Yesterday, we mentioned that we enjoy keeping tabs on the fast food industry because it is the zeitgeist of American taste. Well, ask and ye shall receive: Zagat unleashed its horde of citizen-reviewers on the fast food world, and reported the results of the survey today. Divvying up fast food into two categories - all chains and mega-chains with over 5k outlets - Zagat's report contends that Panera is the top chain overall, and Wendy's is the top mega-chain.
We cannot confirm nor deny this assessment personally, but we can provide some more detail. Panera, which has five locations in Chicago, beat out Chick-fil-A (which has no locations in Chicago) and Chipotle, tied for second, and Sonic (also no Chicago locations) and Quizno's. On the mega-chain side, Wendy's topped Subway (2nd), Pizza Hut (3rd) and DQ and McD (tied for 4th) - all of which have Chicago branches, obviously.
It is not surprising that none of the mega-chains cracked the top five overall; one loses quite a bit of quality to maintain that level of quantity. The category favorites, however, show a consumer preference for individual mega-chain products. The best three burgers are Wendy's, BK and McD, and the best three fries went to McD's, BK and Wendy's, respectively. McD's was named most child-friendly (playland!), but KFC lost best chicken to Chick-fil-A "by a beak," as the press release smirks.
Why are there no Chick-fil-As in Chicago? The long and short of it is, the company is run by a fundamentalist Christian named S. Truett Cathy, who lamintes his beliefs onto the chain by closing on Sundays (which is fine) and through promotional giveaways of Christian toys, books and CDs at the stores (which is a tad frightening). We prefer our propaganda to be purely commercial and ethically vacant, thank you very much. Anyway, it will be a cold day in Hell before Cathy allows one of his stores to open in relatively heathen Chicago. Don't let all those churches fool you: we're wicked folk. Don't worry, though - CfA found enough God-fearers in Kenosha, WI, to warrant a branch. It's located in a large mall, and you can gawk at ungainly Americans while you scarf down your (admittedly enjoyable) signature chicken sandwich.
[Photo: Chick-Fil-A Kid's Zone. The slogan refers to filling children with chicken and Christian values]