Fast food has evolved into an iconic part of American culture, skyrocketing into a whopping $570 billion industry, with the United States alone generating $200 billion of that sum. It’s not just food; it’s a slice of the American identity.
Across more than 200,000 fast food restaurants in the USA, over 4 million people earn their livelihoods, serving up quick, delicious, and wallet-friendly meals. The love for these joints isn’t just about convenience; it’s about savoring the diverse and delectable offerings from these beloved chains.
When it comes to fast food, people take sides like they’re backing sports teams. Everyone has their go-to spot, sparking passionate debates about which joint reigns supreme. So, if you’re curious about which fast food places are truly top-notch, buckle up!
Fast food joints differ in price, quality, cleanliness, and that all-important taste. After scouring customer satisfaction surveys, we’ve cooked up a list of the 20 absolute best fast food restaurants in America. Ready for a culinary journey across the nation?
The Big Six
The emblematic golden arches serve over 69 million customers daily across 100+ countries, a staggering reach! They may not top the taste charts, but their influence is undeniable. Did you know? McDonald’s purchases approximately 2.5 billion pounds of potatoes annually to make those addictive fries, firmly cementing its place as one of the top fast food restaurants globally.
Consistently ranked as America’s best fast food restaurant for its impeccable service, especially for health-conscious options like salads and grilled chicken sandwiches.
Notably renowned for its exceptional service, Chick-fil-A stands as the pioneer in the American fast food industry for introducing the first chicken sandwich. It’s also closed on Sundays—a commitment to work-life balance and a testament to being one of the best fast food chains in the nation.
Originally known as Kentucky Fried Chicken, this iconic chain has a secret blend of 11 herbs and spices for its finger-licking good chicken, a recipe that has remained a closely guarded secret for decades. KFC is undeniably among the top fast food places for those craving delicious fried chicken.
From a roadside eatery to a global phenomenon, KFC tantalizes taste buds with seasoned chicken, sandwiches, biscuits, and sides that rival the burger empire.
Arby’s derives its name from “RB,” short for roast beef. Their famous tagline “We have the meats” extends to an extensive menu of 100% USDA choice roast beef sandwiches, making it one of the best fast food restaurants for lovers of savory meats.
Beyond burgers, Arby’s excels in lean, flavorful roast beef sandwiches, along with turkey, chicken, and drool-worthy gyros.
With a footprint larger than McDonald’s, Subway has more outlets globally. They also pioneered the $5 Footlong campaign, changing the game for affordable meals at popular fast food chains and becoming a go-to choice for healthy fast food options.
The poster child for healthier fast food, Subway’s foot-long sandwiches and salads offer a fresher alternative, expanding into wraps and baked goods.
6) Taco Bell
Taco Bell has a renowned tradition of creating limited-time menu items, such as the Doritos Locos Tacos, a collaboration with Doritos, which became an instant hit. It’s a prime example of how popular fast food chains continually innovate to remain among the best fast food choices for customers.
Masters of Tex-Mex creativity, serving up hard and soft shell tacos, burritos, and a menu that appeals to late-night snack cravings.
The Fourteen Hidden Gems
The next fourteen fast food companies are relatively smaller franchises that nonetheless have millions of loyal and rabid supporters.
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