Though it may have started out in America, McDonald’s has long since become a global brand. And its offerings and services in each country are quite different from the usual fare in America, especially in Spain. So here are 10 ways McDonald’s in Spain is so much better than in America.
10. It’s Beer O’Clock Somewhere
If you were to describe McDonald’s in a few words, it would certainly include the words – cheap, fast and very American. The latter because McDonald’s truly does embody the standard American fare of burgers, sandwiches, milkshakes, and soda. And speaking of soda, how awesome are the free soda refills in the U.S.? You would be surprised to know that not every McDonald’s outlet is the world offers free soda refills, more so in Europe where soda consumption is not all that high. While Americans celebrate their free soda refills, their Spanish counterparts seem to have the last laugh. Why you ask? Well, Mickey D’s in Spain has free beer! We’ll wait a minute while you pick your jaw back up from the floor. While not exactly free, in Spain, beer can be chosen instead of a soda when you order a McMenu meal. Which are basically the same as our Combo Meals, which come with a soda. In Spain you have beer as an option as your drink of choice to go with your McMenu Meal. Said McMenu Meals come with a burger of your choosing, as well as one of the following: french fries, potato wedges or a side salad. The drink is, of course, where it gets interesting. You’ve got the option of the usual soda fountain drinks for you to choose from, but you can instead opt for a Mahou beer or even non-alcoholic Mahou beer. Mahou is a Spanish brand of beers and are what’s offered to those looking to add a little kick to their McMenu meal. With soda and beer having similar prices at many restaurants in Spain, including McDonald’s, it’s a no brainer for it to be offered to customers who enjoy a ice cold beer with their meal. I’m sure many of us here in America would love for this to be a reality here too, but for now, this is just one of the ways McDonald’s is simply better in Spain, than it is in America.
9. Fried potato wedges
French fries are a McDonald’s staple. They are loved just as much as burgers by loyal customers. There’s just a certain kind of satisfaction that you derive from biting into a delicious golden fry that’s crunchy on the outside and mashed potato-ey on the inside. But alas, what if you get tired of the same thing over and over again. And even though McDonald’s fries are amazing, sometimes you just want something different. McDonald’s in Spain understands this and gives you exactly that. Another option for deep-fried potato goodness in the form of their Patatas Deluxe. Also known as Wedge Top Fries, Patatas Deluxe can be simply described as small wedges of potato that are fried to crispy perfection on the outside yet leave them soft on the inside. These are then seasoned with just the right amount of salt and served hot. Patatas Deluxe is served with a choice of two sauces – brava sauce or aioli sauce. Brava sauce is a tomato-based sauce that is slightly spicy and sweet. The aioli sauce is similar to a garlic-y mayo sauce. The brava sauce may be a little too spicy for standard American palates but the aioli sauce is a familiar condiment that will go down well in the U.S. Or you mix the two sauces together to get the best of both worlds. Patatas Bravas is a very popular snack served in tapas bars across Spain. And McDonald’s did well by incorporating this local flavor to its menu there.
8. More than just Chicken McNuggets
Besides french fries, there are really only a couple of other finger-foods that we in America can enjoy at McDonald’s. But that’s not the case in Spain. McDonald’s Spain’s side game is on fire! There’s just so many more options to choose from. Beside the usual Chicken McNuggets, you have carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, chicken wings, ham croquettes, cheese and bacon topped fries, need I go on! And one of the most innovative sides here is the Chicken McBites. These fun little snacks are small balls of ground-up chicken, coated in a batter and deep-fried to golden brown perfection. Though they’re essentially made from the same ingredients as McNuggets, customers believe that the taste is different and enjoyable. Dipping sauces of your choice can also be added to Chicken McBites. Even if adult Americans may not quite take to it that much, this item would surely be a hit with the kids in the US. A curious side that McDonald’s Spain had at one point in time was something called Fish McBites. Fish McBites did make a brief appearance in the U.S. in 2013 but they were discontinued soon after because the sales, well, they were pretty low. Another delicious side offering is McCroquetas de Jamón. These are simply creamy cheese and potato mixtures rolled into balls, breaded and deep-fried till crunchy. Inside you’ll find bits of smoky and flavorful Jamón ibérico (or Iberian ham for those of you stateside). These impressive snacks are the McDonald’s version of a typical Spanish tapas bar item called croquettes. You’ll find croquettes on almost every tapas menu in Spain. And the McCroquetas de Jamón at McDonald’s Spain has a mighty impressive taste. This is certainly something we would like to have in America too!
7. Local breakfast options
Like many countries that McDonald’s operates in, they attempt to cater to local tastes and cuisines the best they can, even for the breakfast menu. The breakfast options at McDonald’s in Spain are quite interesting and reflect local tastes and flavors very well. They have croissants, muffins, toast with tomato and olive oil and breakfast sandwiches all on their McBreakfast menu. Their breakfast sandwiches are as unique and different from each other as they are tasty. For example, consider the Potato Tortilla sandwich (or Capricho de Tortilla de Patata). It consists of a potato-based omelet smeared with tomato and extra virgin olive oil. Though it may not be great to look at, it’s mighty tasty and quite different than any breakfast sandwich your ever eat at a McDonald’s in the States. Then there’s the Tentación Iberica, which is a typical Mediterranean sandwich consisting of delicious ham covered in tomato and extra virgin olive oil placed between two sides of crusty bread. Iberian ham with bread is a staple on Spanish breakfast tables and McDonald’s has done well by honoring the local culture and incorporating this traditional breakfast item on the menu. McDonald’s in America could certainly do with these delicious Spanish additions to their menu.
McDonald’s isn’t exactly known for serving healthy food. But their outlets in the States have started to feature a few healthy options over the years. Salads, fruit slices, oatmeal, these are just a few options that health-conscious eaters can try at McDonald’s in the US. But their European counterparts have gone several steps ahead and introduced soups on the menu. In fact, finding a variety of soups on McDonald’s European outlet menus is not uncommon. For instance, you could find cream of vegetable soup, creamy pea soup, a soup made from ham, vegetables, red beans and dough, and a Portuguese classic Caldo Verde soup made from greens and potatoes on the McDonald’s Portugal menu. And in McDonald’s Spain, they have delicious and refreshing gazpacho! For those of you who don’t know, gazpacho’s a traditional cold soup made from tomatoes and various other vegetables blended together. It’s a popular soup to have in the summer and is much-loved in Spain. At McDonald’s they sell bottled gazpacho – how innovative! This ready to drink gazpacho is both filling and refreshing. Since it’s made from blended vegetables, it’s healthy and perfect for both adults and children. Definitely more healthy than burgers or fries. McDonald’s Spain has done a fine job of balancing caloric fast food with some healthy options like the gazpacho. The packaged gazpacho is actually made by PepsiCo. We wonder why PepsiCo couldn’t supply some tasty gazpacho to Mickey D’s in U.S. too? Just imagine, how cool would it be if you can just walk up a McDonald’s and order gazpacho! We’re pretty sure that health-conscious customers would start frequenting the outlets too.
5. Innovative burgers and sandwiches
Not satisfied with the boring Big Mac and the tired Quarter Pounder, McDonald’s Spain has added their own unique burgers and sandwiches to the menu that are more suitable to the average Spanish palate. Take their Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger for example. It’s a giant and tasty creation that’s loaded with all the fixings! This gorgeous burger has an extremely juicy beef patty sandwiched between two slices of real gouda cheese with applewood-smoked bacon and onion slivers. And of course, there’s the glue that binds it all together – a flavorful McBacon sauce, which is a creamy mayonnaise sauce that has a tangy and smoky taste. All this melt-in-your-mouth goodness is sandwiched between two pieces of a toasted bun. Mmm-Mmm-Yum! The simple yet unbelievably delicious combination of gouda and bacon takes this Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger to another level altogether. Sadly, it was a limited-time-only option in McDonald’s U.S. outlets but features on the regular menu of McDonald’s Spain. Then there’s the Big Double Creamy sandwich that consists of two beef patties sandwiched between an oval-shaped semolina topped bun with tomatoes, onions and a mouthwatering Camembert sauce. The sauce is smoky and creamy, elevating this ordinary sandwich to a ridiculously tasty level! And one more innovative burger at Mickey D’s Spain is the Goat Cheese Burger, which is from their ‘Signature’ collection. It’s made from 100% natural Gallego beef, caramelized onions, Batavia lettuce, an out-of-this-world onion sauce with the wonderful addition of real goat’s cheese.
4. Trendy decor
The ubiquitous golden arches are the universal symbol of McDonald’s. But their restaurants in America aren’t exactly known for their marvelous interior design. The restaurant interiors are not drab by any means, some would even call them cheerful, but they are just that – colorful, functional and frankly, boring. But the European McDonald’s restaurants are something different altogether. At many places in Europe, restaurants are required to comply with strict rules about the exterior facade of the restaurant so that they are in keeping with the beauty and heritage of the surroundings. Thus, the exterior facades of some McDonald’s are simply breathtaking. And the same goes for their interiors as well. One stand out location has to be the McDonald’s found on Gran Via in Madrid, also known “Spanish Broadway”. And this location fits right in as it’s presentation is actually fairly theatrical. The entrance is something to behold, with a circular design, large columns and custom stone work lining the entry way. You would never think you were walking into a McDonald’s. The interior features include vaulted ceilings, chandeliers, stone flooring, gold trim, as well as more custom wood work. This multi-floor McDonald’s location looks more like a swanky hotel lobby than it does a fast food restaurant. This location has become a tourist attraction and you’ll find many people going here just to experience it and take pictures, and we don’t blame them, this McDonald’s location is truly one of a kind.
Featured on the McCafé menu of McDonald’s Spain is one of their most unique dessert creations – McPops! One look at the McPops and we’re sure that you’ll want to fill out an order ASAP! Simply put, McPops are donut holes with a yummy filling in the center. The filling comes in two flavors – chocolate cream with hazelnut and white chocolate cream. These sugar-dusted confections are not just cute to look at, but terribly tasty too. The little bite-sized donut holes are sweet and soft. Kids will surely love them but adults might find them somewhat hard to resist too! We see no reason why these wouldn’t be loved in America. After all, we love donuts and we love donut holes. So, what’s not to love about donut holes with a sweet sweet center? We bet that if these McPops made it to the McDonald’s U.S. menus, they would be a phenomenal hit.
2. Mickey D’s Spain And Chicken Wings
While Americans have to contend with just Chicken McNuggets, McDonald’s Spain offers its customers Chicken Wings too. Found on the extensive sides section of the menu, Chicken Wings here are scrumptious and some even say that they taste better than at other restaurants in Spain. The wings at McDonald’s Spain are crispy and coated with a spectacular barbecue sauce that will make it impossible to have just one piece. And that is a good thing because the Chicken Wings here are served in portions of four to eleven wings; perfect to have by yourself or to share with others. Appealing to both children and adults, the wings are irresistible and undoubtedly sell like hotcakes. McDonald’s Spain even offers you the option of mixing Chicken Wings with Chicken McNuggets in a bucket, with ten pieces of each. Now that’s some seriously yummy stuff! Many of you might be thinking, wow wings at McDonald’s wish we had that here! Well McDonald’s actually tried this with their Mighty Wings, and unfortunately they failed and were discontinued. But who knows, maybe their success in Spain will lead to a second attempt here in America!
1. Smaller portion sizes
American food, on average, comes in much larger serving sizes than the rest of the world is used to. In fact, for Europeans, regular American portion sizes are considered ‘large’. So, it should really come as no surprise that there are very few supersized items at McDonald’s Spain. On the whole, their servings are smaller, catered towards the eating habits of the Spanish people. And this is a good thing too, for smaller portion sizes are better for your waistline. McDonald’s in the U.S. doesn’t much help fight its obesity epidemic with its enormous portions. While we understand that reducing portion sizes at McDonald’s in America would create quite a furor, we really do wish that they would at least give it a shot, even if on an experimental basis. Our waistlines and blood pressure would certainly appreciate it.