Fast-food restaurants

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What's behind our fast-food restaurant Ratings?

The Consumer Reports National Research Center comprises highly trained social scientists, including 9 Ph.D.s, using state-of-the-art techniques to survey more than 1 million consumers each year about products, services, health care and consumer issues.
We look for:
  • Reader score
    A measure of overall satisfaction. A score of 100 means all respondents are completely satisfied; 80 means very satisfied, on average; 60, fairly well satisfied; 40, somewhat dissatisfied.
  • Food quality and freshness
    Quality of food and freshness of ingredients.
  • Value
    Value for the money.
  • Politeness
    Politeness of service.
  • Speed of service
    How quickly diners receive food.
  • Cleanliness of dining area
    Satisfaction with cleanliness of dining area.

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On average, our survey respondents bought lunch or dinner at a fast-food restaurants four times a month; 13 percent did so 10 or more times. Although three-quarters said the sagging economy didn't affect how often they ate fast food, 22 percent said they eat out at fast-food restaurants less often than they used to because of financial concerns. If you're looking for information about fast food restaurants, Consumer Reports is your best resource. Consumer Reports’ fast food restaurant reviews will give you honest advice that you can trust. Use our fast food restaurant buying guide to discover which features are most important to consider. We also provide unbiased Ratings and fast food restaurant reviews to help you choose the best fast food restaurant for your needs.

Fast-food restaurant buying guide

Fast-food restaurant buying guide

We're all watching our wallets more carefully these days. So if you crave a blissful burger, scrumptious sandwich, or terrific taco and down't want to break the bank, look no more. Consumer Reports latest research on quick-service restaurants – from fast feeders like Wendy's to slightly fancier fast-casual chains such as Panera Bread – reveals plenty of great choices. But some of the biggest names aren't among them.

Nearly everyone eats fast food, and more than half of the 32,405 Consumer Reports subscribers who participated in our latest survey do so at least once a week. But after devouring 96,208 meals at 65 chains, readers had little praise for McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, and Taco Bell. The primary reason: Uninspiring food. The fare just wasn't that good. And despite dollar menus, discounts, and frequent promotions, most chains got only so-so scores for value.

By contrast, our survey revealed good deals and even better meals at dozens of less-ubiquitous fast-food restaurants. Readers gave half of the 65 especially high marks for food; five stood out for value. And approximately 40 got solid scores for cleanliness of the eating area, which is critical if you plan to dine-in instead of drive-through.

Our survey's other key findings include:

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