For the third year in a row, Americans ranked the iconic California burger chain In-N-Out as their favorite “limited-service” restaurant chain, according to the influential industry publication Nation’s Restaurant News, in its annual Consumer Picks survey. It also scored the top spot in the hamburger chain category.
(“Limited-service” includes basically anywhere where you pay at a counter—quick service and fast casual restaurants, buffets, cafeterias, and chain steak houses such as Sizzler.)
The family-owned brand has a cult following of foodies and celebrities, from the roving chef Anthony Bourdain to the teen pop idol Miley Cyrus. But to many East Coasters’ chagrin, it hasn’t traveled further from its original California location than Texas.
The Consumer Picks 2015 survey ranks 172 restaurant brands based on food quality, cleanliness, and atmosphere, among other attributes. The survey results are based on 42,196 responses to an online survey that asked respondents to rate restaurants they had been to in the last six months. Results should be taken with a grain of salt: While restaurant brands that received less than 100 ratings were not included, 27 received only between 100 and 149 ratings. Eighty-five were rated by more than 200 respondents.
In the Limited Service category, In-N-Out got the highest score with a 71.9%, which included high marks on reputation (86.5%), food quality (84.6%), “likely to recommend” (81.3%), service (79.5%), “likely to return” (77.8%), and “craveability” (74.9%). At the low end, the chain got a 55.7% for atmosphere and a 31.3% for its menu variety—its offerings are limited to burgers, fries, and shakes, though it’s famous for its “secret menu” of variations on those items.
The top ten in the limited service category includes some unexpected choices—many with rather niche markets or specific offerings. Ben & Jerry’s is at number 3 and Chick-fil-A at number 5. Chipotle came in at 27, while the beleaguered burger giant McDonald’s came in at number 110 out of 111, beating out only Chuck E. Cheese. (Quartz has reached out to McDonald’s and Chuck E. Cheese for comment and will update this post with any response.)
Full rankings are available here (registration required). (In the chart below, as in the full survey results, those are marked with a double asterisk received only between 100 and 149 votes.)
The main photo in this post is by Flickr user kevinv033. The image has been cropped.