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Wait For It: 10 Restaurants Worth Waiting in Their (Very) Long Lines

Ever since kindergarten, we’ve been instructed on how to properly stand in a line. While it was once to take a turn on the swing, now it’s all about grabbing a bite at the hottest restaurant in town. Ever wonder why some places have a line wrapped around the block or a two-hour wait time? Here we round up the top 10 longest restaurant lines in the country, and explain why they’re worth the wait.

1. Oklahoma Joe’s — Kansas City, Kan.

Wait For It: 10 Restaurants Worth Waiting in Their (Very) Long Lines

The line at Oklahoma Joe’s in Kansas City stretches almost all the way to Oklahoma. (Photo: Joe Newman/Flickr)

You’d think a barbecue place that operates out of a gas station wouldn’t be much to write home about. But with a line starting at 10 a.m. and lasting until closing, Oklahoma Joe’s is clearly serving up some to-die-for ribs. 

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Oklahoma Joe’s famous pulled pork. Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain says you should try it before you die. (Photo: Marshall Astor/Flickr)

This Kansas City institution has been on every local and national “Best Barbecue” list; in an article for Men’s Health magazine, Anthony Bourdain put Oklahoma Joe’s on his list of “Places to Eat Before You Die." Lots of people are taking that advice to heart. The line at Oklahoma Joe’s original location, at a Shamrock Gas Station on West 47th Avenue, is as legendary as the food.

Related: We Travel for the YUM! The 8 Best Sandwiches Across the U.S.

2. Mussel & Burger Bar — Louisville, Ky.

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This is what awaits you after a two-hour wait at Louisville’s Mussel & Burger Bar. (Photo: Mussel & Burger Bar/Facebook)

Don’t be fooled by its use of crayons to manage their guest list because this surf and turf bar is no child’s play. Mussel & Burger Bar's selection of burgers features everything from a $9 basic patty and bun to the $22 “C.E.O.” with a foie gras option. The mussel selection is equally diverse: Seven different varieties adorn this menu, including Curry Cream mussels and Greek mussels with feta cheese and black olives. The convergence of burger and mussels fans may be the reason wait times here can top two hours.

3. Hot Doug’s — Chicago

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Chicago prepares to say good-bye to Hot Doug’s by lining up for its famous dogs. (Photo Arvell Dorsey Jr./Flickr)

With its impending close on Oct. 4, this sausage superstore has a wait time up to four hours long. And rightly so! The selections at Hot Doug’s are no ordinary hot dogs; from The Elvis (polish sausage) to the The Bo Derek (a spicy andouille aausage), these classic treats are delicious and dirt-cheap starting at under $3.

Related: The 18 Most Ridiculous Hot Dogs We’ve Ever Seen

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Don’t judge; waiting in Hot Doug’s long line will make you hungry! (Photo: Elizabeth/Flickr)

4. Regina Pizzeria — Boston

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People have been lining up at Regina since 1926 (Photo: Devanshu Mehta/Flickr)

Known for its huge, thin-crust pies, the North End’s Regina Pizzeria has a loyal following (which is not surprising, as it’s been building its customer base since 1926). And that means long lines.

Related: America’s Top 10 Pizza Restaurants 

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Good things come to those who wait in line at Regina (Nick Sherman/Flickr)

The Italian delicacy is so in demand, you can wait for more than an hour for a table or takeout. Hungry patrons have even waited in snowstorms.

5. Franklin Barbecue — Austin, Texas

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A Texas-sized line outside of Franklin Barbecue (Photo: Steven Santarpia/Flickr)

When President Obama recently dined at Franklin Barbecue, it wasn’t his presence that stunned diners but the fact that he cut the line. People start lining up two hours before the doors open to nab some of that precious brisket and other smoked meats because once they sell out, they close for the day.

Related: Austin’s Diverse Food Scene

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Franklin’s brisket sells briskly so you’d better get to it quickly (Photo: Wally Gobetz/Flickr)

6. Shake Shack — New York, N.Y.

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Lining up at Shake Shack is part of the New York experience (Photo: Richard Ricciardi/Flickr) 

In Manhattan you’d assume burger joints were a dime a dozen. But Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack has magical powers to create a line around the block that can take longer than 40 minutes to navigate. In fact, for its 10-year anniversary, Shake Shack broke a record for the longest line in their history when they were selling limited edition burgers.

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The longer the line, the quicker you’ll devour one of Shake Shack’s famous burgers (Photo: Wally Gobetz/Flickr) 

7. State Bird Provisions — San Francisco

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The best ways to get to State Bird Provision’s famous quail: make reservations 60 days in advance or take your chances with the walk-in line (Photo: David McSpadden/Flickr)

Though you can book reservations at this modern American restaurant up to 60 days in advance,  they disappear in seconds. So, if you want to give the walk-in line at State Bird Provisions a shot to sample the roasted quail, be prepared to wait up to two hours.

8. Oddfellows — Dallas

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The Buffalo Mac is not only worth waiting in Oddfellow’s line, it’s also worth waiting in the TSA line for the flight to Dallas (Photo: Oddfellows/Facebook)

Located in the new trendy area called Bishop Arts, Oddfellows has waits more than two hours for both breakfast and dinner, when they serve their famous savory buffalo mac-n-cheese.  The restaurant has enlisted the NoWait app to allow patrons to join the line virtually while they peruse the neighborhood.

9. Pink’s Hot Dogs — Los Angeles

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They’re used to waiting in traffic, so Angelenos don’t mind waiting in line for Pink’s delicious hot dogs (Shavar Ross.com/Flickr)

After waiting in traffic on the 405, standing on line at a hot dog stand for up to two hours might seem like the last thing you’d want to do. But, everything from the fries and onion rings to the bacon chili cheese dog are mouthwatering, making Pink’s a Hollywood legend since 1939.

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The question isn’t why people wait in long lines for a Pink’s hot dog. It’s how on earth can one bun hold all this? (Photo: Foodie Buddha/Flickr)

10. Jestine’s Kitchen — Charleston, S.C.

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Believe it or not, this is what a SHORT line at Jestine’s looks like (Photo: Mr.TinDC/Flickr)

The down-home cooking at Jestine’s means downright long lines. Locals and tourists alike wrap around the block. Wait times can start at an hour to sample some of the best Southern fare, including the restaurant’s famous fried chicken, okra, and Coca-Cola cake.

Related: Where to Score the Best Meals in Charleston

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Jestine’s blue plate special (Mr.TinDC/Flickr)

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