The best and the worst fast food restaurants review
In this article I am going to review fast food restaurants in the United States. Its a bit unusual for a travel article, but many people who visit the from Europe end up eating at Mc-Donalds and complain in forums about the bad fast food culture. When I am on a road trip, I rarely take the time to sit down for a large lunch in a good restaurant (I do for dinner). During lunch hour I am usually on a roll and I don't have the time for extended lunches. Many students who visit the United States don't have the bankroll to eat fine cusine every day, so here is the scoop on fast food restaurants. The good and the bad, what you should be looking for and what you should avoid (with food thats always somewhat objective, but I am trying to be as neutral as possible about it). Fast Food does not mean Junk Food (although usually it does). Here is my restaurant rating:
The best fast food restaurants:
1 Baja Fresh - Mexican Food
In my book they are the number one fast food chain. They pride themselve in the fact that they make every order fresh as you order it. The wait time is therefore around 2 minutes for each order. They don't have a drivethrough, which goes in line with their sit down and relax mentality. The food really excellent and the menu offers a lot of choices. A typical meal runs you about twice the Mc-Donalds charge, but it is well worth it. When you are on the run and you come by a Baja Fresh restaurant you know you can get excellent food at very reasonable prices and quick. It doesn't get any better than here fast food wise.
2 Quizno's Subs - Sandwich Chain
Quizno's offer some of the best Sandwiches you can find. They invented the toasted sandwich, and although a trivial invention, their toaster oven really makes a difference in taste. Their ingredients are fresh and the Sandwich is prepared in front of you. You get to choose what goes on. Their soups (chilli, broccoli ...) is pretty good too.
3 Armadillo Willy's - Texan Style BBQ
When I first stepped into Armadillo Willy's I was a bit confused. Was it a restaurant or a Fast Food Franchise? Well I am still not sure, but the food came pretty fast and you had to get it yourself (no waiter), so I am listing it here in the fast food reviews. If you want a really messy and really good barbeque feast and save a bundle on restaurant charges, go to Armadillo Willy's. And if you can finish your plate (well actually basket), all the better. They have their own special (secret) BBQ sauce and the food is really excellent. On your table you will find a huge roll of paper towels instead of whimsy napkins and you are going to need them. Armadillo Willy's is not as widespread as other food chains. They are mostly present in the San Francisco Bay Area.
4 Panda Express / Mr. Chau's
Asian fast food restaurant. The food is presented in a buffet style. You choose what goes on the plate and they charge per Item. The chinese food is inherently different than in Europe but if you like asian cousine, I am sure these are places for you.
They are famous for their smoothies. The food is average for fast food restaurants, but if you are in hot California in the Summer, stop here for a refreshment. Its a Drive-In style restaurant, that you may know from old movies or the opening credits of the flintstones (Fred gets served a giant rib that tips his car over). You order and then you park. Someone will come with your order on a tray to your car.
6 Long John Silver - Fish
The chain specializes in batter-dipped fish, chicken and shrimp with fries, coleslaw and hashpuppies. Even though you can certainly prepare fish to be more healthy, its a nice break from the common burger joint.
7 In and Out Burgers
Their menu is quite limited, but thats not bad. Their one burger is what everyone comes for. If you really want to experience a good fast food burger, this is the place to go. They cut the potatoes fresh to make the fries (although I don't really like their fries). Just keep in mind, eating burgers all the time will really fatten you up and those are some of the juiciest ones you can find.
The worst fast food restaurants (avoid if you can)
The restaurants below are listed from worse to slightly eadible:
OMG. As a german, I have a certain understanding of what a Wienerschnitzel is (breaded, pan-fried veal). A Wienerschnitzel as you order it in restaurants in Germany is some of the best food you can get. So imagine how thrilled I was when I discovered a chain called Wienerschnitzel. I went there exactly once and never again. They specialize in all sorts of hot dogs and let me tell you, they really know how to make bad sausages. Sure you can get a hotdog for $0.79 (not sure if that is still the case), but it tastes like they should have paid me for eating this. If you are stuck in some place that only has a Wienerschnitzel (god beware of this cruelty), it beats eating out of the garbage can.
Recently Arby's has added some eadible items to their menu. Their market fresh sandwiches are actually o.k. but their standard roast beef sandwiches need to be avoided at any cost.
It doesn't need introduction, but I don't at their burgers. They taste flat and have essentially no taste. But, here is a huge but. Mc-Donalds offers a couple of things that still make me go there. They have some decent chicken breast strips that make for an excellent snack when you feel only a little hungry and their breakfast actually isn't bad at all. Sometimes I am out photographing a sunrise and afterwards I find myself at the local Mc-Donalds having breakfast. They have pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausages and coffee that is sure to wake you up (because its very bitter). So unless you come for breakfast (served until 11am, although some have refused to serve me breakfast after 10:30), you can stop here, otherwise find something else.
4 Traditional Burger Joints
These are what most people understand when they hear about fast-food. Creasy burgers with fries. You will end up with vitamin and other deficiencies if you only eat here. However since most foreigners don't know whats good or bad, they will end up here. Some of them are not that bad, here are the ones you can go to:
5 Taco Bell
Mexican fast food. Not really all that bad, but they had some health issues recently (coli bacteria), so I am going to avoid them for a while.
Here is a quick list of what pizza chains offers good pizza:
Underrated Diner Chains
Sure this review is about fast food chains, but I would like to take the chance to tell you about two distinct diner chains. If I am out to eat good food, I don't go there but:
1 IHOP (International House of Pancake)
They have really good breakfast and their portions are huge and dirt cheap. As far as sit down restaurants go, this will be some of the cheapest food you can get and it is still quite good. I find myself going here for breakfast every now and then. Their reputation is not so good, because they attract people from all circles of society (even those not born with a silver spoon in their mouth). Anyways, I go here once in a while to have a rich breakfast.
It's the all american diner. They too offer dirt cheap steaks and have a similar menu to IHOP, although less aligned with breakfast. Their customers are also all sorts of poeple and when you ask someone about Denny's you can be sure they will look down their noses on Denny's. But their food is better then their reputation and they got one extremely strong argument going for them. Most of their restaurants are open 24 / 7 / 365. Yes, thats true they never close. I remember I once rolled into L.A. after midnight not having eaten all day, and let me tell you I was so happy to finally find the Denny's. Even at home, when I came back from my Peru vacation in the middle of the night, Denny's was still open and now all of a sudden even people who would never go to Denny's sat in there having a good time.
My name is Andre Gunther and I have a Travel Photography Website. I have been living and eating in the US for many years now.