Chew on This: America’s Best Fast-Food Joints

By on

If you’re looking for a good, quick hamburger, you might want to skip McDonald’s and head to The Habit Burger Grill or In-N-Out.

A recent survey of consumers by Consumer Reports ranked McDonald’s burgers as the worst among 21 burger chains. McDonald’s wasn’t the only big chain whose signature dish earned poor ratings. The survey results put KFC’s chicken last among eight chicken chains, and Taco Bell’s burritos also were in last place. Subway was ranked 14th out of 15 sandwich chains.

It appears that quality tops convenience when Americans make dining decisions. That’s a change from 2011, the last year the survey was conducted. Consumer Reports said:

Americans are spending more than ever to dine out — topping $680 billion per year. And they are demanding more for their money, higher-quality fast food, and greater variety than can be found at titans such as Burger King, KFC, and McDonald’s.

CR quoted Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, a food-service research and consulting firm.

“Fast-casual dining in places like Chipotle and Panda Express lets the consumer guide the staff to prepare their meal just the way they like it,” he adds. In contrast, he says many of the traditional chains have lagged in offering higher-quality ingredients. Chains such as Chipotle, Noodles & Company, and Panera are even offering meat that has been produced without the use of antibiotics in animal feed, an attraction for many health-conscious consumers.

CR’s survey included 65 popular fast-food and fast-casual restaurant chains.

The Fiscal Times detailed CR’s top 10 fast-food restaurants, based on survey respondents’ ratings of five factors such as food quality and cleanliness. Here are the top five:

  1. In-N-Out Burger. Diners give this West Coast burger chain high marks for the quality of its food.
  2. Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza. High-quality food and speedy service earned this take-and-bake pizzeria top marks.
  3. Portillo’s Hot Dogs. Diners said the chain — with restaurants in the Chicago area, Arizona and California — has top-quality food, polite staff and clean dining areas.
  4. The Habit Burger Grill. Located throughout California, Arizona and Utah, the restaurant is recognized for its high-food quality, the politeness of its staff and cleanliness.
  5. Jason’s Deli. “In the last decade, the company has eliminated trans fats, high fructose corn syrup and MSG from all of its food,” The Fiscal Times said.

Click here for CR’s list of best-taste champs for burgers, chicken, burritos, and sandwiches and subs.

Do you agree with CR’s rankings? What’s your favorite fast-food restaurant? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

Sign up for our free newsletter

Like this article? Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you a regular digest of our newest stories, full of money saving tips and advice, free! We'll also email you a PDF of Stacy Johnson's "205 Ways to Save Money" as soon as you've subscribed. It's full of great tips that'll help you save a ton of extra cash. It doesn't cost a dime, so why wait? Click here to sign up now.

Check out our hottest deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1,254 more deals!

Comments & discussion

We welcome your opinions, but let’s keep it civil. Like many businesses, we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. In our case, that means those who communicate by name-calling, racism, using words designed to hurt others or generally acting like an uninformed bully. Also, comments that include links to email addresses or commercial websites typically aren't posted. This isn't a place to advertise your business.

  • Old Highland Guy

    In-N-Out is rated high? Their burgers are little balls of grease. The worst I have ever had, but then I don’t like ANY fastfood places, but In-N-Out? I guess we in Southern California have no taste.

    • Jason

      In-N-Out has OK burgers but their fries are great. Not quite as good as Five Guys but still good. Most fast food fries are simply awful.

      • Chad Brown

        The one surprise for me on here was Papa Murphy’s. They ranked so high here, but they all went out here in Southwest Ohio to my knowledge. We used to have a ton of them though.

  • CharityLove

    Never heard of any of these restaurants. Aside from Panera those restaurants aren’t even in my state. Why not focus on national chains?

    • ModernMode

      Consumer Reports considers any chain thats in only 6 states to be national. Crazy isn’t it!

  • Linda Royer

    Papa Murphy’s is in my state, but, I’ve never gotten a pizza from them. I do know people who have and they say that it’s very good!

  • roc thomas

    $9­­­­­­­­­7­­­­­­­­­/­­­­­­­­­h­­­­­­­­­r­­­­­­­­­ ­­­­­­­­­p­­­­­­­­­av­­­­­­­­­iv­­­­­­­­­d­­­­­­­­­v­­­­­­­­­ b­­­­­­­­­y G­­­­­­­­­oog­­­­­­­­­le­­­­­­­­­, I­­­­­­­­­ am ­­­­­­­­­making ­­­­­­­­­a ­­­­­­­­­good ­­­­­­­­­salary ­­­­­­­­­from ­­­­­­­­­home ­­­­­­­­­$5500­­­­­­­­­-­­­­­­­­­$7000/week ­­­­­­­­­, ­­­­­­­­­which ­­­­­­­­­is ­­­­­­­­­amazing, ­­­­­­­­­under ­­­­­­­­­a ­­­­­­­­­year ­­­­­­­­­ago ­­­­­­­­­I ­­­­­­­­­was ­­­­­­­­­jobless in ­­­­­­­­­a ­­­­­­­­­horrible ­­­­­­­­­economy. ­­­­­­­­­I ­­­­­­­­­thank ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­God ­­­­­­­­­every ­­­­­­­­­day ­­­­­­­­­I ­­­­­­­­­was ­­­­­­­­­blessed ­­­­­­­­­with ­­­­­­­­­these ­­­­­­­­­instructions ­­­­­­­­­and ­­­­­­­­­now ­­­­­­­­­it’s ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­my ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­duty ­­­­­­­­­to ­­­­­­­­­pay ­­­­­­­­­it ­­­­­­­­­forward ­­­­­­­­­and ­­­­­­­­­share ­­­­­­­­­it ­­­­­­­­­with ­­­­­­­­­Everyone, ­­­­­­­­­Here ­­­­­­­­­is ­­­­­­­­­I ­­­­­­­­­started,,,­­­­­­­­­

    >>>>>>>>>➜➜➜➜➜➜➜

    ➜➜➜➜➜➜➜➜➜➜➜➜➜➜ —w­w­w.­ⓦ­ⓞ­ⓡ­ⓚ­­J­U­R­­Y.­­ℭ­­Oℳ

  • Jason

    Places like Panera Bread, Zaxbys, Fuddruckers, etc are not fast food to me. Yes, you order at a counter but the food is still made to order. To me fast food is premade and handed to you through a drive-through window.

  • Jacqueline Massengill

    Ty for this article – I love great tasting food, & every once in a while I need to stop and order food-to-go. I have tried a couple of places that weren’t on your list that I thought were pretty good – one is similar to ‘boston market’ but better, it’s called ‘chicken out’. The other one is called ‘taco time’ – they have great burritos – & the vegie burrito is loaded with fillings (& not just beans & cheese!) Delicious! Run don’t walk lol.
    N.B. Be sure to ask for the green sauce at taco time!