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Find the Best Chain Restaurants

Restaurant chains are part of many Americans’ everyday dining experience, and it can be hard to choose where to visit among the hundreds of companies that offer multiple cuisines. Read our guide to learn about and choose the best chain restaurant for you. We explain what types of chains to consider and which features matter most. Location, the time of day, what you’re doing and who you’re with should also factor into your decision.

Compare Reviews for Top Chain Restaurants

Burger King
Read 777 Reviews

Burger King got its start over 60 years ago as an American fast food hamburger chain. Today, it has over 15,000 locations and more than 30,000 employees across the globe.

Read 498 Reviews

Established in 1978 and based in Milford, Connecticut, Subway is an American fast food chain that specializes in submarine sandwiches and salads. It has over 44,000 locations in 112 countries.

Taco Bell
Read 410 Reviews

Founded in 1962 and based in Irvine, California, Taco Bell is an American fast food chain known for its Tex-Mex menu including burritos, tacos and nachos. It operates over 7,000 locations and employs more than 175,000 people.

Pizza Hut
Read 561 Reviews

Established in 1958 and headquartered in Plano, Texas, Pizza Hut is an American chain of Italian-American cuisine known for it’s pizza. It operates over 15,000 locations globally and employs more than 160,000 people.

International House of Pancakes (IHOP)
Read 249 Reviews

IHOP began in 1958 and is based in Glendale, California. It specializes in breakfast foods and diner-style cuisine and is known for keeping late hours. It operates more than 1,500 locations and employs over 32,000 people globally.

Domino's Pizza
Read 824 Reviews

Founded in 1960 and headquartered in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Domino’s is an American pizza chain that has locations in more than 80 countries, making it the second largest pizza chain in the world.

Red Lobster
Read 241 Reviews

Red Lobster is an American casual dining chain known for its seafood menu. Headquartered in Orlando, Florida, it has over 700 locations throughout the United States.

Read 456 Reviews

Wendy’s is an American fast food chain that was founded over 47 years ago and is based in Dublin, Ohio. It operates over 6,000 locations and employs more than 12,000 people around the world.

Read 421 Reviews

Founded in 1946 under the name Dwarf House, Chick-fil-A is an American fast food chain headquartered in Atlanta. It has over 2,000 restaurants across the United States and unlike other chains, closes on Sunday.

Dunkin' Donuts
Read 403 Reviews

Dunkin’ Donuts is an American donut company and coffeehouse chain headquartered in Canton, Massachusetts. Founded over 67 years ago, it now operates more than 11,000 locations worldwide.

What features matter most in chain restaurants?

How do restaurant chains offer convenient options to customers?

Fast food and casual dining restaurant chains focus on providing quick service while maintaining food quality and a great dining experience. Having multiple options for ordering food, prompt service and multiple locations to choose from can be an important deciding factor when choosing a fast food or casual dining restaurant.

  • Ordering: Fast food chains typically have a drive-through window option and an in-store option where you order from the front counter. Casual dining restaurants typically have a carry-out system where diners can call in to order and then pick it up.
  • Service: Fast food restaurants are known for their quick service; however, casual sit-down dining restaurants strive to get diners in and out quickly as well as providing prompt service and multiple kitchen staff members.
  • Location: Fast food and casual dining chains have can more easily attract diners if they have multiple locations in larger cities. The convenience of staying close to your current location or choosing a restaurant near the route you’re traveling is often a subconscious factor in your decision.

What kind of food choices do restaurant chains offer customers?

Restaurants that offer multiple options and varying cuisines give diners who may be craving something different from other members of their party a good selection to choose from. Even fast food restaurants that serve one style of food typically offer multiple value meals, offering different styles of hamburgers or various Mexican platters.

  • Menus: Casual dining restaurants offer multiple styles of food ranging from smaller dishes like appetizers, soup and salad, to dinner portions that can include hamburgers and filets. Menus are often divided by cuisine styles like seafood, Italian and steak.
  • Value meals: Fast food chains provide a little bit of variety on their menus by offering multiple value meals. Value meals, for example, can include different styles of hamburgers with a choice of a side item and a drink.
  • Healthy options: Healthy menu options are becoming an important factor when it comes to selecting a place to eat. Many casual dining restaurants have a separate menu section or menu insert that lists their healthy options. Healthy options may include low-calorie dishes or gluten-free items.

Do restaurant chains offer promotions and specials?

Casual dining and fast food restaurants try to offer quality food at reasonable prices by promoting special deals, creating specialty menus and using a good food distributor. Although prices may fluctuate depending on the price of certain food items, diners can still find good pricing on most menus they come across.

  • Promotions: Fast food and casual dining restaurants constantly run promotions to attract customers. Promotions can be things like buy one get one free coupons, special pricing on a new menu item, holiday-themed specials and more.
  • Specialty menus: Speciality menus can include things like lunch menus that have smaller portions and cheaper prices when compared to the dinner menu, as well as dollar menus or happy hour menus that offer half-priced items during a specific time of the day.

What kid-friendly options do restaurant chains offer?

Almost all fast food and casual dining restaurant chains include kid-friendly options on their menu. Some fast food places include a play area for kids to enjoy before or after they eat.

  • Kids menus: Fast food kids menus offer smaller portions of regular-sized value meals and typically come with a child-friendly toy or game. Kids menus at a sit-down casual dining restaurant normally include smaller portions of regular menu items or items that kids recognize and tend to enjoy.
  • Kid-friendly seating: Sit-down restaurants should have kid-friendly seating for young babies and young children. Booster chairs and high chairs are normally readily available upon request.

What are the different types of restaurant chains?

Fast food

Fast food chains are known for their speedy service, drive-through windows and counter service, where guests order at the front counter. Diners can eat in the restaurant or take their food to go.

Casual dining

Casual dining restaurants make up a market that is between fast food and fine dining. They provide moderately-priced menu items and table service and typically have full bar services provided by a separate bar staff.

Family-style dining

Family-style is used to describe a type of casual dining restaurant or family-friendly diner. Most family-style restaurants serve food on platters and customers serve themselves buffet style.

Who visits restaurant chains?


The majority of restaurant chains are considered casual dining or family dining, making them a great place for families to frequent for a meal.

People on-the-go

Whether you’re traveling, running errands or taking kids to and from various activities, fast food chains are a convenient place to quickly grab a bite to eat so you can get back on the road.

Not sure how to choose?

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    Compare Reviews for Top Chain Restaurants

    Papa John's
    Read 410 Reviews

    Based in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, Papa John’s is the third largest pizza delivery chain in the world. It employs more than 20,000 people around the world who operate over 4,500 locations.

    Read 1,332 Reviews

    McDonald’s was founded over 75 years ago and is one of the world’s largest fast food restaurant chains. Headquartered in Chicago, it has over 36,000 locations and more than 375,000 employees worldwide.

    Little Caesars Pizza
    Read 248 Reviews

    Established in 1959 and based in Detroit, Little Caesars is the third largest pizza chain in the nation and operates franchises in Asia, the Middle East, Australia, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean.

    Read 477 Reviews

    Founded in 1930 and based in Louisville, Kentucky, KFC is an American fast food restaurant known for its fried chicken. It is the world’s second largest food chain with over 20,000 locations in 123 countries.

    Read 293 Reviews

    Chipotle got its start in 1993 and is based in Denver. It specializes in making tacos and burritos and operates over 2,000 locations worldwide with an overall staff of 45,000 employees.

    T.G.I. Friday's
    Read 145 Reviews

    TGI Friday’s is an American casual dining restaurant chain that was founded in 1965 in New York City. Today, it is based in Dallas and operates more than 900 locations worldwide.

    Denny's Restaurants
    Read 328 Reviews

    Founded over 64 years ago as Danny’s Donuts, Denny’s is a breakfast restaurant known for its pancakes and being open around the clock to serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. It operates over 1,700 locations nationwide.

    Read 722 Reviews

    Founded and headquartered in Seattle, Washington over 45 years ago, Starbucks is an American coffeehouse chain that has gained worldwide popularity. Today, more than 238,000 employees operate over 24,000 locations globally.

    Chili's Grill & Bar
    Read 222 Reviews

    Known for its Tex-Mex style cuisine, Chili’s is an American casual dining restaurant based in Dallas. It operates more than 1,500 stores worldwide.

    Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar
    Read 255 Reviews

    Founded over 36 years ago, Applebee’s is an American bar and grill chain based in Glendale, California. Today, it operates more than 2,000 locations with over 28,000 employees worldwide.

    Dairy Queen
    Read 190 Reviews

    Founded in 1940 and based in Edina, Minnesota, Dairy Queen is an American fast food and soft-serve ice cream chain. It operates more than 6,000 stores in 27 countries.

    Waffle House
    Read 132 Reviews

    Waffle House is an American restaurant chain known for its diner-style menu including breakfast food and steak. Founded in 1955, it has more than 2,000 locations across the Southern United States.

    Jack In the Box
    Read 145 Reviews

    Founded in 1951 and based in San Diego, California, Jack in the Box is an American fast food restaurant chain known for its variety of burgers. Today, it has more than 2,000 locations, primarily in the western United States.

    Read 47 Reviews

    Established over 72 years ago, Baskin-Robbins is the world’s largest ice cream speciality shop. Its headquarters are located in Canton, Massachusetts and the company has created over 1,000 flavors since 1945.

    Chuck E Cheese
    Read 107 Reviews

    Chuck E. Cheese’s is an American chain of family entertainment and pizza centers that was founded in 1977. Today, it is based in Irving, Texas and services more than 550 stores around the world.

    by ConsumerAffairs Research Team

    The ConsumerAffairs Research Team believes everyone deserves to make smart decisions. We aim to provide readers with the most up-to-date information available about today's consumer products and services.