I've traveled the country and tried items from practically every fast-food chain.
My favorite Southern fast-food chains include Cook Out, Bojangles, and Zaxby's.
Cook Out's onion rings and hot dog blew me away, as well as Bojangles' creamy mac and cheese.
The best burger I've had at any Southern fast-food chain is Cook Out's double cheeseburger.
You can order a "Big Double" from Cook Out any way you wish, but I ordered mine with cheese, ketchup, mustard, onions, and pickles. The burger came wrapped in foil and featured two juicy patties. It also had thick slices of fresh onion and large pickle spears layered on top of the burger.
The cheese slices were thick and tangy, and the burger was perfectly moist and medium-rare. It was also very large, and, after already eating dinner, I struggled to get through more than a few bites, though I kept wanting to go back for more.
Cook Out's onion rings were a perfect choice of side.
They were perfectly crispy, thoroughly breaded on the outside, and stayed perfectly intact through every bite. One of my pet peeves with onion rings is when you bite in and a whole slice of raw onion falls out, but that didn't happen with the onion rings from Cook Out.
I also tried Cook Out's cheese fries and was thoroughly impressed.
The tangy cheese perfectly coated the well-seasoned fries in a layer of gooey goodness. Each fry was covered in cheese, which I also appreciated. I needed to use a fork to eat it, which made it difficult to eat on the go, but it was well worth it.
I couldn't leave the South without also trying Cook Out's bacon cheddar dog.
The hot dog itself was delicious and perfectly grilled, without being dried out. The hot dog was only made better by the melted layer of cheddar cheese, two strips of crispy, salty bacon on top, and fluffy bun. Plus, for just $1.99, it was a major steal.
I thought Zaxby's chicken tenders were super flavorful and were filled with delicious, juicy white chicken.
The breading was perfectly crispy and super flavorful, with a slight sweetness.
They were a good size, extremely flavorful, and addictingly delicious. The chicken tenders held their own without sauce but were really taken to the next level when dipped in the tangy Zax sauce, though I don't prefer it over Raising Cane's signature Cane's sauce.
I also thought the toast from Zaxby's was the perfect addition to a meal.
The toast had a rich, buttery flavor. While the toast was on the thinner side, I actually preferred that and thought it made it even crispier.
The chicken tenders from Raising Cane's were thick and crispy.
After biting in, I could actually see the strips of white chicken underneath, which, in my experience, you don't always find with fast-food chicken tenders.
Raising Cane's is famous for its sauce, and after trying it, I could definitely see why.
It had a slight kick to it, was super creamy, and surprisingly tangy. It paired perfectly with the chain's chicken tenders and was unlike any other sauce I've ever tried.
I also stopped by Bojangles Chicken and Biscuits for a chicken sandwich.
The Cajun chicken sandwich came with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise. While it isn't the best chicken sandwich I've ever had — I admittedly prefer the one from Burger King or Popeyes — I thought this classic crispy chicken sandwich was flavorful and the lettuce and tomato tasted really fresh.
I also enjoyed Bojangles' macaroni and cheese.
The macaroni and cheese was perfectly creamy and the cheese sauce was just thick enough to not be too watery or clump together. It was also tangy and buttery, without being too rich to act as a side. Overall, I was really impressed and would definitely order it again the next time I'm in a state with a Bojangles.
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