The Definitive Rankings Of American Chain Restaurants

Tired of arguing over which fast food joint you want to go to at the end of a drunken evening? Want to finally settle the ages old argument over who does Burgers better: Smash vs. Whata? Trying to figure out who’s got the best Chicken sandwiches, Subs or Burritos? Worry not, the definitive list of the best chain restaurants in America is here.


Consumer Reports, the authority on, well, reporting on consumer products and ranking them, surveyed 32,405 subscribers and devoured over 96,000 meals at 65 chains in order to update their ranking of chain restaurants from 2011. What they found from the last survey was that quality of food was more important now than it was in 2011, whereas convenience of location became much less important. Diners, especially people our age, are willing to go out of their way for great food.

As far as burgers go, some chain called “The Habit Burger Grill” came in first, with California favorite In-N-Out Burger coming in second, Five Guys, Smashburger and Fuddruckers rounding out the Top 5. Grandex favorite Whataburger and the bane of my waistline’s existence Steak n’ Shake, crack the top 10. Surprisingly, even White Castle came in above McDonalds, who came in dead last.

For Chicken, you and I both know that the only place to go is Chik-fil-a. Controversy be damned, they make one hell of a chicken sandwich. El Pollo Loco, Popeyes, Boston Market and Bojangles round out the Top 5. KFC sunk to the bottom spot because, well, when was the last time KFC and the phrase “quality eating establishment” were in the same sentence? Great Double Downs though.

The Sandwich/Sub game is clearly a local one, with mostly Chicago-based chain Portillo’s Hot Dogs coming in first, Firehouse Subs at #2, Schiotzsky’s at #3, Jason’s and McAllister’s Deli at 4 and 5. More widespread chains Panera, Jimmy Johns, Potbelly’s and Quiznos made the top ten and if you want to “eat fresh,” maybe stay away from dead-last finisher Subway.

Burritos, which have become a recent favorite and have experienced a surge in popularity in the last decade, are hotly contested. Chipotle, obviously comes in at #1, then Rubio’s, Qdoba, Baja Fresh and Moe’s. Taco Johns, Del Taco and Taco Bell round out the list.

Obviously, there are some flaws on these lists. Arby’s and Sonic don’t perform too well on Sandwiches and Burgers respectively, but their chicken sandwiches and other chicken products are some of my favorites. Same for Wendy’s, who also came in pretty close to the bottom on burgers. They don’t take McD’s breakfast into account, and while Taco Bell may have lousy burritos, their Taco game is on point. Just ask anyone who’s shoved five Doritos Locos tacos in their mouth after spending the night in an altered state of being.

Consumer Reports also announced they’d be releasing a ranking of Fast Food Breakfasts soon, so stay tuned for that. I’m excited to see what they say, especially after their very opinionated review of the Taco Bell Breakfast Menu.

[via Consumer Reports]

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