During our recent road trip to Utah for Nerdtacular ’14, Rodrigo and I had the occasion to stop and eat at a restaurant that is nothing more than a legend on our home turf, a fast food joint called ‘In-N-Out Burger’.  The food was okay, and neither of us chose to order off the “secret menu”, but now my daughter insists that *she* has to visit one while on her vacation in Arizona, to keep things fair.  Of course, back in the long ago days when there was a White Castle somewhere in Missouri, several of my cohorts made the long journey to enjoy their steamed comestibles for reasons I don’t quite understand.  Indeed, while there are few restaurants that I love enough to want to journey long distances to enjoy their food, I am lucky enough to have Sonic Drive-Ins and a T-Rex Cafe within driving distance, which leads us to today’s easily digested query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) does however appreciate that they made a pretty funny movie about White Castle that revitalized Neil Patrick Harris’ career, so that’s cool, asking: What regional restaurant-type chain do you most wish was available in your area?


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. We have one White Castle left in New Jersey, in the middle of the state, and it’s always busy. Those meat cookies are just something you need to grow up eating (although I’ll never forgive them for switching from melting sliced cheese on their fries to using a cup of icky sauce). I wish we had an In-and-Out Burger, or a Noodle Company, or even a Bojangles in this area, but NJ is the land of McDonalds & Dunkin and nothing else interesting.

  2. Daniel Langsdale on

    Skyline. While Hard Times Cafe does a somewhat, er, passable Cincinnati chili, it doesn’t compare to the real thing.


  3. Starks Scraps on

    We were bombarded with Sonic commercials for years before they finally started bringing them to the Cleveland area. While they arrived with no small amount of fanfare, I have to say that all that build up could only lead to disappointment. I haven’t longed for a far away fast food product since then.

  4. I’d love an In-and-Out Burger. Ever since Big Lebowski, I’ve always wondered what they taste like. Jack-in-the-Box can stay on the west & mountain time zones however.

  5. My first thought was to snipe “How would I know, since they aren’t in my region to know about in the first place?” but then I gave the idea a bit more thought. I wouldn’t mind being able to try a White Castle to see how they compare to the frozen sliders you can get in the grocery stores, hot from the grill, or an In and Out Burger to see if they live up to the hype, or a Krispy Kreme – the nearest one is 400 miles away. But what I’d really like is to bring back some regional things from the past. In the days before McDonalds and Burger Queen moved into our region, we had a local chain called Bob’s Hamburgers (not to be confused with Bob’s Big Boy, a completely different thing) which used to boast 10¢ burgers (a bit of a cheat because to get cheese you had to pay 2¢ more). The chain eventually was swamped by BK and McD and went under, As did most of the local A & Ws and Arctic Circles. Dairy Queens are few and far between now, too. I’d bring them all back in their full glory if I could.

    But if it had to be something from out of our region, then I’d like to bring back the giant Orange orange juice stands that we used to stop at whenever we went down to Southern California – fresh squeezed orange juice right from the grove! Most of those stands closed down when I-5 was completed and Old 99 got “route 66’d” into oblivion since they no longer had easy access to the interstate traffic. Also, there were roadside stands where you could buy olives right from the growers – best olives I ever had! I foam at the mouth when I go to the store and buy olives and all they have are olives imported from Spain, Agentina, China, Chile, etc. Don’t these idiots know that they grow plenty of olives only a few hundred miles away down in California? Can you find California olives in the stores? You can not. How is it remotely possible that it’s more economical to strip mine olives in Spain and ship them half way around the world than it is to truck them up a hundred and fifty miles from Fresno???

    • Hannah Jones on

      I feel you, when I lived in Florida, it was still impossible to get decent produce, even though we were RIGHT NEXT to where they grow the damn stuff. Our food distribution system is messed up when Florida oranges are less expensive in Colorado then they are in freaking Florida!

  6. Oh – I forgot about Birch Beer. On the east coast, they have a thing called Birch Beer. It’s soda pop. Imagine, if you will perfectly clear, less cloying root beer with no caramel color. That’s Birch Beer. You just can’t get it out here in the West. Yum!!!

  7. Hannah Jones on

    I have one word, and that word is Churches’ We have one in the state and it’s literally 2 hours away. It’s probably not as good as it is in the theatres of nostalgia which I so often view the world through, doesn’t mean I don’t want one near by.

  8. I’d love a White Castle and a 7-11. While they are technically within my area, they aren’t exactly within driving distance as I haven’t been to either in over a decade.

    When I was younger and going through treatments for Leukemia and the years of follow-up study, we routinely made the trip from central Illinois to Memphis, Tennessee by car rather than plane because my family is terrified of heights (myself included). While this did mean long hours in the car, it also meant we had the chance to stop at all of these amazing businesses that were common in Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee, but were practically unheard of back home in Illinois. Among all of these, there is one in particular that I wish existed closer to home: Lambert’s Cafe. It isn’t a large franchise (as of 10 or so years ago, they had three or four locations, two of which I’ve visited, the ones in Sikeston and Springfield Missouri), but it was still pretty awesome. Along with the food you ordered, they had “throwed rolls” where they would toss hot rolls to you, as well as bringing around various side dishes that were included as part of the dining experience.

    For the short time I lived in Missouri, I wished a small franchise from back home existed down there, a place called Avanti’s. It is an Itallian restaurant that has a unique bread recipe that they use for their sandwiches (such as their gondolas, one of my favorite things to get aside from their pasta salad and meatball subs). They have a few locations scattered across central Illinois, but very few outside of the area.

  9. Darren Appel on

    Krispy Cremes. For some reason they won’t open a franchise in Perth [friends of mine have tried to apply for the licence]. I will just have to settle for Sydney ones whenever friends fly back from the east coast.

    • Ouch! We don’t actually have one here, but one of the convenience stores gets a small selection of pre-boxed items every few days, so there is at least the chance to get some here once in a while (even if they don’t always have the kinds I like best).

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