These Are the 50 Restaurants People Are Most Loyal To
Dining out is a luxury for most people, so when you make the decision to head out and hit the town for some grub, it better be a place that you know serves great food and offers a hospitable environment. Brand loyalty is a great preliminary step in assessing just how good a restaurant truly is in both departments, but which restaurants truly have the most loyal customers who keep coming back for more time after time?
Nation’s Restaurant News conducted a survey in 2018 called “Consumer Picks” that analyzed customer preference and restaurant brand strength. These 50 “chains had the highest True Loyalty scores, or the percentage of respondents who said they visit because of a real desire to experience the brand, as opposed to convenience.”
Get reading to find out which eateries made the list—you may just see a couple of your go-to spots!
Some 45 percent of respondents in this survey like Five Guys more for the brand and quality of food, more so than going to a fast-food restaurant that might be more convenient around the corner (looking at you, McDonald’s). Who can blame them with a menu stacked with burgers, hotdogs, French fries, and milkshakes?
Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Que
An equivalent percentage of people said they love Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Que, which serves up anything that you can slap BBQ sauce on, including ribs, sandwiches, and platters.
Cold Stone Creamery
Cold Stone Creamery offers a unique experience: you actually get to watch your perfect ice cream order come together as the employees toss your favorite topping into whichever ice cream flavor you want and mix it all together right in front of every order. It’s no wonder why 45 percent of respondents claim they like this shop for the novel experience.
Have you heard of Taco Cabana? The Mexican Patio Cafe is not quite expansive yet (it only has locations in a handful of states, with the heaviest concentration in Texas), but that doesn’t mean people aren’t loyal to the ones near them. Note that less than 500 people responded to this restaurant in the survey, but still, 46 percent of the small number of respondents said they appreciate Taco Cabana’s brand.
Round Table Pizza
That unlimited breadstick, soup, and salad lunch deal at Olive Garden is enough to win brand loyalty, right?
Freebirds is another restaurant that you may not be familiar with, simply because it only has locations in Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas, California, and Utah. Less than 500 people responded to this restaurant in the survey, but 46 percent of those who did contribute feedback said they eat at Freebirds because they appreciate its brand.
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse
This is not your typical grab-and-go kind of restaurant. No, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is the place you stroll into when you’re on the prowl for a three-course meal full of signature steaks and lobster tails and a glass of wine to boot.
From flatbread pizzas to Thai curry bowls, Così supplies just about all of your lunch needs, and some 46 percent of survey participants said they visit there because they genuinely like the place—not just because it’s easily accessible to them.
American Deli is another small chain restaurant that’s primarily located in the southern states, serving up anything from fried shrimp and chicken tenders to Reuben sandwiches and gyros. Less than 500 people gave their input to this restaurant, but 46 percent of those who did said they love this deli.
Penn Station East Coast Subs
This restaurant is known for both its grilled and cold subs. Some 47 percent of respondents (of which totaled less than 500) said they like Penn Station East Coast Subs. After all, there are plenty of other sub places out there to choose from, so clearly there is something pretty special about either the food or atmosphere of this one.
RELATED: The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.
This Southwest-centric eatery is the place to go for burritos, quesadillas, and tacos. Moe’s has quite the following, too—some 47 percent of survey participants expressed brand loyalty.
You’ve heard the saying “cool as a cucumber,” so maybe it’s time you start saying “mellow as a mushroom?” OK, scratch that and just try the pizza place Mellow Mushroom if you have yet to. You likely won’t be let down, with 47 percent of survey respondents saying they appreciate this pizza.
Coco’s Bakery Restaurant
Coco’s Bakery Restaurant is exclusively located in southern California, but this place has a strong following, having nearly the same percentage of brand loyalty with a top dog like Panera. In fact, it actually slightly beat out Panera by a few hundredths of a percentage point. If you live in southern California or are planning on visiting, be sure to check out this place for their expansive breakfast menu.
If you’re on the prowl for quick service fried (or grilled) fish and lobster rolls, Captain D’s may interest you.
The slug for Bruegger’s Bagels is “Authentic New York-style bagels.” Must we say more? Plus, you don’t even have to fly to New York to get that perfect bagel anymore!
Don’t be fooled by that darling ice cream cone—Braum’s offers a relatively comprehensive menu, serving things like breakfast sandwiches, salads, and even chili.
When you could pick between your local pizza place and a larger chain like Pizza Hut, Papa John’s still ended up in the middle of this list. In fact, some 48 percent of respondents say they genuinely like Papa John’s pizza, as opposed to just ordering it from time to time out of convenience.
Mountain Mike’s Pizza
With locations in Utah, Nevada, Oregon, and predominantly California, Mountain Mike’s Pizza offers a range of funky pizza name orders, most notably the Robbers Roost and Mt. Veggiemore.
Jet’s Pizza is known for it’s non-traditional, thick crust, square-sliced pizza.
Hot Stuff Pizza
OK, let’s pause for a moment. Can we discuss the fact that the past four restaurants on this list—all of which had 48 percent of respondents express brand loyalty—are pizza places? These establishments are all competing with each other, yet, according to the results of this survey, they all happened to earn near equivalent percentages of customers saying the same thing: they like the brand of each respective pizza place. Hot Stuff Pizza also offers a variety of other menu items, including breakfast burritos, cheeseburgers, and mozzarella sticks.
Carvel whips up a range of sweet treats, including cakes, shakes, and of course, ice cream sundaes. They even have a trademark sundae called the Dasher with nine different flavors available across the U.S., and only two of which are served at every location: Oreo Cookie and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
Carrabba’s is the place to go to satisfy that craving for Italian cuisine. This sit-down restaurant has accumulated quite the brand loyalty too, with 48 percent of survey respondents saying they like the restaurant.
Cafe Río is another small chain restaurant that has captured the hearts of many. Check out this place if you have a hankering for tamales!
Can you guess what this full-service restaurant serves? Yep, a variety of seafood dishes are offered at Bonefish Grill. For example, at brunch, you can pick between items such as the Saucy Shrimp + Grits and the Filet Mignon & Lobster Eggs Benedict.
The Capital Grille
Head to The Capital Grille if you’re in the mood for a splurge. This place is advertised as a place of fine dining for a reason, with main course menu items range from $33 to up to $90. There’s even an appetizer that costs $110!
Saladworks is currently located among 12 states in the U.S., offering—you guessed it—salad bowls upon salad bowls. Roughly 49 percent of survey participants said they have a real desire to experience Saladworks, as opposed to just heading to a random salad chain.
Raising Cane’s is one of the top 10 fastest-growing restaurant chains in the U.S., as determined by Nation’s Restaurant News annual Top 200 report. Survey respondents break through that 50 percent barrier, with half admitting they visit the quick-service fried chicken place because they love the brand. After all, they could have chosen KFC, right?
Hit up Cracker Barrel for pancakes or a platter of bacon, eggs, and biscuits (among a myriad of other breakfast options they serve all day long).
Texas Roadhouse is truly a one-of-a-kind place with those buttery, fluffy rolls. Some 51 percent of respondents say they go to this restaurant because they value its distinctive brand.
If you haven’t been to Taco Bueno, the name of the restaurant would suggest that they serve good tacos, and 51 percent of survey participants would agree.
Luby’s offers “Fresh tastes of Texas favorites” as per the company’s website. Sure, the dinner menu may win the hearts of many, but did you know they also dish up a butternut brownie pie for dessert?
Kirspy Kreme is the lone doughnut shop on this list, which speaks volumes for the 51 percent of respondents who said they appreciate this chain’s brand, considering there are a lot of local doughnut shops across the U.S. Dunkin’ who?
There are currently only 51 locations nationwide where you can order Freshii from, according to corporate catering app, ezCater. While less than 500 survey participants gave feedback about this restaurant, 51 percent of those who did boast brand loyalty.
Hop into Culver’s for ice cream, burgers, fried fish sandwiches, and—yes—Wisconsin cheese curds.
Farmer Boys Restaurant
Farmer Boys Restaurant offers one-of-a-kind bread bowls (not to discredit your bread bowls, Panera). Roughly 52 percent of survey participants say they appreciate this restaurant’s brand.
Buca Di Beppo
Buca di Beppo boasts family-style dining, pass-the-plate kind of atmosphere. Order a few main entrées, and start sharing!
Breaking through to the top 10 restaurants with the most brand loyalty is Red Lobster. Roughly 53 percent of survey respondents say they appreciate the brand of this long-standing seafood place (likely because they can’t get enough of those cheddar bay biscuits).
Maggiano’s Little Italy
The restaurant with the eighth most brand loyalty according to survey participants is Whataburger. A majority of respondents, 54 percent to be exact, say they appreciate the burgers at this restaurant.
Newk’s Eatery has acquired a devoted fan base, with 54 percent of survey participants expressing brand loyalty.
If you’re looking for a mean steak to chow down on, Ruth’s Chris is your go-to spot. Some 55 percent of respondents say they enjoy experiencing this place for its food and atmosphere, and it probably makes for a nice night out, right?
Shane’s Rib Shack
Shane’s Rib Shack may not exactly look like it would serve up some of the best ribs in town, but the stats from this survey prove otherwise—56 percent of respondents say they appreciate the brand.
Even though Chick-Fil-A is closed one day of the week, customers still can’t seem to stay away from this place the other days of the week.
Is anyone really that surprised that a pizza place snagged the spot as the restaurant with the third most brand loyalty? Papa Murphy’s must be one authentic place, with 58 percent of respondents saying they appreciate its brand of pizza.
La Madeline French Bakery
La Madeleine is the lone French Bakery & Café on this list, with 58 percent of survey participants saying they value the eatery’s brand. We’d say oui, too!
The restaurant with the most brand loyalty is the one and only In-N-Out Burger, topping the charts with a whopping 63 percent of respondents saying they truly love the brand. It might not be widespread (yet!), but those who live or travel to In-N-Out cities are definitely taking a bite out of the burgers.