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Fast Food Restaurants to Avoid When You’re Looking for a Good Meal

Fast Food Restaurants to Avoid When You’re Looking for a Good Meal August 17, 2021Leave a comment

Fast food restaurants are most people’s guilty pleasure. Their menus are full of tasty treats and meals that are sinfully delicious. They’re also pretty convenient places to order from. The service is fast regardless of whether your order inside or at the drive-thru window. But if you're looking for a tasty meal that's actually worth every penny, stay far away from the fast food restaurants on this list.

Some fast food restaurants heavily advertise their low prices, but is their food really worth the cost? Even though everyone knows that fast food isn't the healthiest option out there, you might be surprised to learn the ways that some of these restaurants cut corners and fail to deliver anything better than you could find under the heat lamps at your local gas station.


Tripadvisor / Rita B

Quiznos is comparable to Subway in that they both offer sub sandwich menu options like the Tuna Melt, Classic Italian sub, and Meatball sub. Quiznos also offers the popular Spicy Monterey and Turkey Ranch & Swiss sandwiches. But the franchise has a major Achilles heel, and some customers might have already noticed the reason why you typically see more Subway restaurants in crowded cities than Quiznos locations.

Their Subs Cost Too Much

Donatingpictures / Wikimedia Commons / CC 3.0

Good sub sandwiches or not, people simply can’t keep up with Quiznos’ high priced, average tasting menu items. As a result, sales have suffered a lot, forcing the popular sandwich chain to shut down 94% of their restaurants. Their downfall is not surprising since they used to earn $1.9 billion a year in revenue in 2007 but this figure dropped to just $100 million by 2020.


Tripadvisor / jessicamariella 

Rubio’s Tex-Mex menu items like the Grilled Gourmet Tacos and the Burrito Especial with Guacamole have made mouths water for years. But in 2017, they faced a massive reduction in their work force and customers have noticed the lack of employees in the once packed restaurants. And there's a good reason why the restaurant is failing that actually has nothing to do with the food items on their menu.

Blame the IRS

Flickr / Matt Howry / CC 2.0

The IRS implemented a new rule that requires employees to have valid social security numbers to work minimum wage jobs, like the kind that most Rubio's employees have. This led to many employees who were already staffed by the franchise to be laid off. And to add insult to injury, the pandemic forced the chain to shut down all of their locations in the states of Colorado and Florida. The company even had to file for bankruptcy in 2020.

Dairy Queen

Instagram / @recipejoes

From shakes to smoothies to burgers, sandwiches, chicken baskets and fries, Dairy Queen has been an American staple since 1940. But while most people are pretty happy with the unhealthy but equally delicious desserts that the restaurant chain offers, others aren’t happy with their savory items, which could convince them to skip the popular franchise altogether when they're looking for a place to eat.

The Hot Dogs and Burgers Are the Worst

Tripadvisor / Jinlplay04 

Customers have complained for years that the Dairy Queen burgers and hot dogs are not up to par with the sweeter menu items. One of the biggest complaints from customers has been that these items are often undercooked or cooked beyond the point of recognition. It takes a lot of skill to cook meat correctly, and it just seems like the employees at Dairy Queen aren't receiving the proper training on these menu items.


Wikimedia Commons / Nheyob / CC 4.0

Wendy’s might offer an impressively low $1 menu, but their combo menu items, like the Baconator or Spicy Chicken Sandwich, are pretty expensive, with the Baconator combo meal costing $8.09 and the Spicy Chicken Sandwich combo meal costing $6.69 as of August 2021. But customers are complaining about more than just the prices of their meals when it comes to Wendy's.

The Food is Mediocre

Flickr / Willis Lam / CC 2.0

Most customers don’t have any issue paying a little extra for fast food that’s a decent quality, but that’s not what they’re typically getting when they eat at Wendy’s. Customers have complained that the famous square burgers sold at the franchise are served barely warm and in 2018, an uploaded video showed a mouse roaming near a bag of hamburger buns in one location of the popular chain.



McDonald’s offers a wide array of menu items like the Big Mac, Quarter Pounder, and Chicken McNuggets, not to mention fries and soft drinks that customers can order at large sizes for a little extra. But the franchise’s minimum health requirements for their items is alarming (and frankly, gross!) Luckily for customers looking to save a penny, McDonald's is pretty cheap, all things considered.

The Cost is Unreasonable

Wikimedia Commons / Kici / CC 3.0

McDonald’s has done its best to remain a low cost, affordable fast food alternative for their customers, which explains the cold burgers and limp fries. But in recent years, the prices have started to climb, leading to a significant drop in customers for the worldwide brand. And many customers no longer feel that their products are worth the new higher costs. This forced more than 200 McDonald's locations to close in 2020.


Wikipedia / Public Domain

Unlike other fast food restaurants, Cinnabon is in a different class, mainly because their star menu items are cinnamon rolls. Admittedly, the rolls are massive, tasty and go great with a cup of coffee. But they aren’t always easy to find, as many of the restaurant chain's biggest fans have noticed in recent years. But why can't you find a huge cinnamon roll at any hour of the day anymore?


Instagram / @miss_julie_b

Customers don’t crave cinnamon rolls the way they crave burgers and fries, so Cinnabon has been working on promoting their products at other chains like Walmart. While this has certainly helped improved sales, it signals that Cinnabon restaurants may eventually fizzle out of mall food court locations, which are becoming more sparse themselves with each passing year. Some estimates show that up to 25% of shopping malls in the United States may close by the end of 2021.

Dunkin' Donuts

Tripadvisor / Jeremie M 

Like Cinnabon, Dunkin' Donuts is a bit of a one trick pony by marketing a primary item, which in this case is an assortment of donuts. And while their variety is quite impressive and the donuts are delicious, they are also loaded with sugar, as are their coffee drinks, which places the company as one of Starbuck's biggest rivals. And the restaurant has even tried to distance their ties to their most popular food item by removing the word Donuts from the company's name in 2018.

Their Menu Rarely Changes

Instagram / @bakhuis7

For a company to stand out, it’s important to introduce a new flavor or a new menu item to keep people interested. But Dunkin' Donuts’ menu hasn’t really changed much over the years. The prices, however, have continued to rise, leading to a drop in revenue and the closing of more than 800 locations in 2020 alone. So if you can still find a Dunkin' location and you're still interested in having donuts for breakfast, this could still be a good fast food option for you.


Susan Montgomery / Shutterstock

Since 1919, customers have relied on A&W for their famous root beer and root beer floats. The fast food franchise has also offered regular draft beer and hamburgers. But while customers have been quite satisfied with their floats and other drink options, their other menu items have not kept customers very happy. With more people becoming health conscious and trying to make better food choices recently, this fast food chain has noticed a decline in customers.

It’s Greasy and Unsanitary

Instagram / @xmas2004

A&W has earned a reputation for serving greasy fries, which isn’t nearly as bad as the complaints customers have made about the unsanitary conditions of some of their restaurant locations. And unless something changes, A&W may become a cautionary tale for other fast food chains. Thanks to apps like Postmates and Uber Eats, more hungry people have better options to get quick food, so fast food restaurants like A&W may be facing more closures in the near future.

Little Caesars

Wikimedia Commons / TaurusEmerald / CC 4.0

Little Caesars may not necessarily offer the best pizzas in the United States, but they're not exactly the worst pizzas in the country either. Their pies are always hot, just like they advertise, and they're ready in a fraction of the amount of time it takes to get delivery from other pizza joints. And in addition to pizza, they also offer their garlicky and delicious breadsticks as well as chicken wings, too.

Their Prices Match Their Products

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Little Caesars may not have five-star items on their menu, but at the very least, customers can count on the items being low priced. That same statement cannot be said of some other fast food restaurants on this list that offer mediocre options at high prices. So, if you're happy with the quality of this pizza, go on ordering it. But if you're looking for food that will really satisfy your taste buds, you would probably be happier taking your money somewhere else.

Hardee’s / Carl’s Jr.

Wikimedia Commons / JJBers / CC 4.0

Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. commercials were often a source of controversy as they often had racy looking swimsuit models eating juicy burgers in them. In some cases, they poked fun of vegetarians by showing a farmer standing in a field talking about their sandwiches have no vegetables and begging viewers to eat the meaty sandwiches and save the veggies for the cows. Fortunately, these restaurants are not all bad.

They’re Still Too Pricey

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Although the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. fast food franchises have toned down their commercials in recent years to avoid offending some people, the cost of their menu items is still pretty high compared to other fast food burger options across the country. However, hardcore fans are willing to fork over the cash for a Famous Star With Cheese, which currently costs $4.69 or The Big Hardee, which costs $5.19.

Jack in the Box

Wikimedia Commons / Famartin / CC 4.0

It seems like customers can’t get enough of Jack in the Box’s Mini Churros or Jack’s Teriyaki Bowl with Chicken or even Jack’s Spicy Chicken. And the best part is that the restaurant offers these items and other unique offerings at a low price. But there’s a downside to this fast food joint and it's not just because of the calories that some customers are steering away from the franchise.

The Service Isn’t Always Great

Instagram / @homemade_mexican_food

Some customers have complained that their Jack in the Box location messed up their order every time they visited the chain. Other times, the employees didn't open the doors at the time that they claim they advertise to open, and the wait time to get an order can sometimes take 30 to 45 minutes depending on how many items you order. And to make things worse, the quality of the food isn’t always so great either.

Jimmy John’s

YouTube / Jimmy John's

Jimmy John’s gourmet sandwiches, beefy wraps, and Chicken Caesar wraps have given customers a lot to talk about over the years. Unfortunately, the employees are the ones that aren’t happy at this chain because they’re forced to sign a non-competitive clause that prevents them from working for a competitor for up two years after leaving Jimmy John’s. For many job seekers in fast paced cities, the job just isn't worth the paycheck.

E. Coli Outbreaks Plagued Jimmy John’s

Instagram / @nichfer

Lawsuits ultimately forced Jimmy John’s to remove the unfair non-competitive clause because it limited their former employees job prospects after they left the company. But just as the restaurant recovered from one scandal, they had to deal with approximately five E. Coli outbreaks in the past ten years, which not only had employees worried, but also had potential customers looking for other places to pick up a sandwich.

Tim Hortons

Wikimedia Commons / Tupungato, Marek Ślusarczyk / CC 2.5

Tim Hortons is the Canadian equivalent to Dunkin’ Donuts. In fact, for many Canadians, this franchise provides people with pleasant memories of stopping by for some delicious donuts and coffee at any time of year. But they do have one major issue and that’s their coffee, which many customers claim is so bad that it is ruining Tim Hortons as a franchise. And that's not the only problem that the Canadian chain has endured recently.

2020 Crippled Tim Hortons

Flickr / Liam K / CC 2.0

The pandemic forced several Tim Hortons locations to close by order of health inspectors after several employees tested positive. This hit the donut franchise where it hurts the most— their pockets. As a result, they were forced to close several locations. Thankfully for maple donut fans, there are still thousands of Tim Hortons locations across Canada and the United States to visit if you don't prefer any alternatives.

Del Taco

Wikimedia Commons / Michael Rivera / CC 4.0

From beer battered fish tacos to regular beef tacos, Del Taco has attempted to outshine competitors like Taco Bell with their modern Mexican menu items with a twist. But customers claim the wait time at many of their locations is atrocious and others believe that the amount of rice in their burritos is simply unacceptable, but the franchise has recently released a new menu item to get people talking.

Meatless Tacos Is Their Saving Grace

RightCowLeftCoast / Wikimedia Commons / CC 4.0

Although many of Del Taco’s menu items are not intended for health-conscious customers, their menus do show how many calories their food have. Also, the franchise has introduced meatless tacos to their menu, which makes them not quite as bad health wise as some of the other fast food restaurants on this list, if you can stand to wait a little while for your food.


Wikimedia Commons / Michael Rivera / CC 4.0

Popeyes has done its best to stay on top of its fellow fried chicken competitors like Kentucky Fried Chicken and Chik-fil-A. But as the pressure to succeed grew, they tried to release a chicken sandwich menu item that was a total flop, and many of their most frequent customers remember the disappointment that they got when they tried to order the highly publicized menu item.

Their Chicken Sandwich Was a Disaster

Twitter / Popeyes

Popeyes added a chicken sandwich to their menus in August of 2019 that wasn’t even in the ballpark with chicken sandwiches from their competitors. And yet, they were popular enough that customers did order them. But they soon grew frustrated when the restaurants ran out of the item. As a result, Popeyes announced the closure of several underperforming restaurants in 2020.

Sonic Drive-In

Tripadvisor / arkansawtraveller

Sonic Drive-In utilizes servers who roll out your food on roller skates and outdoor parking that gives customers their own personal drive-thru that they can park in front of and eat, just like a classic diner from the 1950s. But a lot of customers aren’t happy with the quality of service or the food, and the vintage experience just can't make up for the disappointment they get when they take their first bite.

The Food Isn’t Very Fresh

Instagram / @restaurun

Customers aren’t expecting 5-star gourmet food items, but they would like their food to be fresh rather than a lukewarm and soggy mess. They also wouldn’t mind a little service with a smile, which some claim they have not gotten. Maybe this is because the added task of rollerskating to deliver a customer's food is a lot to handle for many minimum wage workers who would rather take an easier job somewhere else.

Papa John’s

Instagram / @papa_johns_surgut

From handcrafted specialty pizza menu options like The Meats, Super Hawaiian and Zesty Italian Trio to BBQ Chicken & Bacon, Papa John’s certainly sounds like a pizza lover’s dream come true. But the quality of the pizza leaves a lot to be desired and that’s not the only thing that put a bad taste in people’s mouths. Even the founder of the company has expressed his distaste for their pizzas.

Their Founder Has Some Harsh Words For the Company

Wikimedia Commons / Ildar Sagdejev / CC 1.0

In 2018, John Schnatter, the founder and public face of Papa John’s used a slur during a conference call that went public. This forced him to resign as chairman to keep the franchise from taking the hit, but some customers are still feeling the bitterness of his words to this day. And to make matters worse, Schnatter has since criticized the franchise's pizzas since leaving the company, claiming that they have changed their recipes since he left.

Pizza Hut

Wikimedia Commons / Famartin / CC 4.0

Pizza Hut is the go-to-place for stuffed crust pizza or crusts with cheesy bites and sides like pizza folds and pasta. But although they used to be one of the most popular pizza franchises in America, the quality has taken a serious dive since their height in the '90s. And even the addition of WingStreet restaurants co-locating with the pizza franchise, customers aren't feeling satisfied.

The Hut's Prices Have Spiked

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Some customers would say that Pizza Hut’s pizzas are great while others will argue that they are low quality. But one thing they can all agree on is that the prices for the menu items have made Pizza Hut unappetizing and in 2020, they were forced to close more than 300 locations due to a drop in sales. It's anyone's guess whether this pizza brand will manage to stay afloat against its competitors in the future.

Raising Cane’s

Tripadvisor / Kelly B

Fans of chicken strips know that Raising Cane’s is the place to go because that’s literally the one thing they sell. Between their chicken fingers and their famous Cane's sauce, customers know what to expect when visiting the chain. But while the taste of these not-so-healthy menu items are passable, some customers have noted one serious issue with the franchise, and it has to do with the inconsistency of the quality of their meals.

Cane's Chicken Strips Aren’t Properly Prepared

Instagram / @jenappetit

Raising Cane’s customers aren’t happy that the chicken strips often come out either a little too soggy or a bit too overcooked making it difficult for them to enjoy their meal. And in addition to the cooking inconsistency, there’s also the fact that the food is greasy and probably not the best diet choice. Cane's competitor Chick-fil-A offers some healthier grilled chicken options, making it a better location for health conscious snackers.

El Pollo Loco

Instagram / @mr_czr

El Pollo Loco is a fairly popular Mexican-style restaurant franchise, which is really surprising given that a lot of customers don’t consider the food to be all that great. In fact, some claim that the food tastes like cardboard, and that’s not all that's wrong with this popular chicken wing joint. If you do enjoy the taste of the food, there may be a few other issues with the chain that will convince you to eat somewhere else.

They Lack Locations and Run Out of Chicken

Tripadvisor / DutchWidow

In addition to there not being a lot of locations of El Pollo Loco across the United States, the food is reportedly dry, which can be very unappetizing when it comes to a restaurant that specializes in chicken meals. Customers have also claimed that El Pollo Loco is too expensive and the staff is often unfriendly. To make matters worse, the restaurants often run out of chicken, their most popular item.

Taco Bell

Lenin and McCarthy via Wikimedia Commons / CC 3.0

Taco Bell’s menu items aren’t limited to tacos. They also offer burritos, chicken quesadillas and Mexican pizzas. But customers looking to satiate their hunger will be disappointed by the lack of ingredients and tiny portions on their menu, not to mention the stomach cramps and other intestinal issues some folks have complained about after eating at the popular franchise.

Burger King


Burger King’s famous Whopper and crunchy onion rings might make some customers’ mouths water, but overall, the franchise seems to laugh in the face of good health with items like the triple whopper with cheese that is full of trans fat, sodium, fat and calories. And even though the franchise recently went vegan with their new Impossible Whopper, the chain still falls behind the quality of other restaurants.


Wikimedia Commons / Famartin / CC 4.0

Sbarro claims to offer Italian and New York style food items like pizza, calzone and pasta dishes. But a lot of customers aren’t happy with the low quality of the dishes, not to mention the fact that most of the food served at their locations sit there under food lamps for half an hour or more before they are served to customers. And if authentic New York style pizza is what you're looking for, you should probably check somewhere else.

Long John Silver’s

Flickr / Willis Lam / CC 2.0

Long John Silver’s Alaska Pollock is one of the most popular fish items on the menu and so is their Cod meal. But others would prefer the fried shrimp dish with hush puppies. However, customers have complained that these dishes are either too dry and salty or too stale and greasy. And their meals are known to be extremely unhealthy, like their Big Catch plate, which contains about 3,900 milligrams of sodium, which is more than the daily recommended amount.

Checkers / Rally's

Public Domain

Checkers burgers don’t actually stand up to competitors like the McDonald’s Big Mac. They do however make some incredibly seasoned, crunchy, and crispy fries that are the franchise’s signature item. But everything on the menu is high in fat, unhealthy, and guaranteed to clog the much needed blood flow to those arteries. And if health isn't your biggest concern, you might be shocked to learn that many people got their identities stolen at one of 103 Checkers and Rally's locations which were tied to a long-running data breach that was disclosed in 2019.

Boston Market

Flickr / Willis Lam / CC 2.0

Boston Market was pretty popular with rotisserie chicken enthusiasts in the 1980s, but eventually, people realized that they were paying too much for something they could make, or microwave, at home. Also, some of their other menu items were limited to a thin slice of meat with a spoonful of mashed potatoes and mac and cheese. And if you like the food offered by this fast-casual chain, you may be better off buying their products at the supermarket instead of visiting their dining locations.


Wikimedia Commons / ChildofMidnight / CC 3.0

Arby’s Smokehouse Brisket, Loaded Italian, and Corned Beef Reuben are all practically cold cuts between two pieces of bread. And a lot of customers aren’t happy that they have to pay so much for heavily processed meat, which looks like a pink bag of squishy slime when it is delivered to each location. Also, there was that incident in 2012 where a customer reportedly found a human finger in their order.


Wikimedia Commons / Famartin / CC 4.0

Subway sandwiches have been riddled with controversy for a number of reasons. For one thing, the footlong sub is reportedly not actually a foot long. And recently, the popular restaurant chain came under fire when it was revealed in a study that their tuna sandwiches were found to contain no actual tuna. While the study didn't reveal what was actually in the fish mixture served on the restaurant's sandwiches, it was revealed that the fish was composed of a variety of different ingredients, none of which were tuna fish.

Auntie Anne’s

Wikimedia Commons / Famartin / CC 4.0

Auntie Anne’s shops are commonly found inside malls and are dedicated to serving pretzels. Unfortunately, customers aren’t happy that you have to pay so much money for an oversized pretzel that’s probably burnt, stale and is loaded with salt sprinkles that can raise blood pressure. With the closure of many malls in the United States, Auntie Anne's is one fast food chain that Americans might soon have to say goodbye to.

White Castle

Instagram / thecltgal

White Castle is known for their thin, mini, square-shaped burgers, which aren’t actually quite so bad. But some customers claim that they taste like microwaved food and feel they shouldn’t pay the high prices for menu items that they can just buy at a store and microwave at home. And the restaurant chain recently had over 20 health code violations reported at their largest location in its first inspection since reopening in 2021.