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A look at the best burger chains outside Bloomington

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Fast-food burgers are sacred.

Whether you're enjoying a burger with friends or out of utter desperation, the fast-food burger carries an irreplaceable aura.

While Indiana boasts plenty of fast-food burger establishments, from Culver's to Five Guys, there are several burger restaurants Hoosiers are missing out on. Maybe we'll get lucky one day and these places will open in our vicinity, but until then, we can stay dreaming.

Eman Mozaffar


Located primarily in Oklahoma and Texas, Braum’s is a three-in-one dining experience.

Each location features a grill, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner fare, a soda fountain offering fresh ice cream and sundaes and a fresh market with baked goods, dairy products, fruits and vegetables. 

While each of the elements works well on its own, nothing can compare to the combination of an old-fashion Braum’s cheeseburger and a malt or shake. It’s a combination that feels timeless, much like the advertising done by the company itself.

You won't find flashy advertising slogans or reinvented marketing strategies with Braum’s. The company continues to use its traditional radio and television marketing strategies to promote its fresh-baked bread, the Braum Family Farm and of course, its burgers. 

Closest Location: Emporia, Kansas (575 miles).

Eman Mozaffar

In-N-Out Burger

The California-based chain has a loyal following, but a much less diverse menu than most of its national counterparts. The hamburger, cheeseburger and double-double burger are the staples of the In-N-Out menu, although its “secret menu” has gained worldwide fame.

The secret menu features 3X3 and 4X4 cheeseburgers, with three and four layers of cheese and patties each. More unique to In-N-Out is the Animal Style and Protein Style versions of burgers the chain offers.

Animal Style burgers feature extra spread and grilled onions, while Protein Style uses lettuce as the bun of the burger for those looking to cut down on carbs.

Similarly to Whataburger, In-N-Out features a distinctive exterior, with a red, white and yellow color scheme along with its arrow logo. Restaurant employees all wear the same outfit: White pants, white shirt, white hat and a red apron, helping tie together In-N-Out’s retro feel.  

Closest Location: Dallas, Texas (875 miles).

Eman Mozaffar

Shake Shack

It’s in the name.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a chain that nails every part of the all-American meal like this New York City-based favorite. A classic ShackBurger, crinkle-cut fries and a hand-spun milkshake are all you need to order here. 

The burger will come to you, encased in a potato bun and filled with the toppings of your choice. If you’re a vegetarian, order a delicious portobello mushroom as a beef patty replacement. Make it your own and mix it up with some sauces, but don’t forget about the drinks.

What’s different about this international chain is each location has a drink menu tailored to its city’s local flavors, so each joint you hit up is a little different, whether it’s in New York, Dubai or London. Though the burgers are outstanding, the shakes are the reason you’ll remember every trip you’ve made here.

The quality of the frozen custard speaks for itself. It's natural, preservative-free and tastes fresh and fulfilling. If you’re visiting New York, make sure you check the specialties of each Shake Shack location so you can search out the shake of your dreams. But if you want to go out of your way and try a drink from each store, we won’t judge.

Closest Location: Lexington, Kentucky (180 miles).

Eman Mozaffar


There’s technically a Smashburger location in northern Indiana at the University of Notre Dame, but it’s such a far drive, we’ll consider it absent in the state.  

Smashburger has its origins in Denver, Colorado, but the fast-casual chain has spread across the country and beyond since its founding in 2007. 

The chain serves many combinations of burgers you won’t see at other venues on this list, from the Spicy Jalapeño Baja to the Spinach & Goat Cheese. You’ll also find different varieties of fries, shakes, chicken sandwiches and salads on this diverse menu to whet your appetite.

What makes a Smashburger smashed? They’re cooked made-to-order on a high-heat griddle while being flattened. The process takes a much shorter time than it does to cook a regular burger, and it’s supposed to marinate and lock in the flavors.

Like Shake Shack, there’s some personalization to each establishment. If you’re lucky enough to come across a Smashburger, make sure to look for the local burger on the menu specially crafted for that location. 

Closest Location: Louisville, Kentucky (105 miles).

Eman Mozaffar


To say Whataburger has a cult following is an understatement. The Texas-based chain is based in the American south and is known for its distinct orange and white color pattern and the numbered table tents given to customers with their orders. It has become an iconic hangout spot for people of all ages, particularly after Friday night high school football games.

The key to Whataburger’s success comes from its customizable menu. As the name suggests, you can build your burger any way you want: with or without avocado, bacon, lettuce, onions, pickles, tomatoes, etc. 

Whataburger offers an all-time favorites menu featuring its burgers and chicken sandwiches, that have stood the test of time. One of these select few, the Whataburger Patty Melt, includes two patties, Monterey jack cheese, grilled onions and creamy pepper sauce nestled between thick pieces of Texas toast, a combination that leaves you quite literally lost in the sauce. 

Closest Location: Birmingham, Alabama (458 miles).  

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