Sunday, December 27, 2020

Fast Food Restaurants I’ve Been To

 Time for some end-of-the-year lists!

I’ll share a little something about myself: I love food, I write about food, but I don’t really eat fast food from chains.

Here’s my memories of each of the top 50:




McDonald's: 1 visit since 1993 as it was the only restaurant walking distance from the vet hospital Malia had her surgery at in Croatia in 2014. 

The only items on the menu I’ve ever had were a plain hamburger, nuggets, shake, fries, plain sausage biscuit 

Burger King: no visits since going to the one near Pope John in Sparta after practice in 1990. Only have had a plain hamburger, chicken tenders, fries, French toast sticks 

Hardee's: a plain biscuit from the one in Greenville, NC from a visit to see friends there in 1997.

Wendy's: 0

Sonic Drive-In: 0 

Five Guys: 0

Jack in the Box: 0

Culver's: 0

Carl's Jr.: 0

Whataburger: 0

In-N-Out Burger: 0

Steak 'n Shake: 0

Checkers and Rally's: 0

Shake Shack: 0



KFC: Last time was Croatia in 2014. I’ve only had the standard bucket or strips with scalding hot mashed potatoes.

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen: once in my life at a Maryland highway rest stop in 2013

Chick-fil-A: 0

Zaxby's: 0

Wingstop: 0

El Pollo Loco: 0

Bojangles: 0

Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers: 0

Church's Chicken: 0



Chipotle Mexican Grill: haven’t been since 2012 on a work lunch visit in Foster City, CA. I actually love this place but have only been around 10-11 times in my life. 

Taco Bell: 0

Panda Express: 0

Qdoba: 0

Del Taco: 0

Moe's Southwest Grill: 0



Domino's Pizza: I had it a few times from late night college orders with friends and then never again...until 2020. I was trapped in Arica for the pandemic and the city was under quarantine. Arica has some of the worst food I’ve ever been exposed to and the local pizza options were even worse. So for the 3-4 months I was there, I had Dominos 6-7 times. It was much better than my memories from the early 1990s.

Pizza Hut: not since the college years

Little Caesars: 0

Papa John's Pizza: 0

Papa Murphy's Pizza: 0

Marcos Pizza: 0



Subway: My expectations for a good sandwich are high, especially being from New Jersey. But I have been to a Subway maybe 4-5 times in my life in a crunch when abroad. Most recently in 2019 in Santiago, where I tried their perm-version of the McRib.

Arby's: I love Arby’s roast beef sandwiches. I would ever so often get a $5 for 5 sandwiches deal when in college in the 1990s. I haven’t had one since then, but thinking about them is making me hungry.

Tim Hortons: not sure why they are listed in the sandwich section as all I had there was as watered down see-through coffee and donuts that were sub-par to supermarket. Alas, not many options when waiting at a Canadian airport for your next flight.

Panera Bread: 0

Jimmy John's: 0

Jersey Mike's Subs: 0

Firehouse Subs: 0

McAlister's Deli: 0

Jason's Deli: 0



Dairy Queen: I haven’t been to one of these since the early 1980’s after winning a t-ball game. I had a raspberry Mr. Misty was good.

Baskin-Robbins: I went a few times as a child, I think at a Pompton Lakes, NJ location. 

Starbucks: Starbucks is for me the most important “fast food” restaurant in all of history. If the quality of what they have great? No. But what Starbucks has done in so many countries is what is important. I’m not talking about a higher hourly wage or health insurance for workers either. But what they have done is create a coffee culture in many places where that was lacking. 

Before Starbucks took off, people in the US would actually intentionally drink brands like Folgers. I was spoiled as my father would always have Gevalia Coffee in the house and I’d double the grounds for an enamel stripping flavor rush. But outside the home, I’d be stuck with the typical blue Greek cup weak drink from delis like Fenner’s in West Milford.

What Starbucks did in the US was create a real coffee culture. Espresso is served everywhere. The company created the demand and the result has been tens of thousands of cafes opening up with much higher quality beans than Starbucks. 

When I first visited Chile in 2006, it was entirely a Nescafé culture. Fast forward to after Starbucks entered the market and coffee has to noticed greatly. There aren’t the volume of locales with a quality higher than Starbucks like the US, but it’s improved greatly. 

This is a lot to write about a place I don’t frequent and haven’t for years, but I have a lot of respect for their influence in helping improve the coffee culture in these two countries I’ve called home. The penetration into the teen market is a red flag for health concerns, I do see that. 


A staple in NJ and the northeast, I was a frequent customer. That all ended in 2004 when I moved to LA where they didn’t exist.  It was a happy moment when visiting Santiago in 2011 and seeing a Dunkin Donuts. When I moved back here in 2018, it was a fun weekend walk to the corner with Alexander for us to enjoy a treat. I last visited in 2018.

Auntie Anne's: 0

Tropical Smoothie Cafe: 0



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