Road trips and fast food go hand in hand. But making the right choices when deciding where to pull off and eat can be tricky.

Do you go with a reliable national joint or test your luck at a regional chain?

We recommend going with the latter. McDonald's and Chipotle are great... but you can eat them at home. Instead, test out these local specialties. We promise, you won't regret it.

In the South

whataburger - a texas treasure

Nothing says "delicious burger" like a cult following, and that's exactly what Whataburger has. Southerners -- Texans, in particular -- go nuts for these burgers, patty melts (on Texas toast!) and addictive fries.


We may not agree with their politics, but they sure do know how to make chicken taste like heaven. Get a pack of nuggets and/or a sandwich, fries and lots of Polynesian sauce. There are locations all over the South, you can't -- and shouldn't -- miss them. Get a milkshake for the road.

Bojangles (Edited)

Another Southern staple you need to check out, Bojangles has chicken and biscuits down to a science. A really tasty science.

Only in the South would you find a place called Biscuitville. Located throughout North Carolina and Virgina, Biscuitville specialize in one of the most quintessential road trip meals -- all-day breakfast. Bacon, egg and cheese on a biscuit? Yes, please!

On The West Coast

I Love The Smell Of In-N-Out In The Morning

Renowned around the country, but only available to West Coasters (and some lucky Texans), In-N-Out is famous for its burgers and secret-menu items. This is probably already high on your list if you're driving along the West Coast, but if it's not, it should be.

Dick's Drive-In
Dick's Drive-In, Edmonds, Washington

Dick's Deluxe Burger is a Washington-state cult classic. A smaller chain with locations around the Seattle-area, Dick's serves up the classic trio of burgers, fries and shakes. Check out the hype while you're in the region.

Jack in the Box

With burgers, all-day breakfast, tacos and dessert, Jack in the Box pretty much satisfies all cravings. The chain is infamous for operating 24 hours a day, so you can fill those cravings whenever you want. Though there are select locations scattered around the country, the chain is most populous on the West Coast.

In The Northeast

Silver Diner
Silver Diner

If you're wary of roadside diners, don't fear -- the Silver Diner, a chain with locations in New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia, won't let you down. The menu is huge and the food quality is high. The chain's food policy emphasizes locally sourced, seasonal ingredients.

Mighty Taco
It's A Buffalo Thing

The perfect stop on a trip through upstate New York, Mighty Taco is a favorite of locals and worth any traveler's visit. The menu allows for plenty of taco and burrito customization, and if you really love it, their "chow down" service will ship products to wherever you live in the United States.

In The Mid West


One word: Butterbugers. Culver's trademark Butterburger, famous frozen custard and house-brand root beer make it a destination for your midwest road trip.

Maid Rite

One of the oldest chain restaurants in the United States, Maid-Rite has been serving up "loose meat sandwiches" since 1926. If you need a change of pace from the usual burger and fries, try Maid-Rite's sloppy joe-esque sandwich with a side of cheese curds.

Taco John's
taco john's... not bad.

For a spin on fast food-style "West Mex," check out Taco John's. They've got your typical fare, in addition to modern incarnations such as the stuffed grilled taco, taco burger and a meat and potato burrito.

What are your favorite chains to stop at while driving on the open road?

Also on HuffPost:

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  • Las Vegas to Idaho: 500 miles

    <strong>Route:</strong> Follow U.S. 93 from Las Vegas all the way up to Twin Falls, Idaho. <strong>What to expect:</strong> The stark landscape of the northern Mojave, quiet ranch towns, the scented scrub and snowy peaks of the Great Basin, the impressive Snake River Canyon in Twin Falls. Continue another hour north (on the much busier State Route 75) and you land smack in one of the Continent's most exclusive ski resorts, Sun Valley. <strong>Pit stop:</strong> Midway, take a break in <a href="" target="_hplink">Ely</a> for a dose of the Silver State at its most old-school: nickel slots at the historic Hotel Nevada and fresh and delicious American Chinese food at the retro-fab Happy Garden.

  • Maine, Way Up North: 265 miles

    <strong>Route:</strong> U.S. 1 and 1A from Fort Kent to Machias, ME. <strong>What to expect:</strong> Route 1 without traffic lights and dated shopping centers may be hard to imagine for residents of the Eastern Seaboard who know it as one of the region's most congested roads. But before this iconic coastal highway gets started for real on its route down to Key West, Florida, it runs quite the lap through Maine, from Fort Kent in the far (far!) north -- bring your French phrase book -- to the little town of Machias, down along the Atlantic coast. Long ago superseded by more direct and efficient roads, this section of asphalt is almost an afterthought, particularly if you stick to U.S. 1A, which bypasses the largest population center along the way, Presque Isle. <strong>Pit stop:</strong> With the highway running within miles of the international border most of the way, opportunities to duck into New Brunswick are numerous. Bring your passport for re-entry, of course, because that's now the law.

  • Old South to New South: 444 miles

    <strong>Route:</strong> Natchez Trace Parkway from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN. <strong>What to expect:</strong> It begins with a classic and ends in one of the region's most forward-thinking towns. Most people wouldn't think of pairing the two together -- they're night and day different -- but too many people forget that these towns are historically linked by the old portage route, now a beautifully-designed National Parkway, the scenic (and largely quiet) <a href="" target="_hplink">Natchez Trace</a>. On a typical day, away from the two cities of any size along the way -- Jackson and Tupelo, Mississippi -- you'll barely encounter a soul. Just thick forests, open fields and, in spring, plenty of blossoming things. <strong>Pit stops:</strong> At the southern end of the parkway, it's all Antebellum charm all the time at the historic <a href="" target="_hplink">Monmouth Plantation</a>, an impressive estate re-imagined into a hotel that's often surprisingly affordable. At the other end, make time for Nashville's super-cool dining and nightlife.

  • River to River in the Northwest: 128 miles

    <strong>Route:</strong> U.S. 12 from Walla Walla, WA to Lewiston, ID. <strong>What to expect:</strong> "Where exactly is Walla Walla?" That's a real question I've been asked in Seattle. The answer: It's nearly five hours away, in the southeastern corner of Washington state, about as far as you can get from the Pacific Northwest of the popular imagination. It's also about as far away as you can get from crowds and still be on a paved road. Hop on U.S. 12 at the Columbia River, where it hooks a left up and away from the state line with Oregon; the highway winds through farmlands and vineyards and into the appealing city of Walla Walla, still connected to the outside world only by two-lane highways. Leaving town, the region's iconic grassy hills and the small farming towns nestled among them make for an almost hypnotic ride down to the Snake River, which carves its way out towards Idaho and the historic city of <a href="" target="_hplink">Lewiston, Idaho</a>. <strong>Pit stop:</strong> Definitely break this one up into a multi-day trip; Walla Walla's restaurants and wine tasting rooms -- not to mention its laid-back, friendly vibe, particularly on weekdays when it's almost strictly locals -- invite sticking around awhile.

  • Out on the Edge in West Texas: 50 miles

    <strong>Route:</strong> FM 170 from Presidio to Lajitas, TX. <strong>What to expect:</strong> Running almost entirely through state park lands in the Big Bend region of West Texas, this winding and scenic road follows a particularly pretty stretch of the Rio Grande, marking a particularly empty -- and largely unguarded, let alone marked -- stretch of the United States-Mexico border. You'll end up in the tiny town of Lajitas, which is comprised entirely of an <a href="" target="_hplink">upscale golf resort</a> that's worth at least a night's stay. <strong>Pit stop:</strong> Pause for a dip -- or for lots of them, in fact. Not only is it fun, you can also impress your friends with Facebook pictures of you swimming to Mexico. (Forget what you've seen on the news: It's quite safe around here.)

  • West of the Divide in the Dakotas: 300 miles

    <strong>Route:</strong> U.S. 85 from Deadwood, SD to Williston, ND. <strong>What to expect:</strong> Too many people approach The Dakotas from east or west, treating it as something to get through on their way to elsewhere. Stick around and explore the remote western side of both North and South with a route that leads you through some of the most appealing scenery between the Appalachians and the Rockies. Start in the Black Hills of South Dakota or the grasslands up North; either way, U.S. 85 is your guide. <strong>Pit stop:</strong> From <a href="" target="_hplink">Mount Rushmore</a> to Hot Springs to the Wild West theme park that is <a href="" target="_hplink">Deadwood</a> (it's actually pretty cool, trust us on this), you can't beat the Black Hills (or the nearby Badlands) for choice. But don't overlook the excellent Roosevelt National Park and tiny Medora -- a bit of the old west preserved in aspic -- up north. In Williston you'll see a true boomtown, exploding population-wise and otherwise with the discovery of oil in the surrounding Bakken region. Keep going and you'll end up in Saskatchewan before too long. If that's your thing.

  • The Other New York: 89 miles

    <strong>Route:</strong> Lake Ontario Parkway from Rochester to Youngstown, NY. <strong>What to expect:</strong> Robert Moses was famous in New York -- and to urban planners everywhere -- as a man possessed by the need to build highways; one of his greatest follies, the entirely unnecessary <a href="" target="_hplink">Lake Ontario Parkway</a>, stands today, largely empty at any given time, a wide open pathway that's unbeatable on a sunny summer day as a way to experience the mellow beauty -- forests, meadows, orchards and vineyards -- of the part of New York that belongs to the Great Lakes region. You'll begin on Rochester's bustling lakefront in the Coney Island-esque Seabreeze neighborhood and end in the charming towns of Youngstown and Lewiston, New York, down along the Niagara River. <strong>Pit stop:</strong> Go for a swim, weather permitting, at Hamlin Beach State Park, thirty miles west of Rochester along the parkway -- far enough out of town to keep things super quiet on weekdays. Once you hit Niagara County, be on the lookout for the many tasting possibilities along the growing <a href="" target="_hplink">Niagara Wine Trail</a>. And of course, just up the escarpment, there are some falls that you may have heard of.

  • Leaving San Diego: 45 miles

    <strong>Route:</strong> Highway 94 from San Diego to Boulevard, CA. <strong>What to expect:</strong> Southern California has a reputation for sprawl, but if you head just 10 miles east on Highway 94 out of downtown San Diego, the suburbs quickly give way to splendid scenery, rugged peaks, green valleys and tiny towns that show no sign of being aware that we're in the 21st century now. You're pretty much at the end of the line here, which you see when you pass the whistle stop of Boulevard and down into the almost ghost-town of Jacumba, California (pop. 561 in the last census); that wall that you keep seeing on your right? That's the border. <strong>Pit stop:</strong> Chill in the charming town of Campo for a dose of history and a taste of the local wines, which are getting better every year.

  • Colorado highway

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">AshBartolome</a>:<br />Driving through Colorado mountains during solo cross country road trip April 2009

  • Overlooking my morning road journey

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">AshBartolome</a>:<br />Sitting on Red Rocks in Colorado during solo road trip

  • Small town in Illinois

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">AshBartolome</a>:<br />I would travel off course into random small towns through out my cross country journey

  • The only living thing I saw there

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">AshBartolome</a>:<br />Traveling through the quiet canyons in Moab, Utah during my solo cross country road trip

  • Watching another sunset on the road

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">AshBartolome</a>:<br />Driving through Wyoming during my solo cross country road trip

  • Lots of long roads on my solo trip

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">CraigInCT</a>:<br />The route I took in the summer of 2005