Consumer Reports Names the Best and Worst Fast-Food Restaurants in America, and the Results are Surprising

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Is this the best fast food burger in the country? Voters seem to think so...
Last week we published an article about good, old-fashioned, roadside-style Texas burgers, and in this story, we might have insinuated that there are a lot of crappy fast-food burgers out there. One commenter called us out on it, writing: "I would also argue that McDonald's does not serve a poor excuse for a cheap burger. They serve the gold standard for cheap burgers. The McDouble is a good burger, especially for $1.19."

Well, friend, I'm sorry, but the latest study by Consumer Reports begs to differ.

The online shopping resource conducted a study in which they asked readers to rank fast food meals on a scale of one to ten (ten being the best thing they've ever eaten). According to the report, readers ate "53,745 burger chains' burgers, chicken chains' fried or roasted chicken, Mexican chains' burritos, and sandwich chains' sub -- or heroes, hoagies, grinders, or wedges, depending on where you call home."

In the burger category, McDonalds came in dead last, and not by a narrow margin.

More surprising, though, is the burger category's winner...

...The Habit Burger Grill.

Sorry, what?

Apparently this is a national chain (defined by Consumer Reports as having outposts in six or more states) that started in Santa Barbara in 1969. Only when you look at the list of locations online, it appears the Habit Burger Grill has storefronts in California, Utah and Arizona, exclusively, and one coming soon in New Jersey. So maybe the math is a little off, but what upsets us most is that the closest Habit Burger to Houston is 1001.8 miles away in Tempe, Arizona.

We're also a little perturbed at Whataburger (our state's claim to burger fame) came in at seventh place, after spots like In-N-Out and Five Guys.

As far as sandwiches and subs are concerned, a restaurant called Portillo's Hot Dogs came in first place. The hot dog chain appears to have started in Illinois, home of the Chicago dog. The closest outpost to us here in Houston? Also in Tempe, Arizona, which seems to be some sort of fast food mecca.

Unsurprisingly, Chick-Fil-A came in first in the chicken category, while Chipotle took the top spot for burritos. If locations in three states is enough to be on the list (coughHabitBurgercough) where the heck is Taco Cabana? We have no idea.

This study proves little more than the fact that different people have different tastes, but it is a tad disappointing to see so many California chains unavailable to us Texans on the list.

Oh well. Maybe that just means we have better food in general. Or we spend less time in our cars.

Anyone ever had a Habit Burger? Let us know how it is!


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27 comments
88rpatterson
88rpatterson

I have had a Habit burger in Santa Barbara when there were only two locations. I have eaten Whataburgers all my life and, yeah, The Habit is that good.

Sean Stoner
Sean Stoner

Interesting - never been. But I'll head to the closest one to me in El Segundo when I get back home and see how it stacks up.

bellkell
bellkell

I get my dollar burgers at Burger King. I will try the McDouble at McDonald's. I always get the news of the good offers from a nice source. http://ow.ly/zBTtz

EggsBOT
EggsBOT

Portillo's is amazing.  Italian Beef and Chicago style dogs that will make you a very happy person.

Bobette Binkley Bisbee
Bobette Binkley Bisbee

Whoever was rating burgers doesn't have good taste. Five Guys and In&Out way over rated. We avoid both. My husband loves ChickFilA and I hate it (most tasteless, boring chicken sandwich I have ever had).

Nicki Stacy
Nicki Stacy

Why would I have to drive so far for Whataburger?

Ray Hadfield
Ray Hadfield

Any place can make a great burger if they can sell it at a price the average worker cannot afford. A $12.00 burger had better be good....but who makes the best $3.00 burger..???

Patrick Chatelle
Patrick Chatelle

This study must not weight population densities so is slanted to California chains. I am originally from California and I know several of the high ranking places aren't that good compared to Texas places, if i remember Habit was as good as Whataburger not better.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

Mcdonalds is the gold standard in feeding people garbage cheaply. There are no redeeming qualities beyond that, and this from a confessed nugget/bbq sauce addict.

jimbo1126
jimbo1126

Line up several fast food places next to each other (like on, say, Ella just west of 610) and Mickey D's will always have the longest drive-thru line. Always.

b_david
b_david

I've been to the Habit in Irvine.  It was fine.  My cousin thought it was the best thing ever, but he also hates In N Out, which I think is blasphemy. 

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

Consumer Reports is worthless when it comes to most things other than perhaps cars.  Ask random people which fast food restaurant they hate the most and of course they'll say McDonald's.  McDonald's is an easy target--it's the Hitler of fast food restaurants.  But the Hitler of fast food restaurants sure is popular.  But you can get a large fresh brewed iced tea for $1 and a McDouble for $1.19.  McDoubles taste pretty darn good.



nate
nate

Sigh. 

First, If McDonald's (and Subway for that matter), serve the worst food among their fast food peers, why are they the most economically successful of the fast food chains?


Second, do you think a survey that was only open to Consumer Reports subscribers (a paid subscription for a print magazine) is valid when rating places that sell dollar burgers?  Wonder what the Venn diagram would be for the people who frequent McDonald's and subscribe to Consumer Reports.  


I think it is telling that the burger winner is a "chain" that you have never even heard of...

XYYz
XYYz

when did Houston become the center of the universe? that said, it would probably make more sense to rank fast food establishments regionally

erichenao
erichenao topcommenter

@nate Marketing. With good/blanket marketing you can get anyone to eat dog food. See movie Syrup.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

@XYYz We are the largest city short of Chicago in middle America. Only 3 cities are larger, and two of those are on the coasts.

morgenstern
morgenstern

@erichenao @nate Robb Walsh once wrote that the San Felipe set would eat dog food if Tony Vallone pedaled it, so you might be right.


Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

@gossamersixteen 

Not sure where Houston ranks when you consider the population of the metropolitan area, but Houston is probably pretty far down.  It's just that Houston has a lot of square miles.

Nate
Nate

@gossamersixteen @Bruce_Are Not that there is anything wrong with pink slime (i'll eat it, and have), McDonald's doesn't use it. 


"Do you use so-called "pink slime" in your burgers?

Lean finely textured beef treated with ammonia, what some individuals call “pink slime" or select lean beef trimmings, is not used in our burgers. Any recent reports that it is are false.

McDonald’s USA had begun the process of removing it from our supply chain prior to widespread media coverage on its use and it was completely removed from our supply in 2011. While select lean beef trimmings are safe, we decided to stop using the product to align our global standards for beef around the world.  "


http://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en/food/food_quality/see_what_we_are_made_of/your_questions_answered/meats.html



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