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The Most Popular Chain Restaurant in America

Find out how your favorite fast-food or sit-down joint stacks up against the rest.

Backtrack to yesterday's lunch: Did you choose to grab a salad at your favorite chain restaurant based on its convenience or because you liked the brand itself? In October, Nation's Restaurant News partnered with Datassential, a consumer research brand, to release its annual Consumer Picks survey, which shows us how popular restaurants stack up against each other based on customer loyalty. And because this is the 2020 report, this data focuses on which brands maintained customer loyalty during the pandemic.

Here are the chain restaurants that Nation's Restaurant News proclaims are "standout consumer picks," with #1 being customers' absolute favorite. Is your favorite chain on the list?

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Little Caesars

Little Caeasars

When it comes to pizza, Little Caesars was the only chain to break Nation's Restaurant News' top-10 list.

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Ruth's Chris Steak House


When you're in the mood for a fancy steak, nothing beats Ruth's Chris.

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McCormick & Schmick's

mccormicks schmicks

This seafood spot maintained customer loyalty during the pandemic.

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American Deli

American deli restaurant
American Deli/Facebook

As NRN explains, American Deli has locations in just eight states. But those who know the chain love it for its gyros, cheesesteaks, and other sandwiches.

Freebirds World Burrito

Freebirds World Burrito / Facebook

Freebirds is only in Utah and Texas, but that didn't stop it from making the list. If you're lucky enough to live near this chain, let us know how it is.

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Cafe Rio Mexican Grill

Cafe rio mexican grill restaurant
Jeff Hitchcock / Flickr

Move over, Chipotle! Cafe Rio is here with burritos, quesadillas, tacos, and more.

In-N-Out Burger

in-n-out burger restaurant
Michael Gordon/Shutterstock

Celebrities and commoners alike flock to this California chain for its burgers and that not-so-secret menu.

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The Cheesecake Factory

cheesecake factory

While indoor dining largely came to a halt in 2020, it's still a fan-favorite spot in terms of sit-down restaurants. "In the consumer survey during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cheesecake Factory scored high (72%) among consumers for its 'sanitization,' or trust that the restaurants were cleaning frequently and to the highest standards," NRN explained.



Chick-fil-A's fans are so loyal they'll dress up like cows to get free chicken, so are you really surprised to see the chain on this list?

And for more food news, here's Every Fast-Food Chain in America—Ranked by Popularity.

Papa Murphy's

Papa murphys pizza

For those who prefer to eat at home, Papa Murphy's take-and-bake pizza takes the prize.

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