What is the single most popular type of restaurant in the United States? Fast-food restaurants serving hamburgers, of course. There are 53,000 of them, according to the 2012 economic census. They account for 23.6 percent of the nation's 225,000 fast-food restaurants with employees. After hamburgers are sandwich/sub shops (18.5%), pizza (15.8%), Chinese (10.0%), and Mexican (8.8%).
What's the most popular type of full-service restaurant in the United States? The answer is "other ethnic"—a category that includes Thai, Indian, Cambodian, Japanese, Ethiopian, and all other ethnic restaurants except Mexican, Italian, and Chinese. There are 31,000 "other ethnic" restaurants, accounting for 13.5 percent of the nation's 232,000 full-service restaurants with employees. Second in popularity is Mexican (9.4%) followed by Italian (9.2%) and Chinese (8.6%). The four ethnic categories account for a substantial 41 percent of the nation's full-service restaurants.
Source: Census Bureau, 2012 Economic Census