Consumer Reports: Best & Worst Fast Food

Illustration: David Goldin

Illustration: David Goldin

YONKERS, N.J. — If you are hitting the road this holiday weekend, you may want to reconsider where you stop for a meal on the road.
Based on a Consumer Reports survey of more than 30-thousand of its readers, there are a lot of food choices that they say are much tastier than some of the big-name fast food chains.
Out of 21 hamburger chains, Consumer Reports readers rated McDonald’s hamburgers the worst tasting. Tod Marks of Consumer Reports says “Our survey found that many of the smaller chains are true regional gems. They outperform the big guys, so they’re really worth seeking out if you’re on the road and looking for a great meal.”
Habit Burger Grill, with about 100 locations in California, Utah and Arizona, has some of the best burgers. Also great, In-N-Out Burger with close to 300 outlets in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Texas.
When it comes to chicken, another big name – KFC – was at the bottom of the barrel for taste.
Far better, according to Consumer Reports readers – chicken from Chick-fil-A with 17-hundred locations in 39 states.
Those surveyed say it offers polite, speedy service and they give its dining areas top scores for cleanliness.
Tod Marks says “Mexican chains are another area in which biggest definitely wasn’t best. Taco Bell in fact had the worst tacos and burritos any of the Mexican restaurants in our ratings.”
Survey respondents gave the burritos from national competitor Chipotle Mexican Grill much higher marks.
And who wound up at the bottom of the list? Of the 65 fast food and fast casual restaurants Consumer Reports rated, Sbarro got the lowest score. Those  surveyed didn’t think highly of the quality of the food or its freshness.
In Consumer Reports’ survey, diners who ate at sandwich shops were happier with  the food and service than those who ate at other fast food and casual restaurants. For the highest quality sandwiches, try Schlotzsky’s in 37 states and Firehouse Subs in 41 states, also Portillo’s hot dogs in Illinois, California and Arizona. The sandwiches at these chains far outscored Au Bon Pain’s, which were among the worst Consumer Reports rated.

This report is based on an article in the current August 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine, pages. The issue will be on newsstands from July 8th to  August 4th.