Fast food is a familiar comfort to most people. It might not be the healthiest meal you can get or even the most delicious thing that you can experience, but it's at least always the same. Sometimes, consistency is your best friend when it comes to ordering food. You always know what you're getting when you order a meal at McDonald's, right? However, if you're traveling abroad, you might be interested in trying different things. Finding yourself in another country offers all kinds of opportunities for culinary exploration. While that means there are lots of different snacks and nice restaurants to try, it also means there's a host of different fast-food joints for you to visit. It might not be what you recognize at home, but let's face it—it's probably still pretty good.
That can be said of most fast-food places, but when you're in an unfamiliar setting, it can sometimes be hard to figure out what's worth your money and what should be skipped over for something different. Should you stop at Nordsee for lunch, or is it better to go to Wienerwald? Would you rather grab a burger at Harvey's or a slice at Pizza Pizza? It can be hard to make those decisions when you're not exactly familiar with these places. Luckily, we here at TheRecipe can tell you which places might be worth your time and which ones wouldn't leave you full of regret for missing them. These are ten awesome fast-food places to visit abroad and ten to avoid.
20 Visit: New York Fries
You might think it's strange that a chain restaurant conceived in Canada would be named after New York, but it's also the country that created Boston Pizza. New York Fries is a staple of food courts and movie theaters in Canada, and it's easy to see why. The fries are the star of the show at this restaurant. They're freshly cut and fried to perfection, and you can get them topped with just about anything. Of course, this being Canada, the poutine is one of the most popular dishes. You can also get fries topped with butter chicken, pulled pork, and even chunks of braised beef. Who says that fries can only be a side dish?
19 Avoid: Supermac's
When you're traveling, you generally want to experience things that are different, and sometimes, that includes fast food. Supermac's, while delivering a consistent product, isn't really going to shatter your expectations for what fast food can be. This chain, found in Ireland, serves up burgers, fries, and chicken in ways that will have you saying "This is exactly like the food at home." Is that really what you want to be experiencing when you go to another country? If anything, you want to shake things up a little. You might consider trying the curry fries, which some people claim Supermac's invented, but even then, you can probably find a better version of them somewhere else.
18 Visit: Harvey's
If you ever find yourself in Canada and you've got a craving for a really great fast-food burger, then you have to find your nearest Harvey's. This trusted fast-food burger joint not only flame grills all of their burgers but also dresses it up right in front of you. That means if you want extra pickles or just a single slice of tomato, you can let them know. Harvey's is also known for its great fries and onion rings. It's the kind of place that you should head to if you want a burger that's a little more substantial than something you get at McDonald's. They also have some truly great chocolate milkshakes.
17 Avoid: Swiss Chalet
People familiar with Canada's fast-food landscape definitely know that Swiss Chalet has been a staple since 1954. This chain specializes in serving rotisserie chicken but also serves ribs, roast beef, and the occasional burger. To be fair to Swiss Chalet, it can be good in a pinch, especially if you need to feed a lot of picky eaters, but the truth about it is that the chicken isn't that great. Since it spends all day rotating on a rotisserie grill or sitting around waiting to be ordered, it's usually very, very dry. This necessitates the use of the Chalet sauce (the best thing the restaurant has). For your money, you can get a better meal almost anywhere else. Also, you can buy packets of Chalet sauce mix at most grocery stores.
16 Visit: Wienerwald
For a better rotisserie chicken experience than Swiss Chalet, all you have to do is travel to Germany (you know, if it's not too inconvenient) and visit Wienerwald. The hilariously named restaurant also specializes in rotisserie chicken. Unlike the Chalet, though, Wienerwald sells their chicken in several different flavors, including barbecue, red pepper, and garlic. Wienerwald also knows that sometimes, customers just can't make up their minds, which is why it offers a meal where you can get a little bit of every chicken flavor. Now that's a concept we can get behind. After all, who doesn't want a little bit of everything?
15 Avoid: Hungry Jack's
Is Hungry Jack's a bad fast-food restaurant? Not really, but this fast food chain in Australia doesn't really warrant a visit for one important reason. Just look at the logo, and you might be able to figure it out. For those who aren't in the know, Hungry Jack's is just Burger King going by a different name. This is due to the fact that the name "Burger King" had already been trademarked in Australia by another business. The franchise owner was given the option to give his business a new name, which became Hungry Jack's. The food is probably just fine, but you'd be getting the exact same stuff at any Burger King location.
14 Visit: Jollibee
Jollibee has started to expand outward from its origins in the Philippines, but it still remains the biggest fast-food chain in its home country. If you ever get a chance to visit one, you might be surprised by some of the diverse menu options. Of course, the most famous meal you can get at Jollibee is the fried chicken and spaghetti, a common combination in its country of origin. This is like the jackpot for people who can never decide what kind of food they want to eat. You can also get plenty of other great food at Jollibee, like peach mango pie and noodles.
13 Avoid: Lotteria
Lotteria, a fast-food chain in Japan, serves all the kinds of food you'd expect like burgers, fries, and chicken sandwiches, but the fact of the matter is that like any fast food restaurant, the pictures always look better than the actual food. This is the kind of place that tries to impress its customers with burgers that have five patties or a cheeseburger with literally almost every topping imaginable but can't deliver on its big ideas. Besides, if you're ever in Japan, you'll probably want to find some more authentic food, rather than just eating an approximation of something you can get at home.
12 Visit: Ali Baba's
Anyone who lives in Toronto knows just how great the restaurant in this entry really is, but for those who haven't had the opportunity to visit an Ali Baba's, just know that it's by far one of the best places to get middle eastern food, period. Not only do they offer an array of wraps, but you can also get meal platters that include rice, potatoes, and tabouleh. If you want something sweet, try their delicious baklava. There's pretty much one in every neighborhood in the city, so you're never that far from having a delicious and filling meal that you can easily eat on the go. The food is authentic, delicious, and inexpensive, which are all the things you want fast food to be.
11 Avoid: Toast Box
Imagine a restaurant that only serves toast. It sounds like the kind of thing that if you proposed it to a bank in order to get a loan, you'd be politely but firmly shown the door. However, Toast Box, a chain in Singapore, sells pretty much just toast all day long. Now, this is a novel idea, and you can get all kinds of toppings on your toast, but if you go to Singapore for a vacation, are you really going to settle for having something that seems boring even when you're in your regular routine? The toast at Toast Box might be the best in the world, but at the end of the day, it's still just toast.
10 Visit: Nando's
Nando's is another chain that has started to make its way into other countries, but it remains a staple of England's fast-food scene despite the fact that the chain actually originated in South Africa. Nando's specialty is Peri-Peri chicken, which is spicier and more flavorful than most rotisserie chicken due to the blend of spices that originated in Portugal. Nando's serves up family-sized meals, but it's also a great place to stop and get an individual meal if you're tired of just the same old fast-food sandwiches. The chain is also known for its variety of sauces, all of which you can sample for yourself.
9 Avoid: MOS Burger
MOS Burger is a chain in Japan that prides itself on serving overly creative burgers that can stand out among other fast-food chains. However, their flavor combinations can often be a little much for most fast-food patrons. While the chain certainly has a number of fans, the fact of the matter, once again, is that at the end of the day, it's just a burger. Sure, the toppings are interesting and unique, but in Japan, you can find all sorts of amazing food! There's no reason to resort to eating a burger that probably isn't all that different from something you could get anywhere else.
8 Visit: Dico's
Fried Chicken is just as, if not more popular in China than it is in the United States. KFC has plenty of locations within the country and has even become a Christmas tradition in China, with restaurants taking advance orders from people ordering their holiday meals before the big day. However, if you really want to try something different, then you have to visit Dico's China's very own fried chicken restaurant. It may not have the Colonel's signature blend of spices, but if you really want to see how they do fried chicken in China, then you have to visit this fast-food chain and get one of their buckets.
7 Avoid: Pizza Pizza
Pizza Pizza is an absolute travesty of a restaurant. It got a shout out in the film Scott Pilgrim vs The World due to the fact that the story is set in Toronto, but the truth is that any real Hogtown native would immediately turn their nose up at Pizza Pizza's offerings. The pizza is often dry, flavorless, and not even cooked all that well. It's fairly obvious that the crust is premade and that the toppings aren't all that fresh. Unfortunately, the chain is ubiquitous across Canada and is usually the most convenient place to order from, meaning that most people are eating subpar pizza when it comes down to it.
6 Visit: Max
Fast-food restaurants have come under a lot of criticism, particularly in the last few years, for practices that aren't exactly environmentally friendly. While some places have made an effort to lower their carbon footprint, there's probably not a single restaurant that's doing more than Sweden's Max, a burger joint where the objective is to make as little impact on the Earth as possible. The restaurant serves up delicious fast food, while at the same time ensuring that their entire process is either carbon neutral or carbon negative. How often can you say that the burger you're eating is actually helping to save the environment? Max is worth a visit simply for how they're trying to change the entire game.
5 Avoid: Abrekebabra
Some restaurants can't decide what they want to be. They end up trying to do a hundred different things at a mediocre quality level rather than trying to do one thing really, really well. That's the case With Ireland's Abrekebabra, a restaurant that serves plenty of middle eastern and Mediterranean favorites like doner, shawarma, and falafel but also goes as far as serving pulled pork, burgers, fries, baguette sandwiches, and chicken wings. Some of this food might be really good, but you'd never get a chance to try everything on the expansive menu. You'd be better off finding a place that does just one section of Abrekebabra's menu, which would, no doubt, be much better.
4 Visit: Telepizza
If you take a trip to Spain, there are plenty of great food options to try there. First of all, you're going to have access to some truly great and fresh seafood. On top of that, you can dig into some authentic tapas. However, if you ever find yourself hungry for something familiar and safe like... say... pizza, then you'd be in luck! Telepizza is Spain's biggest and most popular pizza chain, and the pies they make are loaded with great toppings. They're also slightly more spicy than the typical pizza you'd get in North America, so if that's the kind of thing you're into, then you'd be in pizza heaven.
3 Avoid: Mr. Sub
Mr. Sub is Canada's answer to Subway, and it's unfortunately not much of a better alternative. Mr. Sub has been around for a long time and sells pretty much the exact same selection of sandwiches you'd get at Subway. It's not that the food is bad; it's just that it's not anything to write home about. Sure, they sell themselves on their ties to Canada, but really, they don't do anything that much different from their competition. They introduced a Montreal smoked meat sub, but so did Subway restaurants in Canada. It's a perfectly fine place to grab a bite to eat if you're in a bind, but you needn't go out of your way to find one.
2 Visit: Nordsee
If you find yourself in Germany and you're craving some high-quality seafood or a good fish sandwich, then look no further than Nordsee. This combination seafood shop/fast-food restaurant specializes in selling ready-made seafood dishes as well as fresh seafood that can be taken home and prepared later. While Nordsee used to traffic exclusively in seafood sandwiches, it's since moved into fancier items like sushi and seafood salads. This is exactly the kind of place you should check out if you want to have a fast-food experience you're not likely to get anywhere else in the world, particularly in North America.
1 Avoid: FEBO
So what exactly is FEBO? Well, it's basically what people imagined the fast food of the future would be like. This fully automated service is just a wall of compartments containing fast-food items. You walk up to it, insert your money, and grab whichever food item you want. This doesn't exactly sound like the best idea for a few reasons. First of all, how long is that food just sitting there? This takes the idea of heat-lamp-warmed food to a whole new level. The other problem is that the selection is very limited, and you can forget about customizing anything. Yelling at the wall will do nothing.