Why You Need to Experience Spanish Fast Food

Spanish Fast Food

When an American, like me, travels, it’s kind of sacrilegious to eat fast food. To be fair, when you’re living in a new culture, it’s important to take into account every nook and cranny of the culture. Yup, my midnight Burger King runs are totally validated. It’s for since. And you know what? There are some interesting differences in Spanish fast food!

Spanish fast food culture is exciting

For the American culture, McDonald’s is hardly worth a second thought. It’s the kind of thing you eat when you’re too busy to cook or sit down to eat. Just hit up the drive thru and you’re all set with your calorie intake for the day!

In Spain, though, it’s a bit different. McDonald’s, or any other kind of Spanish fast food, is very much a social gathering, and a completely acceptable place to spend your 3 hour siesta. As a student (well, multiple students) explained during an oral interview when I asked where he and his friends like to meet up, “we go to McDonald’s because we all like hamburgers and it’s very good!”. Walking past a Spanish fast food restaurant, it is absolutely not strange to see a full house.

Drive thru culture

Depending on where you go in Spain, there may not be a drive thru. Living in Madrid, I haven’t seen a drive thru window in several months. I’m told the drive thru culture is more popular in smaller pueblos (villages) outside of Madrid, but don’t count on it!

Instead, Spanish fast food restaurants are filled to the brim with tables and chairs, and you might have a hard time finding a seat during the Spanish meal times. You may be forced to sit at a dirty table or leave the restaurant and find somewhere else to eat. Remember what I said about restaurant culture – when someone sits down to eat, they might be there a while.


If you’re a die-hard Coke addict, Spanish fast food joints will treat you well. I have seen more Coke ads in less than a year living in Spain than I have in 20-odd years living in the US.

There is a rumor that the drink was invented in Spain and then brought to Atlanta, Georgia (the current location of Coca-Cola’s museum and secret recipe), but take it with a grain of salt. Spain is not the only country to claim this, and it’s a pretty common thing to see with such a widely popular product and a secretive history.


What? Yes. To my knowledge, you can only find it at Taco Bell, but you can order a cerveza with your meal in at least some Spanish fast food joints. I don’t drink beer so I couldn’t tell you if it’s any good. You’ll just have to find out for yourself and let me know!


In the US, you’ll find 4 or 5 different fast food restaurants in the same part of a street or even in their own plaza. America is a culture of fast eaters. In Spain, though, your options are a bit limited. While you’ll find most major fast food joints, it’s easiest to find Burger King and McDonald’s. They’re literally everywhere. Always. It’ll be harder to find Taco Bell, for example. And, after doing a quick Google search to back up what I already thought to be true, I can say with a decent amount of confidence that there are no Wendy’s or Chick Fil A locations in Spain. Sorry, guys! You have to get sick of tapas like the rest of us!


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