Entrepreneur.com did us all a solid. They took their list of the top 500 franchises in America and narrowed it down to the top 20 in the fast food industry (if that’s not love, then I really don’t know what is).
All of the restaurants named were ranked based off of financial standing and stability, growth over the last two years, and size. Well, you see, this makes a lot of sense. There’s no way these could have been ranked based off of pure, delicious goodness because if they were, this list would be in a very different order. While financial stability is important (it helps reassure me that my favorite places won’t be shut down anytime soon), it’s not really the first thing I look for in a fast food joint.
Here, my dear friends, is how I would rank the ones that made Entrepreneur’s cut:
20. Papa Murphy’s
Listen here closely, Pops: We already have Papa Gino’s. We already have Papa John’s. There just simply isn’t enough room in our hearts for you, too. I’m sorry, I really do mean it. We can still be friends, right? Maybe I’ll pay you a visit next time I’m in the Midwest considering your closest restaurant to me is in Missouri.
19. Carl’s Jr.
Again, not even in New England. I will say this, though – it’s pretty cool how they have “healthier” low carb options, vegetarian options, and gluten free options. That being said, if I ever visit, I’m ordering all the carbs, meat, and glutens that I can.
So I didn’t know what this chain was at all. Upon further research, I was a little confused considering they have the exact same sign and pretty much the same menu as Carl’s Jr. C’mon Hardee’s. Turns out that CKE, the company that owns Carl’s Jr., acquired Hardee’s in 1997. I guess I’ll put it above Carl’s Jr., though, simply because it’s a mere 200 miles away from me as compared to 1,500.
17. Jack In The Box
Pretty far away, but at least I’ve heard of it. Also majorly impressed that they’ve managed to bring together burgers, breakfast, AND tacos on their menu. What could be better?!
Kinda confused when I saw this on the original list considering every Baskin-Robbins that has ever been within a decent distance of me has closed down. I didn’t think it was still relevant, really. However, I checked out their website and oh. my. god. Need all those flavors. Now. Plus, just take a look at their managers like this guy. I don’t think anyone has ever been more happy to give me some ice cream than him. That’s some serious customer service, folks.
15. Papa John’s
I feel like this is a chain you hear about, and you drive past it, but you never eat there. At least that’s how it is for me. I feel like finally walking into one would be like breaking some type of unbroken code that I’ve lived by for the past twenty years, so I think I’ll just leave it be. I’ve heard they have great carry out deals, though.
14. Firehouse Subs
So I had no clue what this was until I googled it, but looks like it’s a sandwich shop created in the southeast. Nevertheless, they expanded to New England around 2013 and now I guess they’re pretty popular. To make it even better, they’re considered to be one of the healthier fast food shops too. It looks like something I’d like to try, kind of like an upscale Quiznos (is Quiznos still a thing?).
13. Pizza Hut
Okay what’s up with all these chains closing in the areas near me?! The only time I got Pizza Hut as a kid was at my best friend’s birthday parties. It was awesome. That cheesy crust was ~almost~ as good as the pizza sticks in the elementary school cafeteria on Fridays. Pizza Hut, please come back to me.
12. Jimmy John’s
I’ve only ever had Jimmy John’s once in my life on a college tour up in Syracuse. It was delicious. Also major points for that fact that it all began with the owner handing out free sandwiches to college students, (not to mention the fact that it’s numero uno on Entrepreneur’s list for fast food franchises and all franchises – you go Jimmy!!). Hey, it’s even mom approved too.
Cinnabon is great, and what’s best is that you can buy the brand at your local grocery store and make some warm, gooey, Center of the Rolls yourself. This is super helpful considering I’ve only ever seen real Cinnabon stores at the mall.
10. Auntie Anne’s
In my eyes, Auntie Anne’s is pretty much level with Cinnabon. You can buy it at the grocery store, they have delicious lemonade, but if you wanna get it from a store you have to drive to the mall and that’s annoying AF. Only reason it has a leg up on Cinnabon is ’cause you can get sugary, cinnamon goodness or a salted treat.
Is it tasty? Sometimes. Is it a staple? Most definitely. Got a varsity basketball game to play? Grab a sub to eat afterwards on the bus. Got a final to study for? Go get yourself a flatbread to keep awake. Had a slow semester? Grab yourself a footlong. You know the drill.
Buffalo Wild Wings is a little pricey, but it’s very much worth it. Great for pigging out, recovering from your hangover, and watching all those New England teams kick butt (in the games I don’t usually pay attention to because I’m too busy chowing down). My go to combo: honey bbq, medium, and garlic parm. You won’t regret the garlic parm, ever.
7. Cold Stone
Even though the closest one to me is a half hour away, goddamn. It’s like hibachi for your ice cream. They just take all of your favorite things and mash it all up right in front of you to create something magical. Cold stone is the GOAT of ice cream shops.
I’m convinced that everyone in New England is obsessed with Sonic simply because the average New Englander has only had it once or twice. There are only two in Massachusetts, and when the first Rhode Island Sonic was opened a few months ago near my school, they had a police officer directing traffic in and out of the parking lot up until winter break began. Worth the hype, in my opinion (Learn more about our opinion on the first Rhode Island Sonic here).
I feel like if McDonald’s isn’t in the top 5 on your list, you’re just lying to yourself. I know you want that McDouble. Not to mention their Diet Coke does actually taste better than normal Diet Coke. And now, they serve breakfast all day?! God bless.
So I’m not gonna lie to you all, I’m the type of person that goes to KFC and only eats the popcorn chicken and mashed potatoes. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t the best darn popcorn chicken and mashed potatoes that I could get at a fast food chain.
3. Taco Bell
Oh lordy. Taco Bell is pure gold. It’s literally open until the wee hours of the morning, and don’t even get me started on that Crunchwrap Supreme. I literally just watched the Superbowl this year in order to see their commercial unveiling their new menu item (priorities, people). And let’s be real – the only people who don’t like Taco Bell are the people who say they don’t like it simply cause they’ve never had it. I would know, I was one of them.
2. Dairy Queen
I feel like DQ is only high key if you live in New England, but I could be wrong. I’ve traveled far and wide, and I have never seen a Dairy Queen other than when I was in Massachusetts. Obviously, all of their 6,000 plus stores aren’t in my home state, but I really do think that says something about how much us New Englanders like to “grill and chill.” People love to look at me like I have five heads when I say I’m craving a chasket, but c’mon, we all know there’s no better feeling than when you order a four piece and they give you five instead. PSA: add sprinkles (the colorful ones for all you non-natives) to every blizzard flavor, it makes them infinitely better.
Do I even have to justify this. Everybody knows New England runs on Dunkin.