Fast Food Apps, Ranked

Fast Food Apps, Ranked

In an effort to boost sales and connect with customers, some fast food apps flop while other flourish.

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Image: Grand Warszawski (Shutterstock), jmc23 (Shutterstock), Gargantiopa (Shutterstock)

I eat a lot of fast food.

It’s reasonable to say that simple fact makes me qualified to judge the apps fast food restaurants provide their customers with. In an effort to find the best fast food app, I downloaded ten apps belonging to some of the biggest restaurant chains in the world, and played around with placing my usual orders.

I had a very judgmental eye and was taking no prisoners in my assessments considering things like app design, menu offerings, customization, rewards, and even the app’s previous reputation. Without further ado, let’s dig in.

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10. Chipotle

10. Chipotle

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It’s widely speculated that Chipotle gives you less food when you order either online or with its app—and I am a strong believer in this conspiracy theory. Think about it: It’s just easier for them to put less meat in your burrito when you’re not looking. That’s a huge red flag IMO.

Also, while customers were clamoring for a quesadilla going viral on TikTok, Chipotle was reportedly resistant to the idea of making it. While the viral Philly cheesesteak quesadilla is coming to the menu this Spring, the restaurant chain was, in fact, preventing users of the app from ordering it. Another red flag.

It is nice that they don’t force you to make an account to place an order, though.

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9. Panera

9. Panera

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The moment I opened up the Panera app for the first time, I was bombarded with pop-up after pop-up of menu items I would probably never buy. Also, some of the art on the app made me dizzy. I’m also reminded that whatever I order will never look like all of the images of staged food on the app. I also had to go through so many screens to set up my order before I could even see the menu, which made me consider how many other food establishments I could’ve decided to order at.

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8. Dunkin’ Donuts

8. Dunkin’ Donuts

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I’m a Northeasterner through and through so legally I am only allowed to order coffee and donuts from the Massachusetts-based Dunkin’ Donuts. So in order to view the menu in full, you have to make an account, which makes sense but is just super annoying for someone like me who likes to do extensive research before placing an order.

While I haven’t had a bad experience using the Dunkin’ app, many fans of the chain were pissed at their recent canning of their DD Perks program.

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7. McDonald’s

7. McDonald’s

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I had never used the McDonald’s app a day in my life. When I signed up for the McDonald’s’ app I was immediately greeted with a welcome message that read “Let us continue tailoring your ads.” That’s not exactly unexpected in this day and age, but it was weird that they were so blatant about it. I said no to their request, by the way.

The app does leave something to be desired, however. It’s just a little sterile and looks like they just crammed a webpage into a mobile-sized interface.

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6. Just Salad

6. Just Salad

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Image: Just Salad

If you’ve never heard of it, Just Salad is a build-you-own salad place much like Chipotle is a build-your-own burrito place. My experiences at Just Salad have been pretty hectic, and I don’t find it particularly easy to customize my salads when I order in person, which is why the app is a good alternative.

There’s not thing really wrong with the app, but the downside is that if you bring your own Just Salad plastic bowl, you get a free topping since you’re not using their disposable paper bowls. If you order on the app, you don’t get access to this perk.

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5. Burger King

5. Burger King

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It’s fine. No complaints—except for the whole ghost receipts thing, that was weird.

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4. Starbucks

4. Starbucks

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I’m not one to order Starbucks all that much, but it’s helpful that their sizes are clearly labelled on the app since I am constantly forgetting what their mediums are called. Starbucks also gets bonus points for including its merch on the app. Gift cards are also really easy to add to your account right on the homepage, and you can buy and send them to someone else.

Here’s where I had some trouble. My go-to order is a vanilla iced coffee with coconut milk, but the problem with ordering on the app is that I have no idea how many pumps of vanilla are in my usual order. The Starbucks app automatically sets the number of pumps for size (my medium iced coffee has four pumps of vanilla) but that seems like a lot.

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3. Sonic

3. Sonic

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I will ride for Sonic and I will die for Sonic, and their app needs to be celebrated for how stylish it is. The first time you open the app, you push a big red Sonic button to start your order, much the way you would if you drove up to one of the restaurant’s order booths. That is one of the the most creative use of design I’ve seen in any of these apps so far.

You’re also able to score half off on any of Sonic’s famous slushes among other high-value rewards when you order through the app. The app does take the fun away from having your food delivered to you on roller skates.

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2. Taco Bell

2. Taco Bell

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Taco Bell’s app does what it should: makes it’s complicated and ever-changing menu super easy to navigate. The rewards system is also a winner. You don’t get a tiered choice to redeem your points (e.g. this many point equals this item), you instead get a mystery reward that you get to choose, with some pricy options to boot.

This app has also come an incredibly long way—it was borderline unusable about two years ago. Taco Bell has so much faith in their app that the franchise even opened a mobile-based restaurant earlier this summer.

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1. Chick-Fil-A

1. Chick-Fil-A

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Whether you love or hate the fact that the chicken-centric fast food restaurant isn’t open on Sundays, you have to admit that its app is amazing. The interface is super sleek, and you have the option to easily customize your order with options like no ice in your drink and extra sauces baked right in. It’s also really easy to redeem your points—which you can scan for on the app even if you’re ordering in the store—and the rewards are pretty solid.

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