Fast food is wonderful. There is probably nothing in this world that better suits the munchies. It’s salty. It’s fried. It’s made of the cheapest ingredients, and served 200 times a day, without any semblance of care.
Unfortunately, the perfect fast food restaurant doesn’t seem to exist yet. Sure, there are places that do great things, but there really isn’t one spot that does the best version of everything on the menu. Let’s take a look at the wide world of fast food, and check in on who does what best. We present The Fast Food Awards.
Best Burger: In-N-Out
Yeah, okay, California guy coming through. I can already see half of you angrily slamming your laptops closed or hurling your phones out of the nearest window.
Here’s the thing: In-N-Out makes the best fast food burger. It’s not even a debate; their ingredients are leagues ahead of every other chain. Remember what I said about being poorly put together without care? This beauty right here is the only spot that isn’t like that. Nothing frozen. Nothing fake. The quality is what separates In-N-Out from the rest. When you place your order here, you know exactly what you’re going to get. With most chains, you’re rolling the dice, hoping your burger looks like the commercial. Not at In-N-Out.
The quality of this burger is unrivaled — but add to that the fact that the food is some of the cheapest in the game, what is there left to say? The Double-Double is the most expensive thing on the menu, and it’s not even $4. Unbelievable.
Best Fries: Rally’s / Checkers
“Wahh wahh wahh I’m a baby and I wanted Shake Shack or McDonald’s to win this one”, is what you’re probably saying right now. Rally’s / Checkers (it’s a Carl’s Jr. / Hardee’s situation, with a different name depending on where you live) are kings among kings here, with Frenchies that are perfectly fried, perfectly crispy, and most importantly, covered in secret (magic) seasoning.
Truly, no fast food fry comes close to what the seasoning scientists at Rally’s / Checkers are doing.
Best Shake, if We’re Calling any Sort of Frozen Dairy Drink a Shake: Wendy’s
It’s not really a milkshake, technically, but neither is Shake Shack’s frozen custard and people love the hell out of that one. In-N-Out’s milkshakes are fine. The neon-green barf that Mickey D’s calls the Shamrock Shake is an absolute nightmare. Jack in the Box does a respectable Oreo shake. Steak ‘n Shake, which I considered, is more of a sit-down restaurant and doesn’t really count.
The real runner up here is Chick-fil-A because theirs tastes the most like ice cream and they put a little cherry on top of it, which is just such a great idea. Sonic does that too, but the shakes aren’t quite Frosty level.
At the end of the day, the Frosty is a grand slam. It tends to stay thick longer than most fast food shakes, and the flavor is hard to beat. It’s too bad Wendy’s fries are horrible, because ya boy loves to dunk fries in a shake. Nobody’s perfect, I guess.
Best at Being Super Mean to People on Twitter: Wendy’s, again
Not really relevant in the tastebud world, but damn. Wendy’s is cold as hell.
Best Breakfast: McDonald’s
There shouldn’t be any debate on this one. Egg McMuffins are O-U-T-S-T-A-N-D-I-N-G. McGriddles, doubly so. If you’re not familiar with the modern marvel that is the McGriddles (important to note here that a single sandwich, for some reason, is called a McGriddles), you need to familiarize yourself at once. The wizards at McDonald’s have cast some dark magic and injected syrup nuggets into pancakes, and then used them as the bun to hold a breakfast sandwich. What a time to be alive.
Best Forgotten Spokesperson: Del Taco Dan
Remember that little dude Del Taco Dan? He was always getting into crazy antics. What a guy.
Best at Not Giving Even One Single Fuck: Taco Bell
It’s hilarious that most fast food spots (McDonald’s especially) try to trick you into thinking that their food is fresh and organically farmed and all that nonsense. It’s silly.
Taco Bell, on the other hand, doesn’t give a damn about that. Other chains are out here telling you just how fresh their lettuce is, and T-Bell is like, “WE WRAPPED A BURRITO IN A QUESADILLA AND WE CALLED IT A QUESARITO, JUST EAT IT”.
Way to cater to your demo, Taco Bell.
Best Nuggies: Chick-fil-A
A real bummer to give a shout out to the trash company that is Chick-fil-A, but look, the nuggies are incredible. For a place that makes a generally overrated chicken sandwich, they sure know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to the bite size stuff. On top of it all, they’re cheap as the dickens — they’ll hook you up with $12 nuggies for $5.95 — and that Chick-fil-A sauce is undeniably good.
Widest Variety: Jack in the Box
I’m not sure who is in charge of Jack in the Box’s menu, but wow, it’s all over the place. Jalapeño poppers? Tacos? Egg rolls? Fajita pitas? Y’all need to maybe cool it a bit.
Most Secretly Overpriced: Carl’s Jr.
Have you ever eaten at Carl’s Jr.? It’s crazy expensive. Those dickheads have burgers that run upwards of $7, which is far from acceptable. If I’m paying over $10 for a burger, I’m gonna get a much higher-quality burger. Fast food typically shouldn’t cost you more than $10. Carl’s Jr. is trying to squeeze the blood from a stone with those prices.
Best Happy Hour: Sonic
Pretty sure no other fast food joint has happy hour. That’s about all there is to that.
Best Fried Chicken: Wingstop
I want to be clear that I’m not talking about that wack little Pizza Hut spinoff Wing Street. Let’s get that out of the way right quick.
Honorable mention to the Shake Shack fried chicken sando, which almost stole it. Unfortunately, Wingstop is just great, and the sheer variety of rubs, flavors, and sauces they’re working with give them a bigtime edge above the rest of the competition.
Best at Trying to Convince Us it’s a Real Place Even Though Nobody Has Ever Seen One: Long John Silver’s
I’m not entirely sure Long John Silver’s is a real place. You may think you’ve seen one, but I would reckon that’s an implanted memory from an extraterrestrial being.
Best Pizza: Domino’s
Domino’s, of course, isn’t perfect. But who else would win this award? Pizza Hut? Little Caesars? Papa J’s? Domino’s is about the best fast food pizza you can get, and their recently revamped crust (they basically just put garlic in it) is pure fire. A hot, fresh Domino’s pizza — especially after a joint or six — is one of life’s great pleasures.
Best Sub: Jersey Mike’s
J Mike’s is a good sandwich, no two ways about it. The meat, fresh off that industrial slicer, is better than almost every fast food sandwich. It’s certainly better than the hot garbage they serve at Subway and Quiznos. Jimmy John’s and Firehouse Subs are solid, but they can’t quite edge Jersey Mike’s in terms of ingredient quality. “Mike’s Way” (onions, lettuce, tomato, oil & vinegar, and spices) is a terrific sandwich pre-set. And to become popular without offering mayo & mustard as the standard? What courage! What vision!
Best Commercial Narrator: Arby’s
Ving Rhames does all the Arby’s narration. It’s about the only good thing Arby’s has going for it. I wish Ving Rhames was the voice of every fast food chain.
Best Spaghetti: Jollibee
Jollibee, the Filipino fast-food chain, sells spaghetti. By sheer default of there being nowhere else on Earth you can get fast food spaghetti in a drive-thru, Jollibee wins this one.
Best Orange Chicken, in any Restaurant, Fast Food or Not: Panda Express
The reason you’ve never had good orange chicken at another Chinese restaurant — besides the fact that it’s honky food — is because nobody wants to compete with the ultimate supremacy that Panda Express boasts. Their orange chicken is simply the dankness, and you’re not gonna find anything better.
Best Guilty Pleasure That You Know In Your Heart is Absolutely Disgusting: Subway’s Tuna
I wish I didn’t like the tuna from Subway. It comes out of an ice cream scoop. They spread it on the bread with a butter knife. Everything about it is gross.
But damn, it’s weirdly good.