 1921 in Wichita, Kansas. It is known for its small, square sliders, which are cooked with onions and served on steamed buns. White Castle has a cult following and is especially popular in the Midwest and Northeast.

Red Robin

Founded in 1969 in Seattle, Washington, Red Robin is a casual dining chain known for its gourmet burgers and bottomless steak fries. The menu includes a wide variety of burger options, along with salads, soups, and appetizers.

Checkers/Rally’s

Founded in 1986, Checkers and Rally’s operate as sister brands primarily in the Eastern and Midwestern United States. Known for their double drive-thru lanes, they offer a range of burgers, fries, and seasoned chicken wings.

Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers

Established in 2002 in Wichita, Kansas, Freddy’s specializes in steakburgers, hot dogs, and frozen custard. The chain emphasizes a classic American diner experience, with a focus on high-quality ingredients.

Shake’s Frozen Custard

Founded in Joplin, Missouri, Shake’s Frozen Custard offers a range of burgers, fries, and frozen custard treats. Known for their creamy frozen custard, they provide a nostalgic dining experience.

Elevation Burger

Founded in 2002 in Falls Church, Virginia, Elevation Burger is dedicated to offering organic, grass-fed beef burgers. The chain emphasizes sustainability and quality, providing a healthier fast food option.

Fatburger

Founded in 1947 in Los Angeles, California, Fatburger is known for its large, juicy burgers and thick shakes. The chain offers a wide variety of burger sizes and toppings, catering to those with a hearty appetite.

These secondary burger chains each bring their unique twist to the American fast food landscape, ensuring that burger lovers have plenty of options to choose from.

 

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