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50 Best Fast Food Chains in America

chick fil a restaurant

In a country where taste and convenience are paramount, finding the top fast food chains in America is a culinary journey to be enjoyed. With its recognizable red and white stripes and distinctive golden arches, the world of quick meals is a tapestry of creativity and excess. Take a trip with us via dine-in areas and drive-thrus as we examine the leading candidates, where every mouthful reveals a story about flavor, effectiveness, and the always changing demands of a nation always on the go. These fast food treasures guarantee a delectable adventure for every discriminating palate, whether you’re searching for a crunchy crunch, a spicy sensation, or a sweet symphony.


McDonald’s restaurant

Okay, we had to start with arguably the most famous fast-food chain in the world. With over 13,000 locations, it’s no surprise McDonald’s comes up every time you look up “food places near me”. People continue to love all the menu items at McDonald’s; burgers, fries, chicken, and more. As you have probably already eaten at McDonald’s countless times, let’s take a look at others that are in close competition with the fast-food giant.

Baskin Robbins 

Baskin Robbins 

If you’re in the mood for ice cream, Baskin Robbins is the palace to go. With too many delicious scoops of ice cream flavors to count, we rate this fast food chain as one of the top places to eat in the country.


A vibrant image of Wendy's fast food restaurant,

It’s always hard listing the best fast food chains as there are so many. Many would argue that Wendy’s should come out on top, and, if we’re honest, the top 10 of this list could all be number one. Here we have the beloved all-American redhead, and the food at Wendy’s is just as beloved. You just have to decide on one thing when heading to Wendy’s – which flavor frosty do you want? Vanilla or chocolate? Okay then, get both!

Dairy Queen 

dairy queen store restaurant

Read customer reviews of Dairy Queen and the vast majority are glowing. Many have similar feelings that this fast food restaurant has “good quality” and “good value for money.” That’s a pretty great combination right there! So if you’re in the mood for an ice-cold soda or the famous Blizzard, head to Dairy Queen for all of your refreshment needs. 


subway restaurant

Founded by 17-year-old Fred DeLuca in 1965, this American fast food chain has become a global phenomenon. If you want great value for money, Subway is one of the best options for a sub or sandiwch. With a range of delicious types of bread to choose from and a whole orchestra of sandwich fillers, there is something here for everyone. 


Cinnabon shop in SM Mall of Asia shopping mall

Heading to the mall for a spot of shopping? It won’t be complete without a stop-off at Cinnabon. This is the place to go for warm, gooey, wonderfully sticky cinnamon buns. 

Dunkin’ Donuts

Exterior signs on one of Dunkin Donuts

Surely our economy runs on donuts, right? Well, they definitely help! If you’re craving a sweet donut, there’s only one place to go – Dunkin’ Donuts! Not only does Dunkin’ do delicious donuts, but their coffee is what keeps American running. Whether you’re craving a warm coffee to kickstart your day, or iced coffee for the warm Summer months, Dunkin’ Donuts has you covered.

Krispy Kreme 

Krispy Kreme Donuts restaurant

Whether you want an affordable cup of coffee or fresh, hot-out-of-the-oven glazed doughnuts, Krispy Kreme will have your back. It’s no wonder this fast food establishment has such a loyal and devoted following. 

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Panera Bread

Panera restaurant exterior and trademark logo.

Freshly baked bagels, delicious mac & cheese. Panera has something to satisfy your cravings nearly every time. Then there is their famous house-made lemonade that goes down better than anything on a hot summer’s day. 


KFC restaurant logo on facade.

Colonel Sanders continues to please millions of hungry customers every year. Whoever thought that chicken out of a bucket was a good idea was a genius! Crispy, Kentucky fried goodness is always waiting for you at KFC.

Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut sign on store front location in Central London

Oh Pizza Hut, oh Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and now Pizza Hut (sorry for getting that song stuck in your head). With a wide range of crusts, different cheesy toppings, and a garden of grilled veggies to choose from, it’s no surprise that Pizza Hut is one of the leading Pizzerias in the world, let alone the U.S.


chick fil a restaurant

If you’ve eaten all you can at KFC and want to try fried chicken from a new fast food restaurant, then Chick-fil-A is a great option. If you’re in the mood for a tasty chicken sandwich, mouth-watering waffle fries, or a creamy milkshake, head to Chick-fil-A and you will be coming back for more. 

Burger King 

 Burger King

All hail the King! Okay, Burger King may not be the most popular fast food restaurant in the country but it remains a top choice for many hungry bellies. If you have never tried their Whoppers, the time has come. They are still as tasty as they ever were and, if you’re feeling adventurous, try out the Impossible Whopper. It’s a mission we believe you will love! 

Taco Bell 

A Taco Bell restaurant in Los Angeles

Taco Bell has some of the most loyal and devoted customers out of all the fast food chains. Head anywhere in the U.S. and you will not be far from the chiming of Taco Bell.


arby's fast food restaurant

If you’re a meat lover, Arby’s is the place for you. Take a trip here and try their famous roast beef sandwiches. You will not be disappointed!


Domino's Pizza building exterior in Houston

Our second Pizza joint on the list after Pizza Hut, Domino’s is hailed for making very well-made pizzas at a relatively good value. Along with their delicious chicken wings and delectable chocolate lava cakes, Domino’s is the perfect takeaway option for a movie night with friends and family. 

Carl’s Jr.

Carl's Jr fast food restaurant.

Next up, it’s easy to see why Carl’s Jr. has become one of the top fast food chains in America. They have an entire $5 menu that will allow you to get items like chicken tenders, double cheeseburgers, and chicken sandwiches for only $5 apiece! Now that’s a deal!


popeyes fast food restaurant

Here is another fast food restaurant that has extremely loyal fans. Many of the customers you find at Popeyes eat here regularly which can mean only one thing – the food is of great quality and is yummy enough to bring you back time and time again. When heading to Popeyes, just make sure you try the chicken sandwich. It is definitely worth all of the hype! 

Papa John’s 

Papa John's

In the mood for another slice of pizza? Papa John’s continues to boast about improved ingredients every year and, ask any customers, and they will not argue. The pizzas here are thick and crispy with soft, gooey cheese to take your breath away.  

Rally’s and Checkers

fast food restaurant Checkers

You can easily spot Checkers and Rally’s restaurants from a mile away thanks to their signature black-and-white checkerboard pattern and bright red accents. Checkers has good fries and better burgers, but that’s not all! They’ve also got some of the best fast food milkshakes around!

Church’s Chicken

Church's Chicken fast food restaurant.

Church’s Chicken is a classic American fast food restaurant that serves up home-style fried chicken. They’ve been selling some of America’s favorite fried chicken since 1952 when they first opened in San Antonio, Texas, right across from The Alamo.


View of the Whataburger restaurant on Airway Boulevard

Their name comes from the fact that you’ll be saying “Wow! What a burger!” when you see your food. These are some of the biggest fast food burgers you can find so you definitely won’t leave hungry! Be sure to look up the Whataburger secret menu before you go! You can get a Whataburger grilled cheese burger that will blow your mind.

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A Wingstop restaurant in Pearland

Wingstop is a famous American franchise restaurant that has cheap deals on both boneless wings and bone-in wings. They’re also known for their wide array of wing sauces like lemon pepper, garlic parm, and atomic if you want a really hot sauce.

Little Caesars

Little Caesars fast food pizza

It’s hard to find a better fast food deal than the HOT-N-READY deals at Little Caesars. You’d be hard-pressed to find a pizza deal cheaper than that! There are very few pizza places where you can walk in and pick out a cheese pizza or pepperoni pizza that’s already freshly made and waiting for you, and that’s why we love this place! Ave Caesar!

Five Guys

Five Guys is an American fast food chain

Five Guys has been one of the top fast food burger chains since the mid-80s and they’re not going anywhere. Five Guys is one of the few burger chains, or fast food companies in general, that allows you to customize pretty much anything on their menu to your liking.

Shake Shack

Shop front and façade view of Shake Shack

What started out in 2001 as a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park, New York has grown into a massively popular place to get burgers and milkshakes across the country. Shake Shack is fast food America loves, and for good reason. You can get cheeseburgers, hamburgers, french fries, and even a good chicken sandwich.

Jimmy John’s

A Jimmy John's sandwich shop in Salt Lake City

When it comes to fast food, Jimmy John’s is literally one of the fastest food restaurants in America. Getting food to you fast is what they do best, and it’s what makes them the best sub shop for when you’re hungry and in a hurry.

Nathan’s Famous

Nathan's Famous fast food chain

No one does a hot dog like Nathan’s Famous! Nathan’s is pretty much one of the best American fast food traditions to come out of New York, and they’ve been around for over 100 years now! They’re definitely still one of the most popular fast food restaurants in Coney Island.

Chipotle Mexican Grill

Chipotle logo in front of their restaurant in Toronto, Ontario

Chipotle is one of the top fast food places to come out of America and spread all over the world. Their specialties are tacos and Mission Burritos, and boy do they know what they’re doing. You can fit anything you want into your chipotle burrito. They steam the tortilla beforehand to make it really stretch to contain all those delicious ingredients!

Sonic Drive-In

Sonic Drive In fast food place

Instead of a fast food drive thru, how about a drive-in? Sonic gives you that classic feel of the 1950s and 1960s drive-in restaurants, complete with the roller-skating servers! Sonic is a great fast food company because they do it all. Hot dogs, burgers, chicken tenders, you name it and they’ll bring it out to you on skates!


Bojangles’ restaurant in Columbus

Bojangles’ is an incredibly popular American fast food chain that serves amazing buttermilk fried chicken the old-fashioned, Southern way. Just make sure you get one of those mouth-watering, buttery biscuits to go along with your meal.

In-N-Out Burger

Exterior of an IN-N-OUT BURGER restaurant

In-N-Out started in California in 1948 and has spread throughout the Southwest and even into some parts of Texas! Make sure to try your burger Animal Style where the patties are fried in mustard for extra flavor along with more of their signature spread, and that’s just one of their amazing “secret” menu items.

Del Taco

Del Taco Mexican fast food place

Del Taco is a classic taco shop that we all know and love. After all, who doesn’t love tacos? Del Taco is also a fast casual restaurant if you want to sit and relax, but it’s also perfect for grabbing a taco on the run.

A&W Restaurants

An A and W restaurant

A&W Restaurants have been around for over 100 years now and you can find them in countries all over the world. If you love draft root beer, then this is the place for you. You can even have them drop a scoop or two of ice cream in there for a perfect root beer float.

See also  12 In-N-Out Menu Items to Order


Company signboard Starbucks Coffee.

Starbucks has got to be one of the best fast food restaurants in America when it comes to coffee and quick lunches. Starbucks fast food is a bit healthier than some other options, but they also have sweet indulgences like cake pops that are absolutely delicious.

Boston Market

Boston Market Restaurant

Up next is Boston Market and they have some of the best American fast food that doesn’t even seem like fast food. You can order half of a chicken, roasted to perfection alongside some delicious BBQ ribs. What’s not to love?

White Castle

White Castle popular fast food restaurant

No one does sliders like White Castle. They perfected their own method of steaming burger patties over a bed of onions for that unique flavor and perfect juiciness every time. It’s no wonder they made a whole movie about getting some of these bad boys!


Close up of Quiznos restaurant s

Hopefully, we’re not the only ones who remember Quiznos’s wacky spongmonkey TV commercials from the early 2000s. Those may be gone now, but a hot, toasty Quiznos sub is still one of the best fast foods in America.

Auntie Anne’s

Auntie Anne's is Original Pretzel and lemonade

There’s nothing quite like going to the mall and rounding the corner where you know Auntie Anne’s place is and getting a waft of those delicious warm pretzels. It’s the greatest fast food for doing a bit of shopping or when you’re waiting in the airport.

Jersey Mike’s

Top fast food chain Jersey Mike's

Jersey Mike’s is one of the top fast food chains in America and it all started in Point Pleasant, New Jersey nearly 70 years ago. You can get amazing breakfast sandwiches and all sorts of hot and cold subs at this popular establishment.

Long John Silver’s

Long John Silver's fast food restaurant.

When you’re craving fresh seafood, Long John Silver’s is one of the top fast food places to eat at. It’s especially perfect for anyone who doesn’t happen to live by the water. Long John Silver’s prides itself on serving fresh, sustainably caught seafood for low prices all around the country.


Hardee's fast food restaurant location.

Hardee’s is a very popular fast food restaurant that’s been around for quite some time, serving up tasty charbroiled burgers. If you like fast food places with gargantuan burgers, then Hardee’s is the place for you. Come try one of their massive 2/3-pound Monster Thickburger for when you’re really famished.

Jamba Juice

A store front sign for the juice bar known as Jamba Juice

Jamba Juice is simply unbeatable when it comes to smoothies, bowls, and juices. They offer lots of healthy fast food options made with fruits and vegetables to get all those crucial nutrients your body needs.

Qdoba Mexican Eats

Qdoba fast food Mexican restaurant

Qdoba Mexican Eats is one of the top fast food chains in America for fast Mexican food like tacos, quesadillas, and, of course, San Franciso-style burritos.


Horizontal, medium shot of Zaxby's casual fast food restaurant's

Fried chicken lovers unite! Zaxby’s is more than just a fast food restaurant. Zaxby’s is a fast casual dining restaurant that rarely disappoints. They have some of the best fried chicken around, not to mention their incredible crinkle French fries.


Culver's Fish Sandwich and Concrete Mixer

What makes Culver’s one of the top fast food companies out there is a combination of their delectable fried cheese curds, their frozen custard Cement Mixers, and their signature Butterburgers. Order all 3 of those items together for a match made in heaven!

Firehouse Subs

 Firehouse Subs fast casual restaurant.

Firehouse Subs was founded by two firefighter brothers with a passion for hot gourmet sub sandwiches. Firehouse’s premium subs are made to order right in front of you so you always get exactly what you order every time.

Jack In The Box

Jack In The Box fast food drive thru restaurant

Best known for its delicious hamburgers, Jack In The Box is a popular American fast food restaurant with something for everyone on its menu. Jack In The Box even serves tacos which have become one of its most popular menu items!

Panda Express

Panda Express Entrance and sign

When you want fast American Chinese cuisine, you’re going to want to head down to Panda Express. They really have some of the best fast food and their menu is full of good deals. Definitely stop in and try their orange chicken or the grilled teriyaki chicken!

Red Robin

Red Robin restaurant fast food

Gourmet burgers and brews, what more could you want? Red Robin is one of the best fast food places America has to offer in terms of beer and burgers. They’re actually one of the only places on this list that serves alcohol!

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

Follow him on LinkedIn, Instagram, Quora, Google Guide and Facebook.