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The Best Chain(franchise) or fast food hamburger

With all the fine dining I do, and all the exotic eating I do, sometimes I just have to grab a quick bite. Most often a burger. Sometimes I regret that i ate a Big Mac or Whopper for many hours afterwards. White Castles are a whole other level , as we don't just eat one of those. After 8 white castles you think your stomach might explode. In any case, I used to find Soup Burg to be a good burger. I've tried so many places that were total disappointments, such as 5 Guys, not a very good burger. Fuddrucker in its day was good. Goodburger is really badburger. But I did have a good burger the other day at
Cheeseburger Cheeseburger! you have your choice of many many toppings. You have different sizes of burgers, I had the half pounder. If you get the one pounder ( too big) you get a free T shirt if you finish it. The french fries are spiced and seem like fresh cut potatoes not too greasy. So I was pleased with Cheesburger Cheeseburger. No it does not compare to Corner Bistro, Spotted Pig, Walkers etc etc But what is your best chain store hamburger,,,,we all have to go to these places once in a while.

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  1. Well, it's only in NJ, but my vote goes to 25 Burgers. I have loved everything I've ordered from there. In fact, it's ruined me for nearly any other burger. Except maybe Damon's Ribs (also a chain). They have a very good burger with a nice chargrilled taste. Both places will serve the burger the way I want it cooked.. medium rare. Cheeburger cooks to medium and up only. I do like Cheeburger's grilled cheese, though.. also available with multiple toppings. I usually keep mine to cheddar/american, tomatoes, and extra mayo. I don't like Five Guys, either.


    3 Replies
    1. re: MarlboroMan

      I know TGIFridays only cooks medium and more well done, but Cheesbrger Cheesburger made my burger medium rare , I guess I got lucky.

      1. re: foodwhisperer

        I was always able to get my burger medium rare at Fridays, but it's been a few years since I've eaten at one. Is it possible that the 'must be cooked medium or above' is a local thing due to law? I know some states feel for some reason that diners aren't smart enough to choose how much, or little, they want their meat to be cooked.

      2. re: MarlboroMan

        Marlboro, re: 25 Burgers, did you ever have the El Paso or the Chipotle Bison burgers there? I was wondering how they were?


      3. My vote would be for Houston's or Ted's Montana Grill - for a semi-national fast food chain Carl's Jr is the most consistent or if you can find a good five guys but they are very inconsistent.

        1. IMO...the best chain burger can be found at Culvers!

            1. re: greygarious

              Most of my searches come up empty. I guess i did forget to search that one. I'll never pass this course!

            2. Elevation Burger hands down. Still love a Fudd, but all near ones have closed - we alter travel plans to get there once a year. We have a local CC, but EB is way better!

              1. For us, value for money is important. The less pricey shouldn't equal inferior taste or quantity of meat.
                West coast finds us at In-n-Out. There may be better, but we are so very satisfied with the double double when we go west.
                In the east we have just discovered Culver's. The closest one to us is about a hundred miles so that might explain our slowness. We like it and we like the price.

                There are price-ier burgers that are bigger and have more exotic toppings (Benton Bacon). But for fast food, those are the two best we've come up with, so far.

                6 Replies
                1. re: shallots

                  You know it's the elusive In-N-Out that confuses me to no end. So many people list it as their top fast food burger. They rave and Instagram and brag for days about how good it is. Heck voters over at http://www.ranker.com/crowdranked-lis... made it the clear winner. Yet In-N-Out remains only something that can be enjoyed by those on the West Coast. What is the reasoning that they haven't expanded? Clearly they have something special, why not share it with more and make more money in the process? Maybe I'm just jealous that I've never had that beefy goodness but it just doesn't make sense to me.

                  1. re: AlmondAnn

                    The family that owns I&O claims expansion will compromise quality, I tend to think they are right. However, I don't think their products are of "earth shattering" greatness as some claim. I for one , think their fries are lousy.

                      1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                        I'll second this. Five Guys expanded too much and too fast so that consistency is almost nonexistent.

                      2. re: AlmondAnn

                        I agree with mrbigshotno.1 - family doesn't want to franchise so it's a slow mover and their food is pretty average fast food fare (fries are terrible). Our food group used to do true blind taste testing's and they did three different burger tests and INO always placed in the middle of the results. It is my conclusion that it's due to their hyped cult following/group think (how could you not think they were the greatest) and the fact that their burger meat has high quantities of sodium in it. Virtually every person who loves salt loves INO.

                        1. re: RetiredChef

                          <....due to their hyped cult following/group>

                          I'd like a #1 Animal Style. The fries? Animal Style, please. Thank you, very nice and courteous people @ In-n-Out with excellent customer service and smiling faces.
                          The very best. Salt and all.

                    1. TGI Fridays has always had yummy burgers as far as I'm concerned.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Njchicaa

                        I haven't eaten at Friday's in years, but I used to really enjoy their peppercorn burger. Looking at their website, it doesn't look like they still serve it, but perhaps it's still available in certain regions.

                      2. Blakes Lotaburger, but they are only in New Mexico.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                          For me, Larkburger in the Bolder, CO area is by far the best (although a small) burger chain.

                            1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                              Blake's is one of my first stops when I cross the state line from Arizona to New Mexico!

                              1. re: edintucson

                                Big fan of Blake's too. Green chile cheese burger!

                                1. re: edintucson

                                  And for some reason, the one at the first exit heading east on the old highway in Gallup tastes the best. (that's the old one where you have to sit outside to eat) Don't know why but I've eaten at them all over the state.

                              2. I've been very happy with Smashburger, Steak and Shake, and In-n-Out.

                                I've also been wanting to try some of the smaller regional chains, like Arctic Circle.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: aynrandgirl

                                  Arctic Circle is OK, but not as good as In N Out or Smashburger. All 3 chains are present here in SLC, and I definitely prefer Smashburger. There is one in the same mall area as an In N Out and I go to SB probably at a 10-1 ratio.

                                2. Fuddrucker's isn't as good as it used to be in the '90s, plus so many locations have closed, making it a lot harder to find. But I still love their burgers and toppings, and the new bison burgers they've introduced are great too. I've always been disappointed by Five Guys and Cheeburger.

                                  1. I will eat Wendy's if I forget lunch at work, but this isn't about "acceptable, I guess".

                                    I really like Frisch's Big Boy here in the Cincinnati area.

                                    1 Reply
                                      1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                        Second Shake Shack and will throw in Checkers and Roy Rogers.

                                        1. re: CDouglas

                                          Third Shake Shack and the Double-R Bar Burger at Roy Rogers. I'll take a McDouble if I'm broke, but I've given up on finding a consistently good Five Guys. At that price point, I can get several Double Checkerburgers that will hit the spot, and their buffalo wings are actually pretty good. Too bad their seasoned fries are nasty.

                                      2. Have to say White Barn here in St. Louis. Both locations are like little shack and they cook your burger to order so it takes around 15 minutes to get one burger but it's so worth it.

                                        1. Where I'm from, the Midwest, it's gotta be Hardee's (Carl's Jr for you Californians). It's not amazing, but for about $4 you get a burger that really punches above its weight. I've had worse-tasting burgers at casual sit-down chains for twice the price.

                                          Basically Hardee's makes burgers at TGI Fridays, Applebees, Ryan's, etc etc all these places, totally obsolete.

                                          And then there's the breakfast menu, which has the best biscuits I've ever had, anywhere. Maybe some small-town Southern diner or somebody's ol' grandma somewhere is baking better biscuits than these but if so I've never had em. I've also heard of an age of legends when you could actually get FRIED CHICKEN for breakfast at Hardee's, but sadly that was before my time. Damn I miss Hardee's here in China.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                            Carl's Jr. may be owned by the same company as Hardees, but it's not a clone. They have a different (and larger) line of sandwiches and are often paired with a Green Burrito.

                                            1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                              Hardee's and Carl's Jr do not have the exact same menu. Hardee's is no substitute for Carl's.

                                              1. re: rasputina

                                                Hardee's has a much better breakfast menu. Smoked sausage biscuit, country ham biscuit, country fried steak and gravy biscuit, etc... yum.

                                              2. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                Hardee's burgers are OK, but they only serve them well done, and that defeats the purpose of a thick burger IMO. If I'm ordering a 1/3 lbs burger or above, I want it to be pink in the middle, so that still leaves an advantage to the sit down places that can do that.

                                                1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                  My favorite fast food burger, hands down, is the Western Bacon Cheeseburger at Carl's Jr. I have tried the double Western Bacon Cheeseburger, but the single is better. The ratio of meat, bun, cheese, bacon and onion ring is just right on the single, not quite right on the double. Of course, there is no option to order medium rare, or any other specific doneness. But this is a different style of burger. To me, the fast food burger is a specific dish, not the same dish as a burger at any pretty good restaurant. I always order medium rare at a decent restaurant, but I have different expectations at a fast food place.

                                                  1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                    I haven't been to a Hardee's in over 5 years, not since I bit into a double cheeseburger took a couple of chews of the rubbery patties that actually emitted a slight squeak.

                                                  2. In N Out always excellent

                                                    Wendy's can be good if it's made well and it isn't always.

                                                    Red Robin, but I only eat the chicken burgers which they have recently renamed "sandwiches"

                                                    Carl's Jr

                                                    1. For a fast food style burger (drive through or non-table service order at the counter type place) I'd have to go with 5 guys or Steak and Shake. I don't like the fries at either (5 guys fries are always soggy, at least at the one near me, and steak and shake does shoestring style which I don't care for) but for a solid burger, either one is a cut above your typical Wendy's/BK/McD/Hardees/etc.

                                                      Steak and Shake is great for a simple burger done well. The patties are crispy on the edges, the beef is high quality, and the toppings are fresh. It's the closest I've gotten from a chain to a typical back yard burger at a neighborhood cookout.

                                                      5 Guys is fun if I'm in the mood to go overboard on toppings. Grilled onions, raw onions, grilled mushrooms, cheese, jalapenos, hot sauce, mustard, mayo, pickles, lettuce, and tomato? Yes please.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: TuteTibiImperes

                                                        Get the fries out of the bag at 5G ASAP. They're great fresh.


                                                      2. Perhaps your taste buds are just too educated/experienced for fast food at this point.. Good thing you seem to be able to afford the resulting predispositions of your culinary edification.

                                                        1. I'll go with 5 Guys and Hardee's.
                                                          That's ahead of In n Out, Fuddruckers, McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, Jack in the Box, Dead Robin, and some others.

                                                          Sometimes it's best to just find the closest greasy spoon or burger joint.


                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Davwud

                                                            In and Out ( animal style) is great, but we don't have that in New York.

                                                          2. I'm not entirely sure what kept me away from Fatburger for a long period although infamous shootings at or near its locations in the 90s likely didn't help. But recently, I've rediscovered the smaller chain and I'll put their juicy, tasty burgers and menu up against In N' Out, 5 Guys and the like any day. The burgers are customizable; fries can be either skinny or fat; the shakes are hand-dipped and -- bonus -- the jukebox selections are gratis. I don't mind the mixed efficiency by location as much as I used too. If nothing else, it actually makes the experience less structured and chain-like.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Kris P Pata

                                                              I'm with you on Fatburger. I can barely put their 3xl down. Running a close 2nd on the chain list is In-n-Out and Tommy's. For an unbeatable non-chain I recommend Boulevard Burger.

                                                            2. I love a Whopper from time to time.
                                                              Will eat Wendy's, but has to have bacon.
                                                              Hate Big Mac's
                                                              Hate Five Guys
                                                              Like White Castles, but they don't like me...or anyone else
                                                              Hate Arby's
                                                              Hate Denny's
                                                              TGIF is overcooked, but decent for an overcooked burger.
                                                              AppleBee's is a little lower on the eh, level of TGIF.
                                                              A surprising burger is IHOP. Had a bite of someones and it was better than expected.
                                                              I honestly have the best burgers around two blocks from my house, so it's silly for me spend half the money for half the burger and 10th of the taste.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: jhopp217

                                                                "Like White Castles, but they don't like me...or anyone else"

                                                                Boy, ain't that the truth? In my post college days, we'd get together from time to time with a friend that still lived in town, and a must stop right after bar time was the White Castle near his house. I was banned from getting anything there, though - had to go to the nearby Taco Bell for my munchies.

                                                                1. re: RB Hound

                                                                  Funny....although Taco Bell is worse...not sure if there is real food served there

                                                              2. Longhorn Steakhouse...they'll cook it to any degree of doneness you want.

                                                                1. For a chain I think The Counter is one of the best I've had. They are thick cooked pink [medium/medium rare] and sizes start at 1/3 pound and go up from there. You can also pile on whatever toppings you like but I like to keep it pretty simple. Unfortunately, the Seattle location closed... I knew when I went in and tried to make sure that a pink burger was okay with me then brought me one more well done than I had in the past that people might not be embracing the place. They also make pretty good fries for the skinny fry fans.