The 25 best fast-food chains in America

This Is Why Chick-fil-A Is So Successful
This Is Why Chick-fil-A Is So Successful

Fast food took root in America the 1950s and has flourished into a $255 billion US industry. These restaurants — globally associated with American culture — evoke surprising passion, with many developing a cult-like loyalty from their customers. But which chain is truly the best?

Business Insider partnered with Restaurant Business, a foodservice industry expert and media outlet, to compile a definitive ranking of the best fast food restaurants in America. Using proprietary data collected by Restaurant Business and its sister research firm Technomic, we looked at nearly 100 of the largest US chains and rated them on three key criteria that we considered the most telling for all-around fast food excellence: financial performance, customer satisfaction, and overall value. Our calculations accounted for sales growth, average sales per location, consumer sentiment ratings, and the average cost of a meal, among other metrics. Read more about the methodology here.

Towering sales figures alone weren't enough to make the cut, as a number of fast-food heavyweights — like McDonald's and Taco Bell — don't crack the top-25 of our ranking. Rather, customers tend to gravitate toward more specialized and regional brands that offer a higher quality experience — including fresh, sustainable ingredients — at an affordable price, explains Restaurant Business.

Keep reading to see the 25 best fast food chains in America in 2016.

DON'T MISS: I've tried nearly every burger on the market — here's who does it best

AND: 15 of the healthiest fast-food menu items

Originally published