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HOT TAKE: Chipotle Is No Longer a Top 5 Chain

In 2019 I realized I was experiencing Stockholm Syndrome mid chicken bowl.


The year is 2013, the third Chipotle within 15 minutes from your house just opened. The ingredients are fresh, a meal is $7.50, and with your student ID, the drink is free. The interior of the restaurant is clean and refreshing, a stark contrast from the plastic booths you’re used to seeing at fast food joints. Being a fan of Chipotle during this time is an acceptable personality trait. Hard cut to the year 2020. The only reason Chipotle is in the news anymore is health scares. The once refreshing interiors are now dirty, the price has skyrocketed while the quality of the ingredients has plummeted. What was once a top two restaurant in the US is now not even top 5. Here are the chains I believe rank ahead of it.

5. In-N-Out Burger

The only reason In-N-Out is so low on this list is because I am from the east coast, so I only get to eat here once every few years. That being said, the prices are low and the food is consistently good. I often hear of people who travel to the west coast and are disappointed in this restaurant, and I cant say I'm surprised. The hype it receives is immeasurable, so when people go and discover its just a high-quality fast food joint they are a bit shocked. They haven't reinvented the wheel, but they do produce a high quality wheel for cheap. Also their merchandise has no right to be as good as it is.

4. Jersey Mike's Subs (Your Favorite Deli Chain)

Jersey Mike's is my personal favorite, but I understand they aren't in every state so whatever works for you goes here. If there's one thing Americans love, it's sandwiches. When I go to Jersey Mike's I know I can expect fresh bread and an employee who would never skimp me on ingredients. A good sandwich is a meal I can eat consistently. While it will never be my favorite chain, it deserves a spot on this list.

3. Wendy's

Another hot take inbound: Wendy's nuggets are the best by a significant margin. They are simply juicer and more tender than McDonald's, who I often see regarded as the king of nuggets. On top of the superior chicken, I find their quality is more consistent from location to location than Donnie's. Also, who can deny a small frosty as a late night treat?

2. Chick-fil-A

I don't even need to explain why Chick-fil-A is here. Some might say number two is still too low for the chicken shack. Consistent, quick, fast service, this chain holds itself to the 1960s standard of fast-food that is all but extinct these days.

1. McDonald's

In my opinion, the unquestioned alpha of all fast food locations. A timeless classic that anyone can recognize. The Big Mac is the best sandwich on the planet, the french fries are second to none, and for some reason the sprite from Mickey D's just hits different. If you don't think McDonalds is the best chain restaurant in the world, you're either oddly obsessed with Chick-fil-A, or you're a liar who has repressed all the memories from your childhood when you were morbidly obese.

Can Chipotle break back into the top 5? Of course. In order to do so they will need to return to their roots. Cheap, high quality meals that are always gracious when adding ingredients. Otherwise, I don't see them reentering my top 5 anytime soon.