McDonalds in Spain

October 25, 2012 By: erik Category: Food, Photos, Reviews, Spain, Travel, USA 3,732 views

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McRoyale DeluxeI was weak once. On my first ever trip abroad to Scotland as an early teen, when given a day to myself to wander about and choose my schedule, I ate lunch at a Burger King. And later, as a 20-year-old, having moved abroad for the first time, it didn’t take me long to visit the McDonalds in the center of Copenhagen. When in Budapest, someone talked me into entering what was described to me beforehand as “the most beautiful McDonalds in the world”, and, while I can’t speak for the entire world, I must agree that it is quite pretty. Each time, my justification was curiosity about how my American culture had been translated to another culture, but I’d be lying if part of it wasn’t the comfort of familiar food that makes these chains so successful.

When I moved to England with my future wife, the McDonalds brand was exotic for her (it still is), so we went several times in England, and she even formed a habit of getting a cheap quick McChicken sandwich on nights when she went to her English classes in the center of Birmingham.

Here in Spain, we live about a thirty minute drive from the nearest McDonalds. Let that sink in for a second, my fellow Americans.

The fast food giants have struggled to gain a foothold in Spain. The Spanish like to say that it’s because they like real food, not that processed crap! That’s part of it. Another part is that the Spanish are quite vehemently against foreign food or trying new gastronomic experiences. But my favorite theory can be summed up in five letters: tapas. There are already so many ways to grab a quick bite, with little sandwiches, made fresh that morning, cocooned in cling film, available from any local bar in even the smallest villages. McDonalds’s and Burger King’s over-salted, over-sweetened, frozen-since-the-factory meals, which are not all that cheap compared to tapas, offer no real competition.

What I’m really trying to say is that I’m trying to work through my McGuilt over letting my wife talk me into eating at the “local” McDonalds this week.

McDonalds Menu in Spain

I found the menu somewhat interesting. Contrary to what we all learned from Vincent Vega, the quarter pounder is translated verbatim into Spanish as Cuarto de Libra, not a “Royale With Cheese”. However, there was an item called a McRoyal Deluxe, which I ordered. The other interesting item of note is that the combo with sandwich, fries and a beverage can include beer!

5.95€ – that’s $7.74, at today’s rate – struck me as very expensive for the combo meal – which are called “menus” in Europe – as I remember a quarter pounder being about $1.60 and the combo being around $3.00. I’ve discovered, just now, that it’s really quite difficult to find McDonalds prices online, but I did find this photo that suggests a quarter pounder combo in the US costs $6.29 in 2012. So I guess it’s only 23% more expensive in Spain. Bloody inflation! Back in my day…!!

McDonalds Menu in Spain

Here you’ve got your McFlurry ice creams, your Happy Meals, which apparently come with real fruit, grapes or cherries, and the breakfast menu. What most caught my eye about this side of the menu was the nice McNífica wordplay, which sounds like magnífica (magnificent). Also, they have a McIbérica sandwich, which the McDonalds website explains consists of “rustic bread, pork, semi cured Spanish cheese, crunchy peppers and a sauce of olives and tomatoes”. In retrospect, I really should’ve chosen that sandwich.

McRoyale Deluxe

Meh… The burgers really are the same everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, it’s salty and sweet and plays a beautiful dopamine chord on the cerebral harpsichord, but… BLECH!

McRoyale Deluxe

Whipped together as fast as possible by an underpaid assembly line employee. The McDonalds formula!

I’m left with the same rationalized good feeling I get after getting a haircut or mowing the lawn or painting a room: Whew! So glad I won’t have to do that again for a while!

 
  • http://twitter.com/simon1972 simon1972

    To be fair, Vega was talking about Paris, not Spain.
    I think the only time I’ve eaten in McDonalds recently (meaning in the last few decades) was after a couple of weeks holiday in India when we were in the mood for something Western and we popped into a branch in Delhi.
    I had a “Maharajah Mac”. It tasted exactly the same as any other McDonalds burger anywhere else in the world, I’d guess.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alan.grady Alan Grady

    In Germany I always thought the cheese tasted funny. The employees were baffled by me asking for ice all the way to the top. A manager finally came over and said to the girl something like, “he’s American.” A look of realization came over her face. It was too funny.

  • http://twitter.com/bnanno bebenanno

    Erik, my own experience has been that MacDonalds here is populated by 1)teenagers 2) families with small kids -including us ages ago- (marketing on tv?) My 2 rejected MacDonalds on their own as soon as they could get bocadillos in a bar or get their burgers in Krunch, etc.
    And the first thing that surpises any guests in Spain is the option of beer in the “Menu”.

    Simon, the McMaharaja is chicken! So if it tastes” like anywhere in the world”, that beef you get anywhere in the world tastes of ….?

    We do end up in McDonalds in India against our basic principles while travelling, but only to eat McPaneer, McVeggie or McAloo tikki. Much the best of any McDonalds anywhere!

    • http://erikras.com/?utm_source=disqus&utm_medium=profile&utm_campaign=Disqus%2BProfile Erik R.

      Yes, most of McDonalds’ marketing is towards children. They learned long ago that focusing on children gains them lifelong customers.

      The other three tables at the McDonalds we ate at were all teenagers (or early twenties). We decided that they MUST have driven there (it’s not in a residential neighborhood) specifically to eat with their friends at McDonalds. Rarely do I see restaurant patrons that look like they could be an ad for the restaurant, young people laughing with their burgers and fries.

      And Spain has plenty of hamburgueserías that serve a much higher quality of hamburger.

  • http://gotravelzing.com/ Jeff Broman

    It is interesting that you bring up in McDonald’s in Spain. I was recently talking to a Spanish friend that lives near Madrid and he was telling me that his kids wanted to go to McDonald’s for dinner. I found that hard to believe since there are about a million other things I would want to eat in Spain before McDonald’s. The only reason I go to McD in Europe is to get a drink with ice, bathrooms and free WiFi. The McIbérica sandwich does sound interesting though.

  • http://cjoyner66.com Charles D Joyner Sr.

    Why would anyone want there cup filled with ice. you get more drink with less ice.