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The Definitive Fast Food Restaurant Tier List


The Definitive Fast Food Restaurant Tier List

If you love tier lists, you’ll really enjoy this one! The list features 10 tiers of fast-food restaurants. Every eatery on the list is worth visiting, but some are on a higher plateau. This comprehensive list is loaded with details about some of the tastiest fast-food joints around. 

10. Tier 10

Tier 10 isn’t the top of the pile, but tasty grub is still available at this tier. Our bottom tier includes Burger King, Del Taco, KFC and Pizza Hut. Burger King is a big burger chain that offers Whoppers, fries and tons of other menu items. It’s known for its cheeky image, including the hilarious Burger King mascot, as well as its unique, limited-time menu items, such as the Halloween Whopper, which came with a black bun. BK is trying to grab tons of market share all of the time, but the competition is stiff. Del Taco also offers burgers and fries, plus it’s signature USA-style Mexican fare, including tacos, Tostada and burritos. KFC is insanely popular, but other chicken chains are gaining leverage, including Popeye’s, which is currently attracting customers and notoriety because of its famous and coveted chicken sandwich. KFC is one of the biggest fast-food joints in the world, in terms of the number of restaurants and brand awareness, but it is the best? It does offer chicken with amazing seasoning, thanks to the Colonel’s secret blend of herbs and spices. Our last tier 10 restaurant is Pizza Hut. This pizza chain has been around since the late 1950s. The company recently tested out an intriguing, “Incogmeato Pizza”, which comes in a round box. It’s a veggie pie with faux-Italian sausage and its meat-free recipe is right on-trend. However, Pizza Hut execs have warned shareholders that the company’s growth is slowing down. 

9. Tier 9

Tier 9 is a small step up and it includes Hardee’s/Carl Jr.’s, Jack in the Box, Church’s Chicken and Little Caesar’s. Hardee’s merged with Carl Jr.’s in 1997. In 2018, execs let the public know that the brands would be marketed separately, because Hardee’s family-friendly image didn’t gel with the wilder image of Carl Jr.’s. Hardee’s is known for its Great American Burger and All-Star meals. Carl Jr.’s offers the very same menu items. Identity problems between the two brands are one big reason why they’re in tier 9. Now, it’s time to talk about Jack in the Box. Jack in the Box is known for its Really Big Chicken Sandwich, its Sourdough Jack burger and many other tasty menu items, but it sometimes get overlooked because of other trendy burger chains, such as In-N-Out and Five Guys. Church’s Chicken is also in Tier 9. This fast-food chicken chain is known for its Tender Strips meals, which come with spicy or original chicken tenders. Lots of other tasty treats are also available, including Fried Okra, Honey-Butter Biscuits, and Corn. This fast-food chain is doing well and growing. Little Caesar’s is at number 3 in terms of fast-food pizza joints. This pizza purveyor keeps trying to make it to number 1, or number 2, through impressive marketing gambits with a bit of heart, such as offering veterans free pizzas on Veterans Day in 2019. Active duty members were also able to grab free pizzas in honor of their service to America. Known for Deep Dish Pizza, Chicken Wings and Breadsticks, this fast-food chain is always trying to move up to a higher tier. 

8. Tier 8

At Tier 8, you’ll find Arby’s, Panda Express, Dairy Queen and Papa John’s. Arby’s is enjoying a little extra media buzz these days, thanks to the introduction of its oh-so-classy Petit Filet Sandwich, as well as the one-day-only LaDainian Tomlinson’s Arby’s Steakhouse event. At the pop-up steakhouse, National Football League running back, LaDainian Tomlinson, actually signed sandwiches for fans. This event happened on November 7th, 2019. Now, let’s talk about Panda Express, which is a popular pick for Chinese food fans. This fast-food chain has over 2,200 locations and offers some enticing fare, including Kung Pao Chicken, Beijing Beef and The Original Orange Chicken. Other tempting menu items include Fried Rice, Cream Cheese Rangoon and Chicken Potstickers. Panda Express is currently testing out the Bao Bun in its Innovation kitchen. Dairy Queen is a favorite of those who crave cold and creamy treats. Dairy Queen also offers fast food, such as burgers, fries and chicken strips. Many people visit DQ to access Blizzards, such as the November 2019 Blizzard of the Month, which is the Snickerdoodle Cookie Dough Blizzard. Papa John’s is another tier 8 selection. It is currentl the 4th-largest pizza delivery service in the US .The pizza chain recently introduced Pizzas with Garlic Parmesan Crust. Customers can build their own Garlic Parmesan Crust pizzas or choose specialty pizzas with this exciting new crust, such as Sausage with Garlic Parmesan Crust and Cheese with Garlic Parmesan Crust. The company also offers fun desserts, including Cinnamon Pull Aparts. 

7. Tier 7

You’ll love the restaurant choices at Tier 7; which are Subway, Jimmy Johns, Waffle House and Papa Murphy’s. Yes, there are plenty of tiers left to go, but the picks for tier 7 are definitely worth a closer look. One is Subway. The sandwich shop recently offered discounted sandwiches to celebrate National Sandwich Day on November 2nd, 2019. While Subway has great grub, some carnivores wish the sub sandwich chain would put a bit more meat in its subs. Now, what about Jimmy John’s? This fast-food chain is known for its gourmet sandwiches, including fan faves, such as the Spicy East Coast Italian, the Beach Club and the Jimmy Cubano. For sides, this restaurant chain offers Jimmy Chips and pickles, and there are oatmeal raisin and triple chocolate chunk cookies available for dessert. While Jimmy John’s may get overshadowed by other fast food joints, it definitely offers quality food. It also offered a special deal to customers on National Sandwich Day 2019. Waffle House offers yummy fare, including, of course, waffles. Now, Waffle House isn’t the typical fast-food joint, as it’s a family restaurant, but the chain serves up its treats pretty darned fast, including omelets, Texas Melts and waffles. Also in this tier is Papa Murphy’s. During the Halloween season, this pizza fast food joint offers the charming, pumpkin-shaped Jack-O-Pizza, which is fun for kids of all ages to eat. Year-round, this “take it and bake it” chain offers a host of pizza choices, including pan pizzas, thin-crust pizzas and stuffed crust pizzas. Papa Murphy’s is great, but not everyone wants to bake a pizza at home, rather than receiving it piping hot. 

6. Tier 6

Tier 6 includes McDonald’s, Panera Bread, Bojangles Chicken and Domino’s Pizza. What can we say about Mickey D’s that hasn’t already been said? It’s a mammoth fast-food chain. Loyal fans find their consistency and high level of quality control comforting and reassuring, while critics don’t like the food or the chain’s image. McDonald’s has attracted new fans with its McCafé coffees and fun new initiatives, such as bringing international menu items to American McDonald’s. Panera Bread doesn’t cater to the no-carb crowd. It’s a place where people who appreciate and crave delicious bread go to access quality. It’s a fine choice for tasty and relatively wholesome pastries, breads and soups. While Panera has lots of fans, it has yet to break into the top of the fast food world. Now, let’s talk about Bojangles Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits.  This fast-food chain has been around since 1977 and most of its locations are in the Southeastern U.S. Known for its fried chicken, its Cajun seasoning and its buttermilk biscuits, it’s offering a Pork Chop Griller Biscuit, as of autumn of 2019. This is along with the usual menu items and fixings. Bojangles has loads of fans in the South, but people who aren’t based in the South may not have sampled Bojangles fast food. Domino’s is a good pizza fast-food chain that offers a range of appealing menu items, such as build your own pizzas and specialty pizza pies, along with pasta dishes, chicken wings and desserts, such as Lava Crunch Cakes. Domino’s is pretty consistent with the quality and its online tracker is something that so many people have stared at while waiting for home pizza delivery.

5. Tier 5

Now, we’re moving up to Tier 5, which features Taco Bell, White Castle, Sonic Drive-In and Wingstop. Taco Bell is fast food that so many people, including celebrities, crave. Taco Bell is so popular it’s got its own line of merchandise, including hoodies and t-shirts. At Taco Bell, there are plenty of fun menu items, including tacos with hard shells made from Doritos. While Taco Bell might not fit every purist’s concept of what Mexican-inspired food is, it does please a lot of customers. White Castle is also in our middle tier. There are 377 White Castle restaurants in 13 American states. Most people consider White Castle to be the very first fast-food chain. White Castle has been around for 98 years now. Featuring comfort food, such as the Sloppy Joe Slider, Chicken and Waffles Slider, and Corn Dog Nibblers, this eatery is a little different from the norm, but not too different. It’s quirky, with old-school charm. Sonic Drive-In is a fun choice for great fast food. On November 4th, 2019, the American fast-food chain announced that it was adding portable Mac & Cheese Bites and Chili Cheese Bites to the menu. It’s always fun when fast food joints tweak their menus. This tier 5 pick is also a great place to grab burgers, fries, slushy drinks, and toasted sandwiches. The thing is, Sonic is an old-fashioned drive-in, with carhops, so it’s not for everyone. Wingstop is one of the modern fast-food joints that’s all about chicken wings. It offers bone-in and boneless wings in individual combo meals and groups packs, as well as Louisiana Voodoo Fries, which feature golden-brown french fries topped with Ranch, Cajun seasoning and cheese sauce. Crispy Tenders are also available, for those who come to Wingstop but don’t feel like eating wings. Wingstop is popular but has competition, including Buffalo Wild Wings. 

4. Tier 4

Our Tier 4 selections include Smash Burger, Steak’N’Shake, Jersey Mike’s Subs and Zaxby’s. Smash Burger HQ is based in Colorado and there are currently roughly 370 Smash Burger restaurants. While this burger chain isn’t the biggest fast-food chain, it’s got its loyal fans. Classified as a “fast-casual” chain, Smash Burger is unique because it offers a Turkey Burger, as well as chicken burgers and beef burgers on butter-toasted artisan buns. Hungry customers can also go for a specialty burger, such as the Bacon Double Smash. Want a yummy steakburger and a seasonal Pumpkin Spice milkshake? If so, you may want to head for a local Steak’N’Shake. One fun fact about this fast-food chain is that it offers a Happy Hour on weekdays when drinks and shakes are available for less. Drop by from 2 to 5 p.m. on weekdays to get the best deals. Jersey Mike’s Subs is a submarine sandwich fast-food chain that was founded, as the name suggests, in New Jersey, USA. This chain offers hot subs, cold subs, kid’s meals, breakfasts, drinks, and sides. The side option is basically limited to potato chips, plus some desserts, such as cookies and Tastykake. This sub shop is fun, but sometimes get overshadowed by Subway. Another tier 4 pick is Zaxby’s. This fast-food chain is popular with sports fans. At Zaxby’s, amazing signature sauces are available, which add zest to menu items. Popular Zaxby’s menu items include the Chicken Finger Plate, Boneless Wings Meal and Traditional Wings & Things Meal. There are also sandwich meals, Zappetizers and Zalads. This chain operates mostly in the American South, so people in other areas can’t always get their hands on its fast food.

3. Tier 3

Tier 3 has some awesome eateries, which are Wendy’s, Popeye’s Chicken, Shake Shack, and Moe’s Southwest Grill. Wendy’s is a respected fast-food chain that is all about freshness. It offers the usual burgers and fries, plus chicken, wraps and more. It’s known for its Frosty desserts, which are frozen ice cream treats. The fast-food chain also offers chili. This chain was launched by Dave Thomas. Wendy’s recently announced, as of November 2019, that it will be adding breakfast to the menu. This change will happen in 2020. Now, let’s chat about Popeye’s Chicken.  People love this restaurant’s fried chicken menu items. Shake Shack is in the fast-casual category and it’s one of the newer fast-food chains, which launched in 2004. In November of 2019, the burger chain’s stock plummeted by 21 percent, which is a big dip. The stock reportedly fell because of controversy about its Grubhub delivery strategy. Basically, the chain made changes, so that customers only had one delivery provider option and some customers weren’t happy. The chain should bounce back from this public relations disaster. Moe’s Southwest Grill is also in tier 3. Moe’s is a fast-casual restaurant that offers delicious Mexican fare, such as Burrito Bowls, tacos and nachos. There are over 700 of these restaurants in the USA, and Moe’s Southwest Grill was founded in Georgia in the year 2000. Moe’s often gets overshadowed by Taco Bell and other big fast-food players. 

2. Tier 2

So, which restaurants are featured in the 2nd tier? Well, you’ll find Whataburger, Culvers, Firehouse Subs, and Qdoba Mexican Grill. Whataburger HQ is situated in San Antonio, Texas. The company was founded in Corpus Christi, Texas in 1950. Known for its great burgers, Whataburger has approximately 824 restaurants in the USA. The company recently promoted some cute and whimsical Whataburger Christmas sweaters online, which Whataburger fans may wear to celebrate the winter holiday season. Whataburger is known for its compact-but-exceptional classic Whataburger. Now, let’s talk about Culver’s. This casual fast food restaurant offers some interesting menu items, including Wisconsin Cheese Curds, Butterburgers, and Fresh Frozen Custard. There are about 716 Culver’s eateries in America. The restaurant’s menu was refined in Sauk City, Wisconsin. The menu is filled with tempting items, including nostalgic Homestyle Favorites, such as the Beef Pot Roast Sandwich. Firehouse Subs was founded in 1994, in Jacksonville, Florida. At present, there’s roughly 1,170 restaurants, in the USA, Canada, and Puerto Rico. This gourmet sub sandwich franchise offers enticing menu items, including the Hook & Ladder sub, which features Virginia honey ham, smoked turkey breast and melted Monterey Jack cheese, plus mayo, mustard, onion, tomato, and lettuce. This sub comes with a kosher dill pickle on the side. Qdoba Mexican Grill is a fast-casual restaurant that offers some amazing choices, including Lifestyle Bowls and Taco Salads. Chicken and steak prepared at Qdoba Mexican Grill is fire-grilled and pork is slow-roasted. This chain offers yummy food that is fresh, with plenty of toppings to choose from, as well as fresh salsa. This tier 2 pick also serves breakfast. 

1. Tier 1

At the top of the pile, you’ll find Five Guys, Chick-Fil-A, Chipotle and In-N-Out. Five Guys is an unpretentious fast-food chain that provides a comfortable, down-to-earth environment, as well as tasty, hearty grub. Choose burgers, fries with original or Cajun seasoning, hot dogs or Grilled Cheese sandwiches. There are plenty of menu items to choose from, and you’ll be able to select from a dizzying array of delicious toppings. This burger chain is all about quality. Fries are delicious, burgers are tasty. Actually, it’s all pretty darned good. Chick-Fil-A gets some heat for its Christian viewpoint. Some people don’t like the fast-food chain’s values, while others will go out of their way to patronize Chick-Fil-A because they share those values. Most people are in agreement that Chick-Fil-A offers great food. Known for its Original Chicken Sandwich and Chick-Fil-A Nuggets, this company’s fast food gets rave reviews. Chipotle has become such a big player in the fast-food game, by offering customers Mexican fare that they just can’t resist. Chipotle HQ is located in Newport Beach, California and the company raked in 3.9 billion American dollars in 2016. Sales are still going strong. This chain offers tacos, Burrito Bowls and salads. In-N-Out is another burger chain that people adore. Even Gordon Ramsay is a fan. There are roughly 347 In-N-Out restaurants in the USA, and a lot of people wish there were more. Popular In-N-Out menu items include the Double-Double Combo and Shakes. This burger chain is known for its quality and great taste. It’s a revered burger chain that customers love and believe in.

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