The Best American Fast Food Chains – Ranked

American fast food is some of the best fast food on earth. Read on to discover ten of the best American fast food chains that make us smile every time we go for a quick meal.

American fast food chains have come a long way since White Castle opened its first restaurant in Wichita back in 1921. Before long, as cars moved faster and highways filled the landscape, fast food restaurants became a fixture from sea to shining sea. 카지노사이트

Fast forward to the present and fast food restaurants have expanded their menu offerings to include a variety of foods from salads to ice cream. They’ve also jumped the proverbial pond. Today, you can find a McDonald’s, Burger King or KFC just about anywhere in the world with the exception of Antarctica.

While we typically opt to eat local cuisine and enjoy fine dining, fast food is a guilty pleasure that we’ve been known to indulge in both at home and on the road. Hey, we can’t dine at restaurants like Noma every night of the week. Fast food is also something we crave when we’re away from the states for an extended period of time.

We’ve learned a lot from eating KFC and McDonald’s in a variety of countries. We can tell you that a quarter pounder (called a royale with cheese) in Rotterdam is far superior to the ones served in Lisbon or Bucharest. And we have no regrets about licking 30¢ ice cones at the KFC in Chiang Mai or the perfectly cooked McDonald’s burgers we scarfed after a late arrival in Kyoto when every other restaurant was closed.

Sometimes we ate fast food on the road because we were jonesing for a taste of home and other times we were hungry late at night and nothing else was open. And then there’s that one time that we bumped into a Shake Shack in London that drew us in like a moth to a flame.

But, at the end of the day, there’s nothing like eating American fast food at the source.

We get that most fast food isn’t healthy. 안전한카지노사이트

We watched Supersize Me and read Fast Food Nation which is why we eat fast food in moderation. We also try to choose relatively healthy options and practice portion control by sharing our fries.

Our Favorite American Fast Food Chains

Living in Portugal has given us ample opportunity to miss and rank our favorite American fast food chains. Yes, we’ve had plenty of time to analyze which fast food restaurants are our favorites and plot what and where to eat when we’re home.

As a disclosure, some American fast food chains have locations in Lisbon. However, the Portuguese locations just aren’t the same. If you’ve ever eaten a dry quarter pounder, then you know what we mean.

Like everybody, we have our go-to fast food spots. While we appreciate Arby’s, Poyeyes and Sonic, they’re not on our list. We also omit regional chains like Whataburger and Culver’s. The same goes for chains that sell coffee, donuts and pizza – sorry Starbucks, Dunkin and Pizza Hut.

Cutting to the chase, as opposed to cutting into a burger, these are our favorite American fast food chains and the ones you shouldn’t miss when you’re stateside:

  1. Shake Shack

Originally opened as a hot dog cart in 2001, Shake Shack has a pedigree that transcends its fast food status. Its owner, restauranteur Danny Meyer, operates some of New York City’s top restaurants. Its original location was in Madison Square Park on the southern end of Midtown Manhattan.

We knew that Shake Shack was special when we first queued up at that original location for a sweet corn concrete (i.e. St. Louis style blended frozen custard). We’ve since eaten dozens of burgers at Shake Shack locations both within New York City and beyond. Some of those locations were free standing, some were in malls and one was in Grand Central Terminal. They were all good.

Although we like Shake Shack’s standard ShackBurger with its angus beef blend patty, melted cheese and special sauce, we’re partial to the SmokeShack. This big boy burger is topped with applewood-smoked bacon, chopped cherry peppers and special sauce. 카지노사이트 추천

Considering Shake Shack’s name, not ordering a shake would be wrong. Two of our favorites are the Black & White Shake (made with vanilla custard and chocolate syrup) and Caramel.

  1. McDonald’s

With tens of thousands of locations in every state and most countries around the world, McDonald’s is the biggest fast food chain and far from a hidden gem. Its golden arches are instantly recognizable and its origin story was told in a 2016 movie called The Founder.

Brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald opened the original McDonald’s as a family business and achieved success by streamlining the process of serving burgers, fries and milkshakes. Things got real when Roy Kroc joined the business more than a decade later and changed the focus from burgers to franchising. After buying out the brothers, Kroc grew the business to the juggernaut that it is today.

Almost everything on the McDonald’s menu is iconic. We’re talking about things like Big Macs, Quarter Pounders and Happy Meals. Even the Egg McMuffin is a breakfast icon. But nothing surpasses this chain’s French Fries.

Served in a distinctive red container, McDonald’s French Fries are crispy and thin and have a savory, salty flavor that’s impossible to resist (most likely due to the beef flavoring added to the fries during processing). While we’re not ready to compare them to crack, there’s something addictive about these fried potatoes that keeps us coming back for more.

  1. Chipotle

Chipotle put a spin on Mexican fast food with is made-to-order burritos, bowls, quesadillas, salads and tacos made from a variety of proteins, rices, beans, salsas and accoutrements. Some people call this popular chain fast casual instead of fast food. We just call it lunch.

Mindi started eating at Chipotle when she moved to Denver in 1999… and she hasn’t gotten bored of the chain’s burrito bowls yet. She has her favorite ingredients which include white rice, pinto beans, chicken, mild salsa and hot salsa. She sometimes adds corn and lettuce as well as small amounts of sour cream and cheese. She always gets guacamole on the side and adds a prodigious amount of chipotle Tabasco for good measure.

She’s not the only Chipotle fan. McDonalds (see above) liked Chipotle enough to purchase a chunk of the company in 1998 which they maintained for eight years.

  1. In-N-Out

The secret is out about In-N-Out. Literally. The fast food chain’s ‘not-so-secret’ menu is on its website. That special, clandestine menu contains six items – Double Meat, Triple Triple, Quad Quad, Grilled Cheese, Protein Style and Animal Style. Its non-secret menu items include Double Double, Cheeseburger, Hamburger, French Fries, Beverages and Shakes.

Since there are no In-N-Out franchises, the menu and vibe at each west coast In-N-Out location is the same. We can’t say the same about the east coast In-N-Out locations since there are none. Due to its not-so-secret menu and emphasis on freshness, In-N-Out is the epitome of destination dining for travelers like us.

We always order a Double Double (two patties and two slices of cheese) when we eat at In-N-Out in cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Tucson. We also order it, as one does, ‘animal style’ with lettuce, tomato, mustard cooked beef patties, pickles, extra spread and grilled onions.

Apparently, you can order In-N-Out’s fries animal style too. We haven’t done that yet but it could happen.

  1. Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A‘s conservative political positions have alienated many chicken sandwich loving clients to the point of boycott. While we firmly disagree with those political positions, we have to admit that Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwiches are among the best, if not the very best, at American fast food chains.

Mindi grew up eating Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches at mall locations in Atlanta on various days of the week but never on Sunday when the bible-thumping fast food chain shuts down. Eating the chain’s chicken sandwiches and washing them down with lemonade elicits nostalgic feelings for her.

Since Daryl did not grow up with Chick-fil-A in his life, he doesn’t experience the same nostalgia. He just likes eating crispy chicken sandwiches. He also likes Chick-fil-A’s waffle fries and typically orders a rainbow of complimentary dipping sauces.

  1. Wendy’s

Wendy’s was already famous for its square patty burgers when it achieved next level status by asking “Where’s the beef?” in a commercial. That commercial went viral and the phrase became part of pop culture.

The hamburger chain was far from new when its infamous commercial hit the airwaves in 1984. Dave Thomas opened the first Wendy’s 15 years earlier and named it after his daughter Melinda. Yes, Melinda.

While Wendy’s is America’s third largest hamburger chain, we don’t usually eat this chain’s hamburgers. Well, not exactly. Daryl is partial to the Baconator, a quarter pound hamburger patty topped with three bacon strips, cheese and other fixings. As for Mindi, she always orders Chili made with chopped up hamburger patties. If she’s extra hungry, she adds a baked potato to her order.

Sometimes we order a Frosty, the signature dessert at Wendy’s. Made with both chocolate and vanilla ice cream, it comes with a spoon and a straw. We typically start eating it with the spoon and finish with the straw.

  1. KFC
    People who eat buckets of fried chicken at KFC locations around the world probably never heard of Colonel Sanders and may not realize that the global fast food chain has roots in the US. After all, shrimp donuts and deep-fried corn soup may be ‘finger-lickin’ good but they aren’t exactly American food favorites.

Originally called Kentucky Fried Chicken, KFC is a classic American success story that doubles as a fast food restaurant chain. Harland Sanders, i.e. the Colonel, came from humble roots before he opened his his first restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky at age 40. Over the years, he created a secret recipe with ’11 herbs and spices’, donned a white uniform, grew a goatee and conquered the world of food.

Beyond his persona, Sanders was a real deal chicken cook who used a pressure fryer and created a unique recipe that remains a secret to this day. We read that his recipe includes basil, black pepper, celery salt, dried mustard, garlic salt, ginger, oregano, paprika, salt, thyme and white pepper but we’re not really sure if this list is correct since, as previously noted, it’s a secret.

KFC introduced extra crispy chicken in 1970. This variation has an extra layer of breading and isn’t cooked in a pressure fryer. Not everybody loves KFC’s crispier chicken option. Daryl is firmly against it while Mindi kind of likes the added crunch. Love it or hate in, after lasting more than half a century, it’s probably here to stay.

  1. Taco Bell

The food at Taco Bell is so wrong that it’s right. Seriously. Serving a hard taco inside a soft taco sounds ridiculous but somehow the Cheesy Gordita Crunch works. And that’s just one of Taco Bell’s many mash-up menu items.

Originally a hard-shelled taco shop when it first opened in 1962, Taco Bell has evolved over the years. It took a couple decades of franchised growth before the successful taco fast food chain got creative with its value meals and recipes. That creativity hasn’t stopped yet.

Despite its rapidly approaching senior status, Taco Bell continues to innovate. We expect nothing less from the fast food chain that introduced the world to Mexican Pizza and the Mountain Dew Baja Blast over the years. Relatively recent menu additions include Doritos Locos Tacos and the Crunchwrap Supreme.

  1. Burger King

Despite its ‘royal’ status, Burger King has perpetually held secondary status behind McDonalds in terms of sales and popularity. But don’t feel bad for this king of burgers. The fast food chain sells millions of flame-broiled Whoppers every single day.

While most of its Whoppers are made with beef, Burger King also sells a flame-grilled Impossible Burger made with plant-based patties. Toppings on both Whopper include lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, ketchup and mayonnaise.

Originally named Insta-Burger King, Burger King achieved fame with its Whopper but the fast food chain didn’t stop there. In addition to the original Whopper and the aforementioned Impossible Whopper, Burger King sells various versions ranging from the compact Whopper Junior up to a ginormous Triple Whopper with Cheese.

We’d be remiss if we neglected to mention Burger King’s Big King XL made with a half pound of beef. That particular meaty morsel comes with two patties, American cheese, lettuce, onions, pickles and stacker sauce. As far as the Extra-Extra-Large Big King XXL goes, we’re not going there. That’s too much for even us to handle.

  1. Subway

Subway has come a long way since 17-year old Fred DeLuca and family friend Peter Buck opened Pete’s Super Submarines in 1965. The duo changed the name to Subway in 1968, started franchising in 1974 and the rest, as they say, is sandwich history.

Subway now has locations in all 50 states and even more countries. Regardless of the geography, each shop offers a myriad of topping options that includes fresh veggies, cheeses and condiments. And, at least in the US, Subway’s bread is baked fresh daily.
Subway is less of a guilty pleasure compared to the other fast food outlets listed in this guide since it’s entirely possible to order a healthy sandwich with turkey and fresh vegetables. Then again, it’s also possible to order a Meatball Marinara sub.

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