Wendy's Vs Rally's: Which Chain Reigns Supreme?

If you've got a craving for a hamburger and are wondering whether to head to Wendy's or Rally's, there's a lot to consider. Both restaurants fry up a fantastic burger, but their menus and locations provide fundamentally different experiences. 

The time of day may determine where you go — one welcomes early morning diners, while the other opens just in time for lunch. Then, think about what everyone in your family is planning to eat. For example, if someone wants a salad, there's only one of these two restaurants that will make it. Likewise, breaded mozzarella cheese sticks and wings only appear on one of the two menus. Do you want to dine in, or do you prefer to carry out? One chain has an indoor dining area for customers. If the weather's nice, you may enjoy the outdoor seating at the competitor, though. Finally, price may be a big consideration as well, so knowing which chain has better deals is important (the specific prices quoted in this piece may not be the same as prices where you live). 

We tasted a bunch of food from both places to try to determine which menu is superior. We'll take you through the pluses and minuses of both restaurants and tell you which one is our overall pick.

Wendy's menu

Wendy's was the second-highest-grossing burger chain in 2022. It's doing something right in the kitchen to attract so many customers to its nearly 6,000 locations. Wendy's delicious menu includes burgers with toppings like cheese, fresh veggies, and bacon as well as chicken sandwiches and nuggets. For a healthier entree, you can choose from a chicken wrap or salad. The sides are fries, chili, baked potatoes, and apple slices. Although none of Wendy's food is certified as gluten-free due to possible cross-contamination, anyone avoiding gluten could order fries, a Frosty, chili, certain salads, or baked potatoes, depending on their level of sensitivity. Vegetarians will also appreciate those last two options, although they'll have to ask for their salad without the chicken.

Experts attribute Wendy's recent financial success to its expanded breakfast offerings, which are available between 6:30 and 10:30. The offerings include sandwiches, French toast fries, sides, and coffee. Additionally, the chain has an easy-to-use mobile ordering app that gives access to deals and lets people earn points toward rewards. A feature allowing you to choose your pickup time makes it simple to pre-order lunch from the office, jump in the car when it's your break, and pick your food up with minimal waiting. Finally, Wendy's locations have clean, comfortable indoor dining areas and hygienic bathrooms so if you're on a road trip and need someplace to stop, this chain will welcome you.

Rally's Menu

Rally's (known as Checkers in some parts of the U.S.) boasts a quick drive-thru and delicious food. That's why it was the 12th-highest-grossing burger chain in 2022 and has more than 800 locations. The menu includes burgers, fish sandwiches, hot dogs, and chicken dishes. Fries, chili, and breaded mozzarella sticks are the mouthwatering sides. It's a shame, though, that the only place you'll find a vegetable here is as a topping on the burgers. Gluten-free diners may be able to munch on chicken wings and chili or sip a shake, although cross-contamination could occur. Unfortunately, the fries are not gluten-free. Vegetarians will enjoy the mozzarella cheese sticks and desserts at Rally's.

Using Rally's app to order allows you to plan — if you mark that you want your order for later, you can add any pickup time you want. There are a few bugs, though. For example, it's hard to order a bowl of chili — the trick is clicking on "Every Day Deals" instead of "Sides." Using rewards points and deals is also a bit confusing since you have to apply them at checkout and not before.

Rally's distinctive '50s ambiance and double drive-thru — yes, there's a window on each side of the building — means that most locations don't have indoor seating. Bathrooms aren't available to customers either. This makes Rally's a great place to pick up an order quickly, but travelers may want to head somewhere else if they need to refresh themselves.

Rally's has tastier fries, but Wendy's burgers are better

Wendy's and Rally's are both burger joints so the quality of their sandwiches and fries matters. Buying a combo of a burger, fries, and a soft drink from either chain is a go-to move. The most basic combo from Rally's is the Cheese Champ Combo. If you get a small, it comes with a 20-ounce Coke product, a small order of fries, and a burger with a single patty, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and sauce. It costs $8.69. At Wendy's, Dave's Combo includes a single patty hamburger with toppings, a 16-ounce soft drink, and a medium order of fries for $9.48. Alternatively, the bacon cheeseburger combos (Baconzilla from Rally's and Baconator from Wendy's) cost 10.69 and 11.88 respectively. Generally, you'll get slightly more quantity from Rally's for slightly less money, but an equally ridiculous name for your fast food.

If you're more interested in the quality of your burger than the price, you'll probably like Wendy's better. The chain brags that it uses never frozen meat in its sandwiches. This comes out in the taste of the burger which, subjectively, is one of the best fast food burgers out there. Rally's burger is good, but not as good. The fries are a different matter. Wendy's fries are just mediocre while Rally's spiced fries are mind-blowingly salty, spicy, and delicious.

Wendy's has kids' meals (Rally's doesn't)

There are plenty of items on Wendy's and Rally's menus that appeal to kids — for example, most kids love chicken nuggets and french fries. On the other hand, adult portions of these items can be too big for children, meaning some of the food you buy goes to waste. Getting smaller sizes specifically designed for kiddos is attractive to many parents. That's why ordering Wendy's kids' meal makes sense. This combo comes in a separate bag and your kid can choose between a burger and nuggets. The side can be apple slices or fries. The drink may be milk, juice, water, or soda. The combo even includes a toy just like a Happy Meal. Kids love that.

A Wendy's kids' meal costs $4.09 which makes it a great deal. An order of chicken bites and fries from Rally's costs $3.99. That's a similar price, but it doesn't include a drink or a toy. On the other hand, it seems like a lot more fries and nuggets.

Rally's has a fish sandwich (Wendy's doesn't always)

If you're in the mood for a fast food fish sandwich, you'd better go to Rally's. Each year, Wendy's offers a fried fish sandwich, but only for a limited time. The last time it showed up was February 2023 — that may mean that it's due to visit soon, but no one knows yet. At the competing chain, though, fish is on the menu year-round so you won't have to worry about missing it.

Rally's Crispy Fish Sandwich comes with a breaded square of fish. The crispy part of the name is not an exaggeration: The breaded exterior truly is delightfully crunchy. The tartar sauce on top adds a fantastic sour, tart note to the sandwich. The taste of the fish patty, though, is not that different from fish sticks, which could be good or bad depending on whether or not you like that finger food. All in all, this sandwich is well worth its $3.50 price tag.

Rally's and Wendy's make great chili

It can be hard to find something on the menu of a typical burger place for anyone who doesn't love hamburgers. That makes it refreshing to see chili on Rally's and Wendy's menus since it gives customers an alternative to the standard fast food dishes. It also sounds especially good when it's the dead of winter and temperatures outside are icy. A bowl of spicy chili will heat you right up.

Whether you like Wendy's or Rally's chili more will depend on what you like in chili. Rally's has a slightly thicker texture while Wendy's seems juicier — perhaps better for dipping bread in if you like that sort of thing. Wendy's chili features more chunks of tomato, beans, and veggies. Rally's soup is a bit spicier. A cup of chili from Rally's costs around $2.50 while a cup from Wendy's is about $2.80 and a bowl is close to $3.60.

Wendy's has breakfast (Rally's doesn't)

If you need someplace to grab your morning meal, stop at Wendy's — Rally's doesn't have a breakfast menu. Wendy's breakfast offerings include a range of biscuit-, English muffin-, and croissant-based sandwiches with various configurations of cheese, egg, bacon, and sausage. There's nothing to get you going first thing in the morning like a Maple Bacon Chicken Croissant. You can add some French toast sticks or spicy potatoes as sides. Careful with those potatoes though — there's no way you'll just eat a few since they're delicious.

Breakfast combos come with a sandwich, a drink, and a choice of side — an oatmeal bar, potatoes, or apples. You can choose coffee or a soft drink. Tea drinkers will be disappointed, though. Fortunately, breakfast won't break your budget since combos cost between $4 and $6.50. You might also purchase the two-for-$3 deal. For that price, you can pick two out of four menu items — a sausage biscuit, an egg and cheese biscuit, small spicy potatoes, or a coffee.

Rally's has more desserts

If you need something to soothe your sweet tooth, you can find dessert at either chain, but Rally's has more options. At Wendy's, you're limited to fresh-baked sugar and chocolate chunk cookies, which cost $1.50 a piece. You could also get a small Frosty for about the same price.

At Rally's, you'll find more options to choose from, but will end up spending more. There are funnel fries ($3.00) — they're made with county fair funnel cake dough fried into straight sticks and topped with powdered sugar. If you get those, eat them immediately. They're crisp, wonderfully sweet, and will have you licking the powdered sugar off your fingers. On the other hand, wait too long, and they'll get soggy and unappetizing. You could also order a couple of brownies or a cheesecake sundae for the same price. A small milkshake will cost you about $4.

Rally's shakes are creamier, but Wendy's have more chocolate

Shakes are as fundamental a menu item as fries and hamburgers. You can order one at both Wendy's and Rally's. Wendy's peddles two flavors of Frosties at any given time. Chocolate is always on the menu alongside a second seasonal flavor. Around Thanksgiving, it's usually pumpkin spice, and then for Christmas, peppermint. In the summer you may find strawberry and at other times vanilla or birthday cake. A 12-ounce frosty costs $1.50.

While Frosties can taste a little grainy, Rally's milkshakes are as smooth as silk and come in more flavors. Year-round, you can order vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, and banana. Even though the texture at Rally's is superior, the chocolate shake isn't quite as chocolatey as Wendy's Frosty — which could be positive or not, depending on your taste. The smallest size is 16 ounces, which goes for around $4. Per ounce, Frosties cost about half that.

Wendy's has salad (Rally's doesn't)

The four salads are the most refreshing items on Wendy's menu. If you're in the mood for some crunchy sweet lettuce topped with deliciously grilled chicken, you'll love the Parmesan Caesar. The Cobb salad includes lettuce, chicken, bacon, tomatoes, cheese, and eggs. Apple pecan is Wendy's sweetest salad with crunchy apple slices and dried cranberries. They taste wonderful when combined with blue cheese and grilled chicken. Finally, the taco salad features chili, tortilla chips, tomato, and cheese over lettuce. Each salad costs around $8. That's about the same as many of the chain's hamburgers.

The most unfortunate thing about Wendy's salads is they aren't vegetarian. Anyone who's removed animal protein from their diet will have to take an extra step to ask that the workers leave out the chicken or chili from their order. Worse, vegetarians will have to pay the same price even though they've removed the most expensive ingredient.

Rally's has hot dogs while Wendy's has wraps and baked potatoes

Rally's and Wendy's offer some additional non-burger items on their menus like hot dogs, wraps, and baked potatoes. The hot dogs ($2) and chili dogs ($3) at Rally's hit the spot if you've been craving a fairground or ballpark experience. Beware: the chili dog comes with raw onion, so it's not the right thing to order on a first date. As far as hot dogs go, these are pretty good.

Wendy's missed the hot dog train and got on the wrap one instead. Wendy's chicken wrap ($6) includes a lot of lettuce with some grilled chicken breast and a few strands of grated cheese. You'll like it better than a burger if you aren't a burger person, but if wraps are your thing, you'll likely find tastier ones elsewhere. A little bird said the best fast food chicken wraps may be at Taco Bell, but that's another story.

Wendy's baked potatoes are a fun thing to order because the customer can get creative when choosing the topping. You can pick from sour cream, chives, cheese, chili, bacon, and more. This starchy, filling menu item costs between $3 and $4, making it a great pick if you're looking for a lower-budget lunch.

Wendy's has nuggets — Rally's has bites, tenders, and wings

Anyone dreaming of chicken will find something to order at either Wendy's or Rally's. If you prefer your poultry grilled, pick a salad or a wrap from Wendy's. Breaded chicken comes in the form of nuggets at Wendy's. Heads up — if you sign up for the app, you'll get a free order of 10. Otherwise, they cost $1.70 for a four-piece.

Rally's offers chicken bites which are smaller — just a bit bigger than a marble — and crunchier than Wendy's nuggets. Diners who crave the salty outer breading more than the tender chicken inside will love these. Best of all, they're an easy-to-share side since they come in a box with fries. If you are more interested in the delicious poultry meat within, you'll prefer Rally's breaded tenders which are $6 for an order of three. Finally, Rally's also offers saucy, irresistible wings. A five-piece order costs $9.

Final verdict: Wendy's is better

Wendy's and Rally's both have enticing menus and delicious food, but there are a few reasons that you might pick Wendy's over Rally's. First, you'll probably spend less at Wendy's. True, some of the individual menu items are more expensive — for example, the sandwiches. Once you apply a 20% discount with the purchase of a Frosty from the app, though, that price will dip down. Rally's app doesn't have a comparable deal. Additionally, some sides and drinks come in smaller sizes at Wendy's, making it easier to consume and pay less.

Next, Wendy's menu seems to appeal to a wider audience. It has wonderfully meaty, fatty sandwiches, but also a couple of lighter alternatives like baked potatoes, salad, and a chicken wrap. Rally's food, on the other hand, seems to be uniformly greasy. Hot dogs, chicken wings, chili, and fried mozzarella sticks are the alternatives to a burger.

On the other hand, Rally's has superior fries and shakes. The chain also has superior chicken. So, if you wanted the best of both worlds, you'd get a burger, salad, or wrap from Wendy's, then head to Rally for your fries, chicken tenders, and a shake. That would be just about perfect.