Food & Drink

Famous chefs reveal their favorite fast-food chains and what they order

fancy fast-food plate
Andy Kryza

We love our greasy fast food. And we love talented, knowledgeable chefs who make the exact opposite of greasy fast food. But recently we found ourselves asking an all-important question: do said chefs eat fast food? And we needed answers (with a side of fries).

So we rounded up a bunch of well-known chefs to find out what they thought to be the finest fast-food establishments and delicacies. We asked them for their favorite chain, what they order, and why. From classic choices like Mickey D's to regional rival In-N-Out, their answers may shock you... mainly because it turns out that, yes, the guys who make your $75 entree aren't above a $1 cheeseburger.

wendy's frosty and jbc
Andy Kryza

Justin Warner

CHEF, DO OR DINE (address and info
Brooklyn, NY
Favorite fast-food chain: Wendy's
What he orders: Frosty & Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger
"First off, Frosties are insanely good. Neither soft-serve nor milkshake, they exist in a chocolaty, textural limbo that commands my consumption.

"Next, JBC. When my girlfriend and I take road trips this is what we eat. It's a buck... and has been a buck since gas was a buck a gallon, and you can also eat about five of them and not want to die, which is my real test of quality fast food. It's not the Smoke Shack from Shake Shack, but the JBC will always have a spot in my bacon-clogged heart."

taco bell taco supremes
Taco Bell

KENT RATHBUN

OWNER, ABACUS (address and info& JASPER'S (address and info)
Various locations, TX
Favorite fast-food chain: Taco Bell or Popeyes
What he orders: Hard & Soft Taco Supreme with extra spicy sauce or Spicy Fried Chicken with dirty rice and a biscuit
"Taco Bell makes everything to order, which is just the way I like it. I love the flavor of Popeyes. It is as good as any other fried chicken that is out there."

chipotle
Sara Norris

PERRY HENDRIX

CHEF DE CUISINE, AVEC (address and info)
Chicago, IL
Favorite fast-food chain: Chipotle
What he orders: Pork burrito
"My kid loves it, and, when traveling, we're all happy eating there. It's pretty tasty, and I feel good about supporting their environmental and ethical practices."
 

DAVID POSEY

CHEF DE CUISINE, BLACKBIRD (address and info)
Chicago, IL
Favorite fast-food chain: In-N-Out
What he orders: A Double-Double Animal-Style with well-done fries and a half Coke/half Diet Coke
"As an LA native, I grew up on In-N-Out Burger. The hamburger is delicious: exactly what I think a fast-food burger should taste like. I get the fries well-done because I like them crispy. It's pure nostalgia, because I grew up on it."

double double
Kevin Alexander

CHARLIE PALMER

OWNER, CHARLIE PALMER GROUP (address and info)
New York, NY
Favorite fast-food chain: In-N-Out
What he orders:Double-Double Animal-Style
"I'm always amazed by how all of their spots are always super clean, the burgers always taste great, and the staff is friendly. Plus, I've got four teenage sons, and they are all In-N-Out fans, as well."
 

CHRIS SHEA

EXEC CHEF, DAVID BURKE KITCHEN (address and info)
New York, NY
Favorite fast-food chain: Dunkin' Donuts
What he orders: Cookie Dough Swirl Iced Coffee and a chocolate-frosted donut
“I like a nice, sugary treat before and during a typical 13- or 14-hour day.”

TYSON COLE

OWNER, UCHI + UCHIKO (address and info)
Austin, TX
Favorite fast-food chain: Chipotle
What he orders: Burrito bowl
"I get it with chicken, corn, tomato salsa, romaine, and brown rice. I love corn with anything. And this spicy mix with the chicken, greens, and rice is the perfect one-bowl lunch. Most importantly, it's consistently fresh and always tasty."
 

DALE TALDE

EXEC CHEF, TALDE (address and info& PORK SLOPE (address and info)
New York, NY
Favorite fast-food chain: McDonald's
What he orders: McRib
“I’d go for the McRib all day, always if I could. It is a little fake tasting, but delicious.”

mcdonald's cheeseburger
Kevin Alexander

PAUL QUI

EXEC CHEF, QUI (address and info& EAST SIDE KING (address and info)
Austin, TX
Favorite fast-food chains: McDonald's, Taco Bell, Popeyes, KFC, Chick-fil-A, Raising Cane's
What he orders:
McDonald's
- McRib when it's available, but usually just the regular cheeseburger with an order of large fries
In-N-Out - A single-patty cheeseburger with a side of fries (extra crispy) and a soda
Taco Bell - Nachos Bell Grande, Meximelts with Fire Sauce
Popeyes - 8-piece chicken (half-regular, half-spicy) with a side of dirty rice and mashed potatoes with a side of giblet gravy
KFC - Regular recipe chicken, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, and extra gravy
Chick-fil-A - Chicken sandwich, chicken nuggets, waffle fries, and Polynesian sauce
Raising Cane's - Chicken strip dinner
"I grew up on fast food so I have specific things I like to order."

Rachel Freeman a food/drink editorial assistant at Thrillist and is too indecisive to make these kinds of choices, but she's a big fan of McDonald's fries, Chipotle sofritas, KFC potato wedges, Taco Bell Baja Blast & Crunchwraps, and Sonic Ched 'R' Peppers. Follow her to more fast-food favorites at @rachelifreeman.