McDonald’s, Burger King Are Toast

On 9.19 an L.A. Times story announced a sea change in the fast-food realm. I’ve stopped wolfing down junk food at midnight (that got tossed out with the drinking) and I’m not one to keep track of fast-food industry stats. But Tiffany Hsu‘s story reported that McDonald’s, Burger King and Dairy Queen are over and that Five Guys Burgers is the new king of the hill, closely followed by Smashburger.

Unless Big Five and Smashburger are offering cash bribes or the services of beautiful underage girls, this is presumably about their food tasting better. Is anyone out there a Big Five or Smashburger convert?

The basis of the story was a survey by Market Force Information. 7,600 consumers were questioned. In every region, Five Guys was boss. Smashburger, as noted, was second in every category except overall value. Also popular are In-N-Out, Fuddruckers and A&W.

Dairy Queen ranked dead last in a group of 16 chains considered. Burger King, Hardee’s, McDonald’s and Jack in the Box rounded out the bottom five.

In short, your father’s fast-food world is yesterday’s news.

There’s a Five Guys right up the street from me on Santa Monica Blvd. near Huntley, but the closest Smashburger is way out in the West Valley.

  • Colin

    Count me as a recent convert to Five Guys. Everything I’ve ever had has been fantastic.

  • Rashad

    I’ve only had their fries. The only one in Brooklyn is way too far from where I live. The article can only be talking about taste, since anything otherwise is stupid, but then again, who was championing those chains for the cuisine to begin with?

    To Burger King’s credit, they did change up their menu, and it’s pretty good. Wendy’s still ahs the best tasting stuff though.

  • joe banks

    long time Five Guys guy since i lived on the west coast. fuck In-n-Out

  • Raising_Kaned

    “Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss”

    This thesis is kinda blown all to hell by the inclusion of A&W, which I would consider in the same tier of “quality” as Hardee’s and Jack in the Box (which is to say that I never eat at ANY of them).

    I’m confused, though — what’s with Dairy Queen listed here? Everybody knows that’s a place where you get frozen treats like Blizzards or sundaes or stuff in that vein. So is that considered “fast food” — or do they sell, like, hot dogs or hamburgers that people actually buy and eat?

  • Raising_Kaned

    I’m an Arby’s man, myself…

  • Rashad

    what’s with Dairy Queen listed here?

  • Raising_Kaned

    I guess I was being a little disingenuous, Rashad (that, and I really didin’t want to click over there). My point is who the hell goes to DQ without ordering ice cream n’ shit? Seems like a different deal than the rest of those.

  • Thunder Redux

    Anyone ever try The Habit in the Valley? Pretty fucking good. Definitely better than In-N-Out, which was good when I’d visit L.A., but once I moved there I realized how shitty they were, especially when you take into account the long wait times.

    The Counter is really good too, but that’s not really fast food.

    Jack in the Box is insanely good. Coming from NYC, you’re pre-disposed to think of rat heads in the burgers and shit, but I’ve never had a bad experience there.

    Five Guys burgers are insanely good, but I usually go for the single patty. Two patties seems good in theory, but you want to cut your stomach open to relieve the bloat afterward. Their hot dogs are also amazing. Fries are hit or miss.

    McDonald’s has the best fries and the best fast food breakfast, bar none.

    Wendy’s has the best chicken sandwiches.

    Burger King has chicken fries, which are pretty good.

    Astro Burger is a great place too.

  • Robert Cashill

    There are seven Five Guys in Brooklyn, and more to come no doubt. (You can find the one closest you on its site.) More of a Shake Shack guy myself these days.

  • MooType

    The real game-changer with Five Guys? They’ve accomplished all their success without any major advertising campaign of any sort. No mainstream, no emphasis with online…just word of mouth.

  • Rashad

    Five Guys is too expensive to be anything more than a niche restaurant.

  • JBM…

    Never heard of Smashburger but (points to self) big East Coast Five Guys fan here. A “regular fries” consists of one massive Styrofoam cupful with enough overage at the bottom of the bag to fill said cup twice.

  • Captain EO

    There’s a DQ in my locale that has been around forever and is kind of a landmark (high school reunions are often held there). Their food/shakes always seemed a cut above other DQs I’ve tried.

    Oddly enough, in 1985 I was ordering a meal when some middle-aged chap at the next window asked for a vanilla shake with coffee grounds mixed in. Everyone looked at him like he was nuts – how times have changed…

  • Storm Serge

    Wells, until it gets where I live, Five Guys is nothing. Nothing to see here.

  • GeorgePrager

    What about Fatburger?

  • GeorgePrager

    There are ZERO Dairy Queens in New York State (including NYC and Long Island) You can look it up. We had Carvel, which served only ice cream.

  • hickoryduck

    Five Guys is disgusting and has only one option (greasy grilled cheese) for people like me who don’t eat red meat.

  • Ira Parks


    It’s Roy Rogers or nothing. A Roy Rogers cashier gave me my first[ick nixed]

  • Ira Parks


    The thrill of an old fashioned burger at a Howard Johnson’s on Route 66. It just doesn’t get any better, says this critic.

  • Luke Y. Thompson

    Have not eaten at Five Guys or Smashburger yet, but Jack in the Box being dead last is total crap. Granted, I think they’ve screwed up their burgers lately via the “Seasoned While It Cooks” gimmick, which in practice just means they’ve added extra extra salt, but prior to that the Ultimate Cheeseburger was THE best fast food burger bar none.

    Counter-intuitively, Del Taco’s Double Del Cheeseburger is very good too, but it’s almost its own thing, not really comparable directly to other burgers.

    Jack in the Box also has jalapeno poppers that are the best terrible-for-you food money can buy.

    Wendy’s needs to give up their provably wrong idea that a single airport-style queue for food is any way efficient. It’s just not, and you can be waiting forever. Carl’s Jr actually bringing your order to the table is a point in their favor. Carl’s/Green Burrito hybrids are nice.

    McDonald’s needs to liven shit up. People like the comfort of their generically bland stuff, but it wouldn’t hurt to have something else on the side like jalapeno poppers, nachos, McCheesesteak or whatever.

    Fuddruckers fries are meh, but the one in Century City lets you pump your own nacho cheese on top of them, which is a definite GOOD IDEA.

    I do also dig The Habit, but they need more sauce variety. A nicely put together burger that needs just something extra to kick up the flavor.

  • Raising_Kaned

    LYT with the exhaustive rundown of every single fast food item on every single menu (hey Luke — you missed BK’s Chicken Fries…get back to me ASAP with your verdict on that,’s really important).

    You just know that anyone who has THAT much of an opinion on this subject just has to be fatter than fuck.

  • Luke Y. Thompson

    It’s pretty easy to Google me and find out.

  • Raising_Kaned

    Two things I don’t ever search for on the Internet:

    1. Fast-food menus
    2. Photographs of bloggers

    This rule has served me well over the years.

  • Cadavra

    McDonald’s isn’t going anywhere. People go there because it’s fast and cheap. A burger and soda–no fries–at Five Guys or Fuddrucker’s runs me about $11. Yeah, it’s better food, but that’s generally not why people–especially teens–go to fast-food joints.

  • Luke Y. Thompson

    I actually won a runner-up journalism award last year for writing about fast food, Kaned. Too bad there wasn’t a category for pointlessly belligerent and ill-informed comments or I’m sure I’d have seen you there accepting a plaque.

  • Stewart Klein

    The problem with Five Guys is that their fries are done in PEANUT OIL This eliminates about 10% of the population who have peanut allergies. That stat is growing. For some kids a five guys fry could be lethal. To their credit they stack the peanut oil boxes next to the doorway but some folks are clueless.


  • JLC

    Five Guys is terrific. One of the best fast food burgers around.. It will also never make a dent in McDonald’s. They have an extremely limited menu. As mentioned, the burger is expensive for a fast food item. And they take a pretty fair amount of time to prepare. McDonald’s gross from chicken nuggets probably exceeds that for the whole Five Guys chain.

  • 62Lincoln

    I have a Smashburger, a new BurgerFI, a Five Guys and Scratch Fresh all within about 2 miles of one another. I think we’re covered here.

  • Raising_Kaned

    Troll of the Year Runner-Up, Luke…right here, buddy (Zelter’s the Meryl Streep of that category).

    So did Faraci end up winning the Gold for his mouth-watering “journalistic” description of the White Castle slider?

  • nyhylyst

    I dunno. I think DDL’s interpretation of Lincoln’s voice could work…

  • Kate88

    I hate fast food – with one exception.

    Every once in a while I get an insane craving for Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich, and I have to have it.

  • EdHavens

    One does not go to McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Sonic, White Castle and the like for a good burger. One goes to these places to get something fast, cheap and uncomplicated. One knows the burgers aren’t going to be mind-blowing.

    Never heard of Smashburger. Haven’t had a Five Guys burger yet, even though there’s one about a mile down the street. In ‘n’ Out has decent burgers, as does The Habit, although I get the Chicken Teriyaki sandwich at The Habit Seven times out of ten.

    The best burgers I’ve had are the ones my dad makes. Adds Worchester sauce, tiny green pepper chunks and pieces of bacon to the ground meat, with Swiss, Cheddar Jack and Pepper Jack between the layers of meat, crisp iceberg lettuce and tomato. Mayo, mustard and catsup if necessary, but rarely is. Dee-lish!

  • chimbondasgloves

    If you like soggy burgers, that are expensive as fuck, and make you feel terrible afterwards… FIVE GUYS IS FOR YOU!

    The minimum for dinner there is like $11 bucks.

    In-N-Out destroys Five Guys. In every category. CASE CLOSED>.

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