Culture

Top 25 Weird and Wonderful Restaurants

By Amber Healy - September 14, 2018

But there’s a difference between going out to a restaurant for a bite and dining. There’s also a difference between going to the local burger joint and going into a place that’s so special and creative, or just plain weird, that being there is a story unto itself.  Take a look at these weird, wonderful and wacky dining establishments from around the world. Do you want to add any to your travel list?

1. Rollercoaster Restaurant, Alton, England

Credits: If diners went through what the food does in Rollercoaster Restaurant they'd probably feel too sick to their stomachs to eat.

This restaurant, located in a theme park, is the epitome of fast food. Customers place their orders via iPads and are sent up to the chefs at the very top of a 400 meter (1312 foot) roller coaster. The food is prepared and sent back down the course, which is complete with two loops, traveling at speeds that rival Olympic speed skaters. All plates are specially designed and tested to be able to withstand the speed and force of traveling that far and that fast on the coasters, which wind down to individual tables, in order to maximize enjoyment while minimizing mess.

And yes, the dishes are covered with lids to keep things inside at all times. There are just 13 tables in the restaurant, but some 150 people can check out the spectacle at a time, so if you’re having dinner there, be prepared to share your table with some new friends.

Sources: Britain’s first rollercoaster restaurant where diners watch their food do loop-the-loops on way to table, Alton Towers

2. Modern Toilet, Taiwan

Credits: Modern Toilet is proud to be a load of crap.

The people behind the Modern Toilet restaurant call themselves a group of “muckrakers” following their dreams. The restaurant is inspired by a manga series, “Dr. Slump on the Toilet.” And it’s not for those easily distracted or disgusted. Everything in the restaurant is based on a toilet. Customers sit on toilets. They eat from toilets, either bowls or lids or urinals. There’s even a chocolate dessert that’s coiled into a toilet to get the full experience.

The Taiwan restaurant started as a dessert shop selling that now infamous chocolate ice cream but currently sells full meals too at their multiple locations across the country. The menus are covered in, what else, smiling poop emoji. The walls are covered in mosaics of people doing all manner of things while sitting on the throne (but nothing’s too obvious or distasteful, it’s all just suggested).

Sources: Toilet Story, Modern Toilet in Taipei

3. The Snow Castle, Kemi, Finland

Credits: In case the name didn't already tip you off, bring a warm coat when you eat here.

Time is of the essence with the Snow Castle restaurant and hotel in Finland. Each year, when the temperatures drop and the snow falls, the restaurant is built anew. In 1996, the first year for the sub-zero hot spot, it was certified in the Guinness World Records for being the first icy restaurant and having the longest snow walls, just as an added bonus. The tables are made of ice. Customers sit on stumps covered in fur. There are elaborate ice sculptures lining the hall and intricate sculptures in the walls themselves. The menu features lots of fish, a variety of soups, plenty of vegetables and other items that you might expect to find in the northern regions of the world. And there’s no need to ask for ice in your drink – the glasses are carved out of the stuff. Some 100,000 people visit the Snow Castle each year, with 1,500 of them taking the plunge and sleeping overnight.

Sources: Fine Dining Lovers, This Is Finland

4. Waterfall Restaurant, Labasin Falls, Philippines

Credits: If you enjoy your meals with a side of wet, Waterfall Restaurant is the place for you.

In the middle of Villa Escudero, adventure seekers can enjoy a traditional Filipino lunch while soaking their feet in water that’s just come over the Labasin Falls. The tables are made of bamboo and patrons are encouraged to consider taking a little break and sit with their backs against the falls for a little massage. Formerly a coconut plantation, the restaurant is a highlight of the resort and features traditional dancers and live music.

The food is largely fish and fresh fruits and vegetables, with a few curries and other meats available. Guests at the resort can work off their thrilling lunch or dinner by going on hikes, bird watching or trying their hand at bamboo rafting. Just don’t expect to stay dry at this restaurant, as the water runs all the way through it and tables are often seen covered in spray from the falls.

Sources: Villa Escudero’s Waterfall Restaurant Lets You Dine at the Foot of the Falls, Your bucket list just got bigger: Visit THIS restaurant inside a waterfall

5. Robot Restaurant, Tokyo, Japan

Credits: The menu isn't much to brag about but there's plenty of eye candy.

It’s one of the loudest, most colorful, flashiest and busiest restaurants in the world, and that’s just the entertainment. The Robot Restaurant in Tokyo is pretty much what you’d expect in a city known for bright, dazzling lights and dizzying motion. Open since 2012, the restaurant greets customers with loud music from the get-go.

Dancers are fighting with massive robots between flashes of laser lights. There’s a group of professional dancers working for weeks at a time to choreograph and practice the fight scenes in order to make sure the “youthful emotion” is conveyed beyond a shadow of a doubt during the course of the 90-minute show, complete with breaks for the performers. But to be clear, the food isn’t the attraction here; the show is the main course. Visitors can snack on popcorn and bento boxes but it’s nothing lavish.

Source: Behind the scenes at Tokyo’s Robot Restaurant

6. Kayabuki Tavern, Utsunomiya, Japan

Credits: Monkey see, monkey do - especially at Japan's Kayabuki Tavern.

Who hasn’t wanted to go to a restaurant where monkeys are the waiters and the entertainment? That’s just what you’ll get at Kayabuki in Japan. Five monkeys walk around in little costumes, delighting guests. They hand out hot towels and seem to enjoy taking photos with customers, scurrying around, climbing on heads and up legs and arms. The monkeys also bring patrons their drinks, so any and all jokes about bartending being an easy job will certainly apply here.

Again, the food is good but not the focal point of the establishment: barbecue chicken, dumplings, some rice dishes, along with beer and sake – but the real treat are the monkey stars. The restaurant has been in operation for more than 20 years and in the age of social media it’s gaining even more international notoriety.

Sources: At Kayabukiya Tavern in Japan’s Tochigi prefecture, monkey business delights customers, The Monkey Tavern: Kayabuki

7. Heart Attack Grill, Las Vegas, United States

Credits: Las Vegas' Heart Attack Grill is usually one pickle away from killing its customers.

Lots of restaurants offer eating challenges, but only the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas gives you a free meal if you actually have a heart attack while eating its biggest burger, the Octuple Bypass Burger, which starts off at nearly 20,000 calories. That’s 10 days’ worth of caloric intake, give or take – and that’s before you add the optional 40 slices of bacon.

The burger alone weighs almost two kilograms (four pounds). Diners are required to wear hospital gowns, regardless of their order. If the plate isn’t cleared, customers get spanked by the waitresses, who wear nurse outfits. Fries are called flatliners and are cooked in lard; wine (Merlot or Chardonnay) come in an IV drip bag. When the restaurant’s first spokesperson died of a heart attack, business went up.

Sources: This 20,000-Calorie Burger Is The Craziest Thing We’ve Ever Eaten, Heart Attack Grill

8. Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Maldives

Credits: Swimming with the fishes? Not quite, but here you can at least have dinner with them.

The best part of any modern aquarium destination is the clear underwater tunnel featured at some, such as the Georgia Aquarium, letting visitors marvel at fish swimming all around them. Well, the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant in the Maldives takes that idea to the next level and lets customers eat their meals surrounded by aquatic life.

Patrons are five meters (16 feet) below sea level, surrounded by schools of tropical fish and coral gardens. And this is not a fish-and-chips restaurant: guests get a six-course European cuisine meal, including caviar, or lighter four-course meals for lunch. For those who want to really enjoy the glamorous meal in a quiet, tranquil setting, the restaurant makes it clear that children are welcome for lunch but not dinner service.

It’s billed as the world’s first underwater, all-glass restaurant, seating only 14 customers at a time, and those customers are all guests at the adjoining Conrad Rangali resort. All main fish courses are locally caught using a sustainable method, as nets are prohibited in the Maldives.

Sources: Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Destination Dining: Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, the Maldives

9. Dinner in the Sky

Credits: Precariously perched dining is becoming a worldwide guilty pleasure.

It’s a concept that started in the whimsical mind of a communications agency and has spread around the world. Dinner in the Sky restaurants offer just that: Patrons sit on specially design bench tables and chairs while being lifted several stories into the air via crane to watch their chef prepare food and enjoy the best view in the city. The list of chefs involved in this venture crosses the Michelin-starred kitchens of the world, including the most respected chef in Paris, called out for an event honoring Prince Albert of Monaco.

The concept is adaptable for other uses too: there’s been an Opera in the Sky, a Beach Bar in the Sky and an Internet Café in the Sky for Nokia. Only 30 guests at a time get the lofty chance to eat gourmet food 50 meters (164 feet) in the air. And if you’re worried about safety, know that the patrons are all strapped into their seats with harnesses.

Source: Dinner in the Sky

10. Giraffe Manor, Nairobi, Kenya

Credits: Family dog begging at the dinner table? Not cool. Giraffe sticking its head through the window looking for a snack? Definitely cool.

Many people dream of going on safari, seeing the glorious open grass fields of Africa, watching exotic animals, exploring the place where life and civilization began. Would you want to add dinner at a place where giraffes stick their head in through the windows, looking for a treat? Welcome to Giraffe Manor, where that happens on a regular basis.

On the bottom floor of one of Nairobi’s most recognizable buildings, the restaurant is in the middle of 12 acres of private land, surrounded by another 140 acres of forest. There are just 12 rooms in the inn so it’s a very exclusive event to stay, let alone dine, there. There’s a herd of Rothschild’s giraffes who meander by the hotel each day, sometimes popping their heads in through the opened windows, just to see what’s going on.

Source: Safari Collection

11. Shaka Zulu, London, England

Credits: Save some airfare to spend on the delicacies at London's Shaka Zulu.

Maybe the idea of a safari or trip to Africa sounds great but it’s a bit much to ask of your travel budget. Consider London’s Shaka Zulu instead. Opened in 2010 with an official proclamation and blessing from a Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu. Shaka Zulu is London’s biggest South African restaurant, offering two floors of bars, dining and club settings. There are six-meter-high (20 foot) warrior statues to greet you along with wooden murals on the walls.

Its chef, Stephen Boucher, is originally from South Africa and has designed a menu to honor and reflect his homeland. The adventurous among the customers can try some exotic dishes, including kudu, ostrich and zebra, all for less than the cost of a flight around the world.

Source: Shaka Zulu

12. The Aeronaut, London, England

Credits: The Aeronaut might be sensory overload, but at least there's lots of booze to take the edge off. Photo: The Aeronaut

Recently named the best pub in London, a town known for great drinking establishments, Aeronaut features virtual reality options in addition to photo booths, shows, several bars and a heated outdoor garden. The real draw for The Aeronaut is above the table, not on them, as aerialists perform acrobatic acts and routines while hanging from hoops, ribbons — you name it.

The establishment has a circus-like theme with striped satin cloth along the ceiling. There’s a show every night, going later into the evening on Fridays and Saturdays, complete with flame eaters. If high-flying acrobatics aren’t your thing, there’s also a comedy lounge and, on occasion, a burlesque show.

Source: The Aeronaut

13. Dining in the Dark

Credits: Texture along with taste take the cake when you're eating blindfolded.

What started out as a way to change how diners experienced their food has become, in some areas, a fundraiser for vision therapy programs. Dining the Dark is an international phenomenon in which people get all dressed up in fancy clothes, go to some secret but predetermined place and don blindfolds before they sit down to dinner.

The idea is credited to a blind pastor who had guests at a dinner party put on blindfolds to see what it was like to eat without seeing the plates in front of them. Now there are blackout restaurants around the world, including Paris, London, Barcelona, Toronto and Montreal. In most restaurants, the dining room itself is very dimly light, with dark furnishings and dark colored walls. It’s a sensory experience, minus one sense.

Sources: Dining In The Dark: Foodies Gain New Understanding Of Eating Without Sight, Dining in the Dark: A Spiritual Catharsis for your Palate

14. Ninja, New York, United States

Credits: Take one guess what theme Ninja is following.

Bringing the mythology to the Western World, Ninja in New York claims to be a replica of an ancient Japanese ninja training ground from feudal times, complete with rooms laid out in a maze and filled with contraptions to cause distraction and confusion. Waiters dressed in traditional all-black ninja garb pop out from dark hallways and bamboo-slotted windows, sometimes with flaming paper, sometimes with food on fire, sometimes with fake swords pointed at patrons’ necks.

Some menu items are served “ninja-style,” with throwing stars included in the presentation. The food is a mix of Japanese and American fare, from sushi to steaks and various desserts as guests sit in individual pagodas. The shouting and unpredictable outbursts might make this restaurant one to skip for those who shock easily, but it could be a fun stop for a birthday party.

Source: Ninja, Off-the-Grid: Ninja-Themed Dining in NYC

15. Redwoods Treehouse, Warkworth, New Zealand

Credits: It's not cheap to rent, but the Redwoods Treehouse promises an unbeatable experience.

Here’s a locale for all those people who watched Star Wars as a kid and wanted to hang out in the Ewok village: The Redwood Treehouse is an onion-shaped restaurant nine meters (30 feet) above the forest floor in a redwood tree in Auckland, New Zealand. In order to get to the restaurant, which now can only be rented out for private events, the establishment’s architects built an elevated platform out of redwoods.

The restaurant itself took just 66 days to build and is really eye-catching, featuring sustainable poplar and pine materials. Originally conceived as a 2008 marketing ploy from the Yellow Pages, the Redwoods Treehouse holds just 30 guests at tables, or 50 standing up and can be rented out for a mere $3,000. Food, drinks and all other expenses are additional fees.

Sources: The Redwood Treehouse, Secret Hideaway, A Treetop Restaurant In New Zealand

16. Cat Café Nekorobi, Tokyo, Japan

Credits: For those suffering from kitty withdrawal there's the Cat Café Nekorobi.

Love cats but don’t want to deal with having one as a pet? Or traveling and didn’t feel like packing up Fluffy in a carrier for a 16-hour flight? If you’re in Tokyo, be sure to stop into the Cat Café Nekorobi, possibly the world’s first to offer rent-a-cat deals. For a few hundred yen – between 800 yen per half hour ($7 in US dollars) and up to 2,400 yen for three hours ($21.40 US) – guests can play with, cuddle and pet kitties of various shapes, sizes and colors. There’s a vending machine in the room with people snacks, provided free of charge.

Guests are advised not to pick up and hold cats, especially those who clearly don’t want to be held or to take photos without using a flash. They do promise that if a cat scratches or bites you, they’ll provide first aid. Now, this isn’t a traditional restaurant in the sense that you get to eat food while visiting (other than the free vending machine snacks) but it’s a cat café, and who doesn’t like that idea?! It’s also a nice break from the frenzy of visiting Tokyo.

Sources: Nekorobi, Fury Café

17. SafeHouse, Milwaukee, United States

Credits: You need a password and reservation for SafeHouse. Photo: Thomas Hawk / Flickr

Ever wanted to be a spy? To lurk in shadows, trying to sleuth out the good guys from the murderous double agents? At SafeHouse, that’s just what happens. A password is required to enter the compound, but after answering a series of questions, most guests are allowed in. Allegedly, the establishment is so good at cloaking things in shadows and secrets that a guest used the SafeHouse to evade the FBI. It’s also rumored that there’s a machine gun that once belonged to John Wayne among the artifacts and that someone dropped off a piece of the Berlin Wall from right after it fell.

Attached to the SafeHouse is the Newsroom Pub, filled with its own artifacts and smuggled goods, including gargoyles from the North Western depot. The menu includes something called C4 cheese curds: something’s going to get destroyed upon consumption.

Source: SafeHouse: A History Declassified

18. De Kas, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Credits: Produce so fresh you can see it being grown from where you're sitting.

Restaurant De Kas takes the whole “farm to table” concept really seriously. The restaurant is in a greenhouse and many of the menu ingredients are grown on the property. The greenhouses date back nearly a century, to 1926, when they were part of the Amsterdam Municipal Nursery. Given the dedication to truly locally sourced ingredients, the restaurant offers one fixed menu every day, based on what’s available and fresh and in season.

Up to 140 guests at a time can enjoy artfully arranged plates under the 8-meter-high (26 foot) ceiling, with additional seating available for lunch and cocktails on those picture-perfect spring and summer days when patios are a must. Even the wine list is filled with vintages from sustainably grown varietals. Guests have options of three or four-dish menus for lunch and five or six course dinners, along with 40 bottles of wine, served by the bottle or glass.

Source: Restaurant De Kas

19. Cabbages and Condoms, Bangkok, Thailand

Credits: Good food and safe sex are on the menu at Cabbages and Condoms. Photo: Robin Hickmott / Flickr

Take a giggle-inducing name, add a serious and important social issue underneath it, and you’ve got Cabbages and Condoms, a restaurant in Bangkok that helps fund both sexual health along with pregnancy prevention. The restaurant started as a small vegetable stand that also sold t-shirts, key chains, lace panties, oral contraceptives and condoms.

It now seats up to 400 people at a time. Portions of all profits go toward the Population and Community Development Association.

Instead of a bowl of mints at the hostess stand as you leave, there’s a bowl of condoms – take what you need for the rest of your evening. They have both male and female condoms available! There are mannequins decked out in brightly colored attire – all made from condoms – throughout the restaurant. Inside the dining area, the brashness is toned down and the trees and hanging fixtures are all covered in tiny fairy lights.  The restaurant also works with local farmers for organic ingredients for anything the restaurant’s owners can’t grow themselves.

Source: Cabbages and Condoms Bangkok

 

20. Fortezza Medicea Restaurant, Volterra, Italy

Credits: Be careful when visiting Fortezza Medicea - the maître d' has an armed guard standing right behind them.

In traveling to Italy, people are often blown away by the nation’s beauty and delicious food and are tempted to swear they’re leaving their home country for good and throwing away the key to their old life. Instead, maybe they should just go to Fortezza Medicea, a restaurant in Volterra in the Tuscan region set inside an 13th century fortress and run by prisoners. Armed guards are on hand to keep everything in line while inmates cook and serve decadent meals. These aren’t just petty thieves; they’re serving long sentences for serious crimes. And the doors aren’t thrown open every night; just eight times a year are guests allowed to enter the facility and be allowed back out into the world on the same evening.

The special dinners help raise money for charitable organizations and in the first 11 years more than $140,000 was raised. Guests should know that cell phones and bags are prohibited inside the castle’s prison walls; they’ll also be expected to go through a metal detector just in case.

Sources: Inside the popular Italian restaurant serving up high-end cuisine behind bars, Fortezza Medicea Restaurant, Italy

21. Disaster Café, Lloret de Mar, Spain

Credits: Some meals are a disaster waiting to happen for all the right reasons.

Imagine eating a perfectly pleasant meal, enjoying some nice conversation and suddenly the walls start to shake. The floor vibrates. Glasses are spilling. Plates are clacking and breaking. And then everything calms down and your waiter stops by to refill your drinks. The Disaster Café in Spain offered just that: a predictable, man-made, cataclysmic earthquake.

The wait staff donned safety helmets and brought heavier-than-expected dishes to the table. They knew a simulated 7.8 earthquake was going to happen, but there was no specific or blatant warning for patrons, and no one knew when it would hit. In one YouTube video from inside the restaurant, lights are seen flashing and everything bounced and knocked around, but as soon as the quake, which usually lasted about 30 seconds, was over, patrons would applaud. Unfortunately, the restaurant has closed, so in order to experience an earthquake it’ll have to be the real deal, and that likely won’t come with dessert.

Source: Disaster Café – Eating in the Middle of an Earthquake?

22. Twin Stars, Moscow, Russia

Credits: Twin Stars lets you double your fun when going out, so to speak.

A visit to Twin Stars in Moscow will have you thinking your drink is spiked or that the vodka’s too strong. That’s all by design: The restaurant only hires twins to work there. All matching pairs – the twins have to be identical – wear identical outfits as they work, waiting tables and tending the bar. There are also drink specials for other multiples who visit the restaurant as patrons: Twins get two-for-one deals, triplets get three-for one and quadruplets get four-for-one, so long as everyone in the group is there in-person.

The restaurant was inspired by a Soviet-era film called Kingdom of Crooked Mirrors, in which a young woman sees a reflection of herself in a mirror, but the reflection is of a different woman in an alternate universe. The owner did admit that he had some trouble staffing the restaurant originally, having to find not only sets of twins but sets that would do well serving tables and pouring drinks.

Sources: The restaurant where you always get a two-for-one deal: Moscow diner only hires twins to work the tables and bar, The Moscow restaurant only hiring twins

23. Chodovar Brewery and Spa, Chodová Planá, Czech Republic

Credits: It's a brewery. It's a spa. It has two restaurants. Why would anyone want to leave?

Have a shared passion for beer and history? Chodovar is your place. A brewery for more than 500 years, the brewery and spa features beer-themed everything, including beer and hop baths complete with foamy tops and scented like your favorite draft. The spa even provides a glass of the good stuff while you soak away your troubles for about 20 minutes at a pop.

There are two restaurants on location, one inside a malt house built in the 1860s and featuring decorations that reflect the brewery’s history, and the other a smaller, subterranean option inside 800-year-old brewery cellars. There are beer and drinking-themed events throughout the year, including a bartending competition, beer seminars, a strongman contest, footraces using beer barrels, antique car shows and, of course, a big New Year’s Eve blowout.

Source: Chodovar Brewery

24. New Lucky Restaurant, Ahmedabad, India

If superstitions are your thing and you’d rather spend Friday the 13th inside avoiding any and all bad omens, New Lucky Restaurant might not be for you. It’s built on top of a cemetery, literally: there are coffins in the floors and tables all around them. Now, these aren’t new, fresh graves but are believed to be the remains of followers of a 16th century Sufi saint, a Muslim mystic. The graves look almost like cribs, as they’re surrounded by metal gates but open on top.

The owner claims the restaurant has been busy since it opened and that the graves bring him and his patrons luck. Each morning the graves are cleaned and decorated with fresh flowers. Guests at the 12 or so tables can enjoy tea and buttered buns – one review says they’re “to die for” – or traditional South Indian dishes and cold drinks or tea.

Sources: It’s dead in here! Restaurant owner in India places tables around coffins after opening business on site of old cemetery, A restaurant in Ahmedabad where people dine with the dead

25. Bel Canto, London, England

Credits: The opera singers at Bel Canto are not found of loud chewers. Photo: Szalax / Wikipedia Commons

Love gourmet meals? Really dig showtunes? Why not combine the two in something a few steps above the average dinner theater? Bel Canto is London’s answer to dinner and a show. Professionally trained opera singers entertain patrons with operatic performances. The meals are fine French cuisine and the singers all have credentials from some of the top opera companies in the world. Diners get serenaded with solos, duets and group arias every 15 minutes, starting each night at 7:30 p.m. Theater rules apply, meaning patrons are asked to refrain from talking during the songs.

The restaurant was created in the late 1990s when a musician lost 90% of his hearing and, realizing he couldn’t possibly replicate the beauty and delicacy of the human voice with electronic aides, he set out to promote his beloved opera. Teaming up with a “professional gourmand,” two men set out to combine their passions and Bel Canto was born, an unpretentious place where people can enjoy both sumptuous food and beautiful music.

Source: Bel Canto