We Ate At CosMc's, McDonald's Shiny New Spin-Off Restaurant

What to order on CosMc's menu, and what to avoid—and how long you might wait in the drive-thru line.

In many ways, CosMc's, the "intergalactic" McDonald's spin-off featuring a range of beverages and snacks to rival Starbucks, opened at exactly the right time. In the Midwest, at least—the site of the nation's only CosMc's—we're all spending the holidays avoiding political talk with our loved ones, and here is a shining beacon for us all: an odd new restaurant concept full of fascinating fast food and shadowy ambition, one that's drawn hours-long lines of cars to its Bolingbrook, Illinois drive-thru as eager Chicagoland adventurers trek out to the exurbs for a taste of next-gen McDonald's fare. Name a better talking point to punctuate everyone's helpings of ham and green beans this Christmas.

Waiting in the CosMc’s drive-thru

Though McDonald's grand experiment is planning to expand in 2024, right now Bolingbrook hosts the only CosMc's location, so the drive-thru lines have been long (not quite this long, but almost). When we pulled up to the strip mall that houses CosMc's, a sprawling site with an ALDI, Best Buy, Burlington Coat Factory, Dollar Tree, Ross, and more, the drive-thru line comprised half the parking lot, with orange cones and a dozen police officers directing traffic. We entered the queue at 11:26 a.m. and began strategizing our order.


After many tidy switchbacks and the patient direction of the authorities, we were assigned to one of four drive-thru lanes at 12:34 p.m. Customer service at the order screen was stellar, and it's clear that McDonald's is staffing its A team at CosMc's. Notably, every CosMc's order is massive—because after waiting in a drive-thru line like that, who wouldn't want to get the full experience?

Despite our car's order of 15 items and a check size of $72, the cashier was not overwhelmed in the slightest, even with our customizations (adding espresso to the Chai Frappe Burst; removing the energy shot from the Sour Cherry Energy Burst). Once you place your order at the box, a screen pops up telling you to "HANG TIGHT AS WE PREPARE YOUR ORDER," and the cashiers are also trained to say it this way: "All right, just hang tight! We'll tell you when to pull up!" We hung tight, as repeatedly instructed, until the screen told us to proceed to Window 2. Our food was in our hands at 12:56 p.m.


CosMc’s menu, explained

The beverages, sandwiches, and snacks on CosMc's technicolor menu are primarily playful, perhaps even obnoxiously so, depending on your opinions of fast food. The Signature Galactic Boosts section of the menu includes bright beverages full of various shots, syrups, and popping boba. The Iced Tea & Lemonade section also features the option of syrups, pre-workout shots, energy boosts, dried fruit, or boba. The Slushes & Frappes section features coffee-adjacent milkshake-esque drinks full of whipped cream, popping candy, popping boba, and caffeine syrup. The Brews section offers a relatively staid selection of coffees and teas, plus a S'mores Cold Brew thrown in for good measure.


The food is divided into four sections: Sandwiches, Bites, Baked Goods, and Soft Serve. Some of this shares DNA with McDonald's menu, such as the McMuffins, McFlurries, shakes, and ice cream cones, but there are some fun new additions, including McPops, a mixed bag of filled doughnut holes, and two new breakfast sandwiches. Items like the Blueberry Lemon Cookie and the Creamy Avocado Tomatillo Sandwich seem to convey that CosMc's is trying just a bit harder than its predecessor to cater to customers' evolving tastes. We quickly discovered where CosMc's succeeded in that regard, and where it failed.

The best food and drinks on CosMc’s menu

We had to tear into the sandwiches first, lest the pucks of egg grow cold. And by god, was there a lot of egg to get through.

Both CosMc's Creamy Avocado Tomatillo Sandwich and the Spicy Queso Sandwich feature a "fluffy omelet-style egg," new to the McDonald's breakfast canon. In keeping with current breakfast trends, the egg is thick and prominent in every bite—but thankfully, so is the sauce. The "spicy queso" is deep orange and more like a slightly tingly version of Merkts cold pack cheese than a proper queso, but it's still a delicious complement to the mighty wall of egg and diminutive sausage patty. Meanwhile, the "creamy avocado tomatillo sauce" is just flatly citrus-flavored gloop, but there's a generous amount of it and it makes each bite pleasantly zingy. In both cases, the brioche bun was super fresh and superior to McDonald's English muffins.


The McPops come with Cookie Butter, Apple Cinnamon, and Hazelnut fillings, and in each case, the filling isn't the highlight so much as the super fresh, pillowy soft dough that surrounds it. I didn't get much hazelnut flavor from the knockoff Nutella, but I did marvel and how squishy and warm the McPop was with each bite. These benefit from CosMc's high turnover, so I can't speak to how they'll hold up under a heat lamp.

The Churro Cold Brew Frappé is described as "sweetened blended cold brew finished with whipped cream and topped with cinnamon sprinkles." That's exactly what it tastes like: sweetened. I didn't get much of a cinnamon note here, but as a super sugary, coffee-tinged treat, it's a fair rival to the Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino, exactly as it intends to be. I finished the whole thing.


In the arena of over-the-top fruity drinks, the award goes to the Tropical Spiceade, made with lemonade, pineapple flavoring, and dried dragonfruit. All the fruity beverages at CosMc's start with pretty layers but absolutely must be mixed to taste their best; as a result, the Spiceade tasted better with each successive sip. You know what fast food lemonade tastes like, and this is that, plus some flavor syrups. Once the CosMc's line dies down, it'll be a great treat to grab on a hot summer's day.

The worst food and drinks on CosMc’s menu

Despite the exciting range of brand-new drinks and snacks on offer at CosMc's, I was somehow most excited for the Pretzel Bites. These are a standout at Auntie Anne's and I've always thought more fast food joints should offer them. So imagine my disappointment when I nearly cracked a tooth on one. The exterior of the Pretzel Bites can't handle the ambient steam in a bag of CosMc's food; they quickly turned tough as a pistachio shell, and the insides were so dry that not even McDonald's Hot Mustard could save them. Whatever you do, don't order these.


The CosMc's drink everyone seems to be buzzing about is the Turmeric Spiced Latte, described as "Fresh espresso with milk and turmeric-flavored syrup, finished with foam and black pepper sprinkles." The Chicago Tribune even called it "terrific." I'm deeply confused by this. Yes, it lacks the ultra syrupy sweetness of the rest of the menu, offering an oasis away from whipped cream and popping boba, but it also tastes... dispensed. A prefab mixture, espresso and all, streamed into a cup, its hue duller than the golden milk it's emulating. The result was a slightly chemical, almost acrid aftertaste to each sip.

Is CosMc’s worth it?

Here's what it comes down to: If none of us had ever seen a McDonald's, and its entire menu was new to us—for example, if we were aliens newly arrived on earth—CosMc's is what that experience would feel like. So many options! Everything is so colorful! Every bite has been engineered for maximum satisfaction!


Soon, however, we will all become habituated to the CosMc's menu, and its offerings will come back down to earth, seen for what they really are: fast food. It's mostly well executed, and it's inventive within its format, but at its very best, CosMc's could be described as fast food firing on all cylinders. Fun to eat, but still McDonald's. It can't transcend its nature.

Still, if your journey to CosMc's will take less than two hours to complete (both commute to/from and waiting in the drive-thru line), I say go for it. Trek out there with friends and seize upon the novelty of it all. Make a mini adventure out of something that soon won't feel so adventurous. After all, without its catalog of sauces and syrups, CosMc's would likely be indistinguishable from its predecessor. But because of them, McDonald's new spin-off is demonstrating innovation on the level of Starbucks, Sonic Drive-In, and Coke Freestyle machines.


CosMc's did find a way to pay homage to its McDonald's roots, too: Once we started eating, we realized that one of the items in our order was missing.