© Jess Lander

From a cultishly followed burger to a much maligned burrito.

March 09, 2017

Trying to determine which restaurants are the best in the fast food industry has seemingly become an industry all its own. Decades ago McDonald’s pulled away from the pack in terms of sales, and Subway has a downright absurd lead when it comes to number of stores, but what’s it mean when customers create demand for a restaurant or spend their money there really

Market Force Information is the most recent company to try their hand a teasing out the true fast food cream from the rest of the crop. According to CNBC, these customer experience experts culled responses from more than 11,000 people to create “a composite loyalty index that measures satisfaction with the food quality, service, value and restaurant experience, among other things.” (I’m envisioning those “other things” as Happy Meal toys.) From there, Market Force was able to assess what restaurants it believes people truly love (and actually hate) for a bunch of major fast food categories.

For burger chains, cult favorite In-N-Out Burger took the top spot in a victory that fans of the West Coast chain certainly won’t find surprising. Meanwhile, in another unsurprising result, the oft maligned McDonald’s was bringing up the rear, eking out Burger King for the lowest ranking. Similarly, in the chicken category, the beloved Chick-fil-A took the top spot while less favorably looked upon brands like Popeye’s, Church’s and KFC rounded out the bottom.

Some more unique names took top honors in the pizza and sandwich categories. Ohio-based Marco’s Pizza was the highest rated pizza joint. Though the chain has nearly 1,000 locations, Marco’s was a new name at the top of this sector. Meanwhile, Florida-based Firehouse Subs took a pretty commanding victory when it came to sandwiches.

But possibly the most surprising result was for favorite Mexican restaurant. Chipotle Mexican Grill finished number one, narrowly beating out Moe’s Southwest Grill and El Pollo Loco. Come on. That’s a comeback story. The other burrito spots have to be looking at Chipotle thinking, “Seriously? We lost to that guy after all he did?”