There’s been a fair amount of comment on travel blogs lately about the virtues of eating at McDonalds while traveling abroad (even in Paris!). Now, I appreciate a clean western-style toilet as much as the next person, and I’ve been known to indulge in a Starbucks frappucino for a taste of home, but the advantage of eating at McDonalds in Turkey continues to escape me.
It’s not that I’m a food snob; I can make a meal out of potato chips and cola while watching TV. But if I’m eating out there are a multitude of better tasting and less expensive options than McDonalds in Turkey.
The most obvious alternative to an American fast food joint in Turkey is the doner stand. familiar throughout Europe and available in the U.S. as gyros or shawarma, these pressed lamb sandwiches are even quicker than a Big Mac as well as tastier. Fries are often avaiable as well, and a combo meal with a cola or ayran (the national yoghurt drink) will come in at less than the cost of a happy meal.
If you have a little more time, say 5 minutes for a take-out order, or a bit longer to sit and eat, go to a pide salonu. Pides are the Turkish equivalents of pizza (without tomato sauce). The crusts are thin and the choice of toppings typically includes ground beef, sausage, cheese and eggs. They cost about 5 lira each, about half the cost of a meal at McDs. And the meat tastes like meat.
Finally, you don’t have to be particularly adventurous or speak any Turkish to get a complete meal for 5-10 lira. The ev ymekleris (home cooking establishments) have the day’s offering on display, so you can see what looks good. The full meal option includes an entree, a starch (rice or bulgar pilav, or pasta), soup and salad. Some of these places even have wifi.
So, before you settle for an overpriced mystery-meat burger in Turkey, consider your other options. But if you do have a craving only McDonalds can satisfy, at least try the kofte burger. This local variation is a step up from the original. Or so I’m told…Google+