The modern consumer has never been more quality conscious. Food brands and restaurants may have gotten away with sketchy ingredients and mystery meats in decades past, but people want to feel good about what they’re eating today.
That’s why food quality is among the most important factors for restaurant patrons, according to this year’s Consumer Picks report. Nation’s Restaurant News. In addition to other culinary essentials like stellar service, crystal-clear cleanliness, and reasonable prices, today’s consumers want their restaurant meals to live up to a certain standard, even if ordered drive-thru.
“It’s more or less the responsibility of the restaurant to make sure they meet the expectations of the customers.” said Claire ConaghanChief Content Officer at Chicago-based Datassential, which produces the Brand Fingerprints data platform that makes the Consumer Picks report possible.
Wondering how your favorite chain restaurant stacks up in terms of food quality? You’re in luck, the Consumer Picks report also compiled a list of the highest quality restaurant chains this year. These rankings correlate to the number of consumers who rate the brands as “best in class” or “above average” when it comes to “palatability.”
This year’s top 10 list is an eclectic bunch, and some are far from fancy. Read on to learn more!
Entering at number 10 we have the La Madeleine bakery cafeteria chain. Based in Texas with more than 80 locations spread throughout the southern US, La Madeleine is all about celebrating French cuisine. Some of the chain’s most popular dishes include French Onion Soup, Quiche Lorraine, and Tomato Basil Soup.
According to the Consumer Picks report, 67% of consumers rated La Madeleine “above average” or “best in class” for food quality.
Also rated by 67% of consumers as “above average” or “best in class” for food quality, Culver’s is a fast-casual food chain with 878 impressive locations spread across in 26 US states
Probably best known for its “butter burgers,” Culver’s offers a wide range of menu items including Wisconsin cheese curds, buffalo chicken tenders, and chili. Culver’s is the only chain on this list that was not on the 2021 list.
The quintessential soup and sandwich chain, Panera Bread, was rated “Above Average” or “Best in Class” for food quality by 68% of consumers.
Based in Missouri, Panera Bread locations are almost everywhere; over 2,000 in the US and Canada. Some of Panera Bread’s most popular menu items include the broccoli cheddar soup, macaroni and cheese, and the turkey bacon bravo sandwich.
An integral part of West Coast culture, In-N-Out Burger has long enjoyed a reputation as a higher-quality burger chain. 68% of consumers rated In-N-Out Burger “above average” or “best in class” for food quality in this year’s report.
Predominantly located in California, In-N-Out Burger locations also operate in Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Utah, and Oregon. Their menu is infamously simple and small, but if you want to go crazy on your next visit: try ordering their food “animal style”.
Bonefish Grill, owned and operated by the same company as Outback Steakhouse, is a chain of casual seafood restaurants with more than 180 locations in 28 states.
Another 68% of consumers rated Bonefish Grill “Above Average” or “Best in Class” for food quality, no doubt thanks to innovative and flavorful dishes like their Bang Bang Shrimp, Seafood Johnny Cakes and Ahi Tuna Sashimi.
Narrowly beating out its sister chain, Outback Steakhouse was named the fifth highest quality restaurant in this year’s report. A total of 69% of consumers rated the Australian-style restaurant as “above average” or “best in class” in terms of food quality.
The largest chain on this list thus far, Outback is an absolute casual dining giant with more than 1,000 locations in 23 countries. While many Australians disagree, Outback’s menu is supposedly all about Aussie cuisine like The Bloomin Onion and Shrimp on the Barbie.
Don’t judge a chain restaurant by name alone. The Cheesecake Factory offers much more than desserts. Frankly, it would be hard to name a variety of foods that you can’t find at your local Cheesecake Factory. From tacos and burgers to pasta and club sandwiches, the menu truly has something for everyone. Looking to be adventurous? Consider trying the avocado egg rolls.
The Cheesecake Factory operates in more than 200 locations across the United States and boasts an impressive 72% consumer rating for “above average” or “best in class” food quality.
An additional 72% of consumers rated Longhorn Steakhouse “Above Average” or “Best in Class” for food quality. The seminal steakhouse offers a diverse menu with delectable dishes like Parmesan Crusted Chicken, 7 Pepper Sirloin Salad and The Longhorn Porterhouse.
Founded in 1981, Longhorn today operates 574 locations across the US, but Florida has the most, with 75 locations.
Specializing in preparing Texan and Southwestern style steaks, Texas Roadhouse was also named “Above Average” or “Best in Class” for food quality by 74% of consumers. Headquartered, ironically, in Kentucky, the steakhouse operates more than 620 US locations.
Some of Texas Roadhouse’s most popular dishes include Cactus Blossom, Choice Sirloin, and Rattlesnake Bites.
They didn’t invent chicken, just a high quality chicken restaurant. Chick-fil-A lands the coveted number one spot on this list, the same spot it held last year, fueled by 75% of consumers rating the fast food chain as “above average” or “best in its class” in terms of food quality.
With more than 2,800 locations in 49 US states, Chick-fil-A is known for deliciously simple menu items like its Chicken Sandwich and Spicy Chicken Sandwich. The chain’s many dipping sauces are also loved by customers.