02/17/2014 11:38 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Breaking Down the Single Best Item at Every Major Fast-Food Chain


Look, we love a great restaurant as much as anyone, but nobody's immune to the allure (or convenience) of fast food once in a while. It brings back memories. It fires off endorphins. It saves our lives at 3am. But the moment you get to any drive-through, panic can set in as you try and wrap your mind around which item is best. So, with your sanity in mind, we've pulled together our experts to choose the definitive list of the best items on every major fast-food menu. Then we bought, like, three Bowflexes.

Arby's: Beef 'n Cheddar
The allure of bright-yellow cheese sauce can never be overestimated, but nowhere has it found a home as comforting as it does cascading over a pile of slightly off-color roast beef, where it commingles with the tangy Arby's sauce and finds the perfect punctuation with the juicy bits of onion in that perfectly dense bun. Yes, these are oddly highbrow words for a sandwich consisting of processed everything, but even as Arby's tries to do fancy stuff with brisket and turkey, the classic flavor of its flagship meat and cheese remains poetically scrumtrulescent.

A&W: Root Beer Float
A&W is the odd man out in the fast-food world, mainly because there's no constant. The combination drive-in versions all taste overly processed, especially if you grew up in a small town centered around an old-fashioned drive-up restaurant with poodle skirts, car cruises, and exceedingly better food. But one thing unites them all: the root beer float, that perfect combination of sugar and frothy ice cream. If you get nostalgic for that small town, you can dump it in a glass mug at home... if you can get out of the drive-thru line without taking it down in one long, painful gulp.

More: 15 Things You Didn't Know About Five Guys Burgers & Fries

Burger King: The Original Chicken Sandwich
Boo-ya, the Whopper. It's this torpedo-shaped behemoth that really takes the crown at the King. It's lettuce, breaded chicken, mayo, and bread. Nothing more. Yet somewhere between the time when you unwrap it and take the first bite, something happens. All those powers unite like a morbidly obese Captain Planet. The first bite releases an oddly watery torrent of meat juice, hot mayo, and pepper. The second bite is a blur. That's the power of heart. Speaking of which, you might want a side of Lipitor. Because you just started a three-sandwich chain reaction.

We also named the best of the best at Carl's Jr, Chick-Fil-A, DQ, Dunkin' Donuts, In-N-Out, Jack in the Box, and more!

More deliciousness from Thrillist:

How To Talk Like A Foodie

Follow Thrillist on Twitter: