This European McDonald's Is Recognized As The Most Beautiful In The Whole World

There are many reasons that Europe is such a desirable vacation destination. The history, the culture, the architecture ... and let's certainly not forget the culinary scene. Whether it's immersing yourself in Spanish culture through a food tour of Marbella or trying out the spot in Italy that Giada De Laurentiis says is home to the best pasta, food is undeniably a key part of any vacation. And although it goes without saying that dining at chain restaurants or fast food joints in Europe is probably a major travel faux pas, you may be inclined to make an exception when you see the McDonald's in Porto, Portugal.

It's seriously gorgeous, featuring a bronze eagle sculpture, high ceilings, and an incredible stained glass window located behind the counter. The location is so beautiful that it just might be worth enjoying a Big Mac, chicken nuggets, and a Coke while you take in the decor. "What a beautiful place!!" wrote one reviewer on TripAdvisor. "Crystal chandeliers and a huge stained glass window behind the counter attract attention! Worth the visit. It is in a central location, easily accessible."

Turning a 1930s-era coffee shop into a McDonald's

McDonald's opened its doors in 1995 in a former Portuguese coffee shop, and the new owners wisely kept the Art Deco style, complete with the chandeliers and the aforementioned stained glass. As previously noted, the McDonald's location in Porto was originally a coffee shop called The Imperial Café, which was built in 1936. The task of restoring the building and turning it into the world-famous fast-food joint was handled by two architectural studios, Archange and A. Burmester.

Both studios were very conscious of the building's history and made sure that the café's original features were maintained. And as for that bronze eagle? It's actually from the original Imperial Café and is the work of Portuguese sculptor Henrique Moreira. The stained glass is also a remnant of the building's history — its design is meant to represent the life and production cycle of coffee, according to Business Insider

What Porto's culinary scene is really known for

Although the McDonald's is certainly worth a pit stop to enjoy a snack and an Instagram photo opp, be sure to take advantage of Porto's amazing culinary scene. Traditional Portuguese food abounds, including signature dishes such as bacalhau (salted cod), the custard tart pastel de nata, octopus, Iberian black pork, duck rice, and grilled sardines.

Porto is known for its signature sandwich, the francesinha, which translates to "little French girl." This sandwich is no light lunch fare — it's packed with meats including ham and smoked sausage, and finished off with melted cheese. Sometimes a fried egg is thrown on top, too, and the sandwich always comes with the traditional sauce, which has a base combination of tomato and beer. Other dishes that Porto specifically is known for include the Porto-style hot dog called cachorrinho, alheira (a traditional sausage), pork stew, and codfish casserole (a variation of that famous bacalhau that's found all over Portugal).

Any trip to Porto warrants a visit to a restaurant by famed chef José Avillez, whose Lisbon restaurant called Belcanto holds two Michelin stars. Avillez has restaurants in locations throughout Portugal, and the restaurant in Porto is called Cantinho do Avillez. The mouthwatering menu options include marinated scallops, veal risotto, octopus tartare, shrimp tacos, roasted octopus, and sirloin steak — plus, the cocktails are delicious. For more on Porto's food scene, check out Rick Steves' assessment of what he calls one of the best food halls in Europe.