Zagat’s Fast Food Survey Results Are In

Today, Zagat released the results of its annual National Fast Food Restaurant Survey. This year’s survey covers 103 chains as voted on by 6,064 diners. The typical surveyor dined at a fast food restaurant at least once a week. They weighed in on everything from breakfast to burgers and fries to frozen yogurt, separately rating each chain on the quality of its Food, Facilities and Service on Zagat’s signature 30-point scale as well as ranking their favorites.

The survey results divided the chains into four categories: Large Chains (up to 5,000 U.S. outlets), Mega Chains (over 5,000), Quick-Refreshment (focusing on beverages, ice cream and the like) and Full-Service, i.e. with table service (the Full-Service results are being reported separately). Below are lists of this year’s Most Popular fast food chains:

Popular Favorites :

Mega Chains                                    Large Chains                         Quick Refreshment
1. Subway                                         1. Five Guys                            1. Starbucks

2. McDonald’s                                   2. Panera Bread                      2. Dunkin’ Donuts

3. Wendy’s                                        3. Chipotle                               3. Culver’s
4. Burger King                                   4. Chick-fil-A                          4. Ben and Jerry’s
5. Taco Bell                                       5. In-N-Out Burger                 5. Cold Stone Creamery

Top Ratings: : This year’s Top Overall Rated chains (averaging food, facilities and service ratings) are:

Mega Chains                                Large Chains                           Quick Refreshment
1. Wendy’s                                    1. Chick-fil-A                            1. Pinkberry
2. Subway                                     2. In-N-Out Burger                   2. Red Mango
3. McDonald’s                               3. Papa Murphy’s                      3. Peet’s Coffee and Tea
4. Pizza Hut                                   4. Panera Bread                        4.Culver’s
5. KFC                                         5. Chipotle Mexican Grill           5. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

It’s notable that the top 3 Mega-Chains (Wendy’s, Subway and McDonald’s) are all among the Top 3 Most Popular.

Zagat surveyors also shared their opinions on the best fast food items in a variety of categories:

Burger: Five Guys

Fried Chicken: KFC

Grilled Chicken: Chick-fil-A

Fish: Long John Silver’s

French Fries: McDonald’s

Coffee: Starbucks

Milkshakes: Dairy Queen

Ice Cream/Custard: Ben and Jerry’s

Smoothies/Frozen Yogurt: Red Mango

Breakfast Sandwiches: McDonald’s

Salads: Panera Bread

Value Menu: McDonald’s

Overall Value: McDonald’s

Child-Friendly: McDonald’s

Drive-Thru: McDonald’s

Wings: Buffalo Wild Wings

Calorie Counting: According to the survey, 69% of diners favor calorie count displays; moreover 55% report that their dining behavior has been influenced by such calorie counts.

Healthy Appetite : Perhaps it’s their fresh sandwiches made-to-order or the ubiquitous “five-dollar foot long”, but for the third year in a row, Subway wins for Top Healthy Options, Top Service and Most Popular Mega-Chain. Jason’s Deli (Large Chain), and survey newcomer Red Mango (Quick Refreshment) also rank No. 1 for Healthy Options.

Just Wingin’ it : A brand new category this year – and just in time for football season – is Best Wings. The inaugural award goes to fast food chain Buffalo Wild Wings. Perhaps because it’s associated with the city of Buffalo, NY, the birthplace of wings, however, BWW is actually headquartered in Minneapolis. Wingstop and KFC followed.

Simply the Best : Explaining its enormous success, McDonald’s (with over 33,000 units worldwide) topped a host of categories including Best Value, Best French Fries, Best Breakfast Sandwich, Most Child Friendly and Best Drive-Thru.

Burger Mania: This year’s champ for Best Burger is the ever-expanding Five Guys Burgers and Fries. In second place is cult-favorite In-N-Out Burger, followed by Wendy’s where it’s ‘hip to be square’ (burger patties), Burger King and McDonald’s.

Hot Stuff : Jump starting most Americans’ mornings is the necessary cup of coffee. For the third year in a row, caffeine-craving surveyors have awarded Starbucks the title of Best Coffee. Following in an increasingly competitive field are Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, Peet’s Coffee and Tea and Caribou Coffee.

For full survey results visit

Leave comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *.