Top 10 US Cities for Fast Food

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday November 12, 2021

According to new data, Orlando, Houston and Phoenix are top U.S. cities for fast food and food delivery.

A survey conducted by LawnStarter compared the fast food experience in hundreds of cities across the country "based on access to fast food restaurants and food delivery services," according to a news release. "We also weighed the quality of the food based on consumer ratings and Thrillist's Fasties Awards."

The survey was conducted in time for National Fast Food Day on Nov. 16.

The results? California had the most cities in the Top Twenty (four), with Los Angeles ranking at #6, San Diego placing at #7, San Jose coming in at #15, and San Francisco ranking at #16. Moreover, California has "more McDonald's locations than any other state," the release noted, making it "the best state overall for fast food lovers". It's surely more than a coincidence that, as the release noted, the "first ever McDonald's opened in San Bernardino in the 1940s."

Texas wasn't far behind, with three cities ranking in the Top Twenty, including Houston at the #2 spot and Austin placing at #10. San Antonio still ranked in the Top Twenty, falling at #14. (Also notable, though less flattering, was the way "Laredo ranked dead last at No. 196," with another Texas city, Mesquite, "close behind at No. 192").

The foremost city in the country for fast food, however, is Orlando, which "has more fast food establishments per 100,000 residents than any other city on our list.

"And no matter your taste," the release went on to add, "Orlando has quick eats for you, with international options like Canadian cheese curds from The Daily Poutine, an authentic Mexican burrito at Gringos Locos, and traditional Caribbean fare from Pollo Tropical."

Orlando isn't just top of the list overall for fast food, it also became home to the world's largest White Castle, which boasts 4,567 square feet, as of last May. Locals treated the location's opening like a rock concert or a new "Star Wars" movie, lining up well in advance and camping on the sidewalk to be among the first to have a chance to sample its wares.

Golden arches and white castles may come to mind when one thinks about fast food, but there's more than hamburgers on the menu. Chicago hit the Top Ten list at #4 — just behind Phoenix, and just ahead of Las Vegas — and it's likely that the Windy City's well-regarded hot dogs were a major reason why. As noted in its "Twenty Essential Hot Dogs in Chicago" piece, that toddlin' town "keeps on offering a smattering of wonderful new spots serving traditional Chicago-style hot dogs dragged through the garden, as well as gourmet spots with inventive toppings."

And in Austin, tacos are king... though burritos are set to stage a foodie coup, The Infatuation reported.

"There's a burrito with hatch chiles and latkes," the site wrote with relish in a 2020 news item, "another with pulled pork and sriracha-dusted ranch tots, and even one with jalapeno poppers inside.

"You'll also find a San Diego-style California burrito and even a vegan Mission-style burrito."

The survey resulted in the following Top Ten rankings:

1. Orlando, FL

2. Houston, TX

3. Phoenix, AZ

4. Chicago, IL

5. Las Vegas, NV

6. Los Angeles, CA

7. San Diego, CA

8. New York, NY

9. Louisville, KY

10. Austin, TX

For the complete list of rankings, follow this link.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.