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Eating at McDonalds??

OK, I know this seems crazy, but while visiting London and Paris next month, I discussed with my wife the possibility of eating at a McDonalds in each of these cities. It's not that I a McDonald's fanatic---I just want to see how they are different than the ones we have in the States. Anyone else tried them and what was your impression?

Posted by
8984 posts

I'm man enough to admit that I seek refuge in the Scottish Embassy from time to time. While there are a few differences in the menu selections in different countries, it will mostly be the same experience you'll get at an American location. One thing I do like at most European locations is that you get the option of getting a side salad with your combo meal instead of fries. I find these salads very fresh and will often purchase them alone without the burger. It's a good, fresh, healthy option if your are in a rush.

Posted by
6869 posts

We just returned from Paris with our 7 year old granddaughter. The quality of McDonalds in Europe has improved, and they're equal with U.S. McDonalds.
That said, I don't care if I ever see another McDonalds again. Our granddaughter was very adaptable to everything about traveling in Spain and Paris--except about food.

Posted by
3259 posts

I don't travel all over the world to then eat at McDonald's. You don't have to eat the food in order to see how the menu differs from home. However I fully admit to buying a coffee at Mickey D's just to use the bathroom or use the WiFi if a local cafe isn't handy.

Posted by
3107 posts

It’s been many many years since we’ve been in a McDonalds in those 2 cities but I did find it interesting to see what they had on the menu that was different from the US chain—wine was the big shocker to us all those years ago. Go for it, make your comparisons.

Posted by
1421 posts

I do it as well. Every single meal does not need to be a memorable 5-star experience. Sometimes you want to refuel and do stuff.

Posted by
459 posts

True confession, to McD coffee in Paris a bunch of years ago, maybe near the Cluny Museum? It had a jaw-droppingly lovely quiet upstairs space (the typical garish plasticky downstairs ), all marble-topped cafe tables, wrought iron chairs, floor-to-ceiling shelves of books & busts of Moliere etc etc. We gawked, laughed, & remember!

Posted by
3175 posts

It's been awhile since I've been there, but I enjoyed the decor at the one near the Tower of London.

Posted by
6478 posts

There's no disgrace in eating a meal in a McDonalds in Europe, or anywhere else in the world either. Actually I found the McDonalds in Paris did have some different selections than in the US. Many years ago I ate in a McDonalds in Vienna that was really nice, more like a regular cafe than a McDonalds we are used to. There I've confessed to two relatively minor misdemeanors, cart me off in cuffs. And that's not all, I actually ate at a KFC in Budapest - it was a bit of a disappointment in that the food was not as good as I'm used to at their restaurants, but when you're in a hurry and you're hungry, and it's right there, well......

Posted by
279 posts

It is always interesting to investigate American fast food restaurants in other countries. They are not the same as in the US. In Spain Burger King and Taco Bell serve beer.

Posted by
3021 posts

I like to go to McDonald's for one meal during a trip, snap a picture of my half-eaten food, and then send it to my sister, who is appalled by the idea of eating at McDonald's while traveling in Europe.

Posted by
80 posts

i try to eat mcdonalds at least once in every country i visit . i want to see and try a different meal then i would get back at home.

Posted by
5250 posts

I remember eating at one in Paris, tired and hungry and needing to get somewhere else. My wife and I ate at the famous one in Budapest -- first McDs behind the Iron Curtain but the curtain was long gone when we ate there. I recall it was kind of elegant -- for a McDs.

Nothing wrong with fast food anywhere if you aren't expecting much and/or in a hurry. Systematically comparing European and US McDs wouldn't be a travel goal for me, but I can see the appeal.

Posted by
2717 posts

The quality of McDonalds in Europe has improved, and they're equal with U.S. McDonalds.

That ain’t saying much. I couldn’t compare them because I never eat at McD’s in the states...or any where else. The local food in European countries is of such better freshness and quality that I can’t understand why McD’s succeeds there. A few years back I was in Dinan and the big promotion at the time was for McDonald’s “Shiny Bacon.” I was worried that it might have.been sprayed with shellac.

Posted by
4447 posts

I usually eat in one during each of our trips for a couple of reasons- they’re fast and fairly predictable, I. e. easy to order, eat and be back to the sites. Also, I like to see what’s unique to that country’s version of McD’s.

Two years ago when we were in Madrid, I stopped in a few times because their salads were very good.

If you think that’s crazy, five years ago when I was in Paris for a week with the RS Paris tour, I stopped into Starbucks several times that week to eat one of their protein salads. I had my gallbladder removed a couple of months previously, so I needed to eat food combos that were very predictable to avoid negative effects. I had a fantastic time sightseeing and just being able to return to lovely Paris!

Posted by
11286 posts

I don't eat at McDonalds here or in Europe, but I've had many a meal at Subway in Europe over the years. I agree that not every meal has to be an "event," any more than it does at home. And not everything I do in Europe has to meet the criterion that I absolutely can't do it at home.

So, if you want to go to McDonalds on your trip, do so. It's YOUR trip - not anyone else's.

Posted by
2263 posts

We were just in Timisuara, and were not able to get into our apartment. I walked a block and spotted the McD. I told my wife - I found the square. We had a decent cappuccino and very nice dessert there. More money than local Romanian cafes, true. But a quick refuge from the heat. And man did they pack in the locals. At 3 PM, there were lines 12 deep.

Posted by
27710 posts

When I'm driving around Europe in the early summer I usually add to my drinking glass collection in the shape of coloured glasses in the general shape of coke bottles. These are often offered at German Maccie D's and sometimes other countries.

I find that the menus in Germany, France, Monaco and Italy are different from each other so must be different to the USA.

There are a couple of neat locations occupied by a McDonalds as you tour around. There is one overlooking the small marina in Monaco, right under the Rock with fabulous views. Also the one on the side of the mountain just off the highway through the Brenner Pass - worth it just for the view. Speaking of views, the view from upstairs in Freiburg im Breisgau is well worth it, in a tower. Photo on the top of their webpage - https://www.mcdonalds.de/restaurant/freiburg-kaiser-joseph-strasse-252?id=0044&cid=listing_0044

Any other takers?

Posted by
1649 posts

This discussion or inquiry came up in another thread or two recently -

McD's abroad can be different of course compared to the ones in the USA. I've been to the ones in different parts of Italy. Nice Italian desserts, beer, espresso.

I have to say, that one of the good things about McD's is that you can blend in and use the restroom without obligation to buy something, lol. "Over 99 Billion served."

Hmm...But, if those hot fries are calling your name...well then...you must answer...:

Picture this: McD's fries, hot from the fry basket, waiting to be sprinkled with salt, put on a hold rack under a warming lamp - patiently waiting to make someone's tummy happy.

Jokes aside, there really is no right or wrong answer. If you eat at McD's or any other fast-food place abroad a time or even two, it is no big deal.

Traveling with kids who may be tired, cranky or need a bathroom break may like the "familiarity" of McD's. You can't miss the big M. Also, the kids can rest, eat their little Happy Meal, get their toy and hopefully be content for a while. Even tired and cranky adults can find some refuge in a cool McD's.

As an aside, when I visited the McD's in NYC on Broadway, I found it to be very interesting and fun. It gave the impression of a more upscale McD's - they had the piano man in a tux playing the piano, an upstairs unique gift shop with McD themed items you could not find anywhere else. The menu at that time was about the same, but the ambiance was fun.

Posted by
3932 posts

Sometimes you just want something cheap and quick so you can fill that empty hole in your belly and keep going. We've eaten at McD's in Rome and the south of France and Dordrecht. We've eaten at Burger King in Milan and London and Den Haag. Pizza Hut in London and Ghent. Dang it - we even had KFC once in Paris!!

I didn't really find a huge difference in taste, but they did offer some different items - but we usually just stick with burgers or chicken.

Posted by
242 posts

We typically end up at a McDonald's at least once on every European trip. Sometimes for a soft drink (or pop as we Michiganders say!) with ice and a chance to rest our feet. Sometimes for a quick meal so that we can get to the next site. We're food is fuel types for the most part and sometimes we just want to fill up and move on.

Posted by
1649 posts

Yeah Nicole, if I eat at McD's, I order the Fish or maybe the Grilled Chicken sandwich. I don't eat burgers at McD's or BK.

In Rome, the McD's in the Borgo area was standing room only and out the door. I was going to get a fry after using the restroom, but it was too jam packed to wait. No seating available.

Even the "inside mall" McD's in Italy was very busy with locals on a break or visiting the mall as well as travelers getting food too. (My friend, my friend's friends and I visited the McD's at the mall. They ordered big sandwiches and beer, ha.)

Posted by
1935 posts

Another confession: Yes, we have dined at McDonalds a couple of times in our travels.............maybe 2-3 times in a couple of decades....when we are very tight on time and locally owned options had really long waits or were not yet open.....times when we have timed admissions to venues or need to catch transportation at a certain time............there stood McDonalds, and we opted for a quick, all-too-predictable meal.......then off we went enjoying the locale in many other ways :)

Other than the local customers speaking different languages and looking a bit different (from the typical US-based McD customers), we otherwise would not have known any difference.

But, it was the rare circumstance.

But, yep, if you think it would be fun to experience them London and Paris, go for it. But, make a photo of yourselves there, just for giggles later :)

I remember being with a large group decades ago, and we had just arrived at the hotel from our long flight(s). My husband and I were starving and hopped across the street to KFC. We all laughed as more and more of the group came/went with the same idea. Sometimes food is a new, unique travel experience and sometimes it is just food.

Posted by
6620 posts

Yes, I do. As FastEddie and Emma said, not every meal has to be a five-star meaningful gourmet artisanal experience. It may not be the place you'll rub elbows with the patrician crowd, but it too is a valid cultural experience. I recall one of my first trips where I learned that some people use mayonnaise with fries, and other places provide little wooden forks so you don't eat fries with your fingers. Little life details that stuck with me longer than the inside of some museum.

And if you've ever spent an extended period of time in a country without one, you dont know what a joy it is to finally go in one and feel like you're just a bit closer to home.

Posted by
1850 posts

We like McDonald’s. On a three week trip we stop in a couple of times.We aren’t foodies. We don’t like to spend big bucks on meals and we really don’t like to waste an hour or two “dining” during the middle of our busy days when there are a million other things we’d rather do. Menu items vary. We’ve seen a Shiny Burger in France. Last week we enjoyed the 99p Mayo Chicken in Stratford upon Avon. We went every morning in Tokyo when the hotel wanted $30 for breakfast or $7.50 for a cup of coffee. We passed on the pancakes with orange and purple sauce ( it was Halloween). We have been in McDonald’s in Hungary and Spain and across Europe where I’d swear we were the only Americans in restaurants packed to the gills. And these places were huge...3 floors oftentimes. Same for those mornings in Tokyo. I don’t think we’re the only guys who go there. Fun fact: We gave our table up to a young family from York with two little ones In Stratford. The next day walking down the street in Windsor, I turned to a tug on my jacket to discover a smiling little face...our friend from McDonald’s. We walked around town together and had a wonderful time.

Posted by
3491 posts

Yes, I have gotten food at McDonald's during my travels through Europe. I see no reason why not. It is fast, filling, (usually) affordable, and they have mostly clean restrooms. Also, you can occasionally find unique things on the menu that are actually really surprisingly good. Do I make it a destination for a meal when I am in Europe? No, of course not. No more than I would when I am at home. But sometimes after a rough day, it is just simply easier to grab something there or at Burger King, or KFC, or whatever. I am not against grabbing a local fast food option either, such as fish and chips.

I had a great chicken sandwich at the McD across the street from St Pancras station in London. It was a limited offer and I don't remember what was special about it but it was definitely better than any fried chicken sandwich I ever had at any other McDonald's. Another limited offer I had was in Italy. McDonald's version of chicken parmesan on a bun. Had a tasty tomato sauce and several large basil leaves. Also the coffee bar at that McDonald's was nice and the espresso shot was just what I needed at the time. Every other eating place around was standing room only with lines out the door (tourists!). McD was busy, only locals from what I could tell, but I got in and out and back to my bus on time.

There have been many trips to Europe where I just didn't even think about eating at any fast food as well. The only place I did not eat at McDonalds when I though I might was in Norway. When I saw that a happy meal was the equivalent of US$20, I quickly left and found a locals only type cafeteria where I got a meat and three sides with all the bread I could want for less than $10.

Posted by
3932 posts

Ahaha - the ‘shiny burger’ in France...I had that after we went to pont du gard and I needed some wifi to get in touch with our Airbnb host...it wasn’t bad.

And I know a lot of people don’t like the ordering computers McDs does now, but man, when you’re in a country that doesn’t speak English as a first language, being able to switch the language to English is a godsend (especially when you don’t want all the condiments on your sandwich). And when we ate at the McDs in Manosque, that place was buzzing! I think we had a 10-15 min wait for our meal (which they brought right to the table).

Posted by
4654 posts

In Spain Burger King and Taco Bell serve beer.

When the likes of Taco Bell et al cannot even be bothered (tight) to use real black pepper in their dishes and prefer an artificial alternative then you're really scraping the bottom of the barrel eating there. Allegedly since they, and others, were exposed in 2015 they've vowed to use genuine black pepper and other healthier and natural alternatives to much of the aritificial ingredients they use, I can find no evidence that things have improved.

The fact that you can buy a burger from a local, independent store for not much more than a McDonalds meal makes me wonder why people bother with McDonalds. The difference in quality and taste is vast and you're helping plough money into a local business rather than a multinational behemoth.

Posted by
1821 posts

Well consider me part of the unwashed masses who delights in an occasional McD's while abroad. I also take in a Michelin starred restaurant from time to time, so there.

Posted by
10344 posts

Every Michelin restaurant you enjoy cancels out two unauthorized transgressions at McD's.

Posted by
1321 posts

We had a very early train out of Florence and the only place at the station open was a McDonalds. We were pleasantly surprised to find they had fresh, local croissants and fresh squeezed (we watched them) orange juice. Could not have done better.

Posted by
2591 posts

You probably should just not eat at McDonalds, both in the US and abroad... I mean their salads have more calories than their Hamburgers :)

For me it's like an American going to Paris and then going to Disneyland Paris, don't you have enough of that stuff back home?! lol Imagine if I went to Japan and I made a point to eat at a Spanish tapas restaurant over there.

If you must do fast food, maybe try the local fast food instead?

Posted by
3303 posts

The McDonalds menu in Scarborough, Maine is different from those in NYC so I imagine there are indeed differences in London & Paris.

Posted by
74 posts

Carlos, I guess I’ve are the ones that don’t get enough Disney as we will spend 2 days in Disneyland Paris!

Posted by
4654 posts

As much as I am happy to enjoy a “gastro” burger with all the trimmings etc sometimes it’s just too much. I don’t want half a cow topped with half a pig served in a bun the size of a car tyre.

Emma, I'm very much in the camp of "less is more" when it comes to burgers, I don't want my burgers stacked so high with fillings that I have to dislocate my jaw to eat them but a simple burger of a decent beef patty, cheese, crispy bacon and some pickles can be done significantly better than any McDonalds for not too much more. That's ignoring the altruistic point of ploughing your money back into the local economy.

I don't eschew McDonalds, I find myself only ever eating them at motorway service stations when there's little alternative. I'm always 100% disappointed afterwards however and would never enter one on an average high street when there are far better alternatives.

Posted by
3491 posts

So then, everyone who would never set foot in a McDonald's anywhere in the world -- what do you do for food if you are in a hurry or just want something simple?

Posted by
519 posts

In the summertime, 90+ degree days in Italy, you can’t beat McDonald’s or MCCafe for a cold cafe crema or a soft drink with lots of ice, free wi-fi, air conditioning and a bathroom!!

Also, when I lived in Italy and was homesick, it was amazing what a difference a burger, fries and a shake could make in my outlook! Sometimes, even surrounded by the most wonderful local food, you just want taste of home. That being said, for health reasons I never eat at McDonald’s in the US- I reserve it as a special treat when abroad! 🤣

Posted by
2591 posts

@Mark, well if it was in my hometown it would be a nice xuixo and cafe cortado at the local bakery, they're everywhere in Barcelona, if more substantial then a flauta sandwich. You don't have to sacrifice quality for speed, that's just what the fast-food industry tells us.

Posted by
279 posts

JC as you ride around on your high horse, let me explain. I never ate in Taco Bell, I just saw the sign advertising happy hour up in the window. I did eat in a Burger King in the railroad station in Madrid. There are not a lot of options in a railroad station.
I commented on what I observed and you go off the deep end!
So as an American, I should not check out the differences between fast food establishments in other countries and the US. As someone who had spent several months in Europe in the past few years, I have eaten in an “American” fast food establishment twice!
Don’t fall off your high horse!

Posted by
1821 posts

Picking two or three new places a day to eat can be exhausting and stressful. McD's is easy to agree on, you know what you'll get and the experience can't be duplicated back home (you can't go to a European McD's in America ;)

Posted by
3988 posts

Was just in Wales and England and McDonalds was advertising a “southern” style burger that wasn’t available in the U.S. Might be worth trying if you eat there and it’s still being sold. Unrelated to the original question, but Costco sells jacked potatoes, Aberdeen Angus Cottage pie, and gelato at the UK Costcos.

Posted by
4447 posts

"There is one overlooking the small marina in Monaco, right under the Rock with fabulous views."

Thanks, Nigel! I just added it to my TripIt itinerary this September! It may be my highlight of Monaco - ha!

Posted by
1724 posts

We also stop at MCD’s for the bathroom, free wifi and occasion snack why we’re figuring out our next move. Always amazing to see how busy most are.

Posted by
11228 posts

There is nothing wrong with occassionally eating at McDonalds or any fast food chain. Just don't make them the only place you eat.

As Emma stated, here in the UK McDonalds has numerous items not found in the U.S. including their new American burgers. I have seen the TV commercials for these so much I think I could mouth along. And almost all fast food burger chains, at least in London, can be delivered.

That being said, the UK has some upscale burger chains that can cost as much as a decent sit down restaurant. A cheeseburger (about 6 oz), fries and a shake will cost nearly 17 GBP ($21).

Posted by
3551 posts

Mc Donald’s in Europe can get pricey and they are crowded. But if it gets very hot they always have great air conditioning. One summer in Paris it reached over 100 degrees, I sat quite comfortably in Mc Donald’s.

Posted by
4654 posts

So then, everyone who would never set foot in a McDonald's anywhere in the world -- what do you do for food if you are in a hurry or just want something simple?

If you're close enought to a McDonalds in Europe you're either going to be on a high street or motorway service station. The latter you're pretty limited with your options, the former you'll find a wealth of alternatives including many serving burgers that are signifcantly better than a McDonalds and for not much more in price.

Contrary to what some on here believe, I'm not lambasting anyone for eating at McDonalds, I've already stated that I do but almost exclusively when at a motorway service station but the way some people write you'd think that a McDonalds is the only option. I couldn't care less if people choose to eschew much better food. I don't care if you'd rather eat somwhere that doesn't even use real black pepper, that's not me being on a "high horse" that's me choosing to eat something decent.

Far too many touchy people on here. If you want to eat at McDonalds, Taco Bell et al then go for it, it has no bearing on me or anyone else.

Posted by
814 posts

If you want to experience “local life”, well locals eat in McDonalds. So much snobbery around not eating there. Not every meal needs to be a culinary highlight and not all “local” food is good. Sometimes a Maccy D hits the spot.

Well yes here in Switzerland locals do go to McDonalds occasionally to experience something different, but it does not represent good value for money. Last Friday, for example, I had lunch at my local restaurant: carrot & ginger soup, mixed salad, noodles with pork medallions in a mushroom sauce with peaches on the side, slice of apple pie with cream, a soft drink and coffee all for 14 francs.

My kids, who grew up, never go to McDonalds either. Most of the pizza joints around here do special deals for the under 18s and apprentices: for a group of four they'll do three extra large pizzas plus four soft drinks for about 8 francs per person in the afternoons and evenings.

Posted by
4654 posts

JC as you ride around on your high horse, let me explain. I never ate in Taco Bell, I just saw the sign advertising happy hour up in the window. I did eat in a Burger King in the railroad station in Madrid. There are not a lot of options in a railroad station.
I commented on what I observed and you go off the deep end!

Mike, I was simply highlighting the fact that Taco Bell (and Pizza Hut and others) don't even use real black pepper, not a lot of people know that and if a chain are too tight to use real black pepper you've got to worry about where else they're scrimping. How is that being on my "high horse"? Surely it's highlighting just how crap their food is, if anyone wants to continue eating there after knowing that then that's entirely their choice, I genuinely couldn't care less.

It's no different than people coming on this board and asking for restaurant recommendations. Would your response be the same if I said, "don't go to xxxx as they use artificial seasoning rather than black pepper? Is that indicative of someone being on their high horse or going off the deep end? Come on, let's keep things in perspective.

Posted by
27710 posts

what is artificial black pepper when it is at home?

Posted by
3491 posts

What do you mean they don't use "real" black pepper? Do you mean they use the pre ground stuff you can purchase at any grocery in the spice section instead of having a pepper mill and grinding it as used? What exactly is fake pepper? Can you point us to any news article stating this?

Not trying to defend fast food places, just really curious about this.

Posted by
1256 posts

Nigel

I know, that's why I wrote "Apparently by now ...."

Posted by
1220 posts

No problem at all eating McDonald’s in the UK. I’ve also had chipotle and Taco Bell.

I’m not a foodie, it’s kinda fun seeing the differences between chains I’m familiar with back in Chicago versus Europe.

Plus, as a solo traveler, sometimes I just want a quick meal or I find myself getting hungry in the time between lunch and dinner and don’t want to eat by myself in an empty restaurant.

Go for it. I’ve had plenty of meals in Europe that weren’t as good as a McDonald’s and I sure paid more for them. Not every restaurant is a wonderful charming Rick Steves type place with wonderful local food.

Posted by
4654 posts

"what is artificial black pepper when it is at home?"

Nigel, Mark,

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/27/business/taco-bell-and-pizza-hut-to-drop-artificial-flavors-and-colors.html

Apparently by now they are using real black pepper and not just a flavour.

Thanks Nick. Yes, my reference was to 2015 (which I highlighted in my original post) and they claimed they've returned to using real pepper. I wonder if that decision would have been made if they hadn't been exposed in the first place.

The point I was trying to make is that if the huge profit making businesses are too tight to use real black pepper what is happening to the ingredients that form a larger proportion of the costs. I'm not mocking anyone for eating McDonalds or claiming some superiority by choosing other options but merely highlighting the methods used by the big food industry.

If anyone is really interested in what goes on in the food industry then I can highly recommend Joanna Blythman's book: Swallow This, artificial black pepper will be the least of your concerns!

Posted by
6620 posts

For the record, in the past I'd always choose a Wimpy burger over McD's in the UK for the cultural experience, but I guess they're pretty hard to find anymore 😋

Posted by
1817 posts

No Wimpy Burgers for Big Mike, thank you. Only burgers fit for a man.

McDonald's restrooms saved us in Paris. Good place to grab a quick bite of something familiar, bathroom, air conditioning, wifi, and a drink. Cheap and fast, too, and we're soon ready to keep moving.

What is fake pepper?

Posted by
3491 posts

Almost forgot about Wimpy! The bender in a bun is my favourite.

Posted by
2328 posts

In Porto, Portugal, there is a free-standing McDonald’s in a historic building. They had to adapt both their interior design and exterior signage to comply with historic building regulations, and it is really quite unique and beautiful. I went there twice, once just to see it, and then on a Sunday mid-evening, as I was staying nearby and nothing else in the area seemed to be open. I got a typical McD supper to take back to my apartment.

I also remember a time quite some years ago in Xi’an, China. In the mid-afternoon I was headed to the Great Mosque of Xi’an and nearby Muslim Bazaar (Xi’an was one terminus of the Great Silk Road). I went by way of a lengthy taxi ride, and along the way I suddenly felt a great urge for a WC. Clenched up, if you know what I mean, I silently prayed there was a Western-style hotel at the end of my ride. I did not relish the idea of some filthy hole in the floor. As we arrived nearby, the driver tried to explain that he could get no closer to my destination, due to one-way streets. So I got out, paid the driver, and when I turned the corner, I was never so excited to see the Golden Arches of a McDonald’s. I went right to the counter attendant and very slowly and clearly said simply “Toi-let”, and she pointed the way. After a pleasant visit, I bought a soda on the way out, and headed for the lovely Great Mosque. A memorable few minutes, in the wonderful city of Xi’an.

Posted by
4654 posts

@Larry, I fully empathise with your predicament and would typically follow your train of thought however, without going into details, a desperate diversion to McDonalds in Bodrum didn't result in the typical experience.

Posted by
492 posts

I can't lie - I've had McDonald's in Europe and it hit the spot. It was what I needed, when I needed it. Funny enough, I maybe go to McDonald's two or three times a year in the US but when trekking through train stations and just needing a quick little bite, McDonald's did the trick. And when you go to one, it's not like they're filled with nothing but other tourists from the US - plenty of locals will often be there, or other tourists from random other countries for whom it's also an appealing option for whatever reason. It's also kind of neat to see what menu items they have that are different! Same goes for my having hopped in to the odd Starbucks here and there when traveling - a quick and easy option, wifi, clean restrooms, and it'll do at that particular moment.

And hey, sometimes it's a life-changing experience - a visit to McDonald's in Amsterdam as a teenager led to my still eating french fries with mayonnaise today! It's delicious! Why don't we do that more here in the US??

One thing I am somewhat ashamed of once having done is going to the Hard Rock Cafe in Venice. I'd been filling myself up on delicious (and occasionally not-so-delicious) Italian food for a couple of weeks by that point, during travels through Rome and Florence and finally Venice. On one of my last nights in Venice, a friend and I were casually strolling around along the canals and turned a corner and saw it in front of us and at the same moment each said out loud, "I could go for a cheeseburger right now". 🙊

Posted by
11805 posts

I have a somewhat serious rule that I eat what the locals eat and not what I can get at home. One night in Dublin years ago I was starving and the only thing open was a McDonald's. I went in and saw a McVeggie on the menu. I can't get those at home so I ordered a McVeggie Happy Meal. The counter person looked at me oddly when I ordered it. They probably had to find one on the bottom of the freezer. It was truly awful but I did get a toy based on a UK cartoon.

Since then I have visited McDonald's a few times in other countries for a beer and WiFi.

Posted by
1556 posts

I was stuck at a hotel outside of Rome due to someone else doing the planning. Nothing in the area but a McDonalds. The hotel breakfast was expensive and not good. So we were pleasantly surprised to find wonderful coffee and pastries! I had their take on the Egg McMuffin and found the English muffin different as well as the cheese and Canadian bacon. It was steps above in quality and taste than here in the states. I don’t know about anything else as I don’t eat other McDonald’s items.

Posted by
2317 posts

While I do not eat fast food at home, I also never seem to take a trip to Europe that does not include at least one meal from McDonalds, Subway or Burger King. I actually kind of look forward to it, a bit of a treat. It could be a quick little cheeseburger and drink on the go, a sandwich for dinner in my room or the time I was in Budapest and dealing with a cold, feeling yucky and somehow the only thing that sounded soothing was a milkshake and fries. I think also I like the soothing familiarity of McDonalds, especially the free wi-fi, restroom and a/c on a hot day.

Posted by
278 posts

No judgements. Eat what you want. Sometimes, it's comforting to eat at a known chain.

Posted by
11450 posts

Haha funny timely thread !
Had the American barbecue burger about four days ago in London - we didn’t like it - greasier than normal and cheese burger cheese was not the least bit melty , however the fries are good ( and identical to ones here ) but they don’t put out unlimited ketchup like they do here .

They also had some sort of jalapeño or nacho cheese bites - didn’t try them .

Week before we were in Paris and I was surprised that the McDonald’s offered ONLY earl grey tea , and it was stupidly overpriced ( think it was like 4 euros ) - and the eff McMuffin was stone cold . Also they charged for Ketchup but the one in London didn’t .

I could care less what people think about us eating at a McDonald’s - we ate there twice in 5 weeks ( normally we don’t eat there at all ) and in the one in Paris it had mostly locals not tourists in it lol - it’s cheap and fast .

Posted by
1056 posts

One of the advantages of eating or getting a drink at McDonalds is being able to use a clean bathroom. It’s always good to know where a McDonalds is, you never know when you will need one.