Driving our appetites
2 beloved Texas chains cruise onto list of country’s best drive-thrus
The rest of the U.S. is quickly catching on to some fast-food addictions most Texans have been noshing for years, with one automotive-focused media site driving some national praise for two beloved San Antonio-based eateries.
Online publication Jalopnik recently released its reader-curated list of the Best Drive-Thru Restaurants in America and — likely unsurprising to devourers of burgers and Tex-Mex in the Lone Star State — Whataburger and Taco Cabana, both based in San Antonio, are featured among the top 10 favorites.
Jalopnik notes that perhaps Whataburger’s popularity among drive-thru consumers has something to do with the chain’s many burger options (“Maybe its popularity is thanks to the rumored 36,864 different burger combinations that customers can create with the firm’s range of toppings.”)
In further applauding the burger chain, which has maintained an almost cult-like following since the brand first launched in Texas in the 1950s, one Jalopnik reader even shared a story about a Whataburger newbie’s first experience.
“Whataburger, hands down,” the poster told Jalopnik of their favorite drive-thru in the country. “If it’s on the menu, it can be put on your burger. I once had the joy of watching a kid from New Jersey eat Whataburger for the first time. It was like that scene from The Road when the son has a Coke for the first time in his life.”
In addition to that transformative experience (true Texans know a perfect Whataburger meal can be an epiphany), Jalopnik readers also hailed Taco Cabana as one of the best drive-thrus in the country.
Though Jalopnik, which is clearly not based in Texas, downplays the Tex-Mex chain’s formidability, calling it “another taco joint” that serves up a host of “Mexican treats,” readers (and likely Texas-based devotees) set the publication straight, calling out Taco Cabana’s fresh-made flour tortillas, array of salsas, and boozy offerings, and making mention of the brand’s way-better-than-Taco-Bell quality.
“Multiple orders of magnitude better than Taco Hell,” one Jalopnik poster says.
Another reader notes the chain is a middle-of-the-night go-to, something many Texans can also relate to.
“Taco Cabana,” the poster says of their favorite drive-thru, “especially the 24-hour ones. Nothing, I mean nothing, beats a couple of barbacoa tacos at 3 am.”
Other drive-thru chains scoring a spot in Jalopnik’s reader-based top 10 include Wyoming-based Taco John’s, ubiquitous California burger joint In-N-Out, California-based Baker’s Burgers, Jack in the Box, Chicago-born hot dog spot Portillo’s, universally loved Chik-Fil-A, quality burger joint Culver’s, and sandwich eatery Runza.