Consumer Reports surveys, rates fast food joints

June 30, 2011 1:45:34 PM PDT
Americans spend more than $150 billion a year on fast food, and that doesn't even include pizza.

But when you're on the road this summer, there's good reason to drive by some of the biggest chains. That's according to a just-released Consumer Reports survey of more than 36,000 subscribers. They rated 53 chains for food quality, service and value. In all, the Consumer Reports poll covered more than 98,000 visits to five types of fast-food chains.

Some big-name restaurants didn't do so well because of low ratings for food quality. Those included McDonald's, Burger King, Taco Bell, and KFC.

McDonald's burgers were rated the worst of all. And KFC was called out for being one of the slowest places to get "fast" food. The pizza chains Little Caesars and Sbarro also had low scores for food.

On the whole, some smaller chains got especially high marks for food quality, and they offered speedy and polite service that the some of the bigger chains didn't match.

Five Guys was one of the top-rated burger places. You can choose up to 15 toppings from its menu for free. Two other smaller burger chains, In-N-Out Burger and Burgerville, in Portland, Oregon, also earned high scores.

Chick-fil-A, with its sandwiches, nuggets, and salads, came out on top for chicken.

As for pizza chains, don't just run off to one of the big names like Domino's and Pizza Hut. They got surprisingly low marks. Far better was Papa Murphy's Take'N'Bake Pizza, where you custom order your pizza to make at home.

And Chipotle ranked first for Mexican food. People found its service to be speedy and polite, and the food was highly rated.

For fries, Wendy's came out on top. It has a new recipe that edged out McDonald's, though both beat Burger King, whose fries were relatively low in flavor.