McDonald's burgers.

McDonald’s offers a variety of burgers.

What food could be more quintessentially American in our country’s vast melting pot than a burger and fries from a fast food drive-thru window? The Golden Arches® of McDonald’s, found all around the globe, are a symbol of international capitalism and of an ever-spreading, never-sleeping US culture.

But if you’re looking for a reprieve from adventurous eating when traveling abroad, McDonald’s is not necessarily it. McDonald’s restaurants across the world have tweaked Mickey D’s—or MaccyD’s—cuisine to fit their local customers’ taste buds and lifestyles. From the vegetarian McAloo Tikki burger in India to the kosher Mac Royal in Israel, this familiar franchise offers plenty of surprises overseas. Rather than always being a relief from an alien palate, the sight of “M” is instead an opportunity to explore American influence around the world. It’s a unique bonus you can’t neglect on your international getaway.

—Alicia Shumway


At McDonald’s in Mexico, you can swap fried-breakfast guilt for satisfying McMolletes. Originating in Spain and now considered typical Mexican food, McMolletes are three open English muffins topped with a spread of refried beans, a cheese slice, and a little salsa. Instead of inventing anything new, McDonald’s in Mexico offers the real thing for your morning meal. Get a taste of the work of generations.


Chilly patrons of Swedish ski resort Lindvallen can grab a warm bite to go at the world’s only McSki-thru. McDonald’s drive-thrus have been a staple since the creation of their first in 1975. The McSki-thru’s structure, which can accommodate 140 indoor guests for thawing, claimed its territory just 100 yards from Lindvallen’s main ski lift in December 1996. So ski down to Sweden’s twist on fast food for a cheaper alternative to pricey resort dining.


No pork products, correct preparation of acceptable meats, and strict separation of dairy and meat: this is kosher. At more than 40 of the approximately 170 McDonald’s branches in Israel, the restaurant’s main item, the Mac Royal, is not your standard cheeseburger. This kosher sandwich includes a charcoal-grilled patty, veggies, and a sauce—sans cheese—in a regular bun. The menu also offers an Israeli chopped salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onions dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. Get your kosher eats on a weekday, though, because during Shabbat—the Jewish Sabbath on Friday and Saturday—everything operates on limited hours.


A McDonald’s menu that doesn’t include beef can come as a big surprise for many Americans. Chicken sandwiches and vegetarian items dominate the necessarily innovative burger joint in this primarily Hindu country. The McAloo Tikki burger, made especially for Indian McDonald’s branches, sports a potato and pea patty topped with some veggies and tomato mayo. Even breakfast is vegetarian: a spinach and corn patty, veggies, and mint mayonnaise make the Veg Supreme McMuffin. There’s some fusion cuisine you can’t pass up.

Hong Kong

This sophisticated city was the first to add McDonald’s wedding packages to their menu in January of 2011. The cost of these packages ranges from a minimum charge of HK$2,888 to HK$9,999 (the equivalent of about US$370 to US$1,290). These expenses are measly when compared to the bill for a traditionally extravagant Chinese wedding celebration. A wedding cake display of stacked Baked Apple Pie boxes is listed on the à la carte menu, and a wedding gown made of red or white balloons is available for rent or purchase. These services, instigated by popular demand, may reflect a shift in Hong Kong’s mentality during a time of economic recovery. Order a wedding with your burger, and see a modern cultural trend in action.


Photo credits:

Wikimedia Commons