Take a drive through America, and you'll find it dotted with familiar signage: "McDonald's," "Wendy's," "Taco Bell," "Caution: Unfinished Bridge." Rarely will you come across a chain restaurant you haven't seen before. But unless you've toured around the world (from London to the Bay), you probably haven't seen any of these hugely popular international chains.
With that in mind, we polled our international friends to find the best chains most Americans have never heard of -- and then we ranked them from worst to best. Sorry, blini-lovers.
What they serve: Russian crepes (blini), soups, porridge
What their deal is: Forget the International House of Pancakes -- Teremok is essentially Russia’s national house of pancakes, except the pancakes are, in this case, traditional Russian crepes called blini. And they’re usually served with caviar. Teremok is based in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but has around 150 popular locations divided between those two areas. Rumor has it that they’re planning on expanding into the US before the end of 2014, but we don't know how receptive folks will be to eating fish eggs on their pancakes.
What they serve: Curry, toast
What their deal is: It doesn’t take a lot to dominate the market of Singapore (it’s a city-state -- remember your geography, dawg!), but Toast Box comes damn close with its 66 outlets. It’s owned by local bakery chain BreadTalk, but Toast Box has a character all its own; it serves a variety of toasts with coconut and other jams, in addition to curry, eggs, and all sorts of other lunch fare that you can wash down with their beloved coffee. But while toasted bread might still be catching on over there, we know that even the laziest of Dads can whip it up for breakfast.
What they serve: Seafood (raw, cooked, and smoked), sandwiches
What their deal is: The US has Long John Silver’s and Red Lobster, and Germany has Nordsee. While it’s less of a fast-food joint and more of a sit-down concept, Nordsee has been packing in hungry customers since it first opened back in 1986, and has expanded from a single location in Bremen to more than 400 around Europe (and even into Africa and the Middle East). Their specialties are smoked and steamed fish, especially cod, sided with a mix of distinctively German dishes. We kinda wish they had nautically-themed fish sticks though.
What they serve: Steamed dishes, soups, noodles
What their deal is: Kungfu, a Chinese chain serving up stews, rice, noodles, and other traditional dishes using natural, readily available ingredients, has Bruce Lee as its official logo, and while that may not be the most copyright-appropriate practice, it’s still kinda awesome. They’re committed to making healthier fast-food fare, ostensibly to help people get into (Kungfu Fighting) shape, but we're deferring judgment until they fight with Chuck Norris's noodle shop.
What they serve: Burgers, sandwiches
What their deal is: While most Parisians will swear by McDo or KFC, there’s a sizable contingent of French people that prefer Belgian-born fast-food chain Quick. It’s got a menu similar to McDonald’s (burgers, chicken & bacon sandwiches, fries, something called the “Long Fish”) and is actually majority-owned by the French government, so you know it’s good -- and Carla Bruni probably has a thing for it.
What they serve: Burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries
What their deal is: Take a McDonald’s, transplant it in Israel, and lose all the cheese (this is kosher territory, son), and you’ve got Burger Ranch -- Israel’s most popular homegrown fast-food franchise. They’ve got around 100 locations in a country approximately the size of New Jersey, and their biggest competition in Israel is McDonald’s itself. They distinguish themselves by selling schnitzel sandwiches and burgers with spicy “Spanish” sauce, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but we'll go with it.
What they serve: Pizza, salads
What their deal is: As you might have been able to gather from the name, Telepizza is a Spanish pizza chain that delivers 'za to over-the-phone customers. It started in Madrid back in 1986, but has expanded all over Spain, the rest of Europe, and even Central America since then. They even started doing online-based ordering (and were one of the first European pizza places to do so, even if America got there first), which means it might have to change its name. ePizza? Whatever, we’ll workshop it.
What they serve:Noodles, curries
What their deal is:A number of fast-food joints probably come to mind when you think of the UK -- Wimpy, Nando’s, Pizza Express -- but Wagamama ventured into a territory most chains hadn’t touched yet: noodles. It was founded by the guy behind London/Vegas' acclaimedHakkasan, and serves fast-casual pan-Asian noodle dishes to patrons all over the UK and several other countries, of which the US is one. Four shops have already popped up around Boston. Prepare for another British invasion, this time with bowls instead of bowl cuts.
What they serve: Burgers, fish, pizza, ice cream
What their deal is: Around since 1978, Supermac’s is Ireland’s largest “indigenous” fast-food chain, and has teamed up with Papa John’s to offer people all over the country the chance to get whatever comfort food they so desire, from burgers to pizza and everything in-between (though they sadly lack a pizza burger). All their patties are made with 100% Irish beef, they have an entire section of their menu devoted to “buckets” of food, and -- true to Irish form -- they’ve got a full breakfast.
What they serve: Steaks, burgers, stroganoffs
What their deal is: Giraffas was one of Brazil’s first homegrown fast-food restaurants -- getting its start back in 1981 -- and although it’s expanded into the States with some higher-brow slow-food fare (steak!), it remains a staple in most Brazilian cities for its fast comfort food done right. That means hearty burgers and stroganoffs with a variety of side dishes such as rice, fries, and cassava.
What they serve: Burgers, “chips,” hero rolls, ribs
What their deal is: As so much of our food is borrowed from other cultures, it can be pretty flattering when new countries are inspired by our “original” food concepts. That’s exactly what happened to George Halamandaris when he was on vacation in the US in the 1960s -- he saw that America’s burgers were awesome, and he wanted in on it. He initially experimented with steakhouses before the first Steers burger joint was opened, and now there are over 500 locations serving up flame-grilled burgers and the most award-winningest chips in South Africa. That means fries, folks, and they're damn good.
What they serve: Hamburgers, milkshakes, fries
What their deal is: Spanish for “Hamburgers The Corral,” which probably makes more sense not in English, Hamburguesas El Corral is the Colombian Shake Shack, and serves up a variety of creative char-grilled burgers (Italian w/ mozzarella cheese and marinara, Texana w/ American cheese, onion rings, and BBQ sauce) in addition to fries, milkshakes, and ice cream. It was founded in 1983 and has even made a foray in the United States, with two locations in Miami.
What they serve: Portuguese-style chicken, burgers, wraps
What their deal is: For anyone who's spent any time abroad in Australia, Oporto is a beacon of sandwich happiness. The Sydney chain first opened in 1986 on Bondi Beach, with its founder Antonio Cerqueira serving up Portuguese-style chicken sandwiches and flame-grilled whole chickens marinated in secret magic sauce, and the place has caught fire since, with hundreds of shops dotting everywhere from Perth and Townsville, to Tuggeranong, which is really a place. The Bondi Burger -- a triple chicken fillet with cheese, mayo, and their amazing chili sauce -- is quite literally addicting (maybe the FDA needs to look into that chili sauce?).
What they serve: “Broasted” chicken, seafood
What their deal is: When Al Baik first opened in Jeddah in 1974, there weren’t too many fast-food joints in the country. The fried/broasted chicken shop quickly distinguished itself through exceptional service and delicious, pressure-fried chicken that always keeps their locations packed and buzzing with activity. In fact, they were growing so fast that the government had to step in and limit what regions they could expand into -- the franchising laws literally couldn’t keep up with them. Now that’s some good chicken.
What they serve: Ramen
What their deal is: Japan might be known to some as the land of absolutely crazy burger experiments, but ramen is definitely their favorite fast food, and Ippudo’s one ramen chain that most people can get behind. Founded back in 1985, they've since opened locations all over the islands, selling veritable oodles of noodles to happy customers. You might even know Ippudo from their overseas locations -- their outposts in NYC are some of the city’s most popular restaurants, even though ramen places are on almost every single block now.
What they serve: Fried chicken, burger steaks, spaghetti
What their deal is: In the pantheon of nationally treasured fast-food mascots, Ronald McDonald will always take the cake. Followed by Grimace, because that guy’s chill as f*ck. But in a close third, it’s Jollibee -- basically, he’s a giant anthropomorphic red bee who’s one of the most recognizable figures in the Philippines, and with good reason. This guy slings Filipino comfort food (tuna pies!! SPAM sandwiches!! Spicy fried chicken!!) at over 2,000 locations worldwide, including a few locations stateside. Look out, Grimace.
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Adam Lapetinais a Food/Drink staff writer for Thrillist, and he'll start a petition if you guys want in on any of these. Read his musings on Twitter at@adamlapetina.
What is the number 1 restaurant chain in the world? ›
Top 10 Largest Fast Food Chains in the World by Revenue.
|Fast Food Chain||Starbucks|
|Revenue (USD billions)||26.5|
|Number of Stores||28,218|
McDonald's is still the most popular fast food brand in America today—with $46 billion in systemwide sales last year.What is the number 1 most popular restaurant? ›
The state that loves fast food the most is Alabama, where there are 6.3 restaurants for every 10,000 residents. The state that with the least fast food restaurants is Vermont, where there are only 1.9 restaurants for every 10,000 residents. There are 194,395 fast food restaurants in the U.S.What is America's favorite fast food? ›
(NEXSTAR) – Yet again, Americans have chosen chicken over burgers. Chick-fil-A bested all comers in the American Customer Satisfaction Index survey released Tuesday.What is the most popular food in the world? ›
Pizza is the topmost liked food in the world. Today you can find pizza in almost every corner of the world. This traditional Italian dish is made of flattened round dough topped with cheese, and tomatoes, and additionally garnished with basil, olives, and oregano.What's the most popular food chain in the world? ›
McDonald's is the world's largest fast-food restaurant chain and one of the best-known brand names. The company has more than 39,000 locations in about 100 countries.What is the cleanest fast-food restaurant? ›
Chick-fil-A won a blue ribbon for being the cleanest fast-food restaurant in America.What is the most popular restaurant in the World 2022? ›
Copenhagen's Noma cedes the title of best restaurant in the world to fellow Copenhagen restaurant Geranium. The World's 50 Best Restaurants honorees for 2022 were announced at a ceremony in London today, crowning Denmark's Geranium as this year's top dining establishment in the world.
Who is McDonald's biggest competitor? ›
Privately-owned Burger King is McDonald's closest competitor. Yum Brands operates Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut. Subway is the largest restaurant chain in the world in terms of size, but sales have been sliding since 2012.What are the top 10 food franchises? ›
- KFC Franchise. Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is the most famous fried chicken recipe brand with no competitors. ...
- Domino's Franchise. ...
- Subway Franchise. ...
- Tibbs Frankie Franchise. ...
- Chick Blast Franchise. ...
- Bubbles Franchise. ...
- Mozart Franchise. ...
- Amul Ice Cream Business.
- Cocina Madrigal, Phoenix, Arizona. ...
- Aracosia–McLean, McLean, Virginia. ...
- Fermentation Farm, Costa Mesa, California. ...
- Oriole, Chicago, Illinois. ...
- Bird Bird Biscuit, Austin, Texas. ...
- Jackrabbit Filly, Charleston, South Carolina. ...
- Junkyard Bistro, Salmon, Idaho. ...
- The Goodwich, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Which country has the most best restaurants in the world? Italy has the most entries in the 2022 list, with six restaurants placing—including Lido 84 (number 8) and Uliassi (number 12).What is America's favorite restaurant? ›
Not only did Chick-fil-A lead the fast food industry, it also led the group of all chain restaurants.Who is the best chef in the world? ›
- #1 Dabiz Muñoz. Spain.
- #2 Rene Redzepi. Denmark.
- #3 Joan Roca. Spain.
- #4 Massimo Bottura. Italy.
- #5 Andoni Luis Aduriz. Spain.
- #6 Bjorn Frantzén. Sweden.
- #7 Disfrutar. Spain.
- #8 Alain Passard. France.
- Canlis Restaurant, Seattle. ...
- Bouley, New York City. ...
- Uchi, Austin, Texas. ...
- Victoria & Albert's, Orlando, Florida. ...
- Halls Chophouse, Charleston, South Carolina. ...
- Restaurant Gary Danko, San Francisco. ...
- Eleven Madison Park, New York City. ...
- Alinea, Chicago. TripAdvisor.
People ages 20-39 years old eat the most fast food on any given day. Men consume more fast food than women. 83% of American families eat at fast food restaurants at least once a week. The average American household spends 10% of their annual income on fast food.What percent of Americans eat junk food? ›
Key findings. During 2013–2016, 36.6% of adults consumed fast food on a given day. The percentage of adults who consumed fast food decreased with age: 44.9% aged 20–39, 37.7% aged 40–59, and 24.1% aged 60 and over.Which state consumes the most hamburgers? ›
Oregon topped the list, with an average of 79 burgers consumed per citizen per year. Arizona and Utah were a close second and third, at 77 and 75 burgers per person, respectively, and Utah, New Mexico, and Michigan rounded out the top five.
What is the best food for dinner in USA? ›
- Apple Pie. The saying is "American as apple pie" for a reason: this sweet treat is a national institution. ...
- The Hamburger. ...
- Clam Chowder. ...
- Bagel and Lox. ...
- Deep-Dish Pizza. ...
- Drop Biscuits and Sausage Gravy. ...
- Texas Barbecue. ...
- Hominy Grits.
- In-N-Out Burger.
- Shake Shack.
- Five Guys Burgers and Fries.
- Taco Bell.
- Panda Express.
- Burger. Burger served with condiments. Photo: @Shutterbug75. ...
- Classic hot dog. Classic hot dog. ...
- Cheeseburger. Cheeseburger. ...
- Reuben sandwich. Reuben sandwich. ...
- Barbecue ribs. Barbecue ribs. ...
- The BLT. The BLT sandwich. ...
- Apple pie. Apple pie and an apple. ...
- Philly Cheesesteak. Philly Cheesesteak.
- 1 Chicken and Waffles.
- 2 Spaghetti and Meatballs.
- 3 Chicken Fried Steak.
- 4 Mac and Cheese.
- 5 Hotdish.
- 6 Chicago Deep Dish Pizza.
- 7 Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup.
- 8 Matzo Ball Soup.
Copenhagen's Noma cedes the title of best restaurant in the world to fellow Copenhagen restaurant Geranium. The World's 50 Best Restaurants honorees for 2022 were announced at a ceremony in London today, crowning Denmark's Geranium as this year's top dining establishment in the world.What is America's favorite restaurant? ›
Not only did Chick-fil-A lead the fast food industry, it also led the group of all chain restaurants.Is KFC bigger than McDonald's? ›
Begun in 1930 in Kentucky during the Great Depression by Colonel Sanders, the first Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) franchise opened in 1952. In terms of sales, it's right up there with McDonald's.Are there more McDonald's or Starbucks in the world? ›
Starbucks keeps growing its store count, and it's outpacing the only chains larger than the coffee giant: McDonald's and Subway. As of January 2, 2022, Starbucks had 34,317 open stores across the world, just under 17,000 in the US.Which country has the best food in the world 2022? ›
Rome claimed the No. 1 spot for its culinary supremacy. Tripadvisor has announced the best destinations for food lovers in 2022.
Which country has the best food? ›
- Italy. #1 in Has great food. #14 in Best Countries Overall. ...
- Mexico. #2 in Has great food. #33 in Best Countries Overall. ...
- Spain. #3 in Has great food. #16 in Best Countries Overall. ...
- Greece. #4 in Has great food. ...
- Thailand. #5 in Has great food. ...
- France. #6 in Has great food. ...
- Turkey. #7 in Has great food. ...
- India. #8 in Has great food.
Thomas Keller – 7 Michelin stars
He's the most decorated chef in America, currently holding 7 stars. He's also the only American chef to hold all six out of his total seven stars simultaneously.
|Rank||Chain||2019 Sales (Millions)|
|3||Buffalo Wild Wings||3,700|
Chick-fil-A was ranked as the top fast-food restaurant in 34 U.S. states.Which is Better Burger King or Dairy Queen? ›
The largest fast food chain in the US is McDonald's, with a revenue of $23.223 billion and a market share of 43.8%. As of 2021, the US fast food industry has a market size of $296.6 billion. 36.6% of Americans consume fast food every day.Which fast food pays the most? ›
- Burger King: $9.86 per hour.
- Subway: $11.52 per hour.
- McDonald's: $12.33 per hour.
- Wendy's: $12.38 per hour.
- Dunkin Donuts: $12.54 per hour.
- Chick-fil-A: $12.92 per hour.
- Chipotle: $14.74 per hour.
McDonald's is the world's largest fast-food restaurant chain and one of the best-known brand names. The company has more than 39,000 locations in about 100 countries.Who is bigger Subway or mcdonalds? ›
Each company possesses a strong brand and is an established name in the casual eating restaurant industry. With 40,953 locations worldwide, Subway beats out McDonald's as the largest global chain. McDonald's currently has 37,855 locations globally.Who Bigger Burger King or Mcdonalds? ›
McDonald's and Burger King started in the franchise food business in 1955 and 1954, respectively. 12 McDonald's has always been the larger company, but each firm has unquestionably influenced the other throughout their six-decade-plus rivalry.