Taste champs for burgers, chicken, and more
We asked subscribers this direct question: On a scale of 1 to 10, from least delicious to most delicious you’ve ever eaten, how would you rate the taste? We heard about 53,745 burger chains’ burgers, chicken chains’ fried or roasted chicken, Mexican chains’ burritos, and sandwich chains’ sub—or heroes, hoagies, grinders, or wedges, depending on where you call home. (Click on the image above to see an expanded view of the the taste tables.)
The tables reveal that some signature dishes came close to our readers’ benchmarks for excellence. But many of the biggest names earned significantly lower scores for the foods that made them famous, notably McDonald’s. The chain, which serves flash-frozen patties made with 100 percent USDA-inspected beef, touts them as free from “preservatives, fillers, extenders, and so-called pink slime.” Such a pledge might be comforting, but it’s hardly a rousing endorsement. McDonald’s own customers ranked its burgers significantly worse than those of 20 competitors, including Hardee’s, White Castle, and Carl’s Jr. No other house specialty scored as low.
Taco Bell’s burritos were also voted least luscious. And the subs from Subway, the world’s largest restaurant chain with more than 40,000 units in 106 countries, are near the bottom of the list.
Fast-food alternatives: Readers’ choices for fast-casual restaurants
Fast-casual restaurants are a step up from fast food (Chipotle describes its fare as “farm to face”). They usually serve higher-quality fare, charge higher menu prices, and focus more on a dine-in rather than drive-through experience. And they’re big on breakfast. The ones listed were among the most praiseworthy. McAlister’s Deli gets the award for most improved. The chain’s score increased significantly since our 2011 report.
Here are the restaurants at the top of the list.
• Chipotle Mexican Grill
• Firehouse Subs
• Five Guys Burgers and Fries
• Jason’s Deli
• Jersey Mike’s Subs
• Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches
• McAlister’s Deli
• Panera Bread