The world's 24 most unusual fast food restaurants, ranked

Fast food with a difference

<p>Noaman Ali/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0</p>

Noaman Ali/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Fancy eating a pizza with views of the pyramids in Egypt? How about chowing down on a Big Mac while you're out on the Swedish ski slopes? From a McDonald's plane in New Zealand to a century-old townhouse in Japan, we've found the most unusual fast food locations around the world.

Read on to discover the world's most awe-inspiring fast food joints, counting down to the most incredible of all. 

We've based our ranking on the striking architecture of each building and on the opinions of our well-travelled (and well-fed) team. This list is unavoidably subjective.

24. McDonald's, Rotterdam, Netherlands

<p>Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock</p>

Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock

Previously voted the ugliest building in Rotterdam, this McDonald’s restaurant is now considered one of its most stylish locations. Once in line for demolition, the chain unveiled its redesign in 2015; it’s complete with a minimalist style, featuring a glass-panelled front, statement white spiral staircase and perforated golden façade. It even glows at nighttime.

23. KFC, Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin, Germany

<p>Jin Koo Niersbach/Flickr/CC BY 2.0</p>

Jin Koo Niersbach/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

While visiting Checkpoint Charlie, the most famous former crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War, travellers shouldn't skip the strategically located KFC. The easily recognisable red-and-white sign is positioned beside the famous replica of the 'You are entering the American sector' sign. There's even a McDonald's on the same street, too.

22. McDonald’s, Aswan, Egypt

<p>Peter Snelling/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0</p>

Peter Snelling/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

Located on the banks of the Nile in the Egyptian city of Aswan, this McDonald's restaurant has exceptional views over the storied river. With plenty of outdoor space across two floors, diners can enjoy a burger and fries while gazing over the water. The views are said to be second to none.

21. McDonald’s, New Hyde Park, New York, USA

<p>Chung Chu/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0</p>

Chung Chu/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Built in 1795 as a farmhouse, then converted into a 19th-century Georgian mansion, this historic building in Long Island, New York is now a McDonald’s. The fast food chain had originally planned to knock it down and build a standard restaurant in its place but after receiving backlash from locals, the burger joint decided to renovate it into the classiest McDonald's in the state.

20. Hacienda Alsacia, Starbucks Coffee Farm, Costa Rica



On the slopes of Poás volcano in Costa Rica is Hacienda Alsacia, a Starbucks coffee farm, where you can see crops of coffee beans being grown. Guests can learn about the coffee journey from seedling to cup and then enjoy a brew with sweeping views across the valley at the light and airy on-site café. This has to be the prettiest Starbucks location around.

19. McDonald's, Paris, France

<p>Oleg Anisimov/Shutterstock</p>

Oleg Anisimov/Shutterstock

Set among historical buildings, fine-dining restaurants and designer shops on Rue Saint-Lazare sits this majestic McDonald’s branch. Full of charm and character, it’s strategically placed to draw in tourists who usually flock to the area for its history and shopping. French McDonald's franchises also offer a more luxe experience inside, too – ingredients are locally sourced, coffee is served in mugs and occasionally even offer a limited-edition McBaguette.

18. Starbucks, Kyoto Ninenzaka Yasaka Chaya, Japan



Located inside a century-old Kyoto townhouse, known as a machiya, this Starbucks is anything but ordinary. To blend in with one of the best-preserved areas of Edo-era wooden machiyas, the brand’s signature green tones are swapped for a more favourable and neutral beige. Inside the traditional décor remains, with elegant scrolls lining the walls and tatami mats and cushions on the floors. There’s even a traditional Japanese garden to explore outside. Guests are required to remove their shoes if they opt to sit inside.

17. Taco Bell, Pacifica, California, USA

<p>Adam Isserlis/Flickr/CC BY 2.0</p>

Adam Isserlis/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

The Taco Bell in Pacifica is surely one of the chain's most incredible locations in the world. Situated on the beach, it has a cool surfer design, finished with everything from wooden panelling and exposed beams to a colourful mural and fireplace; there's even a walk-up window for those too sandy to sit inside. What’s more, it’s one of the limited number of outposts where you can get an alcoholic drink.

16. Starbucks, Seoul, South Korea



The historic district of Insadong-gil in Seoul, South Korea, is an unlikely place for a Starbucks; yet you'll find one nestled amongst antique stores. At first, it was met with some resistance from locals; however, it's the only location in the world where the sign has been translated from English. You can sample a number of local, location-only delicacies here such as the Jeju Peanut Fresh Cream Roll (swirled cake with mascarpone cream and peanut filling).

15. McDonald’s, Clifton Hill, Melbourne, Australia

<p>Tim McRae/Getty Images</p>

Tim McRae/Getty Images

Melbourne, Australia is home to one of McDonald’s most striking buildings, with the fast food giant set inside the former United Kingdom Hotel. Dating back to the 1930s, the space was designed by renowned architect James Hastie, and features many of its original features, from curved wings and rounded balconies to a giant retro dining room.

14. Starbucks Roastery, Tokyo, Japan



There’s a lot to admire about the world’s biggest Starbucks in Tokyo, Japan; the 32,000 square feet (2,973sqm) beautifully designed building in the residential district Nakameguro has a prime spot overlooking the cherry blossom tree-lined Meguro River. There's also so much more than a coffee counter here – you'll find a bakery, tearoom and cocktail bar.

13. McDonald's, Budapest, Hungary

<p>Dennis Jarvis/Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 2.0</p>

Dennis Jarvis/Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 2.0

One of the fanciest McDonald's locations, this franchise in Budapest is more reminiscent of a fine-dining restaurant than a fast food chain. While the menu features the usual McDonald's favourites, the food definitely tastes better when eaten in soft leather booths inside this 1920s, Art Deco-esque dining room.

12. McDonald's, Roswell, New Mexico, USA

<p>Nagel Photography/Shutterstock</p>

Nagel Photography/Shutterstock

This McDonald’s location in New Mexico looks out of this world, literally. Shaped like a spaceship, its design takes inspiration from the city’s extraterrestrial history; in 1947, a UFO allegedly crashed into the fields on the outskirts of the city, and ever since it’s been dubbed the ‘alien capital of the world’. Complete with holographic lighting, metal detailing and the brand’s classic golden arches, it’s hard not to love the design.

11. KFC, Minsk, Belarus

<p>Grisha Bruev/Shutterstock</p>

Grisha Bruev/Shutterstock

It’s not every day you find a KFC location hidden beneath a dramatic 1960s Soviet mural, but that’s exactly what you’ll find in Minsk, Belarus. An excellent example of an art style known as Social Realism, the sculpture is a relic of a very different time, offering a peculiar contrast between heroic communist sculptures and crispy fried capitalist chicken.

10. McDonald's, Fuzhou, China

<p>Danny Ye/Shutterstock</p>

Danny Ye/Shutterstock

Is this one of the prettiest McDonald's locations in the world? Complete with red-and-gold lanterns, carved wooden details and beautiful windows, it's certainly up there. Inside is just as breathtaking, featuring wooden shutters and cosy hideaways. Order local favourites like crispy Taro Pie, a twist on McDonald's legendary Apple Pie that swaps the fruit for the tropical, purple-coloured root vegetable.

9. KFC, Baku, Azerbaijan

<p>Elchin Memmedov/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0</p>

Elchin Memmedov/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Azerbaijan's capital offers the usual order of KFC, but with a side order of history. The Sabunchu station, where this restaurant is housed, was built in 1926 and formed part of the Soviet Union’s first electrified railway system. At approximately 17,000 square feet (1,579sqm), the stone building is architecturally impressive with domed towers that shadow its surroundings. It also happens to be the largest KFC in the world.

8. Starbucks, Ibn Battuta Mall, Dubai, UAE

<p>Ritu Manoj Jethani/Shutterstock</p>

Ritu Manoj Jethani/Shutterstock

The stunning and ornately tiled Starbucks is in Ibn Battuta Mall, Dubai. Coming in at a whopping 5.6m square feet (521,000sqm), it’s one of the world’s largest shopping centres, and is sectioned into six areas with different designs. There’s one Starbucks location that’s located in the striking Persia Court, where customers can enjoy customised coffee orders under magnificent, vaulted ceilings, blue-and-turquoise mosaic walkways and brass chandeliers.

7. McDonald’s, Yangshuo, China

<p>Kari/Flickr/CC BY 2.0</p>

Kari/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Giving you more than just a burger from McDonald’s, its Yangshuo outpost comes with added mountain views and a few special menu items. Here, diners can order Century Egg Chicken Porridge and German Thuringian sausages while looking out to the glorious peaks and waterways. It doesn't get much better than this.

6. McDonald’s, Porto, Portugal



McDonald’s locations don’t come much prettier than Porto’s 1930s-built Imperial Café. Complete with Art Deco–style stained glass windows, glistening chandeliers and giant mirrors, the fast food chain has honoured the building’s heritage while still offering a classic McDonald’s dining experience. The entrance is even overlooked by a striking statue of an eagle.

5. McDonald's, Barstow, California, USA

<p>Underway in Ireland/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0</p>

Underway in Ireland/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

In keeping with the area’s locomotive heritage, this fast food joint is housed inside several train carriages at Barstow Station on Route 66. A prime photo opportunity, the old cars have been repurposed into dining carts, giving visitors a taste of train travel in mid-20th-century California – served up with added fries and a McFlurry.

4. Pizza Hut and KFC, Giza, Egypt

<p>Noaman Ali/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0</p>

Noaman Ali/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Across the street from the Great Sphinx and the Pyramid of Giza are these brilliantly positioned Pizza Hut and KFC locations. Downstairs, you'll find the KFC joint serving up all of the usual classics, while upstairs is a Pizza Hut boasting even better views. Whichever you choose, diners can soak up unobstructed views of the ancient wonder, all while sitting in an air-conditioned dining room with a pepperoni slice or chicken bucket in tow.

3. McDonald’s, Lindvallen, Sweden



Longed for a Quarter Pounder when you’re sliding down the slopes? Thankfully, ski lovers at the Lindvallen ski resort in Sweden can experience just that thanks to the launch of this seasonal McDonald’s pop-up. Aptly named the ‘McSki’, this location has been popping up every winter season for the last few years – and McDonald’s lovers can’t get enough. Featuring the world’s only 'ski-thru', skiers can get their fast food fix on the slopes, or even hop inside to warm up with a burger and fries in the cabin-style restaurant.

2. Big Chicken KFC, Marietta, Georgia, USA

<p>Rob Hainer/Shutterstock</p>

Rob Hainer/Shutterstock

Known as The Big Chicken to locals, this location sits just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, and is far superior to any other KFC we've found. The restaurant features its own radio station, gift shop, state-of-the-air interiors, oh, and a 56-foot (17m) moving chicken on its roof. Originally built in the 1960s, it was going to be taken down in the 1990s due to a bad storm, but public outcry ensured it was preserved and upgraded – today, the Big Chicken is fondly used as a landmark for directions.

1. McDonald’s, Taupo, New Zealand



Ever fancied eating McDonald's on a plane? While it might not be 38,000 feet up in the air, this fast food location in Taupo, New Zealand has a decommissioned DC3 as part of its restaurant. In its heyday, the plane carried passengers for South Pacific Airline, before being used as an agricultural aircraft working on farmland as a crop duster. Nowadays, you can jump aboard and enjoy your Big Mac with a side of history and excitement.

Now take a look at tasty fast food joints you probably haven't tried

Last updated by Lottie Woodrow.