America’s Best McDonald’s (and Other Top-Rated Fast-Food Establishments)

Art by Jason JFish FischerArt by Jason JFish FischerThe topic of favorite fast food can lead to heated discussions among those who take their burgers and fries seriously. You might have a chain you love the most, but many people have a favorite location too … and they're not all created equal.

A Big Mac in Denver might taste the same as one in Des Moines, but certain stores are more beloved than others. Why? It's usually the little things. "Customers are always expecting the food to be consistent, but is the parking lot well-lit? Are the bathrooms clean? Is the garbage can full? Are there lines or not?" Michael Seid, managing director of franchise advisory firm MSA Worldwide and co-author of "Franchising for Dummies," told Yahoo Shine. "Successful franchisees do things better than standard but don't surprise the customer by doing something completely unexpected."

More on Yahoo Shine: 10 Surprisingly Healthy Fast Food Meals

A decade ago there was no way of knowing which Subway in a certain city was cleaner than others short of checking them all out, but in the age of Yelp, you can find the best option and shout it from the cyber rooftops. And thousands of people do, taking the time to review their favorite fast-food locations around the country and even calling out the employees behind the counter for being extra-nice or helpful, a super important factor in whether a spot is a success, according to Seid. "A lot of customer satisfaction depends on employees," he said. "Whether the staff is well-trained, and if you get a greeting and a smile, that goes a long way."

After reading about The Daily Dot's pilgrimage to visit a highly rated Arby's in Austin, Texas, we decided to investigate which other fast food eateries had wowed locals enough that they left rave reviews. Check out five of the country's best-rated fast-food locations based on Yelp reviews, along with the accolades their customers have shared with the world.


Taco Bell near Chicago's DePaul University. (Yelp)

Taco Bell, DePaul neighborhood of Chicago

4.5-star average, based on 186 reviews
Here's a case of customer service really wowing some Chicagoans. Whether or not they actually like Taco Bell's food seems beside the point.

"The staff is awesome. Just so nice, enthusiastic, etc.," writes Kathryn P. of Chicago, who left a five-star review recently. "If you hate Taco Bell's food, I guarantee you will still be blown away by the staff here."

Jordan C. clearly agrees. "Everyone in the drive-thru acts like you are their long-lost best friend who just happened to show up out of nowhere and order a bean burrito. One lady told me I was beautiful."

More on Yahoo Shine: 5 European Fast-Food Chains You Won't Find in America

Trevor H. went so far as to rank the eatery third on his list of top Chicago restaurants, with the top two being the fabled Alinea (which offers a $210 tasting menu) and trendy Girl and the Goat (which cooks up dishes like charred pork belly and kampachi crudo). "6 stars. 5 Yelp stars. 1 Michelin star," he writes.

The sauces of Chick-Fil-A in Cerritos, California. (Yelp)

Chick-Fil-A, Cerritos, California
4.5-star average, based on 177 reviews
We've got to imagine that the poultry-focused Chick-Fil-A offers the same types of sauces with which to douse your chicken sandwich at all of its locations, but residents of this Southern California town seem to really appreciate the variety.

"The sauce choices are amazing!" notes Lily A. in her five-star review. "And unlimited, they are for all to grab. Like the old days of fast food places before they started charging for extra or hid them behind the counter."

Elizabeth U. was also enamored of the sauce selection. "I love how the condiment station has the fixings so neatly stacked up to the brim.  You are free to use them at no extra charge.  We love our Polynesian sauce, so we can't just have 1!"

And, as usual, staffers make a difference. "They have better customer service than most restaurants," writes Joann S. And the sauce selection? Yep, she also liked the restaurant's generous offering of "all the sauce your chicken eating heart desires!"

Wendy's in Fremont, California. (Yelp)Wendy's, Fremont, California
4.5-star average, based on 36 reviews

The building's funky design in this Northern California location hasn't gone unnoticed.

"It's definitely a very nice Wendy's location and cleaner than most other locations so it makes me feel better," writes Lorrie M. from nearby San Jose. "They have pretty good customer service and I think the building is so cool!!"

Ed C. also thinks it's pretty far out. "BTW, the place looks like a space station."

But it's the restaurant's drive-through that seems to be impressing most of the Yelpers who reviewed it.  "The drive thru is simply the best! Really quick, i mean once you order then pay at the window, the next window is ready to give your meal and out you go!," shares Max T., who clearly couldn't wait to get his order. "i also love there Frosty! sooooo goood!"

Rich S. probably has trouble deciding whether to eat in or take out, since both experiences sound like a pleasure. "It's near my office so I stop by the lightning fast drive through and occasionally sit in the unusually nice dining room."

McDonald's in New Hyde Park, New York. (Yelp)


McDonald's, New Hyde Park, New York
4-star average, based on 17 reviews
Housed in a historic mansion on Long Island, this Mickie Ds just feels different, according to reviewers.

"The building is a big beautiful mansion-a huge White House, and a lovely Interior," explains Jeffrey L. "You feel like you are in a fancy restaurant! The food is the same as most other McDonald's restaurants, but the atmosphere is unique and very pleasant!"

"Pretty neat and probably the best McDonald's property in the east coast," writes Far Eats M., who came all the way from Paterson, New Jersey.

Elly F. doesn't sound like a fan of McDonald's, but she still gave the place four stars. "Food wise, its still a McDonald's, but sitting in that open area in the back, it is very easy to forget that you are actually eating crappy food."

But Phil M. probably sums it up best: "It's the only McDonalds that God himself would eat in." We'll take your word for it …

Subway makes people in Kirkland, Washington, happy. (flickr)

Subway, Kirkland, Washington
5-star average, based on 11 reviews
OK, so it only has 11 reviews, but nearly all of them are five-stars, giving this sandwich spot an almost-perfect record. And there really isn't one thing to pinpoint here. According to the Seattle-area Yelpers who reviewed it, this place simply gets it all right.

Krissy praises the customer service. "They really care about making your order right and don't just throw it on there or make it messy.  This is what makes them super!  They are also friendly and happy."

S.M., who says she's an expert in local Subways, loves the ingredients. "This Subway seems to have the best bread & fresh veggies, plus great service. This is the best Subway that I have been to ( and I go to various local Subway locations at least twice a month)."

And Julia Z. credits the place with making her moving day a lot nicer. "They were friendly, fast, and they got everything exactly right. During our conversation, they found out that I was moving, and they said, oh, moving is hell, and gave me a cookie to go with each sub … They even helped me carry all those subs, chips, cookies, and sodas out to my car. I couldn't have been more pleased."