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Top 10 USA Fast Food Joints

Updated on September 16, 2011


Fast food in the USA can be found at virtually every interstate highway interchange. The term fast food implies a restaurant requiring customers to order standing up or from their automobile. Some of these joints provide sitting areas. Some provide only paper napkins and plastic utensils. Fast food is fast in terms of preparation, consumption, and recollection. Numerous fast food joints dot the pop culture landscape in the USA.

Our Top 10 USA Fast Food Joints are presented in no particular order.


Specializing in hamburgers, Wendy's joints serve up hot fresh square burgers on round buns. Geometry aficionados may want to dine elsewhere, but they will miss out on a tasty milkshake-like concoction called a Frosty. Long available in chocolate only, Wendy's food engineers recently introduced a vanilla version.

Burgers come in three pattie configurations: Single, Double, and Triple. Tucked inside the Triple is a coupon for a quadruple bypass, but you won't have to eat again for at least 3 days.

Optimal Meal: A medium chocolate Frosty, medium order of fries and a Single with cheese and pickles only.

Burger King

The King is a semi-creepy cultural icon who stalks potential customers with an unchanging visage and an oversize head. Whether or not Burger King sandwiches are fit for a king is a subject beyond this author's pay grade. I don't know any kings and I've yet to meet anyone remotely regal at the local Burger King.

BK specializes in a humongous hand-meal referred to as The Whopper. Whoppers carry enough cow products and vegetation to feed a small community at Thanksgiving as long as the attendees don't know that turkey can't be flame broiled. Pilgrims would have built a cardiac ward at Jamestown if the Indians had greeted their ships carrying juicy hot Whoppers.

Optimal Meal: Small water, medium order of fries, plain Whopper with cheese only.

Top 10 USA Fast Food Joints.  Image courtesy Suat Eman and
Top 10 USA Fast Food Joints. Image courtesy Suat Eman and

White Castle

White Castle represents an engineer's paradise. By mating square hamburger patties with square buns, the PhDs at White Castle headquarters optimize grill space and packaging efficiency. Patties are punctured with tiny holes to decrease cooking time. Sandwiches don't require unwrapping; simply pop open the cardboard container with two fingers. The things might even taste good; I have no idea because I can't stand onions. Including the fries and the milkshakes, everything within a 50 foot radius of the restaurant reeks of onions. Park your car near the door at your own peril.

Optimal Meal: water and a napkin.


McDonald's sells happiness and fun. A McDonald's hamburger tastes the same in Kokomo and Kankakee. From Alaska to Hawaii, somehow the cow chefs at McDonald's manage to duplicate the identical flavors throughout their menu. McDonald's probably has the largest menu variety across all our Top 10 USA Fast Food joints. Hungry patrons can order a hamburger, a salad, a hamburger salad, a bigger hamburger, and an even bigger hamburger called a Justification for Public Health Care. The fries can't be topped. A trip to McDonald's is justified by the fries.

Optimal Meal: Large orange drink, medium fries, two plain cheeseburgers.

Pizza Hut

Can a pizza be fast? Pizza Hut Food Technologists have reduced the pizza presentation process to preemptive processing. They make it before you know you want it. They're pretty sure you'll order crust, cheese, and sauce. That part can be concocted assembly line style as your garage door is closing. By the time you're at the first red light your pie is warming in an old-fashioned stainless steel pizza oven. Should you encounter traffic, infra-red warming lights patiently toast the cardboard box until you arrive with your ubiquitous coupon.

Optimal Meal: Large Hawaiian Punch and Personal Pan Pizza with mushrooms.


Should you experience a traumatic taste injury and suddenly lose your urge for fried cow, Subway offers a tasty alternative. You may still order in a standing position and you get to boss around the sandwich technologists. Hint: you can ask for extra black olives or lettuce, but not extra cheese. Unfortunately the drive-through concept doesn't play out well at Subway. You actually have to exit your vehicle and come inside the store. It's a small price to pay to be Sandwich Project Manager for a day.

The place always smells of baking bread, which is never a bad thing.

Optimal Meal: bag of (baked) potato chips and foot-long wheat with cheese, black olives, lettuce, cheese, tomato, and salt and cheese.

Long John Silver's

The average Long John Silver's restaurant satisfies all our criteria for fast food goodness. Patrons order from a standing position, paper napkins / paper hats abound, almost everything is fried, and lunch is handed to you through a bullet-proof window. On the other hand, LJS specializes in fish, but 99.9% of the stores are landlocked. We leave this thought experiment to the reader.

Optimal Meal: No clue. I hate fish.

Skyline Chili

Forgive this diversion from our empirical exercise. Unless you live in very specific parts of the USA, fast food chili is not on your lunch radar. Suffice it to say that these heavenly establishments get you in and out in a big hurry without a single fried bovine on the menu. Skyline Chili cows enjoy a different fate; they're mixed with tomato sauce, beans, cheese, and secret spices. No other restaurant manages to wrest so many different entrees from four simple items. Did you know that chili can be fashioned into a burrito? Have you ever seen chili cheese fries? Can you imagine a chili salad? It's all there.

Optimum meal: Water with lemon, bowl of crackers, plate of french fries, bowl of spaghetti / beans / cheese. ( I don't eat the chili anymore, but it really is wonderful)


We've all been to the corner store for gas and a 44 ounce sip of soft drink. Chik-fil-A extends the concept of liquid over-consumption. They sell iced tea by the gallon.

"Welcome to Chik-fil-A. May I take your order?"

"I'd like a grilled chicken sandwich and a gallon of ice tea please."

"Thank you. Please drive around."

The coolest thing? The associates act as if your order is perfectly normal. They are the ultimate diuretic enablers.

Optimal Meal: Large lemonade, large fries, grilled chicken sandwich with pickles only.


Quiznos food developers couldn't very well clone the Subway concept and expect to get away with it. In a flash of genius they elected to burn the buns. Surely this tactic would separate them from the pack. They also made their cheese a different shape.

Oh yes; when you pay, they ask if you have a Quiznos card.

Look for the Quiznos Chicken Breast Enclosed in 2 Slices of Bread to be introduced very soon.

Optimal Meal: bag of (baked) potato chips and foot-long toasted wheat with non-triangular cheese, black olives, lettuce, cheese, tomato, and salt and cheese.

Take the Top 10 USA Fast Food Joints Poll

If you made it this far without running out for lunch, please take our poll. Tell us your favorite fast food joint

See results

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    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 3 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Lynn, Our Quiznos closed. It's a Firehouse Subs now.

    • Lynn Savitsky profile image

      Lynn Savitzky 3 years ago from New Jersey

      It was hard to pick between Wendy's, Pizza Hut, Subway and Quizno's.

    • profile image

      your name 5 years ago

      No one has voted for Skyline. :(

    • profile image

      reach 6 years ago

      I like McDonald

    • profile image

      Trenton j 6 years ago

      Wheres in n out?!?!

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 6 years ago

      I like subway, delicious and healthy !

    • sharing the sky profile image

      sharing the sky 7 years ago from United States

      I second virgoptrex--what about Chipotle? It's fast-food in its own right but in my opinion, offers up fare that is healthier, wholesome, and the whole 'Food with Integrity' philosophy of theirs doesn't hurt as well.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @virgoptrex : no doubt! and someone in front of you always has 3 orders to fill.

    • profile image

      virgoptrex 7 years ago

      Chipotle??? It has longest queue of any joints

    • brianlokker profile image

      Brian Lokker 7 years ago from Bethesda, Maryland

      I voted for Chik-fil-A, but White Castle is a nostalgic favorite and Sonic is coming on strong.

    • jtrader profile image

      jtrader 7 years ago

      Wendy's and Subway are two of my favorites.

    • AskAshlie3433 profile image

      AskAshlie3433 7 years ago from WEST VIRGINIA

      Wendy's is so much better then McDonalds! Much better!

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 7 years ago

      Fun hub! ChickFilA is a great asset to your community; they support non-profits (schools, kids' sports, etc). Closed on Sunday. The managers really care about their employees -- attending school events . . . and they have grrrrrreat tea (skinny)!!

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Finally, White Castle got a few votes...

    • Medical Alarms profile image

      Medical Alarms 7 years ago

      There is so much wrong with this list but I love the hub anyway. Unfortunately I love fast food and the fact that I think I know better than you means I'm on my way to serious health problems. Love to read a part 2 of this one!

    • profile image

      monte monte 407 7 years ago

      mcdonalds rulz

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Still no votes for White Castle!

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      White Castle has no votes

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Long John Silver's actually got a vote? Yikes.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 8 years ago from south Florida

      You're in fine fettle! A coupon for a triple bypass tucked inside the hamburger? Love it! Still laughing.

    • cjv123 profile image

      Carol 8 years ago from Michigan

      We always try to hit Wendy's when we travel - otherwise I don't eat at fast food joints. But your Hub was still informative - as always!

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @DeBorrah K. Ogans: Me too. Thank you for your kind words.

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 8 years ago

      Nicomp, Luv Chik Fil A and what they stand for as well... Thank you for sharing, Blessings!

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @sabrebIade: oops! forgot one.

    • sabrebIade profile image

      sabrebIade 8 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I only have one word...HARDEES!

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @Tom Whitworth: eat a triple and get a free bypass coupon. Eat two triples and get a free bypass coupon that's transferable. ;)

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 8 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      I,ve got to go to Wendys and get quadruple bypass coupon.

      Your exposee gave me a heart attack(8D)