You can’t really go wrong with chain restaurants. Sometimes, it’s just easier to eat at a restaurant that you know is going to provide the same service and quality of food time and time again.
Plus, with the high turnaround of chain restaurants, you can almost always guarantee that you can get a table at any time.
If you’re traveling to the States, you might be wondering what the most popular chain restaurants are.
While you can wing it and find any local restaurants nearby, it’s so much easier to search for the most popular chains to ensure a good dining experience.
Here are the 23 most popular chain restaurants in the United States!
1. Taco Bell
Taco Bell is one of the most popular chain restaurants in the USA, and for good reason.
This chain restaurant originated in 1962 in California, and specializes in Mexican foods including (you guessed it) tacos, burritos, nachos, quesadillas, and more.
Aside from its fast-food service and tasty food, Taco Bell is most popular for its affordable prices. All items on the menu are fairly cheap, and the restaurant also offers value food items for an even lower price.
It is estimated that Taco Bell brings in 2 billion customers a year, and the popularity is spreading across Western countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom.
If you’re in the States, you’re bound to find a Taco Bell nearby, as there are around 7,000 restaurants in the country.
2. Olive Garden
Not all chain restaurants in America are fast-food restaurants. Olive Garden is a great example of this.
Olive garden is a chain restaurant that specializes in Italian-American food, most notably the lasagna, fettuccine alfredo, chicken parmigiana, and the legendary never-ending breadsticks.
Olive Garden doesn’t pretend to be an exclusively Italian restaurant, as the menu is very clearly experimenting and celebrating Italian-American cuisine.
The popularity has spread globally with over 900 restaurants over the world, including Canada, Tuscany, Brazil, the Philippines, Mexico, and more.
Olive Garden is known for its delicious homemade and freshly made food items that range throughout the day, with the lunch menu centering around the iconic breadsticks and the dinner menu expanding to steaks and pasta dishes.
American cuisine is all about great meat, which is why Texas Roadhouse is such a popular chain restaurant in the country.
This is a popular steakhouse that specializes in steaks (of course) and Southwestern and Texan cuisine.
Texas Roadhouse is all about providing great steak and a proper taste of Southern cuisine.
It’s not just the menu that comes with a Texan flair, as the entire restaurant is themed around the State, from the music to the decor to the exposed wooden building.
They even offer line dancing and live country music as forms of entertainment! With over 627 restaurants across the United States and international locations, Texas Roadhouse is a must-visit for meat enthusiasts.
And if you’re interested in exploring similar dining options, consider checking out Longhorn Steakhouse menu items for a delightful selection of steakhouse fare.
Chick-fil-A is another large American chain restaurant that specializes in fast food, most specifically chicken sandwiches.
It is most commonly used by its drive-throughs, which is the most convenient way to order the food quickly on a lunch break. However, there is still the option to sit inside these restaurants.
There are believed to be just over 2,800 Chick-fil-A restaurants across the country, with some even in locations such as Canada, Columbia, Puerto Rico, and eventually Hawaii.
Its popularity is due to the low prices and availability throughout the day, as Chick-fil-A serves food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
If you have the chance, it’s best to visit the actual restaurant rather than the drive-through, because the service at Chick-fil-A is exceptional.
The best way to get a taste of the Caribbean without leaving the comfort of your home state is by visiting Bahama Breeze.
Bahama Breeze is a chain restaurant in the United States that specializes in Caribbean cuisine, including seafood, steaks, chicken, and tropical-themed drinks and cocktails.
Some of the most popular items on the menu include the shrimp tacos or blackened mahi.
The menu is matched with the Caribbean-themed restaurant itself, with apt decor, live music, and regular entertainment to make you feel like you’re on vacation.
Surprisingly, Bahama Breeze is one of the smaller chain restaurants in the United States, which is another reason why it’s so popular.
There are around 42 locations dotted around the country, with Florida being home to 19 locations.
You don’t get more American than Denny’s (see also ‘The Top 19 Meals At Denny’s!‘).
Denny’s is a diner-style chain restaurant that specializes in true American diner food, including chicken and waffles, breakfast sandwiches, burgers, fried chicken, fries, and more.
These restaurants are open throughout the day, serving food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
While it might be easy to assume that there are countless diners in every State, it’s not always easy to find the local ones.
With over 2,000 locations in the country, Denny’s is arguably the most popular chain diner restaurant in America (for more chain restaurants that’ll do you a good breakfast, see here).
One of the reasons why Denny’s is so popular is because of its aesthetics. These restaurants are themed like a 1950s diner, with the checkered floors, red accents, and jukeboxes.
Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar, more commonly known simply as Applebee’s, is a casual dining chain restaurant that specializes in American food.
The menu consists of burgers, pasta dishes, chicken, salads, and most notably the restaurant’s own “riblets”, which is a cut of pork exclusive to Applebee’s.
Applebee’s is arguably one of the most relaxed chain restaurants to visit in the States, thanks to its relaxed dining atmosphere and menu.
It’s nothing overly special – it’s just good American food. It’s the type of place you’d go to have lunch with friends and catch up over a comforting lunch or beer.
There are around 1,700 Applebee’s locations across the United States and internationally. As the name suggests, Applebee’s strives to be like a friendly neighborhood bar or pub.
As the name suggests, The Cheesecake Factory (see also ‘The Cheesecake Factory: 19 Vegan Options‘) is most famously known for its wide menu and distribution of various cheesecakes in America.
The restaurant is also popular for its diverse savory menu, with items including breakfast, brunch, burgers, pasta dishes, salads, seafood, and a range of desserts.
Aside from its large and extensive menu, The Cheesecake Factory is known for its legendary large portions, friendly service, stylish yet comfortable dining experience, and high employee satisfaction.
Of course, with over 50 varieties of cheesecake to choose from, this is the best chain restaurant for those with a sweet tooth.
There are over 300 locations of The Cheesecake Factory dotted across the United States and Canada, and California is the State with the most locations.
Wendy’s (see also ‘17 Wendy’s Breakfast Menu Items You Should Try‘) is a popular fast-food chain restaurant that specializes in hamburgers. It’s the type of place you’d go to when you’re craving a bog-standard, tasty hamburger without spending a fortune – you know what you get with these fast-food chains.
Other items on the menu include chicken nuggets, French fries, sandwiches, wraps, baked potatoes, and more.
Wendy’s (see also ‘All Items You Can Get On The 4 for $4 Menu At Wendy’s‘) is most popularly known for the Frosty – a soft-serve ice cream made of cream, sugar, fresh milk, and flavorings such as cocoa.
Due to its slightly runny consistency in comparison to real ice cream, a Frosty sits somewhere between an ice cream and a milkshake.
There are currently over 6,500 Wendy’s restaurants in the United States and international countries, with Houston being the main city with the most restaurants.
Typically shortened to just Chipotle, Chipotle Mexican Grill is a popular chain restaurant that specializes in Mexican food (see also ‘16 Best Mexican Chain Restaurants In America‘).
The menu includes a range of tacos, burritos, and burrito bowls, which are all made to order directly in front of the customer.
This means each meal can be made depending on the customer’s preference, allowing for an individual experience.
Unlike most other American chain restaurants, Chipotle stands out thanks to its surprisingly small menu.
With such few items on the menu, Chipotle has the time to commit to using fresh ingredients and ensuring that every customer can feel accounted for, allowing for an individualized dining experience.
There are over 3,000 Chipotle restaurants in the United States, with the majority in California. Chipotle is also found in other countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Canada.
Another popular lunchtime spot is Arby’s, a fast-food chain restaurant that specializes in sandwiches. In fact, Arby’s is said to be America’s second-largest sandwich restaurant chain after Subway.
This restaurant has an extensive sandwich menu, with some of the most popular options being Beef ‘n Cheddar and Roast Beef.
Aside from the sandwiches, Arby’s offers a deli-like line of Greek gyros, fries, shakes, and more.
They also offer deals wherein you can buy a drink and sandwich for a cheaper price than separately, making it a great option for a quick lunchtime meal while working.
It is estimated that there are over 3,400 Arby’s in the United States and other countries, including Canada, Mexico, Yemen, Egypt, South Korea, and Turkey.
The most popular and largest sandwich chain in the United States, and arguably the world, is the notorious Subway.
Subway is a multinational fast-food chain restaurant that sells a range of subs (submarine sandwiches), salads, wraps, and drinks.
The whole premise of Subway is that the customer gets to make their own sub, wrap, or salad with a deli-style system.
Not only does this allow for an individualized dining experience for each customer, but it also allows for a never-ending range of sub options.
Of course, they also sell the classics, such as a Meatball Sub or Steak & Cheese.
Subway has over 37,000 locations across the world, making it one of the largest chain restaurants ever. Over half of these locations are in the United States, with the others scattered across over 100 countries.
13. Little Caesars
Little Caesars is America’s third-largest pizza chain restaurant (after Pizza Hut and Domino’s, respectively). This is a multinational chain that specializes in pizza, and is most famously known for its super cheap prices.
The cheapest pizzas on the menu cost just $5, which is far less than other pizza chain restaurants in the country (see also ‘Top 15 Papa Murphy’s Foods‘)!
Despite the low prices, Little Caesars uses only fresh ingredients and makes their own pizzas by hand, with a range of toppings on offer to suit everyone’s preferences.
The menu consists of the HOT-N-READY menu, which are the core menu items, as well as specialty and custom pizza options.
There are between 4,000-5,000 Little Caesars locations in the United States and international countries and regions, including Asia, Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East.
14. Red Lobster
Red Lobster (see also ‘20 Delicious Dishes At Red Lobster That You Won’t Want To Miss!‘) is a casual dining chain restaurant that specializes in – you guessed it – affordable and delicious seafood.
America is mostly famous for its meat-based chain restaurants, so if you’re a lover of seafood and fish, you have to check out Red Lobster.
Seafood is notoriously pricey, so Red Lobster has created a more affordable menu to allow people to experience great seafood at a low price.
The most popular items on the menu include lobster, shrimp, various crustaceans and shellfish, and the iconic Cheddar Bay biscuits. These biscuits are perfect for mopping up the juice after finishing your meal!
There are over 700 Red Lobster locations in the United States and worldwide, including Canada, China, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Ecuador, Guam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Qatar.
15. Jack In The Box
Jack in the Box is another fast-food chain restaurant in the United States that specializes in burgers, but it’s not limited to being a burger joint.
This restaurant is known for its diverse menu, which is part of the reason for its popularity. Not only does it serve great burgers, but it also serves Mexican-American cuisines.
So, if you’re on a road trip looking for a restaurant to account for everyone’s cravings, Jack in the Box is the place to go.
Not all chains will offer Mexican food in the same place as burgers, especially at an affordable price. The menu also includes a range of breakfast options, milkshakes, and desserts.
There are over 2,200 Jack in the Box locations in the United States, with the majority of locations being on the West Coast.
While this is fortunate for those who live in the West, this also means that those on the East Coast aren’t likely to find a Jack in the Box nearby (see also ‘13 Delicious Jack In The Box Breakfast Options To Try Out Today‘).
Just because you’re in North America doesn’t mean you can’t get a taste of another continent in the States. Outback Steakhouse is a chain restaurant specializing in steak and inspired by Australian dining.
Australia is known for its plethora of beers and steaks, which is why this restaurant is so successful in the United States and elsewhere around the world.
Alongside its Aussie-inspired menu, Outback Steakhouse follows the Australian theme with its rustic decor and classic tankards.
The key motive behind Outback Steakhouse is to put real meat at the forefront of the menu, focusing on high-quality and organic ingredients with a laid-back atmosphere – just like in Australia.
There are over 1,000 Outback Steakhouse locations in the United States and across the world, including Australia, Canada, and parts of Asia.
Buffalo Wild Wings is a popular casual dining chain restaurant that specializes in Buffalo wings, hence the name.
Not only this, but it’s also a popular sports bar that plays sports on large screens while serving cold beers – which is why the restaurant’s motto is literally “Wings, beer, sports”.
The main reason why Buffalo Wild Wings is so popular is because of its lively atmosphere.
While a restaurant, Buffalo Wild Wings is also a sports bar, meaning there is always something going on. It’s the ideal place to watch a live game with your friends, along with a plate of iconic wings and glass of beer.
There are over 1,200 Buffalo Wild Wings locations across every State in the country, so you’re bound to find one wherever you’re traveling to.
There are also locations in Canada, Mexico, India, Panama, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the Philippines.
Chili’s Grill & Bar, more affectionately known as simply Chili’s, is a casual dining chain restaurant specializing in Tex-Mex cuisine.
The restaurant features a diverse menu that includes quesadillas, tacos, fajitas, Southern egg rolls, burgers, steak, and more. Whatever you might be craving, Chili’s has probably got it.
One of the highlights of Chili’s extensive menu is its range of appetizers. While it doesn’t serve breakfast items, the restaurant is popular for both lunchtime and dinner meals, especially if you’ve got kids.
The kid’s menu is pretty good, and there are a bunch of coloring activities to keep them entertained.
There are over 1,400 Chili’s locations in the United States and across the world, including Mexico, China, Canada, Germany, South Korea, Brazil, India, and more.
Known simply as Cracker Barrel, Crack Barrel Old Country Store is a chain restaurant that specializes in traditional Southern cuisine.
As the name suggests, Cracker Barrel is a store as well as a restaurant, filled with vintage toys, gifts, and candies.
Even the interior of the restaurants has a vintage store-like vibe, making for a comforting and unique dining experience.
The whole idea behind Cracker Barrel is to make you feel like you’ve gone back 50 years.
This is emphasized by the menu, which includes all-you-can-eat biscuits, a delicious fried breakfast, beans cooked in a variety of ways, hashbrown casserole, and more. The restaurant also hosts live country music.
Cracker Barrel is only apparent in the United States, with over 660 locations across 45 states.
IHOP is a multinational chain restaurant that specializes in pancakes, hence the name International House of Pancakes.
That’s right – not all American chains are for lunchtime and dinner meals, as IHOP is ideal for those who want something reliable and delicious to eat for breakfast.
The menu is extensive, featuring a range of pancakes, waffles, omelets, and French toast. However, IHOP also offers salads, sandwiches, and burgers for lunchtime meals, so you can go throughout the day.
There’s something particularly delicious about the pancakes, however, so IHOP is definitely worth a visit if you’ve got a sweet tooth.
There are over 1,800 IHOP locations in the United States, Canada, the Middle East, and South Asia. It is starting to expand into South America, too.
The Capital Grille is one of the few chain restaurants in America that is a fine dining chain rather than casual dining.
Not that there’s anything wrong with casual dining, but if you want a reliable dinner that is slightly more luxurious than a regular steakhouse, you need to check out The Capital Grille.
Each location boasts a stylish dining room with an equally luxurious menu featuring steak-based meals made from the highest quality ingredients.
The raw bar is a particular highlight if you want to expand your palette, and not only does the restaurant serve as a steakhouse, but they also serve an array of seafood dishes.
There are around 60 locations of The Capital Grille in the United States, which is large enough to make it a chain, but small enough to make it a rare restaurant. Definitely worth booking!
Known affectionately as Maggiano’s, Maggiano’s Little Italy is a popular chain restaurant in America that specializes in high-fare Italian food.
While it’s technically a casual dining restaurant, there’s something particularly stylish about this restaurant, and it all bottles down to the fantastic menu.
The menu is large, with a range of food being served at lunch and dinner, and a huge range of families to enjoy.
The food ranges from pasta dishes to salads to steaks to seafood, with a plethora of sides and appetizers.
There are over 50 Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurants in the United States across 22 states. While it’s often compared to Olive Garden, Maggiano’s is considered to be the upscale version of Olive Garden.
Of course, we couldn’t finish this list without mentioning the biggest chain restaurant in the world, McDonald’s.
McDonald’s is an American multinational fast-food chain restaurant that specializes in burgers, sandwiches, wraps, French fries, and desserts such as the infamous McFlurry ice cream (see also ‘The 15 Greatest McFlurry Flavors Of All Time‘).
Interestingly, McDonald’s actually started as a hamburger stand in California before it was officially branded with the now-iconic golden arches.
There is the option to sit inside their restaurant, or to go through the drive-through for a quick meal. The menu is updated regularly, with lots of options for vegetarians, vegans, and kids.
As the largest chain of restaurants in the world, McDonald’s is said to serve over 69 million customers across the world every day. There are around 38,000 McDonald’s locations across over 100 countries.
So, there you have it!
Whether you’re wanting to know more about America’s most popular chain restaurants for recommendations or curiosity, hopefully this guide has given you an idea of what chain restaurants are the best to visit.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The #1 Chain Restaurant In The United States?
To nobody’s surprise, the number 1 chain restaurant in the United States is McDonald’s.
McDonald’s brings in a revenue of roughly $40 billion in sales every year, which is largely due to the convenience and low cost of the restaurant.
In fact, the restaurant is so successful that it is also named the top chain restaurant in the world.
The second-largest chain restaurant in the United States is Starbucks, a popular coffee shop that brings in almost $20 billion in revenue per year.
What Is The Cleanest Fast-Food Restaurant?
In America, the cleanest fast-food restaurant is believed to be Chick-fil-A.
Chick-fil-A is known for producing a menu based on chicken sandwiches, but it’s also been labeled the cleanest fast-food restaurant, which is partly why it’s so popular.
What’s The Most Popular Food In America?
America is the home of food lovers, with the most popular food items including:
- French fries
- Potato chips
- Ice cream
- Hot Dogs
- Oreo cookies
- Chicken tenders
- Soda and soft drinks
While these might be the most popular food items in America, the country is home to a vast range of restaurants that specialize in various cuisines with an American twist.
Italian-American, Mexican-American, and Asian-American cuisines are also very popular alongside Southern cuisine.