Over the past half century, fast food has become an integral part of American culture. An industry that began with a handful of modest hot dog and hamburger stands in southern California has spread to every corner of the nation, selling a broad range of foods wherever paying customers may be found. Fast food can be found virtually anywhere - at restaurants and drive-throughs, at stadiums, airports, zoos, high schools, elementary schools, and universities, on cruise ships, trains, and airplanes, at Wal-Marts, gas stations, and even at hospital cafeterias. The growth of the Fast Food Industry has been spurred by the rise of huge franchises that operate locations all over North America and in some cases all over the world. The brands associated with these franchises have such huge followings and are so well-known that they are now synonymous with Americana itself. Here is a list of the most popular Fast-food / Fast-Casual franchises in the country. Rank this list and help decide which of these are the best! Sources: NY Times, Wikipedia
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Five Guys Burgers and Fries is an American fast casual restaurant chain focused on hamburgers, hot dogs, and French fries, and headquartered in Lorton, Virginia, an unincorporated part of Fairfax County. The first Five Guys restaurant opened in 1986 in Arlington County, Virginia, and by 2001, the chain had expanded to five locations throughout the Washington, D.C. metro area. A Five Guys restaurant typically consists of red-and-white checkered decorations, open kitchens, a single counter for purchasing and picking up food, and tables and chairs for customers. The Five Guys menu is centered on hamburgers offered with American cheese or bacon, kosher style hot dogs, grilled cheese and vegetable sandwiches. Five Guys uses buns that are sweeter and "eggier" than normal buns. Fresh-cut French fries are the sole side item, available salted only in "Five Guys style" or seasoned "Cajun style". Complimentary roasted in-shell peanuts are also offered for on-site consumption at most locations. For dessert, the chain sells milkshakes available with 10 different mix-ins. Customers can mix and match multiple flavors, and even add bacon to the shake. Five Guys has received numerous awards in D.C. area publications, including "Number 1 Burger" by Washingtonian Magazine for seven years. Former US President Barack Obama is reportedly a fan, buying lunch for himself and his colleagues at the Washington Five Guys branch in 2011. The chain has something of a cult following and remarkable brand loyalty. Five Guys has been rated one of the most talked-about burger brands online. In 2012, Market Force Information, Inc. polled 7,600 fast-food consumers, and Five Guys ranked No. 1 in food quality and taste, service, cleanliness, and atmosphere. In 2011, Five Guys was ranked first in "Fast Food - Large Chains" and "Best Burger" in Zagat's annual Fast Food Survey.
In-N-Out Burger is an American regional chain of fast food restaurants with locations primarily in the American Southwest and Pacific coast. It was founded in Baldwin Park, California in 1948 by Harry Snyder and Esther Snyder. The chain is currently headquartered in Irvine, California and has slowly expanded outside Southern California into the rest of California, as well as into Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Texas, and Oregon. The In-N-Out menu consists of three burger varieties: hamburger, cheeseburger, and "Double-Double" (two hamburger patties and two slices of cheese). French fries and fountain drinks are available, as well as three flavors of milkshakes. The hamburgers come with lettuce, tomato, with or without onions (the customer is asked upon ordering, and may have them fresh or grilled), and a sauce, which is called "spread" (a Thousand Island dressing variant). The burger chain has achieved widespread popularity which has led to celebration by some when brought to new locations, and the opening of a new restaurant often becomes an event. When one opened in Scottsdale, Arizona, there was a four-hour wait for food, and news helicopters whirled above the parking lot. In-N-Out is considered by many to be very affordable when compared to its quality. The chain also has fans in a number of renowned chefs including Gordon Ramsay, Thomas Keller, Julia Child, Anthony Bourdain, and Mario Batali.
Shake Shack is an American fast casual restaurant chain based in New York City. It started out as a food cart inside Madison Square Park in 2004, and its popularity steadily grew. It eventually moved to a stand within the park, expanding its menu from New York-style hotdogs to one with hamburgers, hotdogs, fries and its namesake milkshakes. The company says it uses all-natural 100% Angus beef only and says that its meat has no hormones nor antibiotics. Shake Shack's eponymous products are its milk shakes, which have been reviewed as some of the best in the industry. As it has grown, the company has also added wine and bottled beers to its beverage menu. In each new location the beverage menu is customized to the local flavors of the city in which it operates.
Buffalo Wild Wings is an American casual dining restaurant and sports bar franchise in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Oman, which specializes in Buffalo wings and sauces. The chain is best known for Buffalo-style chicken wings along with over a dozen dipping sauces, as well as a complement of other items such as chicken tenders and legs. The chain's menu also features appetizers, burgers, tacos, salads, and desserts, along with beer, wine, and other beverages. They are known for their famous "Blazin Wing Challenge." They challenge customers to eat 12 of their hottest wings under six mi