One of America's most influential — and sometimes controversial — exports is fast food. America’s contemporary fast-food industry was born on Sept. 13, 1921 in Wichita, Kan., when Walter A. Anderson teamed up with Edgar Waldo "Billy" Ingram to open the first White Castle. In the next 15 years, White Castle would open seven more locations, expanding to other mid-Western markets. The McDonald brothers came onto the scene nearly twenty years later, followed by Kentucky Fried Chicken and Burger King (then Insta-Burger King) in the ‘50s and Wendy’s in the ‘60s. The fast-food fad accelerated from there, making way for our new national pastime: instant fried gratification.
Many of those first American fast-food institutions have gained major traction overseas; today there are more than 23,000 McDonald’s locations outside the U.S. (around 9,000 more than on its home turf) and KFC’s international locations outnumber those in America nine to one. While some overseas restaurants seek to emulate major American institutions, however, others have created their own regional versions of fast food.
From Nigeria, where Mr. Bigg’s has more than 170 locations serving traditional cuisine such as meat pies, Nigeria staples moin moin (steamed bean pudding) and jollof rice (rice, tomatoes and tomato paste, onion, salt, and red pepper) to India where Jumbo King has served 100 million vada pav (an Indian snack of a spicy deep-fried potato patty sandwiched between a bread roll) to date, diners can likely find fast-food chains almost anywhere in the world these days. Read on for some of the best foreign fast-food franchises that’ll have you running for your passport.
Burger Ranch (Israel)
Burger Ranch first opened in Tel Aviv in 1976 and now has more than 100 restaurants in Israel. While its restaurants aren’t classified as kosher, the individual ingredients for its burgers, chicken nuggets, French fries, and the like are, and items like cheeseburgers and seafood and extras like bacon are not on the menu.
What better way to celebrate your time in tropical paradise than with fast food? Chefette, a chain with 14 locations in Barbados plus an outpost in the Grantley Adams International Airport, was named by combining the words "chef" (to cook) and "fete" (to party). The chain is famous for its roti, made with curried vegetables and meat and wrapped in wheat flour wrap. Try the chicken and potato roti or the beef and potato roti. The menu also includes pizza, fried chicken, hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, veggie burgers, and salads.
Lauren Mack is the New York City Travel Editor for The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.