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Friday, August 20, 2010

Zagat fast-food survey shocker: In-N-Out ousted - Five Guys Top!

posted by Nancy Luna, Staff Writer


Five Guys is raising its profile

It’s that time of year again, where Zagat releases the often controversial results of its fast food survey — where chains are ranked in categories ranging from best burger to best value.

And this year, Southern California chains took a beating, including Irvine-based In-N-Out and Costa Mesa-based El Pollo Loco.

The biggest shocker of the 2010 results comes in the “best burger” category, where Five Guys Burgers & Fries ousted In-N-Out Burger. The timing of the results come as many local burger fans proclaim Five Guys as a worthy rival to In-N-Out.

The Virginia-based chain opened its first O.C. burger joint two weeks ago. More are on the way.

Even more noteworthy – Five Guys didn’t even make Zagat’s Top 5 burger list last year. But suddenly it catapulted to the No. 1 position in the burger category, and the No. 2 spot for Best French Fries. (see rankings below)

Other interesting survey results:

    McDonald's beefed up its value menus this year

  • McDonald’s took best in show for value, beating Irvine-based Taco Bell for the second year in a row. Taco Bell has kept the prices on its cheap eats menu below $1 for a few years. It also came out with a $2 three-item combo meal this year. But McDonald’s and Wendy’s outranked the Mexican fast-food chain in the Zagat value survey. (More on value menu wars)
  • El Pollo Loco vs. KFC's grilled chicken

    Costa Mesa-based El Pollo Loco moves up in the rankings, coming in at No. 3 in the Best Grilled Chicken category. In 2009, it placed No. 5. But that’s not necessarily a ranking to write home about. Guess which chain placed higher than El Pollo Loco? Rival KFC, which introduced grilled chicken last year, came in second place. Ouch, that hurts — given that El Pollo Loco went crazy marketing its flame-grilled chicken as superior to KGC (Kentucky Grilled Chicken)

  • Starbucks is named best coffee.

Here are some of the Zagat rankings for 2010:

For the full list, go to

Top Food (up to 5,000 U.S. locations)

1. In-N-Out Burger
2. Papa Murphy’s
3. Chick-fil-A
4. Five Guys
5. Chipotle

Best Burger

1. Five Guys
2. In-N-Out Burger
3. Wendy’s
4. Burger King
5. McDonald’s

Best Grilled Chicken

1. Chick-fil-A
2. KFC
3. El Pollo Loco
4. Panera Bread
5. Chipotle

Best Value Menu

1. McDonald’s
2. Wendy’s
3. Taco Bell
4. Burger King
5. Arby’s

Best French Fries

1. McDonald’s
2. Five Guys
3. In-N-Out Burger
4. Wendy’s
5. Burger King

Best Coffee

1. Starbucks Coffee
2. Dunkin’ Donuts
3. McDonald’s
4. Peet’s Coffee & Tea
5. Caribou Coffee