Up until now, we had our choice of either dining in fast food places  like McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s etc, nice restaurants with servers fast food restaurants like Olive Garden and Red Lobster and of course in here in New Jersey, diners.

Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Chipotle

Now we have a new alternative, the combination of fast food with higher quality both in meal and ambiance, served to you without a dedicated wait staff and it’s taking the country by storm.

Places like Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) and Panera Bread (PNRA) have become the new darlings of the dining scene. They're the poster children for fast casual, where diners can get a meal that may be slightly more expensive than fast food alternatives, but the food quality and perceived ambiance is also better.

Industry tracker NPD Group estimates that fast casual sales rose 8 percent last year, compared to a slight decline at traditional table service restaurants.

The traditional chains are not only seeing this but reacting. Earlier this year Applebee's began expanding a lunchtime platform where customers can order and pre-pay for their meals at a counter. Runners then deliver the food to their table. For now, the Express Lunch option is only available at roughly two dozen locations in the company's home turf of Kansas City. Other chains are trying to buy their way out. Ruby Tuesday acquired Lime Fresh, a small Chipotle-esque concept with a wider menu, last year.

How is all this working out for you? Where do you feel is the best place other than the fancy schmancy restaurant to get a good meal in New Jersey?