As much as so many of us seem to fight it, fast food is here to stay in American culture, and McDonald’s is still the reigning champ of the cheap eats world. It’s even super popular in other countries, with many McDonald’s around the world offering up menu items that Americans have never even heard of and instantly wish they could try.
Believe us when we say, however, that Americans are missing out on a lot more than McDonald’s when it comes to the fast food in other countries. Here are some popular fast food options from around the globe that give the Golden Arches a run for their money.
In Ireland, Supermac’s reigns supreme, but don’t think that their menu consists of just stew, shepherd’s pie, and colcannon. Though the chain says that its offerings were designed “with Irish tastes in mind,” what it actually serves is pretty typical for a lot of fast food restaurants—burgers, fries, chicken tenders, and more.
The difference, though, is that they use only the best Irish beef and they get pretty interesting with their fries, serving them with up to eight different toppings. Their specialty? Curry cheese fries.
In Australia and certain countries in Asia, MOS Burger is the equivalent of McDonald’s on steroids. The chain offers more than 30 different types of burgers, and they’re not just made from beef like your average fast-food restaurant—you can find burgers that feature seafood, chicken, and even vegetables.
The buns even come in different options to help you make your burger exactly how you want it. One of MOS Burger’s best-selling items is a shrimp patty that’s sandwiched between two patties made of rice.
If you’re from the United States, you’ve probably never heard of the Dicos restaurant chain before. What you might be surprised to hear, though, is that this China-based restaurant chain has about the same number of franchise locations that McDonald’s does.
It serves mostly the American-style foods we all know and love, but with an Asian flair, like it’s signature spicy chicken “Good Luck” sandwich.
This Japanese chain is not only known for its burgers, but also for its innovation. The restaurant is always coming up with something new, including one of its most famous creations, the ramen burger.
Aside from the shrimp, fans of Lotteria also love its “Everything Burger”—it’s got the normal beef patty in addition to a cheeseburger patty, a shrimp patty, and a rub patty, all topped with an egg, lettuce, cabbage, and a piece of cheese.
Most people don’t consider ramen to be very fast-food friendly, but Ichiran is proof that it definitely can be. Found throughout Asia, the chain focuses on the classic tonkotsu ramen preparation, which is probably how they’re able to prepare their meals so quickly.
The star attraction of the menu is their special red sauce called Hidden no Tare, which is made from red peppers and over 30 different spices. Don’t go there without giving their classic ramen with red sauce a try.
There are admittedly a lot of McDonald’s locations overseas but, in Finland, Hesburger reigns supreme.
The restaurants carry standard beef burgers, but also get a little more creative with options like their famous falafel burger. What they’re most well-known for, however, is their sauces. One unlikely favorite for Hesburger’s classic hamburger is a mayonnaise that’s dressed up with paprika and cucumber.
For any American in France who doesn’t want to stray too far away from the food they know and love, Quick is essentially the McDonald’s of France. The menu there is actually pretty similar to what you’d find at McDonald’s or even Burger King.
Their signature burger is known as “The Giant,” and it’s pretty much the French equivalent of the Whopper or a Big Mac—it’s got two hamburger patties with onions, lettuce, cheese, and some kind of special sauce. They even serve something similar to a Happy Meal called Magic Boxes.
Don’t go into a Wimpy expecting wimpy flavor, because you’ll find anything but. The name of the restaurant chain actually comes from the “Popeye” character J. Wellington Wimpy, who was a pretty hefty fellow that was often seen with a burger in his hand.
Wimpy’s restaurants can be found in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and even India, Japan, and Scandinavia. Surprisingly, you’ll get a lot more interaction with the staff at Wimpy restaurants, as they’ll actually pay you a visit at your table from time to time, even though it’s a fast-food restaurant. Make sure you try the “Bender in a Bun” while you’re there—it’s a patty made of hotdog that’s served on a traditional bun.
If you’re looking for the Indian version of a sandwich, you’ll find it at Kaati Zone.
The chain offers both meat- and veggie-based roll made on their signature wraps. Their specialty is a Kebab Roll made with chicken and chickpeas.
When you think of Russian food, borscht might be the first thing that comes to mind, but there’s a lot more to it than that. You’ll find all sorts of classic Russian foods like minced meat and dumplings—and, yes, borscht—at a fast-food restaurant chain called Teremok.
Its signature dish is something called a blini, which is kind of like the Russian version of a crêpe. You can get them sweet or savory, but Teremok’s signature version is a savory option filled with either salmon roe or
Whereas most fast-food restaurants focus on burgers, Germany-based Nordsee focuses on fish—it’s actually the largest seafood-based chain in Europe, with more than 400 locations across the continent.
They serve any kind of fish you could possibly want, from salmon to cod, and you can even order it prepared however you’d like. For the environmentally conscious among us, you’ll be pleased to know that Nordsee always aims to serve fish that comes from sustainable sources.
Max Burger is not only the favorite hamburger restaurant of the Swedish people—yes, it even tops both Burger King and McDonald’s—but it’s also the oldest hamburger-based restaurant chain in all of Europe.
What’s unique about this restaurant is that it does monthly specials featuring different burgers, so you can try to have something different every time. One favorite is their Guacamole Burger—sign us up!
It might make more sense to compare Telepizza to something like Domino’s in the United States, but you get the point—it’s an insanely popular pizza restaurant in Spain that can also be found in South America, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries within Europe.
The name of the restaurant seems to be a play on the word “teleport,” meaning that it can get you a pizza in no time, no matter where you are. The menu also features things like pasta, calzones, and even kebabs, though the pizza reigns supreme—one speciality is a pizza with bacon, ham, and four cheeses.
With locations throughout the United Kingdom, you might be surprised to hear that Nando’s specialty is a Portuguese peri-peri chicken.
The restaurant follows a model similar to that of Buffalo Wild Wings, in which diners can choose different sauces for their meat based on how hot they’d like it to be, but they can also choose between beef and chicken. They can then choose if they’d like to have a pita, a wrap, or a burger, giving them the chance to create exactly what they’re craving.
Chicken Cottage is one of the U.K.’s other most popular chicken restaurants, and it’s essentially their version of our Kentucky Fried Chicken.
They offer chicken in pretty much every form, including grilled chicken, chicken burgers, and barbecue chicken, but they do serve other meats. One of their specialties is actually a lamb burger served with cheese, pickles, onions, and lettuce—oh, and it’s served on a sesame seed bun, of course.