Many of the restaurants in Consumer Reports' latest fast-food survey‚ covering 96,208 meals at 65 chains, are mega chains. They operate thousands of units in all or many parts of the country—tens of thousands in the case of Subway and McDonald's.
If you're not lucky enough to live near the areas of operation of the ones listed below, these five are worth a visit should you spot their logos while traveling.
In-N-Out Burger operates about 300 units mostly in California, but also in Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and Utah. (It has cooked-to-order burgers made from premium chuck, ground by their own butchers, with the buns baked in-house.) The Habit Burger Grill, with about 100 locations, is another California-centric chain with a presence in Arizona and Utah as well. Rubio's is out West, too, with 193 units in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah.
Portillo's Hot Dogs has about 40 locations, mostly in Illinois, but also in Arizona, California, and Indiana. Burgerville has 40 restaurants in Oregon and Washington state.
This article also appeared in the August 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.