Here are the national chains not in Houston and their nearest locations

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston area already enjoys the goods and services of a number of retail chains and food outlets. But, what places do we lack that other parts of the U.S. benefit from?

For every Red Robin, there's a Ruby Tuesday we don't have.

For every Valero, there's a Wawa or Am/Pm waiting for us to purchase coffee.

At least, 7-Eleven is slowly marking its territory here and you'll be able to get your Slurpee fix.

The list of brands that haven't landed yet in Houston is pretty long. And, if you've come across any of these during an out-of-town trip, you can probably attest to their goodness, or extreme unlikability.

Here are some popular U.S. chains that haven't made it to Houston and their closest location to us.

In-N-Out Burger

Closest location: Pflugerville, Texas, 139 miles away.

We'll start with the one brand that continues to elude Houstonians. No matter where you stand in the In-N-Out vs. Whataburger conversation, the cult-like following of the California-based burger joint has been overwhelming enough to bring stores to Texas.

The first Lone Star State locations opened in North Texas back in 2011. Since then, double-double cheese burgers have reached Dallas-Fort Worth, the Hill Country, San Antonio and Waco.

So when is it our turn? There are documents that confirm In-N-Out has looked at a home in Houston. The timing of the burger stand still isn't firm, however.

Until one opens, a good handful of us continue to weep and dream of an Animal Style future.

Houston's In-N-Out Burger to land on Westheimer Road, records show

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In-N-Out Burger planning to land on Westheimer Road

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In-N-Out Burger is set to close on land in Houston, HBJ reports.

Piggly Wiggly

Closest location: Jennings, Louisiana, 183 miles away.

Touted as America's first true self-service grocery store, Piggly Wiggly is touted as a pioneering business chain. It was the first to have checkout stands, after all.

While the brand beckons images of country and Americana, Piggly Wiggly isn't oinking in Houston. It's not even calling Texas its sty.

You can shop at a Piggly Wiggly mainly in the southeast and upper Midwest.


Closest location: Port Richey, Florida, 930 miles away.

It's a favorite of the Mid-Atlantic that has expanded southward to Florida.

But for people observing from afar, no one knows exactly what Wawa offers. The ambiguity might be the fact that many who enjoy the oddly-named chain go for the store's ready-to-eat food options or the comparable cafe offerings.

Believe it or not, Wawa is a gas retail chain that just so happens to have mac-and-cheese ready to serve.

An expansion beyond the East Coast should be in the cards. Wa-What about Houston?


Closest location: Tucson, Arizona, 1,079 miles away.

It can be viewed as the West Coast equivalent to Wawa.

While you'll find the usual gas station fare within the justifiably named all-hours spot, the chain's draw is in two things: the extra long soda fountain.

And their mascot, Toomgis:

Houston could use Toomgis on its airwaves, no?

Tim Hortons

Closest location: St. Louis, Missouri, 785 miles away.

Tim Hortons is a brand as synonymous to Canada as hockey, maple syrup and Bryan Adams.

To put it in simpler terms, it's the Great White North's version of Dunkin' Donuts, with customers applauding mostly its coffee.

"Timmy's" has made its way to the Lower 48 in the last several decades, anchoring generally in the Great Lakes region.

Thanks to Tim Hortons' parent company acquiring Burger King, the possibility of an expansion is high. With Houston already picking up Dunkin' and Krispy Kreme, do you think we can add one more donut chain to the mix?

Del Taco

Closest location: Fort Worth, Texas, 240 miles away.

While it hasn't risen to In-N-Out levels of "cultability," Del Taco has become a reliable alternative to the omnipresent Taco Bell.

Going a step further than Crunch Wraps and Doritos shell tacos, the chain, which began as a western U.S. mainstay, offers fast-food versions of shrimp and fish tacos as well as grilled chicken burritos.

That might not be too appealing to the regular consumer, but the curiosity is enough to draw one to Houston.

Dutch Bros. Coffee

Closest location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, 967 miles away.

Imagine getting your flavorful morning cup of coffee from a windmill.

Putting on a respectable challenge to the Starbucks Coffee monster, Dutch Bros. has been a favorite of folks west of the Rockies, mostly attributed to its drive-thru/walk-up stand model.

There is a reason it draws as many as 10 vehicles to the drive-thru at any time.

For Houstonians tired of Starbucks, Dutch Bros. might be the ticket for your caffeine fix.

Cafe Rio

Closest location: Castle Rock, Colorado, 1,007 miles away.

That sweet pork, though.

For those of us who don't live in the western U.S. or the DMV (that's the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia region), Cafe Rio is a fast casual restaurant that answers the question, "How would Mexican food taste like if it came from Utah?"

While words don't do it justice, imagine flour tortillas being freshly handmade in front of you. Also, imagine shredded and cured pork doused in sweet spices underneath leafy greens.

While you can get tacos and burritos here, the draw for first-time customers is the sweet pork salad, which includes the pork and greens on top of the cheese-melted tortilla.

The restaurant's beginnings cite inspirations from cuisines of the Rio Grande Valley. It's only natural that this eatery lands in Houston.

White Castle

Closest location: Farmington, Missouri, 714 miles away.

Sure, you can go to your grocer's freezer to get six sliders to microwave, but think about getting one fresh.

White Castle burgers are an institution in fast food, with ingredients as simple as an In-N-Out menu.

While White Castle has grown roots in the northeast and Great Lakes region, the venerable restaurant franchised all the way west to Las Vegas.

Houston could use a slider fix right about now.

Are there any brands or chains that should open in Houston? Send us an email here.

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