Fast food is always considered a guilty pleasure by most of us. While we normally reserve them for days we wish to ‘cheat’ on our regular routines, we can’t deny how much we enjoy biting into a juicy burger made in a few seconds.
But we know it isn’t good for us. We can reveal the most hated fast food restaurants that people can’t seem to drop. The measurement was conducted by a Consumer Picks survey based on customer loyalty to any particular brand. Let’s take a look at some of the worst (but best?) fast food places across America.
40. Charley’s Philly Steaks
First up is Charley’s Philly Steaks. The Ohio joint is famous for serving customers Philly Steaks, gourmet fries, and even lemonade is made from real juice. So, what could be the problem from a place that seems to know what it’s doing?
Truthfully, if you’re going to eat Cheesesteak then you should just go to Philly. Columbas, Ohio, can try all it wants to replicate the magic, but it just isn’t there. Locals might enjoy a meal here, but folks from the East Coast will be disappointed.
39. Five Guys
Here’s a burger for champions – if you don’t mind consuming 1500 calories. Five Guys boasts just four choices: burger, cheeseburger, bacon burger, or bacon cheeseburger. Then comes the amazing choice of dozens of toppings that can be thrown onto your double patty.
It might sound great, but Five Guys will have you feeling sick for hours after you eat it up. The sheer amount of calories in every bite should be enough to discourage you from consuming fast food.
38. Shake Shack
We don’t think Shake Shake is necessarily BAD, but we do have a problem with the reputation generally. It’s simply too overrated to justify a 45-minute wait at its Madison Square Park location in New York City.
The burgers are fine, sure, but does it deserve the reputation as one of the best burgers out there? We don’t think so. The size of the burgers hardly makes up for the hunger you develop by waiting in line for it.
Another burger place that isn’t up to scratch: Smashburger might advertise burgers with trendy items like avocado and truffles, but that can’t get it out of the dog house when it comes to the nutritional value of its food.
There are plenty of items that don’t measure up as a healthy dish. Even the salads which are offered as an alternative have fatty ranch sauce or soggy lettuce. Might want to give this place a miss if you fancy a burger…
36. CiCi’s Pizza
CiCi’s Pizza manages to offer pizza, pasta, and chicken wings at its buffet locations in California. While there might be a few good options in the ‘MyCicis’ section of the site, that can’t excuse the nutritional value!
CiCi’s Pizza is full to the brim with unhealthy fats and carbs that will rest comfortably on your waistline for a few months after a cheeky couple of meals at this all-you-can-eat buffet bar. It might be best to avoid it altogether!
35. Pizza Hut
Ok, so Pizza Hut isn’t the worst pizza place (which we will see later on in this list). Still, many people have complained that there is too much salt in each pie, making it somewhat unhealthy when you’re eating one all alone on a Saturday night.
There are also other drawbacks, such as rubbery cheese that is too stringy and lacks flavor associated with authentic cheese typically on pizza. Aside from that, generally people don’t mind stopping in for a cheat meal.
Arby’s has a pretty simple formula that has kept it going for the last few years. Its signature roast beef sandwiches serve a dedicated fanbase fairly easily, although it has trouble getting repeat business from the everyday fast food eater.
This is because Arby’s just isn’t very good. Many first time customers complain that the bun is too hard and the meat is too rubbery. Without salad mixed inside the sandwiches, many people also feel like they’re missing out on key nutrients.
This Texas joined has a bunch of specials and individual combos to choose from when ordering your chicken wings. Sounds like the dream, right? Well, some dreams can quickly turn into nightmares…
Wingstop has a few locations across the state that each have had their fair share of complaints. For example, who likes unseasoned or burnt chicken wings? Sadly, it’s reasons like this that have prevented Wingstop from going national. Do we think it can improve over the next few years?
32. Boston Market
Boston Market, formerly Boston Chicken, provided customers with plenty of options. These included rotisserie dishes, sandwiches, and even a pot pie. With a menu so eclectic, how could they possibly get it so wrong?
Well, it turns out that people don’t think it’s as great as it should be. The customers of the fast food joint often complain about long wait times and muddled ordered from those who work there. Once the food actually arrives, maybe have considered it undercooked.
31. Dairy Queen
Dairy Queen is one of the few chains in the US that focuses solely on ice cream. We’ve all heard of the famous shakes that can be spun up and held upside down – but is that really a good sign of a food establishment?
The gimmick might look fun, but it’s actually just a show of how much fat is in each drink. It’s one of the reasons why customers have called it one of the worst food establishments on our list. Would you drink pure fat like that?
30. El Pollo Loco
El Pollo Loco isn’t the most well-known chicken brand out there – and for good reason. The ‘crazy chicken’ must be truly loco if it thinks it can compete against franchises like KFC or even Bojangles. Still, it isn’t the worst place on our list since it isn’t well known enough to be infamous!
Many people think the value menu isn’t that impressive and the recipes cannot compete with the famous herbs and spices promised by KFC.
29. Taco Bell
As far as Mexican fast food places go, Taco Bell isn’t the WORST on our list (as we will see). Still, it definitely deserves a space here due to the number of complaints it gets from across the country.
Generally, the tacos are soggy, the ratio between meat and salad is weak, and the cheese has been called rubbery. Since most of Taco Bell’s clients are college kids late at night, you can see what makes them go each evening…
This American fast food chain claims to specialize in chicken with unique cajun seasoning and buttermilk biscuits. However, anyone who has visited the chain can tell you that just because they serve it all day, it doesn’t make them experts.
Customers often claim that the taste is plain and that the chicken is soggy once it arrives from behind the kitchen. It seems most people would rather get their fast food chicken from other competitors – where would you get yours?
Subway is one of the biggest fast food franchises in the United States – making it disappointing that it’s on this list. Even though millions of customers benefit from their $5 sub deal, it seems as though not all that glitters is gold.
Many people complain about the quality of their meat and the freshness of their salads. In 2018, Subway closed more than 1,000 stores across the US as people are seeking healthier options for their lunches.
If you haven’t heard of Krystal, then you can just think of it as a worse version of White Castle (which we will see later). Krystal is known for its small burgers – but sadly, also known for their oversized buns.
Krystal has been found guilty of ruining the ratio between the meat and the bun, causing some disappointment among hungry customers. The bland patty is complemented with a tiny amount of sauce that barely makes any difference when you eat it.
As far as pizza places go, Domino’s is one of the most well-known and popular delivery services in the USA. Just because something is popular, it doesn’t mean that it’s good. As we can see with Domino’s, there are plenty of problems for the pizza chain.
Customers often cite how the tomato sauce tastes like ketchup and that the vegetables aren’t fresh enough to justify the high price of its pies. For some reason, there is still a large customer base of millions of hungry college kids.
24. Long John Silver’s
For a fast food fish place, you’re going to want to make sure you do everything right. Well, sadly for Long John Silver’s, they haven’t quite managed to sort out the formula for what makes a good meal.
According to many of their customers, the fish is often too greasy, soggy, or just bland in taste. The ratio of fish to batter is uneven and it often results in people leaving the establishment and not returning.
23. Taco John’s
According to data, Taco John’s only sees a 41% return rate among first-time customers. For a fast food place that wants to grow and expand, you need more than 50% to be a successful franchise. Where is Taco John’s going wrong?
Even though the Potato Oles are popular initially, the rest of the menu has been seriously neglected. Salads are dry, burritos are weak, and usually, they aren’t wrapped correctly. Customers have even been heard complaining about the large use of salt.
Wienerschnitzel is one of the only hotdog chains in America – but it’s not exactly leading by example. The 60-year-old establishment serves more than 120 million hot dogs a year, so you would think it knew how to prepare one properly.
Wienerschnitzel doesn’t make much of an effort to supply good quality meat in its meals. When you partner questionable meat with a poor ratio of bread and hot dog, you’re bound to have a bad time. Don’t bother visiting this place!
It might be full of herbs and spices, but KFC is also full of terrible chemicals and fats that would be best to avoid. Each chicken strip might look like a healthy dose of protein, but it’s full of carbs that can cause health problems later in life.
What’s more, KFC has a reputation for being dirty in the actual restaurants. In the last 14 years, the number of franchises has reduced from 5,400 to 4,200 in the United States. It seems like customers are preferring to eat at other chicken shops, notably Chick-fil-A.
Cinnabon doesn’t serve burgers or pizza like most fast food places, but it does offer some questionable desserts. Their gooey, warm cinnamon buns can attract some attention, but it doesn’t save it from appearing on this list!
According to online reviews, the servers are often rude and dismissive. Also, the buns are usually left out a little too long resulting in some hard dough. It turns out this causes customers to turn away and find somewhere else to eat.
19. Del Taco
This Mexican fast food chain is basically a worse version of Taco Bell. It serves cinnamon churros and taco combos that sees around 40% of its customers coming back for more. However, many people report long waiting times when ordering their meals.
We don’t know much about the quality of the meat in Del Taco, but we can be sure it isn’t great. In fact, Del Taco sees more positive reviews for its vegetarian meals than its meat options! Really makes you think…
18. Einstein Brothers
Have you ever thought about eating a ‘gourmet’ bagel for breakfast? Well, Einstein Brothers can offer you some questionable choices all across the country. The establishment has been known to offer stale food with mediocre quality.
Compared to other places, most consumers have complained that the bagels are simply too bland. What’s more, the coffee has been described as weak. If you want a bad morning, feel free to check out this place…
17. White Castle
It might have gained popularity due to its role in Harold and Kumar Get The Munchies, but it was basically an ironic restaurant choice. It’s known for its small and square hamburgers that aren’t as nice as they seem in the films…
They’re often too small that leaves consumers disappointed with what they order. There’s a reason people usually visit White Castle late at night after indulging in other substances first… You have been warned about its contents!
16. Panda Express
In around 36 years, Panda Express has grown to more than 2000 locations across the country. While it has grown to be the largest Asian restaurant franchise in the United States, that doesn’t mean that it is any good.
Many outlets have reported that the items on the menu are overpriced and lack the quality to justify the costs. Buzzfeed’s Chinese Food reporter even asked readers in his review: ‘Do I gnaw on my own thumb or do I get their Orange Chicken?’ Ouch.
15. Church’s Chicken
There are many chicken shops in the United States, and one that slips under the radar is Church’s Chicken. The fast food joint is known to serve chicken (of course), as well as fish, honey-butter biscuits, and even popcorn shrimp.
While that is an eclectic choice of meals, it turns out that the establishment doesn’t do any of them very well. Customers have described the biscuits as too hard, the shrimp as too soggy, and the chicken too dry.
Wendy’s has amassed an impressive following on social media, but that can’t save the chain from the quality of its food. Even their signature Frosty drinks have fallen victim to competition at McDonald’s. In fact, there have been a few cases that impacted the fast food joint.
You might have heard about Annal Ayala and her $21 million lie about finding something undesirable in Wendy’s chili. Well, it turns out her lie has affected their reputation even 15 years later. Will the chain overcome its nasty past? We will see how the year finishes.
13. Little Caesars
The chances of a nice meal at Little Caesars are exactly that: little. Even though you can get an objectively large pizza for only $5, you get what you pay for. You can’t have low cost and high quality, and they’re a shining example of that.
Customers often complain about the taste and cheese quality of the pizzas, not to mention the pepperoni that can be spread over the top. Pizza lovers should probably invest a few more dollars into a higher quality fast food joint if they want to live past 40.
Since 1986, Checkers has sold anything from hamburgers, milkshakes, and hotdogs to Americans around the country. That doesn’t stop people from mocking the chain for its poor customer service and low-quality food.
Usually, people complain about the blandness of the meals as well as the soggy lettuce usually shoved inside the burgers. Not all is lost though: many customers praise Checkers on its fries and banana milkshakes. Next time you find yourself in Checkers, you might want to stick to the side courses!
11. Sonic Drive-In
This retro-themed restaurant should be so good on paper. It has happy hours and food styled like carnivals. How could anyone dislike that? Well, it turns out that you can have any gimmick you want – but if the food isn’t good then people won’t stay.
Customers have often complained about the quality of the meat and the taste of it. Generally, the burgers are unseasoned with too much lettuce taking up space. So, while we might enjoy going back in time to Sonic, we might prefer speeding up the process and leaving the store!
A&W goes back all the way to 1919 and is famous for its burgers, root beer, and ‘beer floats’ – merging the drink with a large scoop of ice cream. If that sounds delicious to you, then you clearly have never eaten at an A&W.
Customers have often called their fries soggy and greasy, some even comparing it to eating oil! Depending on the location, you’ll also see long queues due to the staff’s inability to manage crowds properly.
9. Auntie Anne’s
Auntie Anne’s is another establishment that actually serves different fast food from conventional burgers or pizza. The franchise sticks with doughy treats like pretzels and was once at the top of its game as a staple in most food courts in malls across the country.
So what happened? Well, simply put: people stopped going to malls. Now, Auntie Anne’s is chasing real estate in places that are more popular – such as outdoor areas. While traffic to the franchise will need to improve, it will also need to fix its burnt and stale pretzels often on display.
Quiznos is a sandwich place similar to Subway, but it has its own problems it needs to overcome if it wants to overtake the main competition. While they once had 5,000 locations around the country, the company has seen that number drop to around 800 today.
But why? Well, it isn’t because of the quality of the food. Truthfully, customers complained about the price of the sandwiches. It couldn’t find a way to beat Subway’s $5 foot-long deal and customers turned to somewhere cheaper for the same kind of food.
You’ll have to travel inward into the USA to find a Hardee’s the fast food joint can be found in the South and Midwest states, and it is best known for its burgers with provocative advertisements. As it battles competitors like Jack in the Box and KFC, it’s aware of its pitfalls.
Hardee’s is oddly self-aware when it addresses its bad service and confusing menu. Despite some tongue-in-cheek marketing efforts, Hardee’s is still failing to attract a loyal customer base.
6. Jimmy John’s
Freaky Fast, Freaky Fresh, but freakishly unlucky. Jimmy John’s faced some legal troubles when it made employees sign a two-year non-compete clause in contracts. This meant they couldn’t work at any other deli if terminated from their job.
The workers took Jimmy John’s to court and they ended up winning. The cost came when customers were put off by the corporate tactics used to manipulate the little guys. Since then, it has failed to change its reputation.
The New York Times might have said it best: “You eat Sbarro not because you want Sbarro, but because it is the food that is available at the moment you want some food.” Not exactly a shining review from food reviewer Neil Irwin.
Over time, Sbarro has lost customers due to its general low-quality food. People have noticed how the food is rarely fresh and people are more interested in customizing their own pizzas if given the choice.
4. Burger King
They might think they’re the king – but nothing could be further from the truth. Burger King has been criticized for the ratio between the meat and the salad in each of the burgers. Over time, people have even noticed the patties get smaller.
Burger King has tried to revamp its image by including vegan and ‘impossible’ burgers, but we will have to wait and see if business picks up. For now, they are seeing their customers depart and pick new fast food joints.
3. Carl’s Jr.
Carl’s Jr. started as a hot dog stand all the way back in 1941 and has stirred controversy ever since. While it has grown in size and scope, many customers complain about their hyper-sexualized marketing campaigns.
You’re probably wondering what sexy ladies have to do with burgers? Well, nothing! That and the fact that their burgers are extra messy makes Carl’s Jr. an untrusted and unreliable fast food joint. Regular customers have also noticed raising prices coupled with smaller portions.
2. Jack In The Box
Jack in the Box is known for its funny adverts that feature the round-headed mascot. Even though it started as a burger joint, the fast food company has expanded into tacos, fajitas, and all-day breakfast. Sounds good, right?
Well, not quite. It turns out that customers are put off by the deep-fried tacos that have been described as ‘a wet envelope of cat food’. Weirdly, there is a loyal base of people who find them ‘irresistible’ – but it’s having trouble getting new customers through the door.
Well, here it is: the number one WORST fast food place. Are you surprised to see McDonald’s on the list? Even though it’s all over the world, there are still many people who consider it the worst joint out there. But why?
Well, often people have cited low-quality food pumped full of preservatives and questionable ‘pink goo’. The franchise has also experienced a rebrand after the expose documentary, Super Size Me. Do you still eat McDonald’s, and would you think of stopping?
Read More: Fast Food Meals That We All Secretly Love