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Best Fast Food Joints in America


Best Fast Food Joints in America – These are the 12 best fast food chains in America ranked for your next cross-country road trip.

Visions of golden-fried cheese curds, succulent smash burgers, and cheese-topped fries distracted me from the rolling scenery of America’s backroads.

Not the McDonald’s, Burger King, or Wendy’s mega-corporations that you see worldwide, but the slightly smaller, breathlessly awaited chains that create lines snaking around city blocks each time a new location opens its doors.


Best Fast Food Joints in America Culvers

Culver’s is the most delicious fast food pit stop in America.

If you don’t live in the Midwest, it’s likely you’ve never even heard of it.

However, thankfully, the chain now serves mid-western-style beef and dairy products in 26 US states.

Freshly churned custard milkshakes, the bun-busting butter burger, crispy fried cheddar cheese curds, and an array of homestyle battered chicken and cod fish fillets, it gives the outer appearance of fast-food but outperforms all others in taste.

Find a Culver’s Near You >>


Shake Shack

Maybe I’m just a fan of frozen custard Milkshakes, but Shake Shack, created by celebrity restauranteur Danny Meyer, sets itself apart in the American fast food industry.

This business started as a hot dog stand in New York’s Madison Square Park.

Today, the “shack” can be had in more than half of the United States.

The perfect meal?

A coffee custard shake, a simple all-American Angus Beef hot dog with cheese dipping sauce, and a smash burger.

Simple, delicious, and, dare I say, seems like actual food with “real” ingredients.

The only downside to this beloved joint is the price tag, but good food is worth paying a little extra for.

Find a Shake Shack Near You>>


Best Fast Food Joints in America In-N-Out

In-N-Out is perhaps the most hotly-debated fast food chain on this list.

If you want a *cheap* fast-food burger with fresh toppings, a classic Americana malted milkshake, and cheesy fries with just a dash of salt, this is the place for you.

You can eat a Double-Double Burger animal-style with a heaping pile of fresh onions, cheese fries, and a chocolate malt shake and walk out of In-N-Out without feeling like my gut is totally busted.

The food here just feels fresher than in other fast-food chains.

In-N-Out has a neat car-plating set-up for that.

Find an In-N-Out Near You >>



There are a handful of things that set the Texas chain apart from the pack.

Spicy ketchup, taquitos, honey-butter chicken biscuit, well-battered onion rings, The Green Chile Burger, and the oozing patty melt.

These are the items that Whataburger enthusiasts stand behind. I, too, stand behind them.

But honestly, this chain sits in the middle because while everything is good, it’s not a mind-blowing eating event.

Another iconic aspect of Whataburger is the much larger 5-inch wide patty invented by the restaurant owner.

By design, the burger is meant to wow with its sheer size and not necessarily in taste.

Find a Whataburger Near You >>


Best Fast Food Joints in America Raising Canes

Where are my “Caniacs” at?

Yes, that’s a real name that followers of the Raising Cane’s-cult affectionately call themselves.

This Southern chicken chain is taking the U.S. by storm, as its new pop-ups sling out the best-battered chicken strips in America’s fast food industry.

In most fast-food joints, the chicken strips are a menu staple (or what you order for your kids), but nothing to write home about.

Raising Cane’s perfected the recipe to fresh-never-frozen chicken fingers and paired them alongside Texas Toast, Crinkle Cut Fries, and most importantly, their signature dipping sauces.

Raising Cane’s is worth a stop to stock up on their tangy Cane’s Sauce alone.

Find a Raising Canes Near You >>


Five Guys


It’s what’s for dinner.

For over 50 years, Five Guys has been churning out burgers and fries to the masses.

While the burgers are tasty and completely customizable, which appeals to the general US customer base, it’s really the fries that shine.

Hefty bags of Idaho potatoes are literally stacked for all to see in the hallways of their restaurants.

Freshly cut daily into “boardwalk-style” slivers and fried up in peanut oil (nut-allergists beware) Five Guys also offers them “Cajun-style” for travelers who want a little spice in their life.

Find a Five Guys Near You >>


Best Fast Food Joints in America Chick-Fil-A

Chick-Fil-A lands squarely in the middle.

Undoubtedly, the food and hype here is out of this world.

Lines for newly opened franchises are known to impede traffic.

They have juicy deluxe chicken sandwich and tasty breaded nuggets, along with a long history of being in the middle of myriad cultural wars.

This is the only fast-food chain in America to be closed on Sundays.

Find a Chick-Fil-A Near You >>


Dave’s Hot Chicken

If you like your chicken spicy, then the Reaper hot chicken at Dave’s is your perfect road trip snack.

Dave’s Hot Chicken is an iconic brand that began when some celebs in Hollywood created a street side pop-up that drew a massive following (in person and on social media) and is currently the fastest-growing fast-food chain in America.

Whether you choose their Instagram-famous chicken tender slider (topped with smoky cheese and very California kale slaw) or a couple of the extra large-sized chicken tenders, you better be pairing it with a cup of the creamy mac n cheese to cool off that heat.

Find a Dave’s Hot Chicken Near You >>


Best Fast Food Joints in America Kelly’s Roast Beef

The inspiration for the more popular, but far less delicious, Arby’s.

But don’t expect any mass-produced garbage here.

Instead, you can satisfy your thinly-sliced roast beef craving, with their 25-day aged beef knuckle roast, cooked in-house to the perfect medium rare, sliced to order, and placed delicately on a bun with a rich BBQ sauce and melty white cheese.

While not your typical fast-food joint with burgers or fried chicken, Kelly’s is deserving of a mention.

Scattered throughout the East Coast but heavily concentrated in Massachusetts, Kelly’s is the go-to for a classic three-way-roast beef.

Find a Kelly’s Roast Beef Near You >>


White Castle

Ever wondered where the modern American fast food joint was born?

Here at White Castle, back in the early 1920s.

This makes White Castle even more essential than McDonald’s when it comes to American fast food culture.

The best part of White Castle isn’t the nostalgia; it’s the sliders.

With 12 different bite-sized concoctions, including fish, chicken & waffles, faux meat options, and the best-selling classic 1921 slider, there’s a little something for every road-tripper.

Find a White Castle Near You >>


Best Fast Food Joints in America Dick’s & Zips

Both of these establishments are only available in Washington State, but that doesn’t make them any less delicious and cult-worthy.

After all, the West Coast is one of the most road-tripped stretches of highway in the USA.

Dick’s offers greasy, simple, and delicious beef burgers, salty fries, and thick old-school shakes served from walk-up windows.

They pay employees well above minimum wage, show support for the LGBTQ+ community, and offer free scholarships to all their workers for college.

While it’s typically a late-night craving, quick lunch, or a hangover cure, their positive impact on the community is much appreciated.

On the other hand, Zips has an eclectic menu all its own.

Huge tubs of crinkle-cut fries, behemoth burgers with three sizzling meat patties and sliced ham, country-style chicken strips, and freshly fried and battered fish filets pad the monster-sized menu.

My must-try menu item is the monthly shake special made with fresh ingredients rather than syrup or the hurricane (their tasty answer to the Dairy Queen Blizzard).

Both are Washington icons that must be added to your road trip refuel list.



Jollibee lands on this list, admittedly not because it’s delicious, but because there is no other fast food chain quite like it in America.

That’s probably because this whimsical bee-mascot establishment is a Philippines transplant.

Crispy fried chicken, beef patty steaks with gravy, spicy tuna pies, and their trademark sweet-sauce-topped spaghetti meals satisfy a wide range of palates.

Maybe this is why it’s fondly known as the “McDonald’s of the Philippines.”

When executed correctly, the Filipino-fried chicken is better than KFC and doesn’t leave you feeling heavy and greasy.

While it’s not the perfect meal on the go, it is worth pulling off and experiencing the oddly satisfying concoctions on offer at Jollibee.

Find a Jollibee Near Me >>

Fast Food Consumption In America >>

Regional Foods Of The U.S. >>

Best Burgers In America >>

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