Fast food may conjure up those ubiquitous Golden Arches, but the concept has come a long way from frozen burgers and soggy fries. The best fast-food chains around the world are getting serious about quality, offering up bowls of slow-simmered pork ramen, freshly baked baguette sandwiches, and sustainably caught fish for the masses.
For travelers looking to eat like the locals, fast-food chains represent a convenient, often inexpensive taste of how everyday residents in far-flung cities like to eat. Some menus are more traditional than others: Teremok in Russia serves cooked-to-order blini with classic Russian toppings like caviar or smoked salmon; while Goli Vada Pav No. 1 in India adds modern twists like cheddar cheese to vada pav, the fried potato patty sandwich that's an Indian street food staple.
Granted, fast-food chains aren't exactly hidden gems. A steak at Brazilian chain Giraffas will probably not replicate the experience of an authentic churrascaria; a bowl of ramen at Ippudo may not match the thrill of discovering an underground noodle shop in Tokyo. But they have their own quirky appeal and dish out a quick fix of local culture and cuisine. So forget Mickey D's and seek out the following fast-food chains instead. -- Jamie Feldmar