Fast food restaurants are omnipresent in the American landscape. According to IBISWorld, there are over 197,000 of them in the United States, and the number of businesses in the industry has grown consistently for the past five years. (Here are the fast food capitals of America. )
California and Texas – two of the most populous states – boast the most fast food establishments, with 37,732 in California and 25,626 in Texas. New York comes in third with 20,600.
To determine the best cities to be if you love fast food, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a ranking compiled by LawnStarter, a lawn care company that frequently rates amenities of various kinds in cities around the country. The site ranked the 200 largest U.S. cities across eight differently weighted metrics in three categories: access (the number of fast food establishments and delivery services per square mile), quality (a combination of consumer ratings and Thrillist’s annual Fasties Award-winning brands), and affordability (the cost of a McDonald’s combo or equivalent meal, adjusted to income).
Considering the sheer number of purveyors in California, it’s no surprise that many of the best cities for fast food lovers are in the Golden State – 19 of them, with the majority in the greater Los Angeles area. Across the board, the state’s establishments scored well in the quality ranking, with beloved California-based chains including Del Taco, Carl’s Jr., and In-N-Out Burger winning multiple Fasties Awards in Thrillist’s annual fast food awards competition.
Texas and Arizona each have seven cities in the top 50. While Texas cities (with the exception of Dallas) may not have the widest access to fast food, the state’s top cities scored well in the quality department, as did Arizona’s.
Three Florida cities made it into the top 50, with Orlando and Miami taking two of the top three spots. Although both cities ranked poorly in affordability, they provide wide access to fast food. Miami has more fast food purveyors per square mile than any other major city – as well as the most Fasties Award-winning restaurants per square mile – while Orlando ranked first overall in the quality of its establishments.
Fast-paced cities including New York, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C. also scored well for having widespread access to fast food. New York and Chicago tied in the no. 1 spot for having the most delivery services per square mile, which helped New York jump to the no. 3 spot in the overall access category. (Check out which fast food restaurants New Yorkers love the most in our list of the favorite fast food restaurants in 30 U.S. cities.)
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