Every state has the basic fast food chains: McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, Taco Bell. But there's so much more to American fast food than that.

Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin are below. Check out the full list at Thrillist.

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You can’t fathom how many Arby’s exist in Iowa. Though it started in Ohio, Iowa has its fair share of people practicing “meat craft.” Also, Arby’s website still uses MapQuest, but enough about Arby’s, let’s focus on the rest of Iowa’s fast-food game. They’ve got some of the great Midwest chains (Culver’s! Steak ’n Shake!) but their claim to fame is Maid-Rite, a loose-meat sandwich chain that specializes in un-sloppy Sloppy Joes. And, well, that's about it.
Notable fact: An assistant football coach at University of Iowa left his 200k a year job last year to open a Culver’s franchise. This is a real thing that happened.


We’ve gotta give Illinois props for being the place where Potbelly Sandwich Shop was dreamed up. What started as an antique shop serving its quirky customers lunch has now become a toasted-sammie institution that’s spread to almost half of the 50 states. Though research showed that IL definitely has more tasty one-offs than chains, they do have incredible Italian beef shops like both Al’s and Jay’s, potstickers & buns from Wow Bao, Greek chicken & BBQ rib tips from Nicky’s, and breakfast & burgers from Urban Counter, plus soup & chili from Capt’n Nemo’s and Chicago faithful Harold’s Chicken Shack. Even East Coast big dogs White Castle & Shake Shack are there for your consumption. Oh, and you didn’t think we forgot the phenomenon that is Portillo’s and their legendary Chi dogs, did you? Well, we didn’t!
Notable fact: Potbelly’s got a whole secret menu… which you can find right here.


Cheese is an integral part of fast food, so we owe a lot to Wisconsin. That’s doubly true now that fried cheese curds are a nationwide hit, thanks in large part to ButterBurger/frozen custard chain Culver’s. But Wisconsin’s equally lovely for small chains like Flippy’s -- which does Italian beefs and other Chicago-inspired fare -- plus the seas of little custard and hot dog stands dotting the landscape, just begging to help pad you up for the winter.
Notable fact: In 2014, Wisconsin produced 2,842,456,000lbs of cheese.