22. Cook Out
Claim to fame: Burgers, Shakes, and Hush Puppies
In 1989, the first Cook Out opened in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Today, this chain has grown to over 300 locations all over the South. Cook Out’s burgers have a unique taste to them, as they taste like they were grilled out on the back porch patio. Their fries and onion rings (which they don’t really give you enough of, but that’s for a different story) are notches above the national chains, and their assortment of shakes are pretty tasty too.
What really puts Cook Out ahead of the competition, however, is their hush puppies. For those reading this slideshow outside of the South, hush puppies are a regional delicacy that are a staple of every southern family’s table. Cook Out is (probably) the only fast food place where you can order them from the comfort of your car, and these babies truly deliver a distinct taste.
Cook Out is now growing throughout the South, and it is extremely popular. The food is good, and the prices are super cheap. My only fear with Cook Out is that, as they grow into other markets, they’ll start to lose that distinct “Tar Heel” feel about them.
Best menu item: Hushpuppies
Some snobs may look at a combination of hushpuppies and burgers in disgust, but, seriously, you don’t know what you’re missing. In fact, you can eat a bag of these babies by yourself, and see everything right with the world.
Worst menu item: Quesadilla
Yes, they serve a Quesadilla here, and, yes, it’s bad. Do yourself a favor, and get those hushpuppies instead. You’ll thank yourself later.