You can define this however you want, wikipedia, but to me a fast food restaurant has to have a drive-thru. Hence, no Five Guys for me. Even if Five Guys makes their french fries out of ambrosia and their burgers out of golden cattle.
Ryan's Top Five
1. Rally's - Rally's could only serve french fries, I'd still go and pay whatever they ask. You haven't truly lived until you've had french fries from Rally's. "You gotta eat!" is their slogan, which I take more as a command, a command that I follow dutifully and zombie-like. "Yes, Rally's. I do have to eat. I will do whatever you want, just give me the fries."
2. Backyard Burger - Backyard Burger comes the closest that I've found to replicating the Rally's fry taste, which is like trying to build a ladder to Heaven. Their burgers are superior, and they serve diet Dr. Pepper, which not all places do. Bonus: I saw Wayne Simien there once, so, you know...celebrities eat at this place.
3. Culver's - Butterburgers. You take a bun, spread butter on it, and lightly toast it. Then you add a really greasy patty. The result is what I imagine Christmas to taste like if it were a burger. Also, great milkshakes.
4. Popeye's - The best fast food chicken restaurant around, which gets the nod over Chick-Fil-A because the latter doesn't serve its food remotely fast. (I went there on a Sunday once and it took me until Monday to get my order.) Popeye's biscuits... I don't even know how to finish the sentence. Let's just leave it as a fragment. Popeye's biscuits.
5. Taco Bell - In terms of cost, there is no restaurant that comes close to competing with Taco Bell, especially after they unveiled the cheaper value menus. I can get two double meat and cheese burritos from here for less than two dollars. You have to refinance your car to get a "value meal" at Hardee's.
Honorable Mentions: McDonald's, you know what you're getting every single time, and cheaper than others; Don and Millie's--apparently this place is only in Omaha, so I didn't think it'd be fair to put it down; that said, this was my #2 originally as they have the audacity to serve a deep fried cheese sandwich, in addition to amazing burgers, fries, and milkshakes (each order comes with a coupon for bypass surgery); Sbarro; Wendy's Crispy Chicken Sandwich.
Dan's Top 5:
1. Taco Bell - Some people don't like Taco Bell. Those people are known as idiots. Unlike Ryan, I have never had a bad meal at Taco Bell, and they still sell food for under a dollar. Fantastic food and low prices are the reason I have an mp3 of the Taco Bell theme music on my computer. I shit you not. The bottom line is: if you're spending more than $5 at Taco Bell, you're doing something wrong. Favorite item: Crunchwrap Supreme.
2. Sonic - Gets bonus points for making me think of Sonic the Hedgehog, and correspondingly serving chili dogs. While the drinks are the highlight of any Sonic trip, I have yet to come across any actual food that I dislike. They also earn extra points because of the Green Chili Burger I was able to get while in Albuquerque, New Mexico (one of the few good things about that town - green chili everywhere). Failure to order onion rings is not an option.
3. Wendy's - I have a personal connection to Wendy's. I used to go to Wendy's with Collin, who'd always propose the idea very enthusiastically (i.e., Hey, let's go to Wendy's!). Since everyone in the car had different orders and all had to pay with plastic, we'd go around four times - that is, until we learned you could just say you had four orders. He'd also typically order in some impersonation voice (e.g., "Hi, this is TV's Patrick Duffy, and I'd like a #5 with Diet Coke. And be sure to watch Step By Step every Thursday..." you get the idea.) Usually it's a pretty funny experience. Anyway, all that nonsense aside, Wendy's offers me tasty burgers, tasty fries (Burger King and McDonald's both fail at meeting those basic requirements), and they top it off with the Frosty. As far as the Big Three are concerned, Wendy's takes the cake (where "the cake" is my money).
4. Backyard Burger - A damn fine burger, but I have only had the chance to visit this establishment once. It was the first place I went to eat by myself in State College, and it didn't disappoint. It's pretty expensive, but then again, so is everything that isn't Taco Bell. They also had CNN on the television while I went in to sit down and eat, which is nice to see. As I love to say in my engineering reports, further investigation is required.
5. Dairy Queen - Large Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard. That's the only thing I get at Dairy Queen. That's the only thing I need to get. The one in Blacksburg closed down, and I was never more outraged. It's only ice cream, and it's fairly expensive, so it's at the bottom of the list.
Honorable mention: Brew-Thru - Not included because it doesn't sell food. Just alcohol and wicked-sweet T-shirts. Ahh, North Carolina, I miss you.
Tim's Top Five:
I finally broke down to convention and typed out five. As a preliminary statement, let me say that while I've largely avoided cultural and lifestyle changes upon becoming a person of independent means...that's not true for fast food, which I've abandoned in a nearly complete fashion.
1. Taco Bell - They really burned their bridges last month by reorganizing the value menu which used to have the beloved double decker taco. Now they've replaced it with the regular tacos, at the same time they dropped from Grade D to Grade F meat. Still, Taco Bell taco sauce is such an essential item that I hope one of my friends becomes a burnt-out freak job who ends up having to aspire to become a shift leader at Taco Bell so that someday I can just receive a crate of Taco Bell sauce (mild, hot, or fire, I would gratefully accept any). Any volunteers?
2. Arby's - I apparently am the only person who enjoys Arby's food, but they invented fast food curly fries and their staple roast beef sandwiches are good and are the only microwaveable fast food that I know of. They also have the best standard milkshakes of any place I've been.
3. Chick-Fil-A - If they dropped the Jesus charade, they'd probably shoot to number 1, given my love for eating chickens to extinction and eating on Sundays. Instead, they have two huge political strikes against them -- the unflinching adherence to religious right in all aspects of the company AND the use of styrofoam for containers. The first, well, I understand it, you run a company, you get to run it in accordance with your principles, regardless of whether they make basic financial sense. The second...unforgiveable. Seriously, it's the 21st century. Only Sonic and Chick-Fil-A are still continuing with this to my knowledge (I haven't been to Sonic in years, so I don't know for certain that they do).
4. Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken - In reality, this is number 1, but my recollection of it is based on a memory dating back nearly 20 years to a period of my life where the idea of eating McDonald's didn't sicken me. (It most assuredly does now, and I am actually embarrassed for those who eat there and constantly remind myself it's a place that exists solely for people who want to take kids places where they can behave like savages and not annoy decent human beings. Take that, hopes of presidential candidacy!) www.leesfamousrecipe.com Anyway, it's better than KFC and having been born an African-American child in the South named Navin Johnson, I love fried chicken. Despite my concerns that it had vanished from the face of the earth, it is apparently still a solvent corporation faring well in Dayton and few other places. But, again, major disclaimer -- I haven't eaten there since I was 12 at the very oldest, because my family does not share my zeal for fried chicken.
5. Dunkin' Donuts - It has a drive thru. Krispie Kreme donuts are not good. They are not even to be measured on the same scale as Dunkin' Donuts, although you can get Krispie Kreme donuts fresh and the whole point of Dunkin' Donuts appears to be that the age of their donuts is largely irrelevant, because they never seem to be baking more. I make it to Dunkin' Donuts every couple of months, occasionally they have spectacular donuts (last year's summer selections were superb), the rest of the time they have ordinary donuts that are better than any others I've had.
Honorable mention: Subway. I've never ordered Subway through a drive-through, but some of them have drive-throughs. It's relatively inexpensive, it's passable food because they at least understand the importance of brown mustard, which makes all sorts of non-edible items palatable. Rally's warrants mention because it's the first place I went where mayonnaise wasn't an absolute bar to eating their food. I haven't been there in 15 years, though, so it doesn't crack the list. It also violates the basic tenet of fast food, which is that you should avoid like the plague restaurants that don't at least have tables and seats indoors, since that means they know you're going to need immediate bathroom access.