NEW YORK (MainStreet) Hitting the road for the holiday weekend can mean more fast food stops than usual. Maybe a good thing for the kids, but you? Not so much. Before you make your drive-through decision, want to guess the worst-tasting burger of them all? If you said McDonald's, you're right, according to a survey of over 32,000 Consumer Reports readers. Also at the bottom of the fast-food chain are KFC and Sbarro.
Some 65 burger, chicken, sandwich, pizza, Asian and Mexican fast-food chains were rated. Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Smashburger and Fuddruckers took top honors for tastiness in the burger category. When it comes to yard bird, Chick-fil-A rules the roost, scratching out a victory over KFC, Boston Market and Popeyes.
"More and more, food quality ¿ not just low price ¿ is emerging as a deciding-factor for many Americans when choosing where to spend their dining dollars," says Tod Marks, senior projects editor for Consumer Reports. "Strong regional players and slightly more upscale fast-casual chains like Chipotle are giving the heavy-hitters in the fast-food business a wake-up call. And our survey clearly shows the big guys need to respond."
Least-favored menu items include Taco Bell burritos and Subway subs, according to the survey. But when it comes to fast food, consumers are often looking to save cash rather than score a culinary delight. Consumers said the best values came from Del Taco, Little Caesars, and Papa Murphy's Take 'N' Bake Pizza while Burger King, Church's, KFC, Panda Express and Sbarro were judged least meal-worthy per dollar spent.
It's likely most diners would be hard-pressed to make the distinction, but Consumer Reports says "fast-casual restaurants" are a step up from fast food, providing "higher-quality fare" with accompanying higher prices -- and a focus more on dine-in than drive-through. Ranking highest in the fast-casual category were: Chipotle Mexican Grill, Firehouse Subs, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Jason's Deli, Jersey Mike's Subs, Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches, McAlister's Deli, Panera Bread and Schlotzsky's.