These are the restaurant chains that Gen Z eats at most, according to a survey of more than 1,800 young Americans

The Golden Arches appear to be staying gold for the majority of teens.

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The Golden Arches appear to be staying gold for the majority of teens.
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Kuttigullstein bild via Getty Images

  • Generation Z has a clear favorite when it comes to fast-food and casual-dining chains.
  • Business Insider surveyed over 1,800 Americans between the age of 13 and 21 to learn more about their restaurant preferences.
  • We found that McDonald’s dominated the list.

Editor’s note: Business Insider surveyed 1,884 young Americans about their buying attitudes and beliefs. This is part of a series of stories that will be rolled out over the next several weeks.

Teens like their food cheap.

So it makes sense that they’d like fast-food and casual-dining chains. Everyone who’s ever been a teen – or parented one – won’t be surprised to see young people hitting up the local burger joint during lunch period, sliding ino the drive-thru after snagging their licenses, or congregating at the local casual-dining restaurant.

But which chain come first for Generation Z?

Read more: These are the brands that Gen Z shops at most, according to a survey of more than 1,800 young Americans

To find out, Business Insider surveyed 1,884 Americans between the age of 13 and 21 to get a better sense of their spending habits. The national poll was conducted with SurveyMonkey Audience partner Cint on behalf of Business Insider. It ran from January 11 through January 14.

In the survey, we asked participants: “Which of the following fast-food chains have you bought food or drink from in the last six months?” and then gave them the option to check multiple restaurants.

Here are the top restaurant chains that Generation Z frequents:


19. Five Guys

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

A decent number of young folks said they’d recently purchased a meal at Five Guys.

Percentage of respondents who bought food or drink from this chain in the past six months: 17.20%


18. Panera

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Hollis Johnson

Panera’s soups, sandwiches, and, of course, signature bread remain popular with teens.

Percentage of respondents who bought food or drink from this chain in the past six months: 18.84%


17. Applebee’s

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Plenty of young people said they’re still “eating good in the neighborhood” at Applebee’s.

Percentage of respondents who bought food or drink from this chain in the past six months: 19.85%


16. Olive Garden

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Just under 20% of survey respondents had recently eaten at Olive Garden.

Percentage of respondents who bought food or drink from this chain in the past six months: 19.96%


15. Buffalo Wild Wings

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Hollis Johnson

B-Dubs fans apparently make up a good swath of Generation Z.

Percentage of respondents who bought food or drink from this chain in the past six months: 20.70%


14. Chipotle

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Chipotle’s burritos, bowls, and guac remain a staple for over 20% of survey respondents.

Percentage of respondents who bought food or drink from this chain in the past six months: 21.23%


13. Popeyes

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Just over one fifth of survey participants apparently like to get their chicken “Louisiana fast.”

Percentage of respondents who bought food or drink from this chain in the past six months: 22.88%


12. Papa John’s

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Hollis Johnson

Papa John’s didn’t beat out its pizza chain competitors, but it still wooed just over 23% of respondents.

Percentage of respondents who bought food or drink from this chain in the past six months: 23.04%


11. Dunkin’

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Hollis Johnson

Just under a quarter of our Generation Z respondents said they run on Dunkin’.

Percentage of respondents who bought food or drink from this chain in the past six months: 23.78%


10. IHOP

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Hollis Johnson

IHOP’s spot on the list proves that a good number of young people are happy to fill up with a big stack of buttermilk pancakes.

Percentage of respondents who bought food or drink from this chain in the past six months: 23.99%


9. KFC

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Hollis Johnson

Generation Z is seemingly paying Colonel Sanders a visit from time to time.

Percentage of respondents who bought food or drink from this chain in the past six months: 28.98%


8. Domino’s

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Hollis Johnson

Almost a third of survey respondents said they’d gotten the door for Domino’s recently.

Percentage of respondents who bought food or drink from this chain in the past six months: 31.58%


7. Pizza Hut

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Hollis Johnson

Of the major pizza chains, Pizza Hut took the top spot in Generation Z’s restaurant rankings.

Percentage of respondents who bought food or drink from this chain in the past six months: 35.03%


6. Chick-fil-A

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Almost 40% of the young people that Business Insider surveyed said they have flocked to Chick-fil-A recently.

Percentage of respondents who bought food or drink from this chain in the past six months: 39.49%


5. Starbucks

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Hollis Johnson

Starbucks appears to be the go-to spot for young people to grab their favorite caffeinated concoction.

Percentage of respondents who bought food or drink from this chain in the past six months: 40.18%


4. Burger King

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Hollis Johnson

Burger King ranks as one of teens’ favorite fast-food joints.

Percentage of respondents who bought food or drink from this chain in the past six months: 41.99%


3. Wendy’s

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Hollis Johnson

Generation Z certainly doesn’t have a frosty attitude toward Wendy’s.

Percentage of respondents who bought food or drink from this chain in the past six months: 42.09%


2. Taco Bell

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Young people today are all about living más.

Percentage of respondents who bought food or drink from this chain in the past six months: 43.52%


1. McDonald’s

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Hollis Johnson

Members of Generation Z may be too old for Happy Meals, but the numbers show that they still flock to McDonald’s on the regular.

Percentage of respondents who bought food or drink from this chain in the past six months: 62.79%