Food & Recipes

Americans Rank Their Favorite Fast Food Restaurants

See if your favorite made the list.

Americans recently ranked the country’s fast food restaurants and there was some shake-ups in the top spots of a few categories. According to CNBC, business research firm Market Force Information runs an annual poll to compare fast food restaurants’ efforts.

For 2016, more than 11,000 people answered the survey and gave their opinion on restaurants’ customer service, food quality, experience and value. Then, Market Force pulls all the data together into one loyalty score.

Where did your favorite rank? Let’s take a look at the restaurants broken down by category.

Favorite Fast Food Chicken Chain

For the fifth year in a row, Chick-Fil-A topped customer survey ratings. Participants placed the restaurant first in food quality, speed of service, curb appeal, value, atmosphere and overall cleanliness. In fact, Chick-Fil-A ranked a full 15 points higher in staff friendliness than its nearest competitor, according to CNBC.

Chick-Fil-A photo
Getty Images | Alex Wong

Raising Caine’s ranked second in the customer survey.

However, the lowest ranking chicken chains included Popeye’s, Church’s Chicken and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Favorite Fast Food Burger Chain

In-N-Out Burger ranked first in the 2016 fast food survey with a 70 percent overall score. Smashburger scored a 58 percent and came in at second place. What may seem a surprise to some, Burger King (41 percent) and McDonald’s (36 percent) slid into the bottom of the 2016 rankings, below Carl Jr.’s (44 percent).

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In-N-Out Burger

What made In-N-Out Burger score the highest? Customers gave high marks in all survey categories. This includes speed of service, food quality, cleanliness and healthy food options.

Fast food burger restaurants rank among the most popular overall with Market Force’s survey participants. About 45 percent of survey participants visited a fast food burger restaurant at least five times in the previous 90 days.

Favorite Fast Food Mexican Chain

Talk about a culinary comeback. Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants got the top ranking from consumers in 2016. This is despite a number of problems the restaurant chain faced a safety scandal tied to E.coli found in some of their locations. In fact, the entire chain of stores closed down for a few hours on Feb. 8, 2016 to address the health concerns.

Despite that stumble, customers seemed forgiving in their rankings. Chipotle ranked in the top three in every survey category except value, according to Motley Fool.

Chipotle photo
Getty Images | Joe Raedle

Moe’s Southwest Grill came in a close second, according to the Market Force study.

Ranking near the bottom includes El Pollo Loco, Del Taco, Taco John and Taco Bell.

Favorite Fast Food Pizza Chain

The fast food pizza industry brings in about $44 billion annually. For 2016, Marco’s Pizza delivered the goods and ranked at the top of the field. The pizza chain moved up two ranks (a total of 13 percentage points) in the most current survey.

The rest of the pizza top five includes Papa Murphy’s, Pizza Ranch, Jet’s and Papa John’s.

Papa Murphy’s got the highest rankings in taste and healthy options and Pizza Ranch had the best atmosphere, curb appeal and friendliest staff.

Favorite Fast Food Sandwich Shop

Based on the 2016 survey results, Firehouse Subs’ owners and employee are likely fired up about their performance.

The sandwich chain took the number one ranking in the survey, scoring a 77 percent overall. Firehouse Subs’ strengths included food quality, cleanliness, staff friendliness and atmosphere.

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Firehouse Subs

Overall, Panera restaurants ranked high in healthy food options and quality. However, their poor performance in the value category dragged down their total performance score.