More than a third of U.S. adults ate fast food on a given day between 2013 and 2016, according to a report on fast food consumption published last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Similar research isn’t available for casual dining restaurants — chains with sit-down service like The Olive Garden or IHOP — and in general they’re apparently not drawing customers as efficiently these days as are quick-service places (which is how the industry prefers to describe fast food outlets) — but anyone who’s tried to score a table at a Cheesecake Factory on a Friday night will know, they’re still obviously doing okay.
What draws people to these chains, whether quick-service or casual dining? An abundance of choice in most cases, probably — but each chain seems to have at least one signature item that people can’t resist. These are the essentials for many of their customers — the entrees that diners want to sit down for, or the most iconic items at every major fast-food chain.
24/7 Tempo has assembled a list of the most popular items ordered at some 22 fast-food (sorry, quick-service) and casual dining chains. Some of these are no-brainers. Of course people mostly order fried chicken at KFC, for instance. Others might surprise you — for instance, the most popular food at the nation’s leading chicken purveyor, which isn’t KFC. (These are the top 10 chicken chains in America.)
24/7 Tempo reached out to the press information offices of the top quick-service and casual dining chains in America to learn which menu items are their best sellers. In several cases, where information wasn’t available directly from the chains, we relied on estimates appearing in reports published by several food service industry sources.