When you’re in the United States, it goes without saying that there’s no shortage of fast food joints to explore.
Chances are, there’s a McDonald’s in your hometown or just a few miles up any highway.
If you don’t feel like a McDonald’s burger, there are options like KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut, and so many more to choose from!
Many of these fast food chains are found in various countries around the world. Others are unique to North America or even the US itself. While some chains like McDonald’s are global, there are also iconic southern American fast food chains that have made their mark in the United States.
Either way, the options are practically endless, especially if you consider independent restaurants and businesses!
For today, however, we will focus on fast food chains in the US (see also ‘Late Night Fast Food: The 12 Best Places To Go To‘).
By the end of this list, you will have a fast food chain you try out for almost every week of the year! It sounds like the perfect road trip to embark on, doesn’t it?
Let’s dive in!
America’s 50 Best Fast Food Chains
Looking for ice cream on a hot summer day? It’s only logical to seek out your nearest Baskin-Robbins.
We can’t promise that you will come across Steve and Robin, but at least you will have a near-endless choice of ice cream flavors to pick from!
Many consider this to be one of the best placed for a bite in the country – that says a lot!
2. Krispy Kreme
Looking for a palace dedicated to give you the best fast food experience possible? Krispy Kreme will have your back with their donuts, drinks, and delightful delicacies.
If you aren’t in the mood for a regular but delicious donut, they offer churrdoughs – you know exactly what that is!
They also have ice cream, seasonal drinks, and even offer catering!
Wendy’s is another fast food chain that’s well-loved across the country. This place has some of the best food going, and definitely deserves to be in the top 5 (but we aren’t doing that).
If you stop by, be sure to get a frosty and one of their stacks or sandwiches. They even have chicken nuggets, baked potatoes, and chili.
We can guarantee that there will be something for everyone, even vegetarians!
4. Red Robin
Red Robin has a lot of delicious food to offer.
From mouthwatering gourmet burgers with everything on them, to chicken sandwiches, fries, onion rings, and everything else you could want!
This place won’t disappoint. Be sure to get an ice-cold drink to wash it all down and a side of loaded baked potato fries. It will be perfect.
5. Dairy Queen
Don’t let the name fool you – Dairy Queen offers a lot more than milkshakes and ice creams! Here, they have chicken, burgers, hot dogs, fries, and a variety of other things, too!
If you took the time to check out Dairy Queen reviews (see also ‘17 Delicious Dairy Queen Items To Order Off Their Menu‘), you would learn that this place is great value for money and great quality. What else could you want from a fast food joint?
Probably one of the most famous fast food places, Subway has stolen the hearts of millions around the world. You can get delicious food here for great value for money.
They aren’t as varied as other joints on this list, since they specialize in sandwiches, but they do make damn good sandwiches.
You can get a food long or a half a foot long, and a wide variety of fillings and bread types to go with.
7. Five Guys
Five Guys is here to stay, and offer some of the best burgers and hot dogs on the market. Anything you order can be customized, and the food basically can’t be beaten.
Even their drinks selection leaves nothing to be desired, so it’s an all-round win!
8. Dunkin’ Donuts
Dunkin’ Donuts is great if you feel like a sweet treat, but they offer more than donuts, too!
Here, you can get some delightful donuts, but also muffins, bagels, sandwiches, and various other snacks like hash browns, bacon, and wraps.
There really is something for everyone here, and you can also have some of the best coffees and brews in the country.
9. Kentucky Fried Chicken
We’re all families with KFC, but just in case… Here’s a refresher! At KFC, you can get perfectly seasoned chicken, sandwiches, and burgers.
They have delicious vegetarian options, and offer a wide range of sides, drinks, and even dessert options to pick from. Walking past, the smell alone is enough to pull you in.
10. Panda Express
Looking for some decent Chinese food? Panda Express will need to be your next stop because you won’t be able to get enough of it!
They have everything from family meals, bowls, and bigger plates to enjoy!
Their sides are delicious, and include options such as rice, but their Orange Chicken and teriyaki chicken really take the cake.
You can be sure to find something for everyone on the menu of Panda Express, and you’ll keep going back to try it all.
You can’t stop by Whataburger and not try one of their supersized creations. Just make sure you’re hungry, or else you will never finish it all. Take that as a challenge!
12. Pizza Hut
In the mood for pizza? Pizza Hut has everything you need! Here, there’s a range of crust options and delightfully cheesy toppings.
That’s not all, though! There are plenty of grilled vegetables, dips, desserts, pastas, wings, and other sides to choose from.
From fries to cheese and bread sticks, you will have a hard time picking just one.
Want something that’s different from KFC, but still chicken and still delicious! Chick-fil-A’s menu is a must-see!
Here, you can choose from a wide variety of chicken sandwiches, nuggets, chick-n-strips, wraps, and so much more. Stopping by for breakfast?
There are fruit cups, parfaits, hash browns, biscuits, and even burritos and scramble bowls. Here, there’s bound to be something for everyone.
14. Burger King
While Burger King isn’t necessarily the world’s favorite fast food joint, it’s still loved by millions. You will never dethrone this franchise, because their food is just too good!
If you find yourself in a Burger King and have no idea what to try out, their selection of Whoppers (see also ‘Top 13 Burger King Items to Try‘). There are also regular burgers to try out, but you have to go big or go home!
You can also pick from family bundles, various chicken dishes, burritos, sandwiches, and drinks. You can’t lose.
15. Jimmy John’s
Nowhere can beat the speed that Jimmy John’s has to offer – this is real fast food.
This place is the perfect spot to stop by if you’re in a rush but still need something better than an old and cheap sandwich.
The sandwiches this place offers are fresh and too delicious to pass up, plus you can get some downright delicious sides like chips, pickles, and cookies.
16. Taco Bell
Taco Bell lovers, unite! You can probably find one of these in most cities, and the food will never disappoint. Here, you can get various tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, and sweet treats.
There are some delicious combos to choose from, as well as bowls and breakfast options.
Carnivore at heart? Arby’s is somewhere you absolutely must check out. They have a load of market fresh sandwiches, but also slow roasted beef sandwiches, sliders, sides, and snacks to pick from.
There are great meal options, and crispy chicken and desserts like cookies and shakes to enjoy. Be sure to try their curly fries with anything you pick!
Probably the country’s second-favorite pizza place, Domino’s has some really incredible food. You don’t need to stick to pizzas, though.
There are also wings, sandwiches, pastas, salads, and too many side dishes to count.
Their bread twists and Parmesan bread bites are too good to pass up, but be sure to try out some of their fresh, oven-baked dips, too!
19. Carl’s Jr.
On the search for good food on a budget? Carl’s Jr. offers some incredible food at only $5 a piece!
There are juice double cheeseburgers, chicken tenders, chicken sandwiches, tenders, burritos, and so much more.
It doesn’t stop there, though – help yourself to a sweet cinnamon roll or French toast dips. Don’t forget about their chocolate cake, or their cheesecake!
Popeyes has, and always will have, a loyal fan base. You won’t tire of the food here, and it’s great value for money.
From surf & turf sandwiches to family meals and mouth watering desserts, you can find everything you need to your local Popeyes (see also ‘The Best Gluten-Free Food To Order At Popeyes‘).
Be sure to stop by and try it out – even the most simple dishes are worth all the hype.
Chances are, you’ve already been introduced to McDonald’s at some point in your life. There are only a handful of countries in the world that do not have one of these!
At one of these joints, you can expect to get burgers, chicken, fries, drinks, and so much more. They’re incredibly versatile and loved by many around the world!
22. Jack In The Box
Jack In The Box makes some damn good burgers, and no one will argue with you on that. If you don’t want a burger, then maybe their famous tacos hit the spot (see also ‘17 Of The Very Best Taco Spots To Find In San Antonio‘)?
The sourdough Jack is one of their must-try menu items, but their double Jack is a close second!
You can stop by for breakfast and enjoy a sausage or supreme croissant, sandwich, burrito, biscuit, or simple platter.
Be sure to get a delicious shake (the Oreo is the best) and a simple drink like Sprite or Fanta to wash it all down.
23. Papa John’s
Papa John’s will give Domino’s and Pizza Hut a run for their money! Here, you can get all your favorite pizza dishes, as well as wings, papadias, desserts, and so much more.
With so many flavors and options to choose from, you will not be disappointed by the food you will get – we promise!
24. Rally’s And Checkers
Rally’s and Checkers is not a joint that will easily be hidden – with bright red accents and the signature checker pattern, you’ll spot it a mile away!
You can expect to get some downright delicious milkshakes here, but also some mouth watering burgers and fries. There are plenty of chicken, hot dogs, and combo meals to pick from, too!
25. Church’s Chicken
Church’s Chicken offers some incredible home-style fried chicken for the soul. Clearly this joint knows what they’re doing since they’ve been around since the 50s and are still going strong.
From their chicken sandwiches to their tenders, you will love every minute of it. Going with a group?
They also have family meals and sides the jalapeño cheese bombers, corn, man & cheese, biscuits, fries, and so much more.
Are you a lover of wings? We are, too. At Wingstop, you can get good ol’ bone in, or boneless wings!
They have combo meals, as well as an array of fries, dips, and even a triple chocolate chunk brownie for dessert!
You can test out flavors, too, since the wings come in up to 13 flavors. These include plain, mild, garlic Parmesan, lemon pepper, hot honey rub, and the ultimate atomic. Be careful!
It’s in the name here! Cinnabon offers delightful cinnamon buns that just can’t be beaten. They’re perfect for a day out shopping – especially in the fall and winter!
They’re always fresh, which means they are warm, sticky, and oh-so gooey and perfect. Treat yourself!
28. Little Caesars
Little Caesars has some incredible HOT-N-READY deals that can’t be beaten. The pizza here is to die for, but also an absolute steal!
All pizzas are freshly made and already ready to be picked out and eaten. Don’t stop there! You can also have your own selection of wings, brownies, and a number of drinks and sides.
29. Panera Bread
The food from Panera Bread is like a warm hug. Here, you can get mac and cheese, fresh bagels, pizza, sandwiches, salads, soups, and everything else you can think of.
If you’re in need of a refreshing drink, they offer their incredible house-made lemonade to wash all your worries away on a hot summer’s day.
30. Shake Shack
Looking at Shake Shack now, could you ever believe that it started out as a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park in 2001?
Now, Shake Shack is the spot to get delicious milkshakes and burgers. There are burgers to try, but also chicken sandwiches, fries, and so much more.
31. Nathan’s Famous
Nathan’s Famous is probably the most famous fast food place in Coney Island, and it’s been around for more than 100 years!
Clearly it knows what it’s doing, because their hot dogs are unbeatable and their undeniable specialty.
Their loaded fries are also to die for, and something that everyone should try out at least once – once is all you need to become cooked. The food is really that good, and totally Insta-worthy.
32. Chipotle Mexican Grill
Craving Mexican food? Chipotle Mexican Grill has you covered! Their guacamole is always fresh, and they have something for everyone.
From the good old burrito to the burrito bowl, lifestyle bowl, quesadilla, tacos, and salads, they’ve got it all!
All their orders can be altered so that it’s perfect for you, and they will soon become your new favorite spot. Don’t worry about your tortilla breaking, either, they’re steamed to hold everything you want!
33. Sonic Drive-In
If you want to be transported back to the 50s, then you need to stop by the nearest Sonic Drive-In. That’s right – this place has something special, including servers on roller skates!
You would hope they get paid a little more for the danger, but either way you can get your hands on chicken tenders, burgers, and hot dogs, to name a few.
This place is great for not only the food, but the unique feel you’ll get when you enter.
As the name suggests, Bojangles’ serves some incredible Southern food. One of their most popular menu items is the buttermilk fried chicken that you won’t be able to get enough of.
Their rich biscuits, salads, bone in and out options, and kid’s meals are too good to pass up.
Not only that, but you’ll get all the fixins you want, too, with a selection of fries, rice, mashed potatoes, green beans, mac ‘n’ cheese and more. Don’t forget the iced tea!
35. In-N-Out Burger
If you’re visiting In-N-Out Burger, you need to try their Animal Style burger option from the secret menu. They will fry your patties in mustard to give you that extra kick of flavor!
You can enjoy their array of tasty shakes, french fries, and beverages that include iced tea, Coca-Cola, coffee, and Dr. Pepper.
Their secret menu is the worst kept secret ever, but we’re all grateful for it!
36. Del Taco
There’s plenty to choose from at Del Taco! From the obvious tacos to quesadillas, tortas, burgers, salads, and burritos, there’s something for everyone.
There are also great crispy chicken options, and tantalizing breakfast choices. If you’re planning a party, why not go for a fiesta pack, and get some dessert to go?
There are shakes, donut bites, churros, and cheesecake bites to try out. Make sure to try their sides and loaded fries, too!
37. A&W Restaurants
A&W’s signature menu items have to be their classic root beer floats, but there are loads more to enjoy, too.
You can enjoy a variety of burgers, hot dogs, and chicken if you’re feeling hungry. With those, you can have fries, onion rings, cheese curds, or the delightful chili cheese fries.
Don’t forget to top it all off with a shake or polar swirl to get the full experience.
You won’t find a big greasy burger at Starbucks, but their beverages are the best in the country.
Everyone knows Starbucks (see also ‘43 Best and Most Delicious Starbucks Secret Menu Drinks You Should Order‘), and everyone appreciates their creativity when it comes to seasonal drinks. They have food items, too, like cakes and sandwiches, too. Overall, everything is worth trying out.
39. Boston Market
Want fast food without feeling like you’re having fast food? Boston Market is the place for you! Here, you can get some divine orders that make you feel like you’re at a cookout.
Their half chickens are roasted perfectly and will make your mouth water just from the smell. You can get white meat or dark meat, chicken pot pies, meatloaf, and so much more.
Don’t forget to explore their numerous sides and drinks, too, because you won’t be let down.
40. While Castle
White Castle sliders are unbeatable, but the rest of their menu is pretty impressive, too! You can expect to always get the juiciest burgers, even their waffle burgers!
Their combo meals can be anything you want them to be, just be sure to get some hash brown nibblers with your breakfast!
For sides, you can enjoy fries (loaded or not), onion rings, fish nibblers, mozzarella cheese sticks, slam strips, and more! Be sure to finish it off with one of the five cake-on-a-stick options!
41. Auntie Anne’s
Walk into your local Auntie Anne’s, and you can expect to see a great selection of pretzels, dips, and drinks.
Your dips can be sweet or savory, and your pretzels can be soft, or come in the form of pretzel dogs or nuggets!
Their original pretzel dogs are just too good to pass us, too. Wash it all down with a delightful lemonade or iced tea.
42. Long John Silver’s
Seafood lover? Long John Silver’s is the palace for you to stop by. This place has some incredibly seafood fast food that you just won’t beat anywhere else.
From their lobster bites and coconut popcorn shrimp to Pacific cod and wild Alaska salmon, there are great options available to you (for more shrimp and salmon recipes, read here).
Try out their variety platters, or taste their grilled shrimp tacos for something you won’t forget.
If you’re visiting Hardee’s, you better be hungry! Here, they offer some huge burgers and great flavors.
Their 3/3-pound Monster Thickburger is definitely something to attempt if you feel like you haven’t eaten in days.
44. Jamba Juice
Looking for fast food but… healthy? Stop by at Jamba Juice for some out-of-this-world juices, bowls, and shakes.
They have awesome boba options, but also some of their classic “handwiches”, egg bakes, and a variety of baked goods like Belgian waffles, pretzels, and wraps.
Definitely worth a try if you’re looking for something a little healthier.
45. Qdoba Mexican Eats
Need some Mexican food right now? Stop by at Qdoba Mexican Eats to get San Francisco-style burritos, quesadillas, tacos, and much more.
Their surf and turf and chicken bowls are worth it! You can stop by at any time of day and get something great to eat.
If you love KFC, you probably already love Zaxby’s. Here, you can get all the fried chicken your heart could desire.
There’s chicken galore in the form of wings, family packs, sandwiches, salads, and meal deals. Do crazy for it!
Be sure to get a Butterburger, fried cheese curds, and frozen custard Cement Mixers if you find yourself at Culver’s. There’s nothing you could enjoy more!
Culver’s even has a selection of seafood dishes, chicken sandwiches and tenders, and a whole array of sides.
Sides include fries, coleslaw, gravy and mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, soups, onion rings, salads and pretzel bites! What more could you ask for?
48. Firehouse Subs
Love subs? Stop by at Firehouse Subs to get some premium subs. You can build your own, so it can be exactly what you’re looking for every single time you stop by.
There are great salad options and extras to try out, too! For extras, why not treat yourself to mac & cheese, soup, chips, chili, or a sweet treat like brownies or cookies?
You can’t go wrong with simple but strong food like this.
49. Jersey Mike’s
At Jersey Mike’s, you can expect to be faced with some great options. There are hot or cold subs, great kid’s meals, and meal options that come with a drink and chips.
Since no meal is done without a dessert, be sure to get a brownie or cookie to finish everything off.
The sandwiches at Quiznos are simply sublime. There are plenty of bread options to choose from, and even limited time options throughout the year!
From classic subs to chicken or steak options, you will be spoiled for choice. Not only that, but there are sammies, soups, and salad options if you want something a little different.
Don’t forget the sides like the tots, and be sure to dig into the cookies, brownies, and birthday cake donut holes.
There you have it! The US is full of amazing fast food restaurants, and they all bring something new and different to the table.
So, next time you spot one of these, you’d better go in and try one of their signature meals!
If you don’t, you know you’ll just spend the next week wishing that you did – and we’re all familiar with how painful that can be.