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Schoops named the best fast food restaurant in Indiana

Schoop's was named the best fast food restaurant in Indiana by Food & Wine Magazine.

Schoop's, the Region chain known for its big beefy smashed burgers with crispy edges, has been named the best fast food restaurant in Indiana by Food & Wine Magazine.

Inspired by the cult following of California's In-N-Out Burger, the national magazine set out to identify the top fast food joint in every state.

In Indiana, it chose the 71-year-old Schoop's Hamburgers, the 1950s-themed burger joint that has locations in Munster, Highland, Hobart, Valparaiso, Crown Point, Whiting, Schererville, St. John, Portage, Merrillville, Michigan City, Lowell and Hammond.

"There’s this unsinkable, workaday charm to Indiana’s industrialized northwest corner, the part with all the smokestacks next to Chicago, hugging the southern shores of Lake Michigan, and if you’re looking for one place to sum up the area’s suspended-in-time, rugged/homey energy, drop by Schoop’s, around since the 1940s, with locations throughout the Region," David Landsel wrote for Food & Wine Magazine.

"In other places, burgers and fries are an over-the-counter type thing — here, the old ways are still appreciated, you can still sit down and give your order to a classically no-nonsense waitress, there are giant chocolate malts served up in glass, cheeseburgers topped with relish and chopped onion, an abundance of curly fries, and housemade chili. Slow down, and get into the vibe."

Founded by Allen Schoop in 1948 in Hammond, Schoop's expanded across the Calumet Region in both Indiana and Illinois. It's known for never-frozen, griddle-edged beef patties that jut out from under the bun in classic burgers like the Mickey, which is topped by two slices of American cheese. If you asked for a double cheeseburger, you'll be asked if you've ever dined there before and warned about the size.

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Politicians like Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Evan Bayh have routinely stopped by Schoop's restaurants while on the campaign trail in Northwest Indiana. The vintage joints have retro decor, a throwback atmosphere, and in some cases, old-fashioned lunch counters with vinyl stools.

Beyond Region-style burgers the Chicago Tribune has named among the best in Chicagoland, Schoop's also is known for milkshakes, floats, Green River pop, onion rings and "Schoop's Loops" curly fries.

According to Food & Wine Magazine, Illinois' top fast food restaurant was Portillo's, which has locations in Merrillville and Homewood.

"Maybe you have to leave Chicago for a while, in order to truly appreciate one of the region’s most prolific fast food chains—maybe you need to be deprived of those Italian beef sandwiches on soft French bread, drowning in a wave of jus, and topped with spicy giardiniera, of those Polish sausages, of dogs dragged through the garden, of chocolate cake milk shakes, and crinkle-cut fries dressed in neon orange cheese—wherever you find a Portillo’s, in the suburbs of Chicago or Los Angeles or Phoenix or Tampa or Minneapolis, you step inside, and you’re home again, home in no-place-quite-like-it Illinois, dammit, and no matter how many locations they open, there are so many now, it’s always the same, there’s always that sense of place, and the food is always too delicious for its own good," Landsel wrote.

Here's a look at 13 Region spots to grab a tasty burger

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.