September 29th, 2011

Rating the bad fast food restaurants

This guy says Subway’s is the worst.

And I’m glad to see my new personal favorite for best, Jack in the Box, doesn’t make the bad restaurant cut. Plus I have to say that I’ve never eaten at most of the restaurants on the list, and of the two I have eaten at (Wendy’s and KFC), it was probably at least twenty years ago.

My personal most-disliked fast food restaurant is the king of them all, McDonald’s. But I’d probably hate the others just as much if I ever went there.

I would love to end this post with a YouTube video of Greg Brown singing “Slow Food.” But there is no YouTube video of Greg Brown singing “Slow Food.” So we’ll have to settle for the lyrics, and you’ll just have to imagine the rest:

People want that slow food
Two minutes and they grouch
But give me ham baked all day long
And help me to the couch
Help me to the sofa
Put the quiet music on
I will lie and think about that ham
Long after it is gone.

I want some slo-o-o-o-ow food.
I don’t want no food with cute names
No neon on a sign
A man can’t live on advertising slogans and conceptual design
Let somebody else go surf and turf
Someone else go carry out Me,
I want my food to know itself
Before it knows my mouth.

I want some slo-o-o-o-ow food
With all the love cooked in.

Why don’t we start it in the mornin’
Leave us plenty of time for lovin’
Weekend homemade hot fresh bread
Make the whole house smell like an oven
And let it all just simmer
Cook in the good juices and the greases
Then we’ll sit down at the table, baby
And slowly tear it into pieces.

I want some slo-o-o-o-ow food
What’s the big rush?….
Don’t want no hard-hearted Hardee’s, no Muck-muck-muck-muck-donald’s….I want a chef, not a clown, to make my food…/it can even be tofu with the right kinda sauce…./blahblahblah—

I want some slo-o-o-o-ow food
With all the love cooked in.

21 Responses to “Rating the bad fast food restaurants”

  1. Gringo Says:

    My favorite fast food place had oven-baked grinders. Subs to those not from the grinder-speaking area of New England. One summer I was working the night shift and going to classes in the morning. Between work and classes I would stop there and get a grinder for breakfast. Even their cheapest grinder, the salami, was tasty. Coffee insured I would stay awake in class.

  2. Kae Arby Says:

    For me, fast food restaurant is a triple oxymoron. They’re hardly fast any more. You can call what they serve anything you want, just don’t call it food. Calling those places restaurants is an insult to the word.

    Back in the late 90s I got so fed up with the lousy service I was getting at the two nearby MyDonalds that I swore off fast food for a while. What I learned was that if you don’t eat for a while (three years for me) don’t bother going back. The stuff you thought tasted good tastes bland at best, and the stuff you thought was passable tastes…well, it gets a kind of fecal quality to it.


  3. Dyotham Says:

    Newport RI, summer and fall of 1969 -

    I was attending a Navy ‘C’ school and every day I would pull into the local grinder shop and have a nice thick Lobster Grinder; lobster never tasted so good! The greatest treat to that whole episode of my life.

  4. rickl Says:

    Well, as I said on an earlier thread, if you like hamburgers, there are a plethora of good places to get hamburgers. In fact, I’ve rarely had a bad hamburger. I even like McDonalds.

  5. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    My favorite fast food place is Costco. A hot dog and drink for a $1.50. The hot dogs are Hebrew National all beef dogs (350 calories) and tasty. I know, I know, hot dogs are supposed to be bad for you, but once a month will not kill you. On a cold, rainy day here in the Pacific NW a Costco hot dog counts as real comfort food for me. Their pizza isn’t bad, but I seldom ever eat pizza – maybe twice a year. Then there is the chicken Caesar salad. Big enough for two and fresh ingredients. Again, about 350 calories. Healthy and tasty for $3.65.

  6. RickZ Says:

    On a more anecdotal note, I seem to have many more service issues at the various Wendy’s I go to than at other burger joints. This includes forgotten drive-thru items, cash register operators who are bad enough at math to apply for a job as Treasury secretary in the Obama administration, . . .

    Okay, that was good.

    Oh, and I’ve never heard of Fazoli’s — ever.

  7. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Strictly speaking fast food is supposed to be fast for the folks who need it fast. Other considerations are secondary.
    But, seeing how things like, oh, say, competition goes, they’ve branched out.
    Salads, fruit and yogurt, breakfast oatmeal….
    Not a bad deal.
    When you’re in a hurry, which I have been frequently, it also pays to be able to get something you can eat while driving that doesn’t drip on your lap. Which are frequently on the dollar menu.
    If the fast food joints were in the Five Star competition, the complaints would have more merit.
    That having been said, there is a Burger King at Portland, MI which takes longer for a simple order than a couple of sit-down places I’ve been.

  8. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Doctor said loose some weight or the door to Diabetes beckoned, with all the other diseases, very bad side effects and problems that lay on the other side; the guy I occasionally ran into in the elevator at work, who had first one leg amputated, then the other due, he told me, to the side effects of diabetes, was a great motivator.

    So, I radically changed my diet by basically eliminating sugar, and over two years and, with no change in my activity level, I gradually lost almost 50 pounds. Among many other changes, it was no more fast food for me.

    Thus, I only have fast food maybe once or twice a year.

    Despite all those Subway ads featuring “Gerald,” who lost three hundred plus pounds, my complaint about Subway is that you never actually get those beautiful, beckoning, chocked full of ingredients creations (the artistic creations of “food technicians” –yes, there is such a job in the world of creating appetizing commercials) you see on the commercials but, you get instead, depending on which Subway you happen to stop at, some messed up, much less full, paltry, pale imitation, with a mix of God knows which ingredients, and meat usually sliced molecule thin by a microtome.

    One problem in my “cosmopolitan” area, chocked full of” immigrants” and more likely illegal aliens, is that most fast food franchises seem to be run by non- English speakers and, quite often, the whole crew is made up of non-English speakers.

    One memorable pre-diet visit to s Subway franchise run by a crew of non-English speaking Vietnamese yielded a hoagie roll that was basically just stuffed with about a pound of pepperoni, lettuce and tomato and tons of Oregano, and no amount of attempted communication would yield what I really wanted and what was pictured on the wall.

  9. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    A fast food experience–which perhaps sums up much of life–came when I ordered a vanilla shake at the take out order microphone, drove to the pick-up window, and was given what I discovered was a banana shake–ukk.

    So, I asked for another, correct vanilla shake, and the response was, “so you won’t take the banana shake?” I.E. vanilla, banana, what’s the difference?

  10. I R A Darth Aggie Says:

    Oh, and I’ve never heard of Fazoli’s — ever.

    You’re not missing out.

    I liked Fazoli’s when they first came to my area. Good, clean, hot, free bread sticks that they had an employ walk thru the dining area dispersing.

    Then they went into a slow, then not-so-slow downward spiral. We no longer have Fazoli’s here.

  11. I R A Darth Aggie Says:

    “so you won’t take the banana shake?”

    You gonna give me a 50% discount on your screw up?

    I can be bribed…food, beer usually works.

  12. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    I.R.A.–Even if they gave me a 50% discount on the vile banana shake they gave me, I still wouldn’t have taken the deal, ’cause what I wanted was A VANILLA SHAKE.

    This reminds me of another great deal often offered in compensation in our consumer society i.e you complain that something, some service or product or other was not working, was crap, and to compensate you, they offer you two of or a discount on more of the same defective crap that failed you the first time.

    If the first item or service was shit, why would you ever want twice that amount of shit as compensation for the first shitty product or service?

  13. Gringo Says:

    Wolla Dalbo
    One problem in my “cosmopolitan” area, chocked full of” immigrants” and more likely illegal aliens, is that most fast food franchises seem to be run by non- English speakers and, quite often, the whole crew is made up of non-English speakers.

    Some years ago I ordered a burger at McDonalds. The cashier then gave the scripted query: “With fries?”

    I replied, “If I had wanted fries, I would have asked for them.” [I was a bit of a smartass because my Spanish was much better than her English.]

    The English-challenged cashier delivered me a burger with fries. After speaking with the manager, I paid for just the burger.

    McDonalds recognizes that this is a problem, and has spent big bucks on an online English instruction course for its managers. Better also its lower level workers, but it’s a start.

  14. ErisGuy Says:

    The people who condemn fast food and praise mom ‘n’ pop restaurants forget how vile the food in the USA was in the early 1960s. I haven’t. I travelled the USA in the early 1960s. I never knew when I entered a town if any restaurant would be open; if it would poison me; or if it would be edible. And too often, at least two of three would be true. ‘Fast food’ is and was of generally better quality than mom ‘n’ pop places.

  15. RickZ Says:

    ErisGuy Says:

    ‘Fast food’ is and was of generally better quality than mom ‘n’ pop places.

    There’s also the matter of consistency, which was definitely hit or miss in the 50′s-60′s. Thanks to the chains, when one traveled (and for better or worse), one knew what one was getting.

  16. Artfldgr Says:

    it also depends on what country your in…
    as the laws in the other countries dont force manufacturers to play as many games (suprise its the opposite of the message?)…

    in some cases the taste reminds you of what it tasted like years ago when they first started and before they were forced to change by the state…

    KFC in Indonesia is interesting, as is mcdonalds… but funny funny, the guy that just killed your lunch that morning that has the small stand on the side (told you i was an adventurer) had the best Ayam (chicken) i have tasted in over 30 years… and i dont like chicken

    but they dont have laws that say they cant use the best tasting oil… or so forth…

    we dont mention much the other foods i ate an will eat there again (another trip)… :)

    Other brands are also interesting… Marlboro makes a spiced version of cigs (whose advertising dominates everything and everywhere like crazy)… Coca cola is all over, though they pour your soda into plastic bags and keep the bottle usually if you want to walk away…

    for some reason i also think that sushi boy, if in japan, would be better than its twin in times square…

    (of which the idiots just discovered that the reason people came was because it was gritty and had character which they erased to progressively improve and clean it up. so now they are going to try to spend money to get a bit of that look back. when they first did that i said great. if not for the different characters on store signs, you could get knocked out and dropped in tokyo, hong kong, or other places and wouldnt realize you were in a different place. everyone thought i was nuts when i said that people dont travel half way around the world to visit a sanrio hello kitty store… )

    and i have yet to try the remake of the automat.. anyone but me remember that darling?

    the automat was the fast food after a diner… i still remember the last one, and the last nathans in times square area… i vaguely remember a mention of one down in the lower manhatten area opened as its theme, havent been there..

    but automat and nathans was fast food before fast food revolution of the late 60s and 70s..

    nedicks returned to penn station… but i dont know if they are now still there or did their echo fade again… :)

    rays pizza the original fast food… its interesting but before pizza was as popular as it is now, it wasnt sold by the slice… it was selling by the slice that changed the whole thing – even the first version of the drive thru… an open window where they sold pizza so you didnt even have to go in.

    dont forget chewey pretzels and for some chestnuts in winter on city streets… (and in my neighborhood we have the award winning swarma king!!! )

    but yes.. slow food i miss the most…
    i can cook it, but my stove dont work and landlord wont fix it… the family was a set of amazing european cooking family… i kind of get that taste by drifting by different ethnic festivals (ukraine festival a few weeks ago – no, i am not ukraine, but foods are similar all over certain swaths of europe).

    have to go.
    wife and i are going out to eat :)

    and where we live there is over 800 different cultures represented in a very tiny area. in my neighborhood you can see everything from sikh turbans, burka, chador, drag queen, bloods, business people, and groups of women in Sari… greek flags… serbian deli… czech beer garden… irish restaurants.. columbian bar restaurant… and a whole lot more…

    im hungry.. gotta go!

  17. CZ Says:

    Never tried a Subway.

    I have been to gas stations that have a Subway inside. When I go in to pay for fuel the Subway makes the place smell as if they cleaned the floors and walls with dirty gym socks. P.U.!

    No food that that comes from a place that smells that foul will ever go into my pie hole.

  18. Artfldgr Says:

    subway? kind of like blimpies without the bankruptcy and the machine guns… :)

    oh dont forget popeye’s…
    long john silvers…

    anyway. have to stop, had thai tonight…

  19. neo-neocon Says:

    Artfldgr: I well remember the old automats. There was one near the old Metropolitan Opera House, where I took ballet lessons for a couple of years. Automats were very very fun for a child. The food was okay but nothing special, to the best of my recollection. But those little doors that opened up—magical!!

    Also, I seem to remember a chain of restaurants in NYC with state names (The Californian, The Floridian, etc. etc.) that had a big vat of pickles and pickled green tomato halves in the middle of each table. They were incredibly garlicky and incredibly good.

  20. Oldflyer Says:

    I like Subway. Tuna on wheat; with lettuce and banana peppers, sprinkled with jalapena, and topped with their sweet onion dressing, is as good as you need.

    If you can find a Cuban restaurant that makes half-way authentic Cuban mix sandwiches, you have found a treat. We have one in town. Yellow rice and black beans substituted for french fries on the side.

    If you like hamburger and I don’t anymore, but my wife is addicted, then “Five Guys”, and “In and Out” top the list in our family.

    If you complain about fast food, you can avoid it. But, if you are in a country without fast food, and you have to work hours that are not compatible with normal dining, you are up the creek. England used to be a very good example. It is changing, thanks to American chains. Last time I was working there, in the late 90s, I depended on TGIF about 50% of the time for evening meals. Funny thing, it was always crowded.

  21. rickl Says:

    The comment thread at the PJM article is fantastic. I tried to leave the following comment (which I spent a lot of time on), but it hasn’t shown up. I didn’t get an error message, either. Fortunately I saved it, so you lucky folks will get to read it:

    Well, I guess I’m sort of a fast food aficionado, considering how often I eat it.

    (And no, I’m not obese. I’m 53, and I think beer is mostly responsible for my slight paunch.)

    I haven’t heard of some of the places in this article, like Panda Express, Fazoli’s, and Chipotle. I’ve eaten at all of the others.

    I’ve eaten at Wendy’s a lot, and I’ve always liked them. But I used to eat there more often than now, because there was one near the place I worked back then, and also because I had a serious crush on one of the girls that worked there.

    I used to like Arby’s and Roy Rogers, but they don’t seem to be in my area any more. I haven’t eaten at those places in years.

    I remember eating at KFC back in the 60s and 70s. It was called Kentucky Fried Chicken in those days. It was awesome.

    I never got into the habit of eating at Subway, but I’ve been satisfied the few times I have. I live in the Philadelphia suburbs, and there is no shortage of hole-in-the-wall pizza, hoagie, and cheesesteak places around here. I’m kind of spoiled in that respect. I had a Subway hoagie about a month ago at a rest stop on the turnpike, and it was fine. I was quite happy with it.

    I have breakfast at McDonald’s almost daily, usually a Sausage McMuffin. It’s right on my way to work, so it’s convenient. And I’ve never had a problem with McDonald’s food. It’s perfectly serviceable. I think most of the McD haters are fast food snobs.

    I’ve never had an In-and-Out or a Whataburger. They aren’t in my area, but it’s clear that they have a near cult-like following among their fans. Sounds yummy!

    I’d like to put in a good word for Jake’s Wayback Burgers. It’s a small northeastern chain, and I never see them mentioned in “best burgers” discussions. One recently opened near me, and so did Five Guys. So far I’ve eaten at Jake’s twice and Five Guys once, and I like Jake’s better.

    I was born in the Cincinnati area, and I ate at Frisch’s Big Boy when I was a kid in the early 60s. I don’t believe the term “fast food” existed yet back then. It was called a hamburger restaurant or something like that. They’re only in the Ohio and Kentucky area. My family moved away when I was eight years old. About twenty years later I had occasion to drive through Ohio, and I made a point of stopping there. It was just as good as I remembered it. But that was more than twenty years ago, so I can’t vouch for their quality today.

    I think in all cases, the individual location makes all the difference. Some franchise owners and managers are serious and competent and run a tight ship; others less so.

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