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We’re Lovin’ It! Map Reveals Every State’s Most Popular Drive-Thrus According To Google Data

Analyzing the number of Google searches for drive-thru brands, Pentagon Motor Group’s research has found that coffee giants Starbucks rule the roost for drive-thrus in the states, followed by McDonald’s, and then Chick-fil-A. Showing that caffeine wins out over burgers and fries!

The research also revealed that the people of California are the biggest drive-thru lovers per capita, searching more than any other state for Starbucks and McDonald’s, therefore crowning the Golden State as the official capital of the drive-thru. Residents of New Jersey, Colorado, and Arizona were also found to seek out a drive-thru more than most.

  • Starbucks is the most popular drive-thru in America, followed by McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Pentagon Motor Group used Google search data to rank the most popular drive-thru brands and the towns and cities that love a meal on the move most
  • California is named as the state who searches for drive-thru’s the most, with New Jersey and Colorado closely behind

The caffeine-fix is proving to be strong across the majority of US states where Starbucks reigns supreme in the battle of drive-thrus, warding off the tempting golden arches of McDonald’s, the donut emporium Dunkin’ Donuts and the nation’s largest Asian restaurant chain Panda Express.

Pentagon Motor Group reached its ranking of our favorite drive-thrus by using Google search data to see how many people have been looking for drive-thru options over the past year. They discovered more than 18 million searches looking for drive-thru options and Starbucks reigns supreme dwarfing the popularity of its nearest competitor, McDonald’s.

The USA’s Top 10 Most Popular Drive-Thrus  

  1. Starbucks   
  2. McDonalds
  3. Dunkin’ Donuts
  4. Panda Express
  5. Subway
  6. Panera  
  7. Dairy Queen
  8. Popeyes
  9. Taco Bell
  10. Chipotle 

Coffee beats burgers to the top spot with the world’s largest coffee chain Starbucks beating the world’s largest burger brand, McDonalds. The top 10 is far from just coffee and burgers though with a range of different foods and styles making the list and reflecting the multi-cultural food scene that the US is famed for. Iconic donut brand Dunkin’ Donuts takes the third spot with the largest Asian restaurant chain in the US, Panda Express in fourth. Fresh sandwich masters Subway completes the top 5 and, surprisingly, Popeyes wins the battle of the most popular fried chicken drive-thru with KFC nowhere to be seen in the top 10.  

Drive-Thru Capitals of the US 

California is crowned drive-thru capital of the US, based on the number of drive-thru searches per person, closely followed by New Jersey on the East Coast with the Centennial State, Colorado in third. The least drive-thru-loving states are Oregon, Indiana, and Nevada.   

The USA’s Top 10 Drive-Thru Capitals 

  1. California
  2. New Jersey
  3. Colorado
  4. Arizona
  5. Massachusetts
  6. Maryland
  7. Illinois
  8. Hawaii
  9. Connecticut
  10. Minnesota

Where are the Top 5 Drive-Thru Brands Most Popular?  

The research also looked at which US state takes the crown as the biggest fan of each drive-thru brand, by looking at the numbers of searches adjusted for population size. California features heavily on the list as the biggest fan of two of the top five chains – Starbucks and McDonaldsAlthough Starbucks dominates for most US states, it was unable to claim the top spot in its home state Washington, pipped by, you guessed it – McDonald’s! Whilst Arizona clearly loves its Asian cuisine featuring as the top state for Panda Express 




Dunkin’ Donuts 

Panda Express 





New Jersey 











New York 





New Jersey 

New Jersey 







Rhode Island 



Jonathan Lingham, Marketing Director at Pentagon Motor Group commented: Drive-thrus are such an important part of the culinary culture in the US and, during the pandemic have gone beyond being a convenience and a comfort to become a lifeline for fast food fans and coffee lovers across the country. Whilst ‘the big two’, Starbuck and McDonald’s reign supreme as the nation’s favorites, we were fascinated to see the variety of different foods and flavors that made our list, a testament to the fantastic multi-cultural food scene in the States.  

We also salute California as the new drive-thru capital of the USA – fast food, coffee, and cars is clearly a dream combination for them and we look forward to a road trip there to check out the best drive-thru hotspots when we’re allowed to again!”  

The full findings, including drive-thru data for the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand can be found at: pentagon-group.co.uk/news/worlds-most-popular-drive-thrus