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October 30, 2006

World's Fanciest McDonalds?

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Where is the world's fanciest McDonalds restaurant?

I don't know for certain, never having come close to eating in all umpteen gazillion of their stores.

Nevertheless, fearlessly armored in my ignorance, I'll offer my candidate for the title because it sure is the fanciest one I've ever seen.

[Takes envelope from tux-wearing flunky]

It's ... the McDonalds in Budapest's West Station!!

Here is a photo it took of the interior when I was there in late September.

Budapest McDonalds.jpg
McDonalds restaurant and coffee house, West Station, Budapest.
The McCafe (coffee house) is on the upper level, the restaurant below.

As noted in the caption, it's a two-story affair. The restaurant is on the lower level. Atop it is a "McCafe," McDonalds' answer to Starbucks.

Although the company has experimented with the McCafe concept in the USA, it apparently was launched in Australia in the early 1990s. This information was turned up in a quick Google search which also unearthed a page extolling their coffee houses in Ireland.

The only McCafe I've patronized was in Moscow in 2005, but I stumbled across one in Munich this year while desperately seeking a restroom.

The West Station McDonalds was two or three block north of the hotel where we stayed. The station itself (noteworthy because it was designed by Gustave Eiffel's firm) is pretty run-down, as the larger East Station also seemed to be, judging from a quick look at its exterior.

(The part of Budapest near the Danube River looked a lot more spiffy than it did in 1998, the last time I was there. But the drive along Rakoczi from East Station towards downtown revealed an area nearly as seedy as it was eight years ago. Okay, that's a large area. What puzzles me is why the West Station looked so ratty -- especially on the inside -- so many years after Communism fell.)

The McDonalds is in a small wing adjoining the main station building to the south. The contrast between it and the main part of the station is stark.

Here are some pictures of the station that I grabbed off the Web to show the setting.

West Station - Budapest - 2.JPG
Main part of West Station, Budapest.

West Station - Budapest - pan.jpg
Panning to the south.
McDonalds is in the low structure to the right of the main building. Taller buildings on the right are not part of the station complex.

Can anyone top my candidate McDonalds?



posted by Donald at October 30, 2006


Did they have McRib? And banana shakes?

Or fries?


Posted by: Joe Moran on October 30, 2006 11:05 PM

THis is the third time this window has come up. Is it me or am I dreaming?

here we go again...



Posted by: jose on October 30, 2006 11:09 PM

The building can be as fancy as they want, but a Big Mac is still just a Big Mac. I'm wondering if people who want Big Macs really care that much about the decor? (When I think I want a Big Mac---and it is always a mistake---I'm not much thinking about the exquisite ambiance of the restaurant).

Posted by: annette on October 31, 2006 10:11 AM

A McDonald's I went to in Orlando had chefs preparing food to order right in front of you. Their web page: McDonald's European Cafe.

Billiards on the 2nd floor? How can that not be cool?

Posted by: Ed from Florida on October 31, 2006 7:03 PM

Happy birthday! I hope you are enjoying sunny Southern california.

Remember McBarge at Expo '86 in Vancouver? It wasn't fancy, but unique, and now a floating wasteland:

Posted by: AP on October 31, 2006 7:18 PM

There's a Macdonalds in Missoula that features checkered tablecloths, but it's clear that if they really want to compete they've got to get some chandeliers!

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on October 31, 2006 7:35 PM

McCafes are spreading rapidly here in Hong Kong, which already has one of the world's highest concentrations of ordinary McDonald's. McCafes are pretty good, though. The ones here have nice sandwiches, fruit salads, cakes, etc. on offer, and their coffee is excellent -- better than Starbucks, and significantly cheaper. Interesting that you say McCafes got started in Oz; that makes sense, given that their coffees are described in distinctly antipodean terms, e.g. a 'flat white', 'long black', etc.

Posted by: mr tall on October 31, 2006 8:40 PM

Not much to say about McDonalds. But what a pity that the interior of Budapest's West Station has been allowed to run down. What a magnificent structure! The great pyramidal glass roof reminded me of the series of Monet paintings of one of the Gares of Paris (don't know which one) circa 1880.

Posted by: ricpic on November 1, 2006 6:49 AM

"Would you like to super-size that goulash?"

Posted by: Rick Darby on November 1, 2006 5:57 PM

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