Over the past several decades, people have typically been visiting most fast-food joints with a few items in mind: hamburgers, french fries, and shakes. Think of just about any fast-food restaurant — Burger King, Jack in the Box, Wendy's, Checker's, Sonic, Carl's Jr., the list goes on — and you'll find that they most often still offer these staples. They were the original stars on the McDonald's menu when it was bought and replicated by Ray Kroc, and they're still on menus, well, because demand for them remains high. But recently, a vast array of other items have made their way onto menus at these fast-food restaurants: salads, yogurts, hot dogs, chili, and a gaggle of different breakfast meals.
So what are the best of these new items? Removing the classics (burgers, fries, and shakes) from the equation, which menu items make a list of the best non-burger fast foods? I spent a year pondering, and researching this question, embarking on an immersive fast-food journey, testing firsthand a wide range of items on the menus of many of the biggest names in the business including Wendy's, Burger King, Sonic, McDonald's, Taco Bell, and Dunkin' Donuts. Call me Frankie Fast Food or Danny Drive-Thru.
Based on these experiences — some happy, some disappointing, some exhilarating, some serendipitous, some just plain wonderful, some that gave me pause, and some that gave me pangs of guilt — I've concluded that the preponderance of the most delicious items are in fact things other than burgers, fries, and shakes. Yes, the world of fast food is a vast menu of delicious items that rewards out-of-the-box thinking and eating.
Fast food is an easy target, something many people find it fun to be a snob about. But for however unhealthy it is, the fact is that this is where many Americans are doing a lot of their eating, and there is some good stuff out there. So, here's a list of the top 10 non-burger fast-food items, and then a collection of the best of the classics, with special awards for the best drive-thrus, most overrated and underrated foods, and the best fast-food drinks.
Think one of your favorite fast-food dishes was missed? Comment below and let us know!