Point of clarification: when we talk about the best fast food, we're not necessarily talking about the healthiest fast food. In other words, these offerings may not be the most nutritious, but they sure taste good. They'll fill you up without busting your budget.
Let's take a look.
In N' Out Burger. I almost didn't include In N' Out on my list of best fast food because I figured any veteran of the drive-thru would already know about this glorious burger chain. But then I remembered that In N' Out is only located in four southwestern states.
If you're driving in from elsewhere, you may not know that In N' Out is any different from other burger chains. It is. Very different.
They make their own fries from real potatoes and use high quality beef. Since they make only a few items (namely burgers, fries, and shakes), they make them very well.
Chick Fil-A. Kind of an unusual chain, but a good one for the chicken lover. Most people think of them as "a Southern thing," but they're actually in 37 states now.
Don't like chicken? Tough. That's the only entrée here, and they do it well. They also have some unique sides, such as Carrot and Raisin Salad, Chicken Salad Cup, and Hearty Breast of Chicken Soup. For dessert, don't miss the Chicken Layer Cake. (Kidding.)
Del Taco. With a name that means, "Of, from, or pertaining to the taco," this place sounds like it would make pretty good Mexican food. And they do. Think Taco Bell, but with better overall food quality and a bit more innovation in the menu.
Examples: Crispy Fish Taco, Veggie Works Burrito, Jalapeno Rings (not recommended for long drive). I don't know what they do to their Cheddar Quesadilla, but it's incredibly dense and gooey and satisfying. They make burgers, too, for that one killjoy in your car who hates Mexican food.
El Pollo Loco. Sue me for liking Mexican food. Living up to its name, El Pollo Loco has crazy-good chicken. Their bird is of noticeably better quality than other fast food chains. They offer a number of big, fat burritos – stuffed with chicken and other fixins – for around $5.
You can also order the flame-broiled chicken by the piece, throwing in a couple of side dishes to make a complete meal. Actually, that would probably be pretty healthy, too. Should have put this on the other page. Oh, well.
Hope this gets you started finding the best fast food for your road trip. Remember: you don't have to settle for the same old burger and fries every time. There are far more interesting options out there.