One Change Each Fast Food Restaurant Should Make Today

Fast food is getting more and more expensive. We should probably discuss whether or not the means of production related to fast food should garner an even higher price than we already pay (it should!), but that’s a deeper conversation for another day. For the sake of this article, the high price of fast food stings so badly because while the food is getting pricier, it isn’t getting any better in quality. So when you’re dropping nearly $20 for a single combo meal that doesn’t taste nearly as good as what you could make at home for less money it’s… pretty easy to feel like you’re getting ripped off.

An expensive Big Mac meal will make headlines, but people aren’t as quick to scoff at paying around the same price they would for a Big Mac combo as they would for a burrito, a side of guacamole, some chips, and a drink at Chipotle. That’s because what you get for your money at Chipotle is objectively better. The meat, which is made of whole cuts rather than heavily processed, is cooked in a restaurant, the guacamole is prepared in a restaurant, and the beans are slow-cooked in a restaurant — all from fresh ingredients.

Feel however you want about Chipotle, but that’s pretty amazing. And it equals better value per dollar. This is also why Taco Bell gets a pass. The food at Taco Bell is lower quality, but who cares when you can feed a family of four for just over $20?

With Chipotle and Taco Bell as outliers, we have a whole lot of chains in the middle. This got me thinking: there must be some sort of menu change that the center of the bell curve can implement to make dining there feel worth it. So we’re going to suggest one improvement each of our favorite fast food restaurants can make to win us back. Some of these suggestions will be quick and easy fixes, like bringing back a forgotten classic, and some will be asking more than our favorite restaurants will ever probably be willing to undertake.

Oh well, we can dream, right? Let’s dive in!


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A post shared by Arby’s (@arbys)

What We’d Like To See:

The Return Of The Potato Cakes

There isn’t anything particularly special about the potato cakes, they’re essentially fried hashbrowns but thicker. And yet they made the perfect side order. Crispy enough to be crunchy but thick enough that you could taste the buttery potato inside.

This was a menu hacker’s dream, take any sandwich, slide a potato cake in, and instantly improve your meal, whether you’re eating roast beef, brisket, or one of Arby’s chicken sliders.

Why Arby’s removed these from the menu, we’ll never understand.

Burger King

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What We’d Like To See:

A Whopper Revamp

I think the biggest thing holding Burger King back is the brand’s obsession with speed. BK is operating with a business model that tries to get you out of the drive-thru as quickly as possible, and that’s appreciated for people on the go, but there is a reason an In-N-Out burger is so much better than the Whopper.

If BK would spend a little more time preparing its Whopper, it would be a much better sandwich. In an ideal world that means using fresh beef, cooking the burger on a grill rather than through some conveyor toasting system like it uses, and getting better buns. I know BK is capable of doing this because they hand-breaded the Ch’King sandwich and focused on process and it was legitimately one of the best chicken sandwiches in fast food.

But then BK decided the Ch’King took too long to make, simplified the recipe, and now… it’s utterly forgettable. I want BK to succeed and the best way they can do that is by focusing on process rather than speed. As for the Whopper, there’s currently a $1M contest to design a better one — so it looks like I’ll get my wish!

Carl’s Jr.

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What We’d Like To See:

Bring Back The Six-Dollar Burger Energy

Carl’s Jr used to have a motto: “If it doesn’t get all over the place, it doesn’t belong in your face.” The chain’s burgers were thick, juicy, messy, and decadent as f*ck. But lately, the burgers have been getting smaller and the quality has been dropping.

The concept of the Six Dollar Burger was that it was the sort of burger that you could get at a restaurant. It was thick, meaty, juicy, and high quality. Ironically, I think it was always more expensive than six dollars, and given how prices have risen at restaurants, the name doesn’t make sense, so I get why they dropped it. But when they dropped the name, they also dropped the quality.

Carl’s Jr used to have a pseudo-gourmet approach to fast food. Their burgers and shakes were thicker than the competition, their chicken was hand-breaded, they had a salad bar at one point, and now the chain is a pale imitation of what it used to be. I don’t want the Six Dollar Burger to return by name, but that earlier ethos would do a lot to bring customers back and help separate them from the competition.


Chicken Sandwich
Dane Rivera

What We’d Like To See:

More Experimentation

Chick-fil-A is pretty good at everything they do, so I get why they don’t take chances often, but I wish they would. Chick-fil-A has done this in the past, just last year they dropped a pimento cheese honey chicken sandwich, and it was delicious. If we could get a new sandwich remix or a spicy version of the nuggets once per quarter, that would be great!

Generally the chain restaurant only experiments with its iced tea flavors and milkshakes, which is appreciated, but I’d love to see more experimentation with some actual food.



What We’d Like To See:

More Protein Options

In 2022 Chipotle had new protein options once every few months. They were so delicious that I’ve committed the names of two of them, the Pollo Asado and Guajillo Steak, to memory.

Seriously, both of these options deserved permanent menu status especially when you consider how much of an improvement the pollo asado was to the stock chicken option. Since 2022 the new protein options have slowed down considerably as the chain instead experiments with things like putting fajitas in a quesadilla (which they should’ve been doing to begin with) or introducing new flavors of tea.

Adding more protein options would do a lot to keep Chipotle’s bare-bones menu exciting.


What We’d Like To See:

A Spicy Version Of Its Chicken

One major thing Popeyes has over KFC is a spicy chicken option. KFC has experimented with spicy chicken in the past with its take on Nashville Hot Chicken, but that’s not quite what I mean. What I want is a spicy version of its Original Recipe chicken, the way they have an Extra Crispy version.

All it would take is adding some cayenne pepper to the 11 herbs and spices. Heat is the one thing missing from KFC’s menu.


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What We’d Like To See:


Adding bacon is a big ask and I know we’re probably not going to get it because that would require In-N-Out to find a special supplier that is near all of its restaurants, but just think about how good a bacon cheeseburger from In-N-Out would be.

Let’s face it, In-N-Out doesn’t need to do anything to win customers over that it isn’t already doing. Few fast-food restaurants can accomplish the consistency of quality and service that In-N-Out provides and for many, this is already the best burger in fast food, and for good reason.

Bacon would solidify In-N-Out as the greatest burger chain in all of fast food.

Jack in the Box

Munchie Meal
Jack in the Box

What We’d Like To See:

Triple Down On The Weirdness

Jack in the Box is at its best when it gets weird. I’m talking about weirdness like the decadent Snoop-Dogg-themed munchie meal, Red Bull-infused soda cocktails, those addicting tacos, and the fact that they have a teriyaki rice bowl on the menu. JiB has perfected stoner food, so I’d like to see them lean even deeper into that.

Why not have a burger that has mozzarella sticks inside of it? What about a ‘build your own’ option for the Munchie Meal? What else can we put in a milkshake aside from Oreos? The weirder the better!


McDonald's Menu Hacks
Dane Rivera

What We’d Like To See:

More Menu Hacks

McDonald’s menu has a lot of great hack potential, but they don’t make it easy. There aren’t many customization options either in-restaurant or via the app so everything requires a lot of self-assembly. A couple of years back McDonald’s added famed menu hacks like the Land, Sea, and Air sandwich or the Hashbrown McMuffin to the app but they still required you to build them yourself.

We’d love to see a bit more customization, like what you’ll find at Taco Bell. A bigger dollar menu wouldn’t hurt either.


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What We’d Like To See:

Revamped Nuggets

Popeyes has a near-perfect menu. The bone-in chicken (mild and spicy) is some of the best in all of fast food. The tenders are great. The sides are perfect. The biscuits are buttery and delicious. Do I even need to say anything about that chicken sandwich? But the nuggets are awful.

In our ranking of the best fast food chicken nuggets, Popeyes couldn’t even break into the top five, which is sad when you consider how well the tenders, chicken sandwiches, and bone-in chicken perform on our rankings of each respective category.

We know Popeyes can do better.

Raising Cane’s

What We’d Like To See:

A Proper Chicken Sandwich

I’m talking about a single breast filet between two pieces of buttery Texas toast with some sauce and pickles. What Raising Cane’s has right now is kind of a joke.

Currently, Raising Cane’s stuffs three chicken tenders between a bun and calls it a day. I love Raising Cane’s chicken tenders but this is the absolute worst way to make a chicken sandwich considering as soon as you take a single bite, the sandwich starts to fall apart.

A proper chicken sandwich from Raising Canes would be delicious enough to compete with Popeyes and Chick-fil-A, the current kings of chicken sandwiches.

Shake Shack

Shake Shack
Dane Rivera

What We’d Like To See:

More Burger Builds

Shake Shack does a pretty good job of keeping its menu exciting by introducing new burgers and sandwich builds every few months. We even named the Spicy Burgermeister our favorite burger of 2023. While we appreciate the variety, it would be nice to see some more permanent options on the menu to accompany the Single and Double Shackburger, Avocado Bacon Burger, the SmokeShack, and the Roadside Double.

The same could be said about the chicken sandwiches.

Taco Bell

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What We’d Like To See:

Stop Taking Things Off The Menu

Taco Bell does this thing where it’ll remove a menu item like the Double Decker Taco, Mexi-Melt, Mexican Pizza, or the Nacho Fries from the menu, only to bring them back as a “limited time” exclusive under the guise of a new item. I find this very annoying because Taco Bell has all of the ingredients on hand to make these dishes, and they just choose not to give them to us.

I’d like to see less of this sales strategy so it could make more room for menu items that are truly new like Taco Bell’s crispy empanadas or those wings they roll out during Super Bowl season.


Dane Rivera

What We’d Like To See:

All-Day Breakfast

Wendy’s has one of the best breakfast menus in all of fast food. Sure, maybe that’s because they have strict breakfast hours which helps the workers to focus on making sure the breakfast is on point, but if they were able to scale this to an all-day thing it would make Wendy’s one of the all-time greatest fast food chains.

Some of our favorites include the Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Muffin (Wendy’s version of the McMuffin), the Breakfast Baconator, and the potato wedges which are one of the greatest potato sides of any fast food restaurant. We wish there were a way we could enjoy these breakfast items during later hours.

Hell even if Wendy’s shifted to having breakfast only available mornings and late at night, we’d take that too!