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Generic Fast Food Experience (Ranked)

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    Generic Fast Food Experience (Ranked)

    This is not a ranking of which place has the best food, but rather which places you'd pull into at the Last Rest Stop For Three Hours and it's lunch time so you have to grab something for the road trip you're about to endure.

    We all know the real answer is to stop at Buc-ees for an on-the-road BBQ sandwich. But that's not an option here.
    1. Chick-fil-A: across the board, no matter which one you stop at - you're guaranteed a relatively smooth drive-thru experience. Friendly workers who seem happy to go out of their way to help customers. Almost zero mistakes with the order
    2. Wendy's: usually clean dining rooms, consistent food quality at every stop. Some do free lemonade refills (which isn't common). Their new "hot fries" guarantee still needs to be tested, but sounds promising.
    3. McDonald's: their drive-thru throughput is getting better, but they still have a problem with their counter ordering and dining room cleanliness. Still, you know what the food will taste like no matter which location you happen to hit. It may not be the best overall experience, but it'll be the same experience no matter where you go. Also worth checking your order before you drive off.
    4. Burger King. They may have fun commercials and interesting menu items, but we have yet to hit a BK that isn't dog-gone slow to order and get the food.
    5. Popeyes: good food, but horrible option to eat *while driving*. Needing extra napkins is an understatement.
    6. Taco Bell, KFC : definitely not a good choice for a 3+ hour road trip with no available rest stops.

    (*disclaimer: above post may be intended to be humorous. or not. your experiences may differ)

    A horrible experience at my local Wendy's dropped them to the bottom of the list for me. And I worked there in high school myself, and had nothing against them for decades - just the one 1/2 mile from my house. Poor service, poor attitudes, and poor hygiene by their employees which grossed me out.

    You are spot on about Chick-Fil-A. The local ones somehow can have a line two cars wide wrapped around the building, and they get you through pretty fast, with their folks out there with iPads ordering way before you get up to the pickup window. I've seen one of our local McDonald's that has this approach to the lunchtime rush as well.

    Tacos and fried chicken, as you say, are bad choices for food for the driver at least, if not everyone in the car.


      What a coincidence - I just saw a Wendy's commercial while at the gym this morning about their new fries. It said that 2 out of 3 people, (might have been 3 out of five, but a good percentage whatever), preferred the new Wendy's fries to McD's fries. McD's fries have been the gold standard for fast food for a long time.


        I find McDonald's the easiest to eat when driving, as it seems to me to be the least sloppiest (staying away from a Big Mac). If there's a White Castle around (and I'm traveling alone), that would move to the top of the list.
        Last edited by Murdy; October 19, 2021, 08:01 AM.


          We rarely frequent fast food joints ... although there have been a few trips to Culver's lately . If we're on the road, we're most likely to look for a Subway if we're either in a hurry or trying to keep it light.


          • Mr. Bones
            Mr. Bones commented
            Editing a comment
            I don't hit there super often, but we has us a Culver's, way down there, to th south side o town...I've never been disappointed, when I got me some food, there

            Has me a Subway, ~3.5 blocks away, an I LOVES to go there, experiment with th available options an parameters at my disposal...plus, one should not, (imho) walk away without (At Least!!) several White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies...Jus Sayin!

          • Steve R.
            Steve R. commented
            Editing a comment
            "White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies" ~ Mr. Bones

            Damn right! And I rarely eat any kind of cookies. Needs to be relatively fresh out of the oven and kind of soft, though.

          Popeye’s. Without a doubt, the spicy for me. But if driving, get their new chicken sandwich, awesome!


          • tbob4
            tbob4 commented
            Editing a comment
            You have legit Popeye’s’. Out here they are nothing like Texas or Louisiana.

          You took Buc-ee's off the table first?? That's obviously the go to, but if I hafta pick somewhere else...

          1. Chick-fil-A
          1a. Chick-fil-A
          1b. Chick-fil-A 😁😁

          Wendy's is generally a decent 4th place choice, but I've had some very poor experiences with them in ATL area.

          McD's - I rarely eat there and am never pleasantly surprised. BK - same.

          Subway - I like it. But who can eat Subway while driving?? 😁



            McDonalds is the standard I judge all fries by BUT I really like the fries at KFC and Popeyes! The McD's here is hit and miss with the salt on fries, so that's a bummer.

            Having said that, while living in England I preferred Burger King fries over McD's. The McD's fries in the UK are flavorless mush, they use different oil and don't really salt them.

            The worst fast food fries for me is Wendy's... but I so love their spicy chicken sandwich.

            When it comes to chicken I prefer Popeyes spicy over KFC, but I do really like the Nashville hot when KFC offers it. I really miss El Pollo Loco... Chik-fil-A is good, but I don't hold it on as high a pedestal as most folks, but that's likely because here our sole location is in the WORST possible spot, there's no way I can get there, through the line, and have time to get back to work and eat. I do like their sauces though.

            For fast food Mexican, only option here is Taco Bell, but I always greatly preferred Del Taco (and Naugles) over it


            • Draznnl
              Draznnl commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks for the sad news, ItsAllGoneToTheDogs . I guess that's what happens in 40ish years since college.

            • Mr. Bones
              Mr. Bones commented
              Editing a comment
              Ft Lost in the Woods is roughly 4 hrs / 208 miles SE of where I growed up...wonderful place, lotsa happy customers LOL

            • mnavarre
              mnavarre commented
              Editing a comment
              There's actually three Naugles now since Del Taco basically abandoned the brand and someone else sued to take it over and recreated the menu. Dick Naugle also seems to be hawking a book and Naugle sauce, which was great. Aaaannnnd, now I want Del Taco.

            We don't eat Chick-fil-A a lot, so cannot really speak to that. Nothing against them, just only a couple around here. We usually have the best luck while traveling with Arby's and and Hardees in terms of food quality, service, and cleanliness. McDonald's is middle of the road with the one in our suburb being garbage. Wendy's and BK are often nasty for cleanliness, slow, and hit and miss on service locally and the areas we travel the most.

            As far as the food itself, it's fast food. I don't see that much difference in the big chains in terms of wow or quality, it's often how hungry you are and what you're really craving as to how satisfying it ends up being.
            Last edited by glitchy; October 18, 2021, 03:01 PM.


            • jfmorris
              jfmorris commented
              Editing a comment
              I too like Hardee's but it almost invariably is one of the slowest drive through experiences for me. Arby's is the bomb.

            • Oak Smoke
              Oak Smoke commented
              Editing a comment
              I love Arby’s. I’ve tried several times to duplicate the flavor of their roast beef sandwich, so far it has alluded me. I haven’t seen a Hardees in a long time. There was one I had to drive past on the way to work, they had a chicken fried steak biscuit that was a great breakfast.

            • Mr. Bones
              Mr. Bones commented
              Editing a comment
              "Hurry on Down To Hardee's, Where th Burgers are Charcoal-Broiled"

            None of the above while driving. Any gas station with related fast food: Beef jerky, beef sticks, dried fruit, chips - just about anything one-handed, no look to grab, junk food. Otherwise, stop, get out of the car, go into a diner and have some good food.


              For me, with my wife and I needing gluten free options, we try to find somewhere that is going to be gluten free friendly. So, we stick to a few places.

              Chick-fil-a is one option, although I won’t do this if we are getting back on the road. Most are to busy and will take to long unless you use the app to order ahead which is what I do when we are staying in the various places we travel to. But - they have GF buns and also good salads. And of course those waffles fries are pretty good.

              Jimmy Johns - can get a good unwich (no bread, wrapped in lettuce) and they are quick.

              and that’s really it. I travel a good amount driving (work and with my son for baseball) and usually stick to these, but I’ll also go with a protein bar or granola bar. And I’ll also plan on not really having many options and bring some food with me to eat.

              And the last thing I want while driving for hours, is the smell of food in the car. So, that basically takes most places off the list. I just cant stand the lingering smell of food in the car. And really puts us back at gas stations for chips, bars and drinks.


              • WillTravelForFood
                WillTravelForFood commented
                Editing a comment
                I do appreciate how Jimmy Johns typically is handing you your food before you've even had a chance to pay the cashier.

                They definitely are freaky fast at their outlets.

              • jfmorris
                jfmorris commented
                Editing a comment
                I forgot about the JJ Un-wich. I used to live on those things when I was doing a low carb diet 4-5 years ago. Unfortunately, COVID killed the Jimmy John's with a drive through a 1/2 mile from my house, and I've not had one since mid 2020.

              • glitchy
                glitchy commented
                Editing a comment
                I like JJ’s, but they seem like the most expensive fast food for what it is. Here it’s almost $10 for an Italian sub, sandwich only.

              1. Del Taco. Try the burgers. The Barstow location serves bun tacos.

              2. Sonic

              3. Original Tommy's

              4. In-N-Out

              5. Whataburger


              • jfmorris
                jfmorris commented
                Editing a comment
                I've not seen a Del Taco since I was in college in Atlanta. To my knowledge they are no longer in the Southeastern US - I've not seen one since the 80's. Used to love me a red or green bean burrito.

              From a north of the border perspective

              1. Chic fil a Just came to Canada last spring there is only one location I know of in the downtown core
              2. Wendy's is usually a sloppy mess, probably haven't gone there in 35 years
              3. Mcdonalds would be my first choice of any you've listed and for the points you made
              4. Burger King haven't been there in 35 years 1 day....nuff said
              5. Popeyes are few and far between up here, like you said too messy
              6. Taco Bell/KFC I'll eat something dead on the side of the road first more likely I'll chew my finger nails off
              7. Tim Hortons....shoot me....no wounding and laughing at me either....just kill me....

              I spent best part of 40 years on the road driving semi's, I learned real fast to pack my own lunch for the time I would be driving.
              Not only from a cost savings perspective but the toll on your gastric system and your health in general.
              I really really really needed something on the road it was prepackaged anything candy bars, chips nuts. Nothing touched by human hands.


              • IFindZeroBadCooks
                IFindZeroBadCooks commented
                Editing a comment
                I can’t believe Harvey’s was not mentioned. I am shocked. How is it they are not the top of the list?
                Last edited by IFindZeroBadCooks; October 18, 2021, 08:45 PM.

              • smokin fool
                smokin fool commented
                Editing a comment
                Your right completely forgot about Harvey's, great burgers and fixin's but lack of locations kinda takes them outta the picture at least up here.

              • IFindZeroBadCooks
                IFindZeroBadCooks commented
                Editing a comment
                They are national in Canada but I can see how only 274 locations makes it tricky. Timmy’s has nearly 5000. I really thought Harvey’s would be a lot bigger!

              The only Chic-Fil-A near us is in the Mall. No drive through. Not many Taco Bells either. For me:
              1. McDonalds Quarter pounder with cheese and fries
              2. Panera Roast Turkey Avacado
              3. Kelly's Roast Beef Super Beef Sauce and Cheese. Awesome sandwiches and fries
              4. Any Mom and Pop Sub Shop (no bleeping Subway!) if I can stop
              5. Very few Popeye's but there is on the Maine Turnpike Rest Area.
              6. Dunk's for Coffee and a sandwich. The coffee is great the food just ok.


                Funny back in the day before there were fast food joints at every highway exit, we always had home made fried chicken in grease stained paper bags with white bread on road trips. So I don't have a problem eating fried chicken and driving. Lots of practice I guess. Unfortunately the local Popeyes are both worse than terrible, and while I like KFC, the breading slides off so easily that it is not suitable for road trips. So that leaves:

                1. McDonalds anything other than a Big Mac or my favorite, the McRib (I am ducking to avoid all the boo's)
                2. Chic Filet
                3 Burger King, but not a Whopper
                4 Sonic
                5 If I am feeling really adventurous and daring and I know there are lots of rest stops ahead, those hot dogs on the roller things in the gas station. OK, just kidding. I am never that adventurous.


                • Mr. Bones
                  Mr. Bones commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Me? I vote fer th Fried Chicken in grease stained paper bags; such nostalgia, mebbe a lil dasha lukewarm tater salad, baked beans, or coleslaw...

                  Life is Good!

                • klflowers
                  klflowers commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Mr. Bones, the good old days. I actually ate some fried chicken while I was driving the bus; I knew I was a pro at that point lol


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