Zagat Ranks Top 5 Fast Food BurgersBy Todd • Aug 20th, 2010 • Category: Burger Blog
We all know them, the little burgundy-colored books with the funny name on the cover, packed with restaurant reviews for dozens of cities.
Long before anyone with an ISP could “Like” something on Facebook or give 5 stars and their 2 cents on a website, Zagat’s restaurant surveyors were assigning scores on food, decor, service, and cost. The grades, along with the famous, often-wickedly-cutting one-liners, appeared in the ubiquitous little red travel guides. Now, it’s not only eateries: these days, Zagat (it’s pronounced “zuh-GATT,” by the way) ranks everything from movies and hotels to nightspots and zoos.
This week, they released the findings of their latest survey on fast-food joints. 6,518 Zagat.com diners, eating at chain outlets an average of 10.7 times a month, weighed in on 97 major fast-food chains across the country. Burgers commandeered their very own category, and the results just might surprise you.
#5. McDonald’s: The clown took top honors in Best Value Menu, Most Child-Friendly, and Best Drive-Thru, and won Best French Fries for the third year running. But their burger came up short. The Angus Third Pounder was a step in the right direction, but it’s not as good as, say, the Hardee’s Thickburger. Maybe the Golden Arches were carried to this spot because there’s one within sight of practically any point on earth, ‘cos if you ask any true cheeseburger chowhound, Mickey D’s burger kind of sucks.
#4. Burger King: BK has had a busy year. They’re opening bars, they’re whipping up BBQ ribs on their fancy new broilers, they’ve got NASCAR stud Tony Stewart on the payroll. And I still think the King does a seriously tasty burger, although his Bacon Double Cheeseburger has been dethroned in my mind by Jack in the Box (if only they were closer!). Zagat surveyors, though, ranked BK the 4th-best fast food burger of 2010.
#3. Wendy’s: Okay, I’m calling foul. No way does the pigtailed girl score the bronze medal here. I know there are some fanatics out there who totally dig Wendy’s, but you can’t tell me that this hot mess is the third best burger in all of Fast Food Nation. And the chain scored Top Food overall among “Mega-Chains” of over 5,000 US outlets! Blecch. There must be an awful lot of Frosty lovers out there.
#2. In-N-Out Burger: Here’s the upset of the list. The burgermeisters of Baldwin Park were last year’s winner in this category. And while they still took home the prize for Top Food among “Large Chains” (up to 5,000 US outlets), the burger that makes them a cult favorite everywhere they go was deemed only the second-best in the country. Opening a store in Texas is sure to wrangle them a few million more votes next year.
And the #1 Fast-Food Burger in the US, according to Zagat: Five Guys. The East Coast upstart had a monster year after getting put on the map by none other than the leader of the free world. In 2002, there were 6 locations. By 2009, they were an underground hotspot. Then NBC aired video of President Obama making a Secret-Service-guarded lunch run for their greasy-good burgs in plain paper bags. And very little in BurgerWorld has been the same since.
How wildly popular is Five Guys now? Popular enough that the backlash has started: Men’s Health piles on the chain for not having “anything nutritionally redeeming” on the menu, and concerns have surfaced among aficionados about a drop in quality (especially regarding their buns) after their meteoric rise to the top of the burger stratosphere.
What do you say, Cheese-burger.net Nation? Agree with these rankings? Disagree? Will they sway your fast-food habits at all?