Consumer Reports’ survey of 30,000 of its subscribers found that many of the smaller chains are true regional gems.
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, is chicken from Chick-fil-A with 1,700 locations in 39 states. Those surveyed say it offers polite, speedy service and they give its dining areas top scores for cleanliness.
Mexican chains are another area in which biggest definitely isn’t best. Taco Bell in fact has the worst tacos and burritos any of the Mexican restaurants in the 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 that Consumer Reports rated.