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In the competitive restaurant industry, relatively few restaurants earn the distinction of being "fast growth."
Indeed, total U.S. restaurant count as of Sept. 30 dropped roughly 1 percent from the year before, according to data from the NPD Group.
But some restaurants are bucking the trend and delivering double-digit sales growth, fueled in part by rapid restaurant openings.
Food industry research firm Technomic crunched the numbers to find the fastest-growing chains in full-service and limited-service dining, as measured by increases in U.S. sales last year among chains with more than $200 million in U.S. sales. Buffalo Wild Wings, shown here, made the cut along with a range of other restaurants from Mexican to sandwich chains.
Click ahead to read more about the five fastest growing chains in both categories.
—By CNBC's Katie Little.
Correction: This article has been corrected to include updated figures from Technomic for full-service restaurant rankings.
5. Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar
2014 sales growth: 17 percent
2014 unit growth: 8 percent
2014 sales: $3.24 billion
2014 sales growth: 17 percent
2014 unit growth: 9 percent
2014 sales: $205 million
At Fogo de Chão (pronounced fo-go dèe shoun), guests can sample 16 cuts of meat—in addition to salad and sides—to their hearts' content, or until they move up a dress size. Pricing for the unlimited option depends on the market but generally runs about $50 for dinner at the company's 26 locations, which are scattered in large cities across the U.S.
Àla carte and salad-bar only options are also available.
2014 sales growth: 20 percent
2014 unit growth: 18 percent
2014 sales: $245 million
Serving Tex-Mex dishes since 1982, Chuy's Mexican Food began expanding in earnest in 2009. Since then, the chain has grown to include 61 outposts in 14 states.
It aims for an unique feel in each location with made-from-scratch dishes.
2014 sales growth: 21 percent
2014 unit growth: 20 percent
2014 sales: $215 million
With an emphasis on seasonal food and a wide selection of wine, Seasons 52 is one of Darden Restaurants' specialty restaurants. As of the company's last annual report, Seasons 52 stood at 38 locations.
2014 sales growth: 45 percent
2014 unit growth: 39 percent
2014 sales: $239 million
A player in the "Breastaurant" category (mostly sports bars akin to Hooters where waitresses are relatively scantily clad), Twin Peaks has been growing at a fast clip since its founding in 2005. It focuses on providing classic sports-bar dishes such as buffalo wings, burgers and chicken tenders and ice-cold beer in a mountain-lodge atmosphere. True to its category, the wait staff aren't exactly seasonally dressed to hit the slopes.
So far, locations have mostly dotted the Southeast and Midwest.
5. Chipotle Mexican Grill
2014 sales growth: 28 percent
2014 unit growth: 12 percent
2014 sales: $4.05 billion
Chipotle Mexican Grill is so closely identified with growth in the restaurant space that emerging chains are often referred to as the "Chipotle of...." The fast-growing Mexican chain has helped propel the growth of fast casual restaurants, which marry more premium ingredients with fast-speed service.
Chipotle is also betting that its formula can translate to more than just tacos. In fact, Chipotle is on the way to becoming the "Chipotle of Asian" with its ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen and the "Chipotle of pizza" with Pizzeria Locale. For now, the fledgling chain remains small as it concentrates its growth on its main Mexican chain.
2014 sales growth: 29 percent
2014 unit growth: 28 percent
2014 sales: $426 million
Barbecue is one of those polarizing foods that draw considerable debate: Is vinegar- or tomato-based better? Should barbecue be a noun, verb or both?
Dickey's Barbecue Pit is reaping the benefits of America's interest in barbecue. The chain serves a Noah's Ark of different pit-smoked meats, including pulled pork, beef brisket and honey ham.
The third-generation, family-run company has a wide footprint across 43 states in the U.S. and recently opened its 500th store.
2014 sales growth: 30 percent
2014 unit growth: 20 percent
2014 sales: $523 million
Before there was sandwich giant Subway, Jersey Mike's Subs had already begun serving submarine sandwiches on the Jersey Shore.
Despite approaching its 60th year in business, the chain continues to expand rapidly. The chain now has nearly 900 locations.
2014 sales growth: 31 percent
2014 unit growth: 32 percent
2014 sales: $311 million
This Toledo, Ohio,-based pizza chain has been rapidly expanding over the past several years with more than 500 stores currently in 35 states and the Bahamas.
The fast food chain, which makes its dough fresh daily in its stores and uses never-frozen cheese, has 1,500 new locations on the way.
2014 sales growth: 38 percent
2014 unit growth: 30 percent
2014 sales: $201 million
Privately held Freddy's has 143 restaurants with another 20 set to open this year.
While the fast-casual restaurant seems straight out of the 1950s, it first began selling its signature frozen custard and steakburgers in 2002.