Consumer Reports surveyed 36,733 readers who frequent fast-food chains (let's be honest, who doesn't?), asking them which restaurants were a good value, and which sucked on ice. Four major chains stood out as receiving C grades and hovering near the bottom of the ratings: McDonald's, KFC, Taco Bell, and Burger King (most of the article is not online, sorry).
No surprise to me. Food from each of these chains is genuinely terrible. I also agreed with most of the readers' picks for the best chains: Chick-fil-A's chick-with-pick regular chicken sandwich is magically delicious, and though the Mexican food at Chipotle and Rubio's (a Western chain) doesn't rival what you can get at San Francisco's Mission taquerias, for road-trip food it's pretty palatable.
Little Caesars showed up as one of the worst pizza chains, with its pies rated a miserable 5.7 on a scale of 1 to 10. The circle of hot garbage they call pizza at Sbarro tied with Little Caesars. The winner of the pizza ratings was Papa Murphy's, an odd hybrid takeout chain where customers take home unbaked pizzas to finish cooking themselves. I've never had it. Sounds weird. How is it?
CR readers gave the execrable subs of Subway a surprisingly high 6.8 rating. Why, I ask you? Why? Jason's Deli, with a 7.8 rating, and Firehouse Subs, with a solid 8.0, scored better.
Best burgers, according to CR subscribers, are to be found at In-N-Out, Burgerville, and Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Yeah, In-N-Out's burgers are good, and it's nice to be waited on by someone with nicely combed hair and a smile, but their fries are terrible. Maybe the thing to do is to match a swing by In-N-Out for burgers with a Wendy's run for fries, as Wendy's sea salt fries rated highest with CR (beating out McDonald's and Burger King).
One more thing: In the magazine article, Consumer Reports mentions in passing that Carl's Jr. has introduced turkey burgers. I reluctantly tried one on a recent road trip, ordering it with grilled onions and mushrooms, no cheese. I bit into it, expecting dry meat and slimy vegetables. Instead, it had a nice charred flavor, crispy grilled bun, and savory, meaty mushrooms. Definitely not the best burger I've ever had, but for under four bucks on the highway, not bad at all.Image source: Flickr member Steve Bowbrick under Creative Commons