I visited Whataburger, a Texas chain with a cult following, for the first time. Here’s what it’s like., Business Insider

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I finally got the chance to try Whataburger.
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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
  • Whataburger is a Texas burger chain with a cult following.
  • As an East Coaster, I’d never visited Whataburger – until a recent road trip.
  • After eating at Whataburger, I understood why Texans are obsessed with the chain.

The legend of Whataburger has spread far beyond Texas.

Whataburger has a larger-than-life presence in the Lone Star State – it’s a regional burger chain that shines bright as a point of pride in a region that’s better known for its Tex-Mex. Even first lady Melania Trump had to stop by Whataburger when she visited Texas in December.

However, as a New York City dweller, I had never visited Whataburger. Sure, I’ve tried almost every burger chain in the business – Shake Shack, Five Guys, even In-N-Out – but Whataburger had remained a mystery.

So, on a recent road trip that started in Dallas, Texas, I decided it was time to find out what I had been missing.

Here is a coastal elite’s take on a Texas chain that has the grit to take on any burger chain on either side of the Mississippi:


The first thing that catches my eye when entering Whataburger is the variety on the menu. What burger should I get? Did I need to try some chicken? Fries or onion rings?? I’m overwhelmed — and, according to my editor, I make a fatal mistake by failing to order taquitos, a rare find at a burger chain.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Fortunately, Whataburger’s service has a soothing quality. The workers give me a number to take to my table, and promise that food will follow.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

An employee even brings over ketchup options for me! Honestly, I’m not sure if they’re this nice to everyone or they can tell I’m flustered after driving through Dallas’ maze of highways following five years of traveling exclusively via public transportation, but it’s appreciated either way. The spicy ketchup is also very good — a classic with a kick.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

In an effort to dip into the variety of Whataburger’s menu, we ordered the onion rings and patty melt to complement our more traditional burger order.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Let me start out by saying not enough chains serve a patty melt, a humble but sometimes superior option to its burger brother. At Whataburger, the patty melt stands strong, snuggled on the menu among other “All-Time Favorites” like the Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich and the Green Chile Double Burger.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Whataburger’s patty melt lives up to the hype, layering two patties with grilled onions, Monterey Jack cheese, and creamy pepper sauce. It’s not aiming for innovation, but it is delicious.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

The onion rings have a similar hearty charm. The battering is high-quality and doesn’t slip off the onion ring, making for a well-crafted and satisfying ring.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

But what about the burger? According to company lore, founder Harmon Dobson wanted to create a five-inch burger that was so big people couldn’t help but exclaim “What a burger!” when they took a bite.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Source: Whataburger


Whataburger certainly offers a big burger for your buck — large and somewhat flat, cut from the same cloth as fast-food peers such as McDonald’s. This isn’t the topping-laden burger of In-N-Out or the over-the-top game changer of Shake Shack or even Five Guys.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Whataburger instead churns out classic fast-food burgers, and it does it well. I wasn’t yelling “What a burger” after taking a bite, but I did say — in a normal indoor voice — “This burger is pretty good!”

I finally got the chance to try Whataburger.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

No single item on Whataburger’s menu truly blew my mind, including the fries that I wolfed down without photographing. Maybe I simply needed to eat more — I was shamed by various Texans for failing to snag a Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

I left Whataburger full, but craving something more. The quality of the food and the menu’s untapped potential beckons, calling me back to Texas.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Whataburger may not be the one burger chain to rule them all that some Texans claim it is. But, it is a gem — a competent chain with a sprawling menu that will keep you coming back for more.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider



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