Cheaper food no longer means a sub-par dine-in experience—these three brands are elevating fast dining with great design, exclusive menus and thoughtful choices

Even for all the convenience and affordability that fast food provides, the typical dine-in experience is usually less than stellar. After all, a more expensive bill usually correlates with a more refined ambiance. But this dynamic is changing.

Today, fast food restaurants are being reimagined as more than just takeout—new tech, high design and improved atmospheres all elevate what it's like to dine in. Taco Bell, McDonald's and Starbucks are all on the forefront of this industry-wide shift:

Taco Bell
Mexican chain Taco Bell is opening its Cantinas in cities across the U.S., featuring modern design with open kitchens and custom murals to appeal to urban consumers. Each location is a little different and encourage dining in with exclusive menu items and self-service kiosks. Even better, they serve alcohol and allow diners to change the music using their phones. The company plans to open 300 Cantina locations across the country by 2022.

Taco Bell

McDonald's
The 19,000-square foot, downtown Chicago flagship features fresh, eco-friendly design with upscale leather seating and table service. There's a lush indoor plant wall, a mini arboretum and an outdoor patio. The restaurant features a menu with a rotating selection of global menu items, allowing dine-in customers a chance to sample customer favorites from around the world. McDonald's also invested in a McCafé area serving coffee brewed by trained baristas.

McDonald's

Starbucks
Coffee titan Starbucks unveiled its stunning Reserve Roastery in New York City's Meatpacking District late last year. The high-end, 23,000-square-foot location features a genuine coffee roasting plant, plus a full-service bar, mixology stations, Princi baked goods and the coffee that made it famous. There's also a terrarium and a 2,000-pound copper sculpture of the Starbucks Siren, making it nearly impossible not to stay and dine in. Other cities with Roasteries include Seattle, Shanghai, Milan and Tokyo.


Lead image: Matt Prince/Taco Bell Newsroom

Even for all the convenience and affordability that fast food provides, the typical dine-in experience is usually less than stellar. After all, a more expensive bill usually correlates with a more refined ambiance. But this dynamic is changing.

Today, fast food restaurants are being reimagined as more than just takeout—new tech, high design and improved atmospheres all elevate what it's like to dine in. Taco Bell, McDonald's and Starbucks are all on the forefront of this industry-wide shift: