Place #11: McDonald’s

(Justine, this one’s for you.)

I’ve been to McDonald’s many times in my life. A part of my family’s birthday celebration tradition is going to a restaurant of the birthday person’s choice. And for an embarrassingly long time, the Woo kids chose McDonald’s. My parents would always roll their eyes at our lousy culinary tastes. Eventually, we realized that there were places other than fast food restaurants to eat at in the world. And although the food quality went up, I bet my parents look back at those cheap McDonald’s meals with some longing (needless to say, the kids quickly learned how to use these birthday meals to our expand our experience of fancy restaurants).

But this post isn’t about fancy restaurants; it’s about mediocre milkshakes. McDonald’s mediocre milkshakes, to be specific. My family would often go on a trip over March break, and since we always flew out of Detroit, these trips would always begin with a quick drive and stay in Detroit. This little stay would inevitably involve eating a couple meals at fast food restaurants by our airport hotel. Dinner would be at Bob Evans (don’t know how that got started, but we – the kids – always wanted to go there). And McDonald’s would be breakfast.

I don’t know if you are aware, but St Paddy’s Day usually falls during March break. And for St Paddy’s Day, McDonald’s has Shamrock Shakes for ‘a wee time only’. And during March break, my family was usually eating an abnormal amount of meals at fast food restaurants. Do you see where this is going? I’m a self-professed lover of all things mint, so a Shamrock Shake was right up my alley. And so every March break, I would get a Shamrock Shake. Perhaps the best part of this story is that we often took early flights, meaning we were eating breakfast at what could really be called the middle of the night. And I would still get a Shamrock Shake.

And so the tradition of getting a Shamrock Shake began. I’m calling it a tradition because I never go to McDonald’s any other time of the year. (Sure, there are times you end up at McDonald’s, but I’m never planning to be sitting under those Golden Arches). Even when the March break vacations stopped, I would venture out on my own to get a Shamrock Shake. And thus, my annual trip to McDonald’s.

This year is no different. Since I’m all about the new places, I thought I’d go to a McDonald’s I’ve never been to before. I thought, ‘maybe McDonald’s has a flagship store in Toronto, and I could make my new place a low-key cool fast food place’. Turns out I’ve already been to the ‘flagship’ McDonald’s in Toronto, so I was going to have to settle for a normal McDonald’s.

Place #11: McDonald’s, 121 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5A 4P7

Justine came with me and also got a Shamrock Shake. She was not as in to it as I am, which is understandable. It’s debatable as to whether you can even call a Shamrock Shake mint-flavoured. But I have a place in my heart for them. The irony is that on the walk to this McDonald’s, we passed two other McDonald’s.

And that concludes my St Paddy’s Day celebrations. Until next year, McDonald’s.

My other place this week:

  • Sugar Beach, for Sugar Shack TO, a maple syrup/sugar themed event run by Redpath Sugar. There were ice sculptures carved with chainsaws and free cookies and coffee (free stuff and I’ll be there)

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