Is to have fun! #Obviously. While that is my golden rule when traveling, but in all seriousness, I try to go to a local McDonald’s. Yes. THAT McDonald’s with the golden arches and iconic M logo. I’m not sure how this “tradition” got started, but I believe it has to do with the fact McDonald’s is such a global brand and powerhouse that it is almost in every country. In addition, McDonald’s is known for catering to local tastes (examples: taro pies in Hawaii or shrimp burgers in Korea) so it is always interesting to see what they come up with.
With my recent Europe trip, I tried my best to go to a McDonald’s at every country I was at. It was actually a bit easier than I thought since we were driving a lot, meaning McDonald’s on the roadside = pit stop. Let’s look at the differences, shall we?
Right off the bat, the architecture of the European McDonald’s is quite different from the American ones. The European ones marketed McDonald’s more upscale with their designs, especially with wood paneling. Makes it look chic. My experience with McDonald’s is usually along the designs of something like this:
So kiosks were already integrated into the European McDonald’s when I was there, while only some US stores had it (but now all 14,000 stores will have it). Customers could still order at the cashier, which was something a lot of the locals still did. I, on the other hand, used this opportunity to test out their system so literally every McDonald’s I went, I used a kiosk to order (with some exceptions). You had the option to choose to run the program in the local language or English. Something I did notice though when locals who used kiosks was even though they selected their local language, majority of the menu items were still presented in English. The ordering process itself was smooth and easy to use.
While we only have the McCafe drinks, the European ones have the drinks..and the cafe..and the additional food for the McCafes. Part of the main McDonald’s, but separate register. You can’t order the McCafe items on the kiosks.
The drink selection was a bit different too. It was leaning more towards coffeehouse style rather than the sugary frozen drinks like shakes. In addition, the drinks were served in glass plates and cups, just like a coffeehouse.
We were a bit tight on schedule when we visited this particular McDonald’s and I remember asking the lady if I could have the coffee drink to-go. She scoffed at me, and I’m pretty sure in her mind, she was thinking, “Typical Americans.”
Ok so the actual food. It is better than the McDonald’s back in the states. Why? Honestly, I’m not sure, but I do have some guesses, such as more “naturally” sourced ingredients. There were some differences in menu items, such as having a Chicken Big Mac or wings. A major difference I did notice was the food was not as salty. This was a general trend I have noted whenever I travel abroad.