guide fast food New York City


The Ultimate Guide to Fast Food in New York City

So a few weeks ago, I took off on a week-long trip to the Big Apple. Of course, I wanted to explore and get rid of everything that was stressing me out, but I was also on a mission. The goal? Eat as much fucking fast food as I could. As my scale now adds 4 more kg’s to my weight than usual, it’s fair to say my mission was a success. Why did I do this? When in New York, you HAVE to get a taste of the famous American fast food, it’s just obligatory. But of course, you don’t want to gain 4 kg’s by eating around at every possible place. So I took one for the team and tested all these places out. After taking a bite of like 10.000 calories, I’m ready to evaluate.

McDonald’s: Not The Worst

The obvious choice when you think about getting some fast food is McDonald’s. Where I live, McDonald’s is pretty much the only fast food restaurant around. They’re everywhere around the world, and you won’t struggle to find one in NYC. So I thought it would be a good idea to make the comparison. Don’t mind the cringey pictures I made of the food.

First thing to notice is, if you’re from Europe or somewhere else other than the US, the menu looks very different. There are a lot of choices, but it’s also a bit complicated. I had a hard time figuring out whether they sold some stuff that I saw on the internet. The easiest way for me was ordering through a touchscreen, as you get an easy overview of all the available products.

If you’re looking for a nice place to sit down, McDo is definitely the place to be. I have to give them credit for the free wi-fi. It was also very nice to experience the service at one of the restaurants, where you get served at your table. You order through a touchscreen, get a little electronic device and take it to your table. You will get served by an employee after just a few minutes.

But we’re here to talk about food right? Here’s a piece of advice: ask for fries without salt. At first, I thought someone had been generous with it, but after the second and third visit, I realized that’s how Americans eat their fries. So if you don’t want to have a heart attack, leave the salt behind.

I definitely can recommend getting the Grand Big Mac. You’ll pay around $ 9,50 for a meal with a medium drink and fries. Nice to know; condiments are (almost always) free, as well as refills for your soda. You’ll have trouble choosing your refills because there are a billion of flavors to choose from. Oh, and there’s light mayonnaise to compensate everything else, lol.

But I also tried playing around with the deals. So I got 20 McNuggets with 3 sauce packs ($ 6), 2 small fries ($ 3), and one large drink for $ 2,69 (and keep in mind, the American large drink comes nowhere near to the European size… it’s HUGE). In total, I paid $ 12,84. Was it a good deal? I have no idea. I do know that it was more than enough, as with a regular meal I sometimes still was a bit hungry.

Fast Food New York
Fast Food New York

Shake Shack: Absolute Heaven

McDonald’s is not the worst, but compared to Shake Shack it’s absolute SHIT. I’m currently showing withdrawal symptoms from not being able to eat there anymore. Shake Shack started out as a food cart inside Madison Square Park in 2001 but now has more than 100 locations all over the world. Nowhere as big as McDonald’s, but it’s one of the fastest growing fast food chains.

I completely fell in love with Shake Shack for the amazing taste, but there are also some other things about this company that I like. For example, they only use 100% natural Angus beef, and it’s completely free of hormones and antibiotics. The animals are humanely raised and vegetarian fed. And they go beyond the ingredients, as the interior is also made from recycled materials.

Shake Shack is most famous for their, as the name suggests, milkshakes, but also hot dogs. As delicious as they are, I’m mostly interested in their burgers. And let me tell you right away: they are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. But let me take you through the whole Shack-experience before I talk about the food.

When you step inside, you’ll probably notice that the place is busy AF. I visited a few restaurants, and they were always very crowded. Once you ordered, you get a little electronic device (as seen on the picture above). Then you can look for a table, and that might take a while. Warning: waiting times might be a bit longer. I probably had to wait for 5 to 10 minutes each time, but compared to how many people they’re serving, it’s understandable.

Once your device starts flashing and vibrating, it’s your cue to go get your food. And theeennnnn you can start eating away. But eat slowly, because you need to taste every fucking inch of your burger and fries. Enjoy the moment. It’s over before you know it, and then you’ll basically start crying if you don’t order another burger.

My absolute favorite was the Smoke Shack; a cheeseburger with smoked bacon, chopped cherry pepper and Shack sauce. It’s sooo fucking delicious, but warning: the cherry pepper is pretty spicy. Together with some fries and soda (no refills, sadly), I came to the grand total of $ 13,43. Condiments are free. Now let’s be real, this is quite expensive for a burger, some fries and a soda. But it’s roughly $ 4 more than what you’d pay at McDonald’s, and you’ll leave really satisfied. My choice is clear.

Fast food all around New York City

The biggest conclusion: there are SO SO many fast food places in NYC, that it’s impossible to make a complete list or review. I thought it was interesting to compare the biggest Burger restaurant in the world to a smaller, less famous competitor. Shake Shack has won this competition by far, but that doesn’t mean McDonald’s is bad. It’s just not AS good. 🙂

Here are some more fast food recommendations. All tested by me, myself and I: Chipotle, Subway, Wendy’s, Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Arby’s, TGI Fridays.

Fast Food New York

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