24 Fast-Food Restaurants We Wish Were in the U.S. (Slideshow)
June 19, 2014
From Wimpy burgers to Telepizza, these fast food finds require a passport stamp
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.
Chez Ashton (Canada)
With $700 in his pocket, Ashton Leblond opened Chez Ashton, a snack bar, in Québec in 1969. Three years later, to differentiate his snack bar from competitors, he introduced poutine to Québec. Though the 26 restaurants sell roast beef sandwiches, hamburgers, and hot dogs, Chez Ashton’s poutine (a hearty serving of golden French fries topped with brown gravy and fresh cheese curds) is what has made Chez Ashton famous.
Chicken Cottage (U.K.)
From grilled chicken to barbecue chicken to chicken burgers, Chicken Cottage knows its chicken. Established in 1994 in Wembley, North London, customers can now enjoy the halal fast-food brand all over the U.K. Try the Mountain Burger (a breaded chicken fillet sandwiched between one hash brown, a cheese slice, and a touch of mayonnaise on a sesame seed bun) or the Lamb Quarter Pounder (a deviation from the heavily chicken-centric menu which is topped with cheese, a slice of gherkin, onions, and lettuce on a sesame seed bun).
China’s answer to KFC is Dicos, a fast-food chain serving up buckets of fried chicken, fried chicken sandwiches, and wraps. Current specialties include the chicken cheese sandwich (chicken tenders sandwiched between two pieces of white toast), a potato cake egg burger, and smoky chicken pineapple wrap. Wash down this golden fried deliciousness with hot soybean milk. The kids’ meals come with a rotating selection of toys (currently they’re stocked with plastic figurines of the Japanese animated blue cat called Doraemon).
The first Goody’s started flipping hamburgers in Salonika, Greece in 1975. Today folks can make their own or choose from styles like Funky Burgers (hamburgers with ham or cheese), Classic Burgers (Western-style beef burgers), and Extreme Burgers (larger hamburgers with flavors like black pepper, blue cheese, and chili and bacon). Try the dipates potatoes with cheddar cheese sauce and bacon. For children, the Junior Meal comes with a toy surprise.
Henny Penny (Australia)
Henny Penny currently operates 13 sit-down and drive-thru locations in New South Wales, Australia. Opened in 1968 when Steggles Poultry expanded to serve fast food, it’s no surprise Henny Penny is famous for its fried chicken and barbecue chicken, which are served with a variety of sides like peas, carrots, coleslaw, and French fries. Those looking for a lighter meal should try the chicken roll (shredded chicken served on a long sesame seed roll).
Herfy (Saudi Arabia)
Saudi Arabia’s largest fast food chain has 190 restaurants in five countries (Bahrain, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia). Herfy’s menu has 19 combo meals and 30 menu items that include a mushroom Swiss burger, chicken rings, the Herfy Frappe, and soft-serve ice cream treats called Fusion Ice Cream.
Founded by husband-and-wife team Heikki and Kirsti Salmela, the duo honed their grilling skills in Naantali, Finland in the 1960s before opening their first Hesburger in 1980. With 240 locations in Finland and dozens in Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, and Turkey, Hesburger is Finland's largest food chain.
Jumbo King (India)
With more than 30 locations in India, Jumbo King was open by husband-and-wife team Dheeraj Gupta and Reeta Gupta in 2001 to serve vada pav (an Indian snack of a spicy deep-fried potato patty sandwiched between a bread roll). The fast-food giant, which strives to be India’s largest quick service restaurant chain by 2020, is working hard to achieve the goal; it has served 100 million vada pav to date.
Lotteria (South Korea)
This Korean fast food chain first opened its doors in Sogong-dong, Seoul in 1979 and has since expanded to Vietnam, China, and Indonesia. Menu options at Lotteria, a hybrid of hamburger joint and fried chicken shop include bulgogi burgers, shrimp burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, fried chicken, French fries, soft drinks, waffles, and Tornados (soft serve ice cream with mix-ins like strawberry, chocolate cookies, and green tea).
Max Burgers (Sweden)
Max Burgers is not only Sweden’s top hamburger joint (outselling McDonald’s and Burger King), it is also one of the oldest hamburger chains in Europe with outposts in Norway and Denmark plus further afield in United Arab Emirates. Founded by Curt Bergfors and Britta Andersson in Gällivare in northern Sweden in 1968, the fast-food chain serves a variety of hamburgers with many options. Diners can choose one of four different buns and swap out French fries for green salad, bean salad, gratin potatoes, baby carrots, or sliced apples.
MOS Burger (Japan)
With locations in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand, Japanese burger chain MOS Burger is a common sight in Asia. MOS Burger first opened in Tokyo in 1972 and was the first food service company to open in all of Japan’s 47 prefectures. Unlike other chains, MOS burger employees don’t prepare the burgers, fries, and other offerings until after an order is placed, making the wait time at MOS Burger a bit longer than other fast-food chains. Worth the extra wait are the teriyaki burger, teriyaki chicken burger, MOS rice burger, and Hokkaido pumpkin croquette. Until 2002, MOS Burger had an outpost in Hawaii, but it hasn’t hit the continental U.S. yet.
Mr. Bigg’s (Nigeria)
Mr. Bigg’s currently has more than 170 locations across Nigeria, and is still expanding including four locations in Ghana. Reminiscent of McDonald’s with its red and yellow motif, Mr. Bigg is famous for its meat pies. Nigeria staples moin moin (steamed bean pudding) and jollof rice (a dish with rice, tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, salt, and red pepper) are the most popular menu items, but Western fare like hamburgers and even birthday cakes are sold here.
What started as a take-away shop in Ealing in West London in 1992 has grown to a chain of 300 restaurants in the U.K. Nando’s signature dish is Portuguese flame-grilled peri-peri (African bird’s eye chili) chicken. The chicken is marinated for 24 hours in peri-peri sauce, flame-grilled to order, and served plain or with lemon and herb, mango and lime, medium, hot, or extra hot sauce. There’s even something (less fiery) for the Nandinos (children).
Though most Americans think of burgers when they think of fast food, Nordsee goes in a direction with a menu full of fish. From pollock to salmon to codfish to plaice, they have it all. You can choose how you like your fish done, either baked, grilled, steamed, or fried. Nordsee attempts to use fish from well-managed waters for healthy, sustainable food. With more than 400 locations across Europe, it is the largest seafood chain on the continent.
Pasquale Hnos. (Peru)
This Peruvian sanguchería chain specializes in Peruvian sanguches (sandwiches). With restaurants only in Peru, Pasquale’s sandwich selection includes chicharrón (pork cracklings), lechón (suckling pig), turkey, grilled chicken, and sausage. Pair your meal with natural fruit juices like pineapple and papaya. Perfecto.
Quick is the closest version of McDonald’s we’ve encountered. The French fast-food chain even offers The Giant, a French version of the Big Mac (two burgers separated by a slice of cheese and topped with lettuce, onions, and sauce) and Magic Boxes (the near equal to Happy Meals). One of the best foreign fast-food kid’s meals around, Magic Boxes come with a choice of hamburger, cheeseburger, chicken nuggets, or fish-shaped fish nuggets; French fries, rustic fries, or cherry tomatoes; soft drink, juice, or bottled water; and apple ‘fries,’ vanilla soft serve cone, mini strawberry yogurt drink, or squeezable apple sauce.
Royal Castle (Trinidad and Tobago)
The family-run restaurant was first opened on Frederick Street in Trinidad and Tobago in 1968 and was the island’s first fast-food restaurant. Today there are 19 Royal Castle restaurants and six franchised restaurants, nearly all in Trinidad and Tobago, but there are a couple of outposts in Grenada and Guyana. The chicken and its secret recipe of spices are locally sourced and the recipe is a closely guarded secret. The menu includes fried chicken, rotisserie chicken, a flying fish sandwich, veggie burger with pineapple slice, and salads.
Founded by school teacher Pat McDonagh in Galway, Ireland, in 1978, Supermac’s has more than 100 locations in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The company claims to have pioneered curry chips and the snack box craze in Ireland. Supermac’s menu has burgers, chicken sandwiches, cod and chips, and eight different varieties of French fries, including coleslaw, taco, curry, and cheese fries.
Like the name implies, this fast-food chain delivers pizza and more (like burgers, sandwiches, and pasta) via phone and internet orders. Founded in Madrid in 1987, Telepizza has since expanded to 1,200 pizza shops in Chile, China, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, Poland, Portugal, and United Arab Emirates. The oven-baked pizzas are made-to-order and include some seldom-seen flavors Stateside like Pizza Steak House, Pizza Bacon Cheeseburger, Pizza Barbacoa, Pizza Hot Dog, and Pizza Barbacoa Crème Queso.
The Teremok chain was founded in 1998 and has grown to be one of the biggest fast-food franchises in Russia, with more than 200 restaurants. You’ll find typical Russian fast food here, such as borscht, dumplings, and minced meats. The most popular items are its blinis (thin pancake-like crêpes served with either sweet or savory filings).
Waiter Friedrich Jahn founded Wienerwald, a roast chicken restaurant that, when it first opened in Munich in 1955, only served chicken noodle soup. Weinerwald soon made roast chicken, once reserved for special celebrations only, an inexpensive option for Germans who eagerly stopped by the restaurant for the homemade spit-roast chicken. Today, the options have expanded to grilled, barbecue, red pepper, garlic, and herb chicken. For those who can’t decide, try the Chicken Box Special, which includes the classic roast chicken, garlic chicken, barbecue, and red pepper varieties. Sides include French fries, potato salad, and coleslaw. Save room for the Viennese apple strudel and Viennese Kaiserschmarrn (a thick pancake fried in fresh butter, complemented with sweet raisins, and dusted with icing sugar).
If you have been to England, no doubt you have seen the red and white sign with the word "WIMPY" sandwiched between two slices of bread (or in one of 23 other countries which Wimpy now calls home). There is nothing wimpy about the burgers here, which are served with lettuce, tomato, onions, and ketchup on a white bun. The Wimpy chain, which opened in 1954 at Lyon’s Corner House in Coventry Street, London, claims to be the first to have served a vegetarian burger, the Spicy Beanburger, but it also serves fish and chips, "toasties," and Tea-Time treats, which include toasted tea cake with butter and carrot cake. New offerings include open-face hamburgers and a range of hot chocolates.