10. Jack in the Box
J-Box takes the term “fast food” quite literally. When they say that all of their food is made to order, what it means is that your burger is thrown on the grill before you’ve finished ordering food and will be assembled long before you pull up to the window. But although their punctual burgers are tasty, the tacos are truly unique. They arrive in a food truck sleeve and are served in a very crunchy shell overflowing with jalapenos and queso. Utter perfection.
J-Box would get a higher spot on the list if only their chicken game wasn’t so lackluster.
9. Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen
Before you hate me for excluding KFC from this unholy list of fast food juggernauts, first you should become acquainted with Popeye’s. Popeye’s offers a staggering amount of side options and strange menu items, but none of it really matters because as long as you order your chicken spicy and deep fried, it will never disappoint. The fried shrimp Po Boy is the only fast seafood sandwich that actually doesn’t suck. If you’re like me and find KFC’s approach to southern style chicken lackluster, Popeye’s may just be the key to unlocking a spicier and more savory fast food lifestyle.
8. Carl’s Jr.
Western BBQ Thickburger. Bottom line: If you can relate to these idiotic commercials in any way, please find the nearest trash can and throw yourself right into it. Hardee’s is designed for people with way more class. The fried jalapeno and onion filled Western BBQ Thickburger is guaranteed to make even the grimiest consumer feel righteously disgusting. Sometimes you’ll get lucky enough to come across a Hardee’s/Red Burrito combo restaurant. I implore you to try ordering tacos instead of fries to raise your gluttonous feast to greater heights.
7. Steak ‘n Shake
The two oldest burger chains in America are White Castle and Steak ‘n Shake. While both have remarkable similarities and are a staple to the late night eating habits of dirtbags throughout the Midwest, Steak n’ Shake is the fast food restaurant that even Chicago tough guy film critic Roger Ebert endorsed during his lifetime. He also divulged the secrets of the steakburger before passing. “When you bite into the Steakburger, you want it to be gloriously al dente all the way through: toasted bun, crispy patty, onion, pickle, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch.” Rest in peace, fellow fast food warrior.
Chipotle is definitely fast food. Let’s just think of it is as a gourmet burrito stand that operates as a Tex-Mex restaurant due to its tremendous following. You won’t find any bugs in these burritos. Chipotle is always consistent and fiendishly addictive. This is why it helps that Chipotle can be healthy if you choose their vegetarian options. A majority of the Chipotle employees I’ve met are quite healthy, and that’s due partially because they stay well fed. I for one would jump at the chance to eat free Chipotle every day, but I would probably abuse this privilege maliciously.
5. Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken
Again, before any of you dummies try to bemoan the lack of KFC on this list, sit down and listen. A bucket of KFC is the same as a can of trash when compared to Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken. Before Lee’s, I used to ponder where the perfect chicken has been my entire life. But it was waiting right outside of Cedar Point. Their original recipe chicken trumps that of all other competing fast food restaurants. Even more impressive than their chicken is the coleslaw. You’ll wish you could order a 10 pound slaw bucket for the car ride home.
If you want to talk about the best dollar menu in the business, look no further than Wendy’s. Over the course of two days I ventured to several fast food joints and tried two items each off of their value menu. By the end of the experiment, Wendy’s won the best pairing: Spicy chicken nuggets and small frosty. Try dipping the hot nuggets in the frosty. You can thank me later. I usually forego the fries, as they’re unfortunately soggy and bland. The asiago spicy chicken sandwich is my favorite item on their menu; it reigns over all other chicken sandwiches.
3. Taco Bell
The past few years have seen a creative upheaval for Taco Bell. But with that also comes the haters. Disregard the pathetic ramblings of health food hipsters when it concerns the Doritos Locos Tacos. It’s the most delectable item on the menu by far. The buffalo chicken cool ranch Doritos locos taco was probably created by a basement dwelling scientist. Only at Taco Bell can you go for breakfast and drive away with a crispy waffle shaped like a taco filled with cheese, eggs and meat. It is this nonsensical approach to fast food that has made Taco Bell indispensable.
2. In-N-Out Burger
No burger sums up the superiority of the West Coast quite like the In-N-Out burger. While Steak ‘n Shake frequently attempts to reinvent and repackage itself for newer generations, In-N-Out has endured because of just two sandwiches: the single, and the double. Get the greasy double, some fries, and a chocolate milkshake to experience the most classic fast food you’ve ever had. In-N-Out only loses the top spot due to lack of options. If you live on the West Coast and don’t eat In-N-Out, then get off your candyass and see what you’ve been missing.
Rally’s has become a crucial part of my late night food needs over the past several years. Rallyburgers may appear quaint when compared to the glory of In-N-Out burger, but Rally’s humble fast food game is there whenever you need it. Try the Double Fry Burger if you’re running almost empty on grease. Rally’s fries are most excellent. If you’re feeling like getting way greasy, try the $2 shrimp box which is fried shrimp mixed in with fries soaked in buffalo sauce. Rally’s is your one stop shop to fuel your beer-soaked adventures all through the night.