I visited McDonald's Global Menu Restaurant in Chicago, located on the lower level of its corporate headquarters.
The restaurant was opened in 2018 and offers a rotating menu of global items from McDonald's locations worldwide.
My favorites where the Chinese Kung Pao Crispy Chicken sandwich and Spanish chocolate hazelnut McPops.
McDonald's first opened its hugely popular Global Menu Restaurant in 2018. It's located on the lower level of the company's global headquarters in Chicago's West Loop neighborhood.
"As part of our new headquarters, we wanted to provide our customers with an exciting way to experience our global menu right here in Chicago," Steve Easterbrook, then-McDonald's president and CEO said in 2018. "We are delighted to showcase a taste of McDonald's from all over the world making this location a one-of-a-kind experience that Chicagoans will enjoy with friends and family."
In recent years, the restaurant has become the subject of several viral TikTok videos, depicting the restaurant's unique and international fare.
I relocated from Brooklyn to Chicago earlier this year, so I decided to check it out for myself. As I approached, I saw the restaurant is positioned next to Hamburger University, a training facility for high-performing managers, middle managers, and owner-operators.
The program, which has multiple global campuses, is for high-performers and notoriously difficult to get into. Its Shanghai campus is known to accept just 1% of applicants, Bloomberg previously reported.
Upon entering, I could already tell this was no ordinary McDonald's restaurant.
The space is sprawling, at 6,000-square-feet, with a modern, chic design.
I was immediately greeted with a warm welcome from a crew of friendly, sharply dressed staff members. They directed me to the menu, which denotes global offerings with an image of the flag the item hails from.
There is also a separate handout to take a closer look at current global menu items. The restaurant features a rotating menu of offerings from McDonald's locations around the world.
Near the register, there was a display case of pastries that immediately piqued my interest, featuring the classic apple pie, but also goodies I hadn't seen before at American McDonald's.
I also spotted a designated pick-up area for McDonald's employees. The Chicago corporate HQ employs about 2,000 people.
Unfortunately, a couple global menu items weren't available when I visited — including the Benedict Bagel from New Zealand, and the mini donuts and mini apple fritters from Canada — but I ordered every global item I could.
I arrived just before the lunch rush, so thankfully there was ample seating, though the restaurant quickly filled up during my time there. After ordering, I was given a number and instructed to sit down and wait for a staffer to deliver my food — I definitely wasn't in a traditional McDonald's anymore.
My food arrived about five minutes later on a big tray, ready for me to dive in.
I popped open the lids to get a glimpse and survey the spread before deciding where to start.
I started with the mango sundae from Malaysia, $2.59, before it melted, and because sometimes it's fun to have dessert first.
I've long been a fan of McDonald's hot fudge sundae in the US, as well as the famous vanilla soft serve, so this was a pleasant surprise. The mango topping reminded me a bit of the fruit that comes with a Fage yogurt cup, so that made this feel a bit like I was enjoying a frozen yogurt.
Next up, it was time to try my two sandwiches.
I started with the Kung Pao Double Crispy Chicken sandwich, $5.99, from China.
The sandwich includes two crispy McChicken patties, shredded lettuce, and Kung Pao dressing on a cross bun.
This was delicious, with a nice blend of flavors that complemented the crispy chicken.
After a few bites, I put the Kung Pao on pause to test the Aussie Angus Burger from, you guessed it, Australia, $6.99.
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