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THE Best Fast Food Items


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THE Best Fast Food Items
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Posted by The Bigfellas on 2022-03-15
OK, this post doesn't have much to do with music (except that we have covered some long distances between shows where fast food is the only break from driving). But it does have everything to do with everything.

We've had long debates with friends about various subjects but none more lively than the discussions about fast food. Everybody has passion when it comes to their fast food choices, whether they're guilty pleasures or not. (WARNING: We are not going to behave like any of this is something to be guilty about.) Here is our list of Top 100 fast food items.

Why 100? The Ringer website a few years ago did a similar exercise with 50 items (https://fastfood.theringer.com/) which became their most referenced article. Well, our list has 100 so it's twice as good.


Criteria

Should have multiple locations and at least some drive-thrus.

Otherwise, our essential criteria here is just that when the item gets mentioned, how much do we say "Ahhhhhhhh" (or a Homer Simpson "Mmmmmm"). Just imagine how many H's are in our "Ahhhhh" and that's how we ranked them. The other consideration is how much it makes a recent vegan say "God dammit" out loud.


The List




1 - Original Recipe Fried Chicken (KFC)
A lot of pressure on the top spot. This should be an uncontroversial choice. Have you ever brought a bucket of KFC to a meat-eater and they’re disappointed? The Colonel may have been a lot of things but he got this right.
2 - Bacon Cheeseburger (Five Guys)
Burgers are the first thing you think of when it comes to fast food. This is the best beef; In-N-Out people don’t @ us about their cheeseburger being lower ranked than this. 5 Guys is also real beef and a little fattier. Perfection.
3 - Pretzel Cheese Dog (Wetzel’s Pretzels)
Hands down the best reason to go to a shopping mall. The frank is sublime and it seems to steam which softens the inside of the pretzel.
4 - Chicken Wings (Pizza Hut)
If you are among the uninitiated about their wings you might think this is a joke. Think again, my friend. Best fast food wings. By far. You’re welcome. Get the traditional bone-in ones although we don’t need to tell you that.
5 - Egg McMuffin (McDonald’s)
McDonald rightly takes a lot of shit; but they perfected the fast food breakfast years ago. It’s still a legit fried egg (unlike some chains do), perfectly rounded to the English muffin.
6 - Original Runza (Runza)
Just stumbled into this chain in Nebraska last year. Absolutely unique and magical; cabbage-y pirogie in a real fast-food way, gotta taste it to believe it. As good as anything similar in Berlin or Prague.
7 - Chocolate Custard (Culver’s)
The burgers and the rest of the menu is excellent too, but when you get burger, curds & custard combo this frozen custard is still the highlight. The best closer in the business. If they’ve got caramel, jump on it.
8 - Sausage Biscuit (Bojangles)
We’re lumping in all of their various breakfast buttermilk biscuit sandwiches here too. Lots of chains have a biscuit offering but Bojangles’ ones taste fresher and less crumbly. Ones with cheese help with moisture.
9 - Frostie (Wendy’s)
Most fast food shakes have that gummy taste to it, this one just plain tastes like delicious real ice cream. Straws won’t cut it, you’ll need a spoon.
10 - Two Tacos (Jack In The Box)
Have you had these lately? Alarmingly cheap. But hits the spot even if you’re not drunk or stoned. Just eat it fast, they don’t age well. That shouldn’t be a problem.
11 - World Famous Beef Hot Dog (Nathan’s)
Joey Chestnutt should slow down, these are absolutely delicious. A lot of people don’t like the word "moist" but that’s the word. Moist but also the right amount of "snap" for a dog.
12 - Cookies (Subway)
There are 2 ways to make a cookie this soft: Butter/freshness or insane proprietary preservatives - we don’t care which. It ALMOST makes you want to go to Subway.
13 - Stuffed Crust Pizza (Pizza Hut)
As Elaine said on Seinfeld, "It’s gonna be years til they’ll find another place to put cheese in a pizza." For once, the crust is a joy. Also is still great from the fridge the morning after.
14 - Double-Double Cheeseburger (In-N-Out)
This is usual the critical darling on best-of fast food lists; on everybody’s list for a reason. But a tiny bit overrated? The lines at In-N-Out bring this experience down.
15 - Cheese Curds (Culver’s)
We’ve said that the criteria for our rankings is how many H’s you would put in your ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh yeah. They solved the problem of how to hold hot cheese while driving.
16 - Mashed Potatoes (KFC)
The perfect middle ground between home-hydrated Flaky Jacks and a gourmet Thanksgiving mash. You wish your Thanksgiving gravy was this good; sneak some KFC gravy in a fancy tureen next year.
17 - Tommy’s Chili Burger (Tommy’s)
Los Angeles for the chili burger win! Maybe a little more drunk friendly than In-N-Out or Fatburger. There is some carrot in the chili which gives it its special pasty consistency.
18 - McRib (McDonald’s)
Get over the fact that it is meat compressed into a rib shape. But fuck it’s a great alternative to their pedestrian burger. Pro Tip: AM/PM gas stations have a similar sandwich which is incredible. Really.
19 - Corn Dog (Hot Dog On A Stick)
Mad respect to the OG. We want to list cheese on a stick too (melted muenster in breading, mmm) but you get the point.
20 - Chicken Sandwich (Chick-Fil-A)
If this was a tournament this would be a #1 seed that gets upset; too dry for us as served - til we drench it in sauce, then we’re interested. The world class lemonade there certainly doesn’t hurt.
21 - Bacon, Egg & Cheese Croissandwich (Burger King)
You had us at croissant. For our money, these guys do the best breakfast sandwich in the biz not rhyming with "McGuffin". Why is their breakfast light years better than their afternoon fare?
22 - Grilled Cheese Sandwich (Five Guys)
This might be the best thing you learn from this list. The grilled cheese is incredible there. Pop in for a sammich and best soda machine in the industry.
23 - Ultimate Cheeseburger (Jack In The Box)
Personal choice for Charlie; "I know I’m in the minority but love eating this en route to grocery store to quell all hunger"
24 - Big Buford (Rally’s/Checkers)
A classic fast-food burger ... with a Kaiser bun. What we picture McDonald’s tasting like in 1955.
25 - Chicken Biscuit (Popeye’s)
Yes, there was a freakout about their chicken shortage. We would panic more if they ran out of biscuits. Butter baked into top and bottom of the biscuit; they split a full baked biscuit and stuff chicken in.
26 - Fish Taco (Rubio’s)
A regional favorite out of our hometown of San Diego. They over-expanded but that was a business problem. One of few foods on this list where you’ll still feel good/healthy an hour later.
27 - Bean Burrito (Taco Bell)
Best filling/calfories to price ratio. Most Taco Bell is for stoners. This one is for seriously hungry unpretentious people. Their refried beans have a lard-y feel (that’a good thing).
28 - BBQ Bacon Western Cheeseburger (Carl’s Jr.)
Sure you might want to take a shower or go to confession afterwards, but it’s a powerhouse. Do onion rings belong in a burger? You’re god-damn right they do.
29 - Cheesy Roll-Up (Taco Bell)
Here’s the other important takeaway from our list. It’s no frills cheese in tortilla. Might not appear on the menu but it’s there. Ask for it. Softer (less crisp) than the quesadilla which makes for more liquified cheese.
30 - Vanilla Ice Cream Cone (McDonald’s)
Good lord, the simplicity of this perfect little soft-serve code is incredible. Don’t blow it with the chocolate. Get the vanilla.
31 - Orange Chicken (Panda Express)
Opening the list up to Chinese food since there are drive-thru PE’s, then it’s legit. Try to cook something better than this at home; we don’t think you can. But in another 30 minutes, you’ll feel dirty.
32 - Roast Beef Sandwich (Arby’s)
Not what you would want every day, but a sneaky great item. Warning: Franchise-to-franchise it seems like the quality of the beef can vary. Same goes for how well the sesame seed bun is toasted.
33 - Chili Cheese Dog (Wienerschnitzel)
Bigfellas original lead singer Tim’s brother Matt got a Weiner Guy tattoo after we all ate their regularly. Several items at Wienerschnitzel start with "Chili cheese XXX"; get any of them
34 - Slider (White Castle)
Could eat a ton of these steamed minis Even though a White Castle in downtown Detroit was the only place in America I’ve been where I thought, "I might get killed here."
35 - Lava Cake (Domino’s)
As close to a first-ballot Hall-of-Fame dessert if there was a fast food museum. Better than any chocolate cake your mother ever made. Baked at high temp in the pizza oven so it stays gooey on the inside.
36 - Spicy Chicken Sandwich (Burger King)
Everybody makes a chicken sandwich. This one is just 5% better than everybody else’s and stays a little juicy even without BBQ sauce.
37 - Bacon & Cheddar Potato Wedges (Jack In The Box)
We have some sad breaking news, this seems to be unavailable in most locations - otherwise it would have cracked our top 20.
38 - Fries (Rally’s/Checkers)
THE go-to fry for us. We have Rally’s locally in California and the Checkers on the road seemed to be one and the same. Not quite steak fries but thicker than McDs.
39 - Blizzard (Dairy Queen)
An absolute classic. For our money, the Wendy’s Frostie edges this out since it takes more like real ice cream. But the various Blizzard mixins can’t be beat.
40 - Cherry Limeade (Sonic)
Yes, a little over-priced. But it’s the most unique and cool non-dairy beverage in the industry. If they knocked the price down, Sonic would be ready to take on the big boys.
41 - Cream Cheese Rangoon (Panda Express)
Wontons filled with cream cheese and a sweet and sour sauce. ’Nuff said, right? They really maintain their crunch better than most fast food.
42 - BBQ Chicken Sandwich (KFC)
If forced to eat anything on this list every day for 90 days, we might go with this cheap, sweet shredded chicken sandwich. Our personal best might be 9 consecutive days in 1997.
43 - Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger (Wendy’s)
An incredible bargain at $0.99 and still even at $1.69. Get a few of these with a Biggie Frostie chaser. Thin bun so you can get a lot of them down; treat them like White Castle Sliders.
44 - Fish and Chips (Ivar’s)
A Northwest delight. Along with their clam chowder, this is iconic. H. Salt Fish And Chips and Long John Silvers should be ashamed of themselves.
45 - Philly Cheesesteak (Jersey Mike’s)
Jersey Mike’s is so much better than Subway it isn’t funny. Coulda listed the Italian sub here too, but you get the picture. Best cheesesteak you can get near your house except for a liquor store deli owned by an old Italian guy.
46 - Waffle Fries (Chick-Fil-A)
We just read from CFA HQ that a surprising number of patrons get this and no chicken there. We’re not surprised. Waffle fries rule and it’s a toss up if they or Carl’s Jr. do them better. CFA’s have a little more salt
47 - Crisscut Fries (Carl’s Jr.)
Since nobody offers steak fries, this is the best potato cut out there by default. If McDonalds or Jack had this, look out! Waffle fries like this cook more evenly than traditional.
48 - Chili Burger (Fatburger)
We will concede that pizza is better in New York and New Haven, but score another one for the Left Coast when it comes to chili burgers. They have more locations than Tommy’s which makes it more accessible.
49 - Apple Pie a la Mode Milkshake (Whataburger)
You read that correctly. Make a note of this and the next time you spot a Whataburger, get your ass in there and give it a try.
50 - Gouda, Bacon, Egg Sandwich (Starbucks)
Sure, they’re probably prepared a full 1-2 weeks before you eat these but it’s reliable, mass-produced deliciousness. Gets the job done. "Smoky" is the watchword between the gouda and the particularly smoky bacon.
51 - Chicken Nuggets (Wendy’s)
McNuggets are the OG, but Wendy’s chicken nuggets have some crunch where McD’s coating ends up soft. Advantage: Wendy’s.
52 - Pot Pie (Boston Market)
We are not recommending shredded turkey or ham to be considered as fast food. But Boston Market is all about the sides. And this delicious hearty fare. The crust really crisps while being buttery.
53 - Hash Browns (McDonald’s)
This is a role player, not a star. That said, it might be your favorite part of a dependable McDonald’s breakfast meal (and their underrated coffee).
54 - Bacon Double Cheeseburger (Sonic)
In our minds, Sonic’s burgers are kind of the poor-man’s Rally’s/Checker’s in that it’s a char-broiled taste. A damn serviceable burger. Just don’t get the overly-breaded Texas toast version.
55 - Chicken Burrito (Chipotle)
We aren’t the biggest Chipotle fans around; this is more out of respect for others’ love of their burrito. It really takes off when you add the avocado.
56 - Apple Pie (McDonald’s)
It’s easy to forget about this when it comes to fast food. But that warm sleeve of apple-y goodness goes down easy. Watch out, they sometimes hand it to you while the apple inside is still 200 degrees.
57 - Cereal Milkshake (Steak N’ Shake)
Might be the newest item on this list. If you haven’t had it, we’re pretty sure you can picture how good it is. Tried making one at home, it wasn’t the same. Finally somebody has closed the circle between dessert and breakfast.
58 - Poutine (A&W)
Only had this once and it was unforgettable. Fast food not really using gravy enough is terrible. Or a godsend. We can’t tell which.
59 - Baked Potato (Wendy’s)
This might not be the first thing you think of for a fast food list, but when’s the last time you had one of these. We had these post-show in Salem, OR. [chef’s kiss]
60 - Crazy Bread (Little Caesar’s)
How could this be so delicious from a place that makes such pedestrian pizza. Skip the pizza and just phone in about 4-5 orders of the bread.
61 - McNuggets (McDonald’s)
There are many imitators but with the sauce of your choice this is the Scottie Pippen of your McDonald’s takeout bag.
62 - Onion Rings (Fatburger)
You know the breaded ones you get in a bag in freezer section of grocery store? Like the ones at Burger King but much, much better.
63 - Fried Zucchini (Carl’s Jr.)
With a huge list of burgers and potatoes, it’s time to zag to what technically is a vegetarian item. That don’t mean it’s healthy. And that don’t mean it doesn’t taste great.
64 - ButterBurger (Culver’s)
We are recent Culver’s converts. This great burger often seems overwhelmed ONLY because their combo companions, curds and custards, are world-class.
65 - Pretzel (Auntie Anne’s)
We rave about the Wetzel’s Pretzel dog. Auntie Anne’s is just as ubiquitous in malls but not quite as moist. You’re not always in a burger mood, are you? Unlike Wetzel’s, Anne’s has that real soda bread taste of an authentic pretzel.
66 - Monster Biscuit (Hardee’s)
On our longest tour we did years ago, we think this is the only food we ate in Utah. Repeatedly.
67 - Cinnamon Roll (Cinnabon)
Yes, it’s sickeningly sweet. But that first bite is absolute heaven. Should we be worried that they explcitly warn not to regridgerate???!
68 - Potato Wedges (KFC)
KFC isn’t the number two food chain in America because they suck. Try dipping this in one of the other sides if you’re daring.
69 - Sourdough Breakfast Sandwich (Jack In The Box)
Jack-In-The-Box’s secret weapon on their menu is their sourdough offerings. The sourdrough chicken sandwich is good. But this breakast sandy is where it really shines.
70 - Chili (Wendy’s)
It’s unwieldy to eat behind the wheel of a car but mmmmmm. Bonus points for putting some of this in your Wendy’s baked potato.
71 - French Dip (Schlotzsky’s)
We just couldn’t put Arby’s version of the French Dip here, that’s too much Arby’s. When you can find a Schlotzsky’s, do it. (They have incredible pumpernickel bread, btw.)
72 - Chickenjoy (Jollibee)
OK, you might not have this Filipino chain in your town. But we’ll go to war with their chicken head to head vs. Chick-Fil-A
73 - Quesadilla (Del Taco)
Del Taco doesn’t win a lot of awards, but this is cheap and has real ingredients. Like a quesadilla a latchkey kid makes at home but with a superior tortilla.
74 - Curly Fries (Arby’s)
This should be ranked more like #100 but then we pictured dipping this in their "Horsey Sauce".
75 - Shamrock Shake (McDonald’s)
Abrham Lincoln once said, "For people who enjoy this sort of thing, this is exactly the sort of thing that they’d enjoy," Mint isn’t for everybody, but a bona fide green phenomenon every winter.
76 - Burrito Bowl (Chipotle)
When you’re meeting your friend who loves Chipotle for lunch, this is a great bailout plan. The word "bowl" lets you feel good about yourself while you’re really just eating a burrito with a fork.
77 - Chalupa (Taco Bell)
Years ago, Jack In The Box had a burrito (which was heavily deep fried). General health trends killed it, so this is the closest thing commercially available. Let’s be honest: It’s a chimichanga.
78 - Honey Butter Biscuits (Church’s Chicken)
If you’re getting drive thru you don’t have the handwidth (trademark!) to put honey butter on a KFC biscuit. Go to Church’s and have it baked right in.
79 - Jimmy Cubano (Jimmy John’s)
We want to reinforce that Subway sandwiches aren’t great by turning you on to this delight at Jimmy John’s. If the bread had a little more crunch this is a Top 30 item.
80 - Onion Rings (Burger King)
As mentioned above with Fatburger onion rings, these are the 1B to their 1A of heavily breaded onion rings. Don’t waste everybody’s time at BK with the fries.
81 - Street Style Tacos (Qdoba Mexican Grill)
If you live outside of Southern California and Mexico City then you are denied the greatness of street tacos. Qdoba is bridging the gap - a little. Skip their bowls, get these.
82 - Mozarella Sticks (Arby’s)
This is range-y. It all depends on the skills of the fry cook who’s working that particular day. But when it’s right, it’s right.
83 - Hot Dog (Five Guys)
Another secret weapon at Five Guys. Charlie’s sister gets this there and dammit if it isn’t a great hot dog.
84 - Tater Chips (Zaxby’s)
Full disclosure: Have only had this at an airport location. But chains with crummy fries should learn from Zaxby’s and go with fresh chips instead (and ranch sauce).
85 - Teriyaki Chicken Bowl (Yoshinoya)
Kinda out-of-the-box selection for fast food. But the more we think about it, maybe the best bowl on this whole list.
86 - Quarter Pounder (McDonald’s)
Mostly here out of OG respect but we still love the size of this sandwich; more substantial than White Castle but not as challenging as Jack In The Box or Carls.
87 - Beef N’ Cheddar (Arby’s)
Never has such low-quality ingredients ended up so tasty. Jon Stewart’s running Arby’s jokes notwithstanding, you can work with this. The onion bun gets top marks.
88 - Bacon Tomato Grilled Cheese (Panera Bread)
Grilled cheese is completely under-represented on lists like these; Five Guys & In-N-Out can cover you with the basic version ... Panera does the fancy one up right with the fresh tomato.
89 - Cajun Fries (Five Guys)
Not for everybody and it’s even money that you’ll get indigestion after eating these. But it’s worth it. Cayenne pepper. They give you a ton and they spill over in the bag, lookout for grease stains on car seats.
90 - French Toast Sticks (Burger King)
Burger King smells like death after 10:30am but this is a big part of their very respectable breakfast roster. Be careful in the car with syrup dipping sauce.
91 - Chocolate Shake (Shake Shack)
Don’t overthink it. They made their name, literally, on their shakes. When somebody tells you what they’re about ... believe them.
92 - Chili Dog (The Varsity)
Really just local to Atlanta. I remember this being a big pre-game thing before a Braves game. It’s famous for burgers but go hipster with the dog instead.
93 - Sourdough Breakfast Sandwich (Dunkin Donuts)
The anti-Starbucks acquits itelf well when it comes to the breakfast sandwich. A nitpick of ours is the white cheddar makes it seem a little off.
94 - Baconator (Wendy’s)
In the wheelhouse of the charbroiled fare like the Sonic burger and Rally’s/Checker; just a slightly lower quality beef. That said, it shines because they are not stingy with the bacon
95 - Peach Mango Pie (Jollibee)
We had to sneak in a sweet unique treat from Jollibee. Picture the McDonald’s apple pie, but fresher and weider.
96 - Fries (McDonald’s)
We have a kind of vestigial respect for the original McDonald’s fry which used to be fried in animal fat instead of oil. They’ve slipped, but still good.
97 - Meatball Marinara Sub (Subway)
If you HAVE to go to Subway, get this as a 6-inch, treat yourself to a cookie then get the hell out of there.
98 - Eegie’s Slushie (Eegie’s)
One member of our panel strongly vouched for this fat-free slurpee with natural fruit juices. Mainly in the Tucson, AZ area; grab one when you’re there. Extra great while in 110-degree heat.
99 - Cheesy Gordita Crunch (Taco Bell)
A ballsy order that we just don’t do. If you like getting high and not spending $5, then go for it!
100 - Fries (Burger King)
Crinkle cut fries! Like Ore-Ida’s from the grocery store but fresher. Pepper on the fries is a nice touch.




Honorable Mentions

Outside Looking In - Smoke Shack (Shake Shack), Wings (KFC), Thickburger (Hardee’s) all would have made for a great Top 105 list.

Not Quite ’Fast Food’ - Moons Over My Hammy (Denny’s), Waffle Cone (Baskin Robbins), Fudgy The Whale (Carvel’s) all would have been Top 40 shoe-ins if we could consider those establishments as fast food.

Unavailable Items - Sadly, here are some discontinued classics from the past: Cinammon Crispas (Taco bell) were $0.39 sugary fried chips that still were lite, Tex Mex Macaroni (Kenny Rogers) if you can find them, apparently there are still some KR Roasters outside of the U.S. in operation, Burrito (Jack In The Box) which was a deep-fried chimichanga and dropped from the menu once people discovered jogging and heart disease in the late 70s.

Lifetime Achievement Awards - We should put together a video reel with sad orchestra music like the Oscars "In Memorium" for these legends which were important in their day but just don’t stack up against modern fast food: Big Mac (McDonald’s), Whopper (Burger King), Chicken Bacon Swiss Sandwich (Arby’s), Soft Taco (Taco Bell). Thank you for your service.

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