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

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Consumer Reports releases the results of its new annual fast-food survey.

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.

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