Kitschy America-Themed Restaurants Around the World
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There’s American food, and there’s American-style food. Here are 10 kitschy American restaurants from around the world.
Click here for Kitschy Restaurants from Around the Globe
To find the following restaurants, I simply typed “American-themed restaurant” and a country’s name to see what would pop up. This didn’t always work. A lot of American restaurants are just plain restaurants that serve classic, sometimes “New American,” fare, but nothing too peculiar. Some of these restaurants, like Foster’s Hollywood in Spain and Stars n’ Bars in Monaco, are famously tacky and are already named on many lists about the funniest or worst American restaurants abroad. But for others, my search method worked; I found restaurants with very American-friendly websites.
I must admit, a few of these places, like Tokyo’s Alcatraz E.R., are very much on the fringes of “American-themed,” but they made it on the list because of their sheer inventiveness. Excess is the definition of kitsch — and maybe even the definition of America — so that was key in my evaluation. Subtlety is for French restaurants. However, that doesn’t mean all of these restaurants have bad food. Many are very popular with celebrities and even with critics.
It should be noted that this list does not include American chains, like Applebee’s, because Applebee’s is American, not American-themed. You’d be hard-pressed to find any homesick Americans here. Nobody goes to these restaurants because they want to feel like they’re in America. They want to feel like they are in the America of their wildest dreams.
Pretend like you’re hopping into a Greased Lightning car and let’s travel to America by way of 10 other countries.
Alcatraz E.R. (Japan)
Alcatraz E.R. is not America-themed, per se, but Alcatraz (the prison, and I guess the restaurant, too) is very American. It’s definitely kitschy, at least — cocktails are stirred with sex toys and waiters will only come to you if you bang on the jail bars of your table enclave.
American Dream (France)
The owners of this diner seem to think the American dream is a stack of six cheeseburgers, which will set you back 39.50€ ($41.42 USD), pole dancing show girls, and so much polished metal that the place looks doubled in size because of all the reflections. Go big or go home (to America).
(Photo Modified: Flickr/John Martinez Pavliga)
10 Themed Restaurants Every LA Family Needs to Experience
Eating out with the kids doesn’t have to be a drag. There are some amazing themed restaurants around Los Angeles and they’re as big a feast for the eyes as they are for the tummies. We’ve searched high and low for the best of the best from pirate themed dinner adventures to magic filled brunches—it’s like a chose your own adventure, only you get to eat too. Check ‘em out below and don’t blame us if dining out becomes your family’s new favorite pasttime.
Kitschy America-Themed Restaurants Around the World - Recipes
America has a lot of wacky hotels and attractions, yet one of it’s most interesting, to me anyway, would have to be the dining scene. Many of these are included on our city guides for each of these cities but here is a compilation of the most fascinating. I have also chosen to include a variety of celebrity owned restaurants because they tend to be very unique as well. Although, celebrity owned restaurants go out of business especially fast, mainly because the celebrity gets too caught up in the dream of owning their very own restaurant and then abandons the place after it’s been open a few months and expects their “loyal” staff to take charge (Scott Disick’s Ryu, Britney Spears Nyla, Steven Spielberg’s Dive!, Jennifer Lopez’s Madre’s, Ludacris Straits, Ashton Kutcher’s Dolce Enoteca e Ristorante..). Let’s let our celebrities stick to their singing, acting and reality shows and stay away from what goes in our mouths. So without further ado, here they are, here are the best of the best, which happen to also be extraordinarily themed.
Started by and frequented by celebrities and tourists alike, Planet Hollywood currently has 4 restaurants across these great states, with locations in Orlando, Myrtle Beach, NYC, and Las Vegas.
1. The Safe House – Milwaukee, WI
Ever dream of being James Bond? Well, now you can! Sort of. Head to the Safe House to begin your spy career. Say a password to get in—oh, don’t have it? Don’t worry. You can work your way in. Complete your first mission by waddling like a penguin for 30 seconds, and Safe House will unlock their doors. Try their “spycialties” like “Agent Provocateur Steak Sandwich” and “Cuban Missile Crisis.”
2. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co – Throughout The US
Forrest Gump is the only Oscar-winning film to have its own chain of restaurants. The movie might be 15 years old, but Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is still going strong with 16 worldwide locations. Try the “Bubba’s After the Storm Buck of Boat Trash” or the “I’m Stuffed!” shrimp to fully immerse yourself in the Forrest Gump Experience. Tom Hanks not included.
Pretend you’re Al Capone in this speakeasy-themed restaurant. Slip on something daring and flapper-ish before heading over to drink with some of the most famous outlaws of the 1920s. Chow down on “Big Bill” Thompson, “Don’t Call Me Chicken” and “The Kingpin” before watching a music and comedy show. Actors perform musical selections from Duke Ellington, George Gershwin and Cole Porter.
4. Ninja – New York City
Ninja is like a full-experience ride. Upon entry, your waiter—dressed like a ninja—asks you to pick one of two paths to your table: simple or dangerous. And with that, the scene is set. Ninja is decorated like a mountain village, complete with gorges, tunnels and drawbridges. You will be entertained throughout dinner with magic tricks and elaborately displayed dishes. Be careful though: your ninja waiter just might try to kill you as you chow down. Be sure to escape at the end of the night before being caught!
5. Opaque – Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, NYC, Dallas
This is a restaurant about your senses. More specifically, it focuses on removing one of them completely. Opaque is a pitch-black restaurant, so your attention is fixed solely on your other senses, like taste, smell and feel. Visually-impaired waiters guide you to your table so no light is necessary in the restaurant. And unlike most of the other restaurants on this list, they focus on making a great food experience as well.
6. Harvey Washbangers – College Station, TX
Fond memories of college laundry rooms? Didn’t think so. But if you’re interested in reliving the experience, take your laundry to Harvey Washbangers, which is a real laundromat with a bar and grill attached. Order some college-like food (wings, burgers and chili) while you wait for the light board to notify you when your laundry’s done.
7. Bors Hede Inne – Carnation, WA
Can’t afford a trip to Europe but too classy for the Renaissance Faire? Head to Bors Heded Inne, a fully Middle Ages-theme restaurant serving up 14th century grub. Taste the Moutoun Camelyne and Blamanger, real 14th-century recipes prepared 14th century style in rural Washington. But be warned—it’s mercilessly Middle Ages, meaning you’ll have to leave behind your modern toys and gadgets like cell phones and cameras.
The Jekyll & Hyde Club is exactly what you’d imagine: an English gothic restaurant based on Robert Louis Stevenson’sThe Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, complete with animatronic ghouls. Watch out as you’re heading to the bathroom—crazy men in capes may jump out at you. It’s all part of the full dining experience, along with wacky characters wandering the aisles and voices from the “spirit world” talking to you at dinner.
9. Casa Bonita – Lakewood, CO
This is Cartman’s (from South Park) favorite restaurant—you have been warned. It’s really less themed and more an eclectic hodgepodge of entertainment with a restaurant attached. There are wandering musicians, arcade games and a portrait studio. Most famous attraction? Acapulco-style cave divers jumping into its indoor waterfall and pool.
10. Tonga Room – San Francisco
The Tonga Room replicated 1940s-Tiki culture with kitschy cocktails in tiki vessels and indoor thundershowers every half hour. The Island Groove band plays on a raft on the lagoon in the middle of the restaurant. The restaurant has been around since the 1940s, so there’s a historical element not usually found in themed restaurants. Kick up your feet and let the island feel come to you.
This place just opened a few days ago as America’s First Toilet-Themed Restaurant. All the dishes, seats and food items are all focused on toilets, bathrooms and human bodily functions. You even get to sit on a toilet (with the seat closed of course) while you are eating! Dishes have names like “black poop” (which is a chocolate sundae) and “bloody number two (vanilla strawberry sundae). Ah don’t you just love potty humor. I got so excited when I heard about this (I’ve heard about the Asian ones for years and always wanted to go) that I ranked it at #2 on this list. Now I need some of you guys in the LA area to go and try it and tell me if it really is all that it is cracked up to be!
Update: Wow this places profits are being flushed down the toilet, but seriously! They have 25 Yelp reviews at 2.5 stars saying great atmosphere but poor service, overpriced, small portions, wait times of 2.5 hours. Wow, I hope things get better ASAP for these first time restauranteurs.. or else I’ll remove it from the list. I still want to go though!
12. Aureole – Las Vegas
Located at the Mandalay Bay resort, this massive four-story restaurant is home to the largest wine tower in the world, with 10,000 bottles, starting from the 18th century. Their black-suited “wine angels” can be seen gliding up the tower on cables to retrieve wine bottles. Each table is given an electronic tablet that contains detailed information about all of their wines
The name 40/40 derives from a record only four men in baseball have obtained. Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Alfonso Soriano are the only players to have hit 40 home runs and stole 40 bases in a single season.
Home to the world’s largest chocolate, at 27-feet tall. fountain fully functional fountain pushes through 2100 lbs of chocolate at a rate of 120 quarts a minute It’s located at the Bellagio. Jean-Philippe Maury is the Executive Pastry Chef for the Bellagio. He oversees a team of seventy people who produce over 15,000 pastries a day for all the restaurants and shops inside the Bellagio. xquisitely detailed pastries, beautiful whimsical cakes, and a wonderful assortment of homemade candies and chocolates. You can even buy “bottled” chocolate from the chocolate fountain. Come at lunch time to indulge on a Nutella and Banana Crepe.
15. Medieval Times – Throughout The US
This dinner theater has US locations in Atlanta, Baltimore, Buena Park, Chicago, Dallas, Lyndhurst, Myrtle Beach and Orlando. All restaurants resemble castles, host jousting tournaments, and follow dining etiquette from the 11th century (no silverware).
Located inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park, this indoor restaurant is designed to look and feel like you are at an old-fashioned drive-in movie theater. Enjoy old sic-fi movie clips shown on the big screen.
17. Picasso – Las Vegas
Located within the Bellagio resort, which is home to the most fountains out of any other hotel in the world. This opulent restaurant offers unparalleled virews of the Bellagio fountains, As if that wasn’t enough, this restaurant is actually home to $30 million worth of real picasso paintings. Michelin considers it to be among the three best restaurant in Las Vegas, as a two star Michelin restaurant. The only other two star restaurant is Guy Soy and the only three-star restaurant is Joel Rubuchon.
18. Serendity 3 – Las Vegas, NYC, Washington DC, Miami, Boca Roton
They originated in New York but also have a Las Vegas location, right outside Caesars Palace. They are best known for their delicious ice cream and for having thr most expensive ice cream sundae in the world (in must be ordered 48 hours in advance). It contains five scoops of Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream, rare Amedei Porcelana and Chuao chocolate, American Golden caviar, passion fruit, orange, Armagnac, candied fruits from Paris, and marzipan cherries. On top of that, there’s real gold everywhere, from real gold dragées to the 23-carat edible gold leaf. You even get to enjoy your sundae with an 18-karat gold spoon. But their most famous dessert, however, is their incredible frozen hot chocolate. Other menu items include sandwiches, hamburgers and salads. This is a favorite among many celebrities, including Kim Kardashian.
A little off the beaten path but definintely worth the visit if you are in the area. This is the oldest restaurant in America, built in 1673, and among the oldest restaurants in the world.
20. The Varsity – Atlanta, GA
This is the largest drive-in in the world, which can accommodate 600 cars. Originally named “The Yellow Jacket,’ The Varsity was established in 1928 at the corner of Luckie Street and Hemphill Avenue in Midtown Atlanta. Its founder, Frank Gordy, a Reinhardt University graduate, briefly attended The Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) but dropped out in 1925. Then, as now, the restaurant catered heavily to Georgia Tech students. As the business grew, Gordy was forced to move the restaurant to 61 North Avenue (on the northwest corner of Spring Street) to accommodate the crowds the present structure now covers two city blocks. It was here that the name was changed to “The Varsity,” reflecting his desire to expand to other college campuses. During the drive-in era, The Varsity began its curbside service, which continues to this day.
Have you ever eaten any at any of these? Was the food any good? We would love to hear from you in the comments section.
13 Geeky Restaurants From Around The Globe You Should Visit
Do you still play video-games and/or enjoy good sci-fi movies? Are you fascinated with space? Would you attend cos-plays and comic-cons? Are you always up to date with the latest in the tech world? Do you consider yourself a geek or a nerd? If so, you deserve to have some fun! And we’ve got just the thing for you – a list of geeky restaurants from around the world! There’s something in here for everyone.
Witches in Britches – Melbourne, Australia
If walking through a tunnel of terror, while chowing down your 3-course dinner to the cackling of a 2 hour live stage musical comedy show & dance in a cage of death till the wee hours of the morning is your idea of fun, then the 40-year old Witches in Britches theater restaurant might just be the thing for you. Located in the Wicked Castle, this horror themed restaurant – owing its resurgence to the public’s latest obsession with movies and serials like Teen Wolf, Twilight, The Vampire Diaries and vampires, witches, werewolves and the supernatural in general – offers a kitschy interactive show rooted in contemporary pop culture.
The Ninja Restaurant – Manhattan New York
Welcome to Feudal Japan where traditional Japanese food, sushi or steak teriyaki is served by waiters in Ninja Garb. If you are not a fan of surprises and sneak attacks, beware because anything can happen in this warrior-themed restaurant with its dark alley ways and maze of passages lit by lanterns. Friendly Ninja magicians may approach your dinner party with a few tricks, but if you aren’t so lucky the dangerous ones may creep up on you or pop up out of nowhere to catch you unawares. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
The Black Pearl – Bangalore India
If you are fascinated by the lifestyle of Pirates and Captain Jack Sparrow from ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ don’t be surprised if the next word out of your mouth is “Arrr…. ” India’s largest Pirate and best themed restaurant- The Black Pearl – is here! Diners be prepared to board a pirate ship and enter a world of fantasy. The restaurant’s wooden floors resemble the deck of a ship, the chairs draped with ropes, the sight of skulls and mannequins of pirates with eye patches, is designed to make you believe you are on a pirate ship and for a minute possibly even being held captive in one. But the Barbecue on the table and the live Pirate Grill will keep you ever nourished! Diners get to Sing along with a live band, make merry, eat, drink and have a jolly good “Shiver me timbers” time!
The Museum H. R. Giger Bar – Gruyères, Switzerland
Space travelers and alien lovers, unite! Finally, we have a space themed restaurant worth mentioning. The Museum H. R. Giger Bar is one of several bars themed and modeled by the Swiss artist H. R. Giger. The interior of the bar – it’s roof, walls, fittings and chairs – is modeled along the lines of H. R. Giger’s biomechanical style as shown in the Alien films. Just the decor alone sells the experience!
Hajime Robot Restaurant – Bangkok, Thailand
This is the first ever Japanese restaurant, where all the serving waiters are ….robots (. ). Diners order their food on a touchscreen display in order to activate the robots. Not only are these fascinating robots programmed to serve up more than 100 dishes and bus tables, they also entertain diners with a dance or two while they work. The owner of the restaurant, Lapassarad Thanaphant, said she spent 30 million baht ($927,600) on the restaurant including the purchase of four robots from Japan. Talk about hi-tech dining!
Drac Restaurant – Castell d’Emporda, Spain
If you are a fan of The Game Of Thrones and all things Dragon, you will love this one. Situated in the Empordà region, halfway between Barcelona and the French border, the Drac Restaurant in the Castell d’Emporda, Spain offers all the allure of a medieval style Game of Thrones restaurant. This medieval stone castle in the countryside is filled with exotic relics from around the globe. This place is so ‘Game of Thrones’ it even has miniature models of the siege of Castell d’Emporda in medieval times! The restaurant received a score 9/10 and is quoted a destination in itself
Mars 2112 – New York, NY
Transport your little ones to the Red Planet at this intergalactic Times Square favorite. Now defunct, Mars 2112, an elaborate underground theme restaurant, was one of many tourist-targeted restaurants in the Times Square district of New York City. Based on future space travel and spanning 33,000 sq. ft., it was the largest such themed restaurant when it opened in November 1998. In its hay days, patrons were issued passports and escorted by restaurant staff, dressed as Spaceport personnel, to a full-sized flying saucer, where they were subjected to a bumpy 5-minute motion ride through a “Translunar Wormhole”, through a Martian Colony to the star bar and main dining area where giant video screen and smaller TV monitors display 1990s computer landscapes accompanied by robotic, noodling music. The bar’s “Mars-tinis” and “Cosmos-politans” were some of the best drink specials in Midtown.
Miracle of Science Bar and Grill – Cambridge, Massachusetts
This interesting eatery could not get any geekier after displaying its menu inside a chalkboard periodic table, forcing you to recall a bit of your science classes while deciding your order. It was one of the first restaurants to employ the open floor concept. According to it’s website, this bar & grill is “always packed with artists, musicians, geo physicists and computer gurus who know they don’t have to go anywhere else looking for a good time”. Miracle of Science truly stands out as the leader in geek-chic.
The Hobbit Pub – Southampton, England
Calling all J.R.R. Tolkien fans, we’ve found the one ring to bring you all and in the darkness, bind you and it goes by the name of The Hobbit Pub. The colorful cocktails and shooters served by the bar are fitting for the dwarves, elves, hobbits, and wizards that lend them their names. Fellowship quests, live music, real ales, hobbit cocktails, massive garden and atmosphere combined with the Middle Earth style in which the menus are presented make this a must-visit spot for geeks. Come see for yourself, you’ll love it!
Insert Coin(s) Barcade – Las Vegas
“It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this” (Legend of Zelda). Video Lounge, Game bar and Las Vegas Night Club rolled into one?! Nothing can get better. Armed with a unique combination of classic cabinet arcade games (like Mario Bros, Tetris, Street Fighter, and Atari Classic Pac Man), modern video-game systems like the Xbox and ps3 playable on high-def screens at the bar or in VIP booths, diverse musical programming and a geek-chic vibe, Insert Coin(s) opened in April 2011 at 512 Fremont Street. The nerdy atmosphere of the bar had a fittingly geeky menu to match, including specialty cocktails inspired by The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Brothers, and more. Insert Coin(s), a mecca for gamers, has closed after a four-year run “due to a rapidly changing DTLV business environment,” according to owner Christopher LaPorte.
Storm Crow Alehouse – Canada
the Storm Crow Alehouse, is best described as a fantasy tavern…. in real life. If you like simple British style food while catching up on geek culture, you’ll love this. You can roll a burger there just like a character, play board games all day, even join in a game with strangers. Roll the dice game for shots is the best part when the Alehouse’s craft beer draught list features 20 taps of BC microbrews, a host of amazingly geeky cocktails, and great pub food… including the exclusive “Dungeon Burger.”
World of Warcraft themed restaurant – Beijing, China
“Let’s get Ooking party started!” World of Warcraft (WoW) has finally made its way from virtual to real world, with the opening of a Beijing restaurant named and themed after the famous video game. The entrance of this WoW inspired restaurant is designed to look like the Dark Portal (The Burning Crusade‘s intro screen) .The interior walls are lined with artwork and murals from the game and shots of characters in epic gear. TV screens throughout the restaurant play footage of the game, and the menu is crafted on the latter as well.
Brick Burger Restaurant – Philippines
Owner, Jergs Correa’s love of all things LEGO inspired the menu and décor of the Brick Burger Restaurant in Pasig City, Philippines. The restaurant is Lego-inspired in every way. Here, burger-buns are shaped like toy Lego blocks in three primary colors: red, yellow, and black. Giant LEGO bricks double as ceiling lights. Diners can play with Lego sets while they wait for their order and free sets are given out to those who can finish their super-sized meal in record time. Even the bill tray will be made from LEGO bricks.
EXP Restaurant + Bar – Vancouver, Canada
You would probably have to be a gamer or at least have an interest in video games to really enjoy and understand this bar. This video game-themed restaurant allows you to watch gameplay on giant screens, there are live twitch streams, arcade machines, game decor and references are all over this restaurant and bar. The food menu is game-worthy as well. Visitors can order a Master Chief Burger with some Super Smash Nachos and wash it all down with a Red Dead Lemonade. If you thought you’d “shoot my way out, mix things up a little” the EXP restaurant and bar has a full list of mixed drinks for you. From 1-UP shooters to Hadouken martinis, EXP has no shortage of interesting drinks to choose from.
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Louella has a Degree in Business Administration and is a B.A in History with minors in English. After almost 10 years of working in the HR and Corporate Communication divisions of Multi-National businesses - ranging from Healthcare, Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG/ FMCG), Banking and Advertising she resigned from her full-time role as an HR professional to pursue a career in writing and blogging and has experience editing and publishing web articles.
She runs InstantElla - an entertainment, lifestyle and perspective blog. An engaging personal style makes her approachable and dependable and this positive energy is reflected in her writing. She writes to make a difference, always looking forward to creating something unique, discovering new information, provoking a thought, sharing an idea!
Carton King, Taichung City, Taiwan
Taiwan has a penchant for themed absurdity when it comes to eating out. Whether for Japanese assassins lurking in the rafters at Ninja or the drinks served in specimen bottles to wash down one's turd-shaped bread at the aforementioned Modern Toilet, the food is rarely the primary draw. And so it is with Carton King, a restaurant whose owner was so depressed by the preponderance of plastic in modern life he built an eatery which, instead, promotes the virtues of corrugated cardboard. From the chairs to the plates and even the walls – the whole place is bedecked in the brown stuff. The food, although not fine dining, was more than edible and all that remained of our stewed pork ribs and herb-roasted chicken was the odd greasy smear on our cardboard table. Definitely worth a visit … just remember to leave your lighter at home.
Kitschy America-Themed Restaurants Around the World - RecipesPhotographs by Joe Vaughn
M y first experience eating oysters did not go very well. I was just 8 years old when my father insisted I try them while we were crossing the Atlantic Ocean on the Cunard ocean liner, the Queen Mary.
I thought it was disgusting, slimy, and horrible-looking. I hesitated, then swallowed one, wincing as it slithered down my throat.
Fast forward to college in the 1970s, and I have a hot date at a seafood restaurant with a woman I really want to like. So, what does she order? Oysters.
Then she looks me in the eyes, and in a smoldering voice says: “You do like oysters, don’t you?”
The blood leaves my face, and I get sweaty. “Of course, I do,” I say, as she passes me a wobbling mass in a cold shell.
I close my eyes and pop it my mouth. I manage to get it down and keep it there.
But, lo and behold, it was totally different than the one on that ship 10 years earlier.
In that moment, it dawned on me that my first oyster was bad. It had turned.
The lifting of that veil was a “hallelujah” moment, and with lots of Champagne, my love of oysters took flight.
That much-appreciated memory made me smile recently, while enjoying a meal at the exceptional new oyster bar and seafood-driven restaurant in Ferndale called Voyager.
The simply done, quite hip and cool 30-plus seater is tucked away in a reclaimed cinderblock garage just off Nine Mile Road at Burdette Street, near the jumble of railroad yards and tracks that run through that area.
Voyager is the second metro Detroit project of owner Eli Boyer, who was one of the original partners at Gold Cash Gold in Corktown.
Considering that the closest oyster to Detroit is at least 600 miles to the East Coast, or 2,400 miles to the West Coast, the chutzpah of putting an oyster bar in our area strikes me as very gutsy indeed.
Boyer’s menu and kitchen are the province of co-chefs Jennifer Jackson and Justin Tootla, both of whom trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and spent time working at some of the biggest names in American restaurant dining, including Prune and Le Bernardin in New York City Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California Eva in Los Angeles and more locally, at Mission Table in Traverse City.
Jackson was raised in northeast Georgia, which imbued her with the food of her southern roots, while Tootla’s Midwestern mother and Indian father exposed him to curries, cardamom, ginger, and a myriad of other spices and food.
What makes Voyager’s food so distinct is the flavors, freshness, and a few showy culinary acrobatic twists that purposely focus on Jackson and Tootla’s kitchen skills.
Take just one dish, the shrimp tartine: fresh, sweet Gulf shrimp, tossed in an Alabama-style white barbecue sauce and sprinkled with a most extraordinary tangy, slightly bitter lemon-grass tasting chopped green garnish.
Our waitress told us the garnish is made from charred asparagus that’s been grilled, then dried and finely chopped.
What also drives Voyager is its variety of choices: bone marrow and mussels with mortadella and scallions spicy hush puppies with honey butter a fisherman’s stew with a rouille (the cayenne pepper-based sauce used in bouillabaisse) and sourdough toast for sopping up juices and pan-seared scallops and sweetbreads, deep fried and served with a hollandaise sauce.
But the heart of Voyager is oysters. And it boasts what must be the single largest selection of fresh oysters that I have seen in years — certainly in a Detroit restaurant. They vary daily, depending on what is available.
One evening, the stand-alone oyster list consisted of at least a dozen choices, a daily supplement to the regular menu. On our visit, it consisted of two varieties from Washington state, one of which I had never heard of. The same list had other varieties from the New England coast: Maine, Long Island, Massachusetts. Still other choices came from Mexico, two from New Zealand, two from Virginia, and one from South Carolina.
For any restaurant, fish is very expensive and risky. Oysters are up at the top of the list for high risk, in terms of cost, but also sanitation and health. Nothing is more perishable and short-lived.
If you are an oyster lover, this is an extraordinary selection, carefully assembled by a good palate that discerns the minutiae of differences that each of these regions produce.
To me, the effort and risk are not just commendable, but remarkable. I tried a half dozen each of Long Island oysters — fleshy, gnarly-sandy colored shell, and plump and delicate in taste, yet totally odorless. Not even a salty sea smell.
By contrast, I also had a half dozen of the Mexican Kumiai, which were lightly sweet and fresh, almost floral in odor. They were medium-sized, and the shell had a pearlier blue-black on the inner shell, with a “dark” robe or mantle around the oyster itself. In flavor, the Kumiais were more delicate and distinct. Although I’d grown up around Long Island oysters, I found the Mexicans were more charming, light, and elegant.
Hopefully, Voyager can keep this up, because oysters must be spot-on fresh when they hit the table or they fail.
Voyager is just one of several former service stations and garages that have found new life as restaurants around in metro Detroit: Red Crown in Grosse Pointe Park, Vinsetta Garage in Berkley, and Bigalora in Ann Arbor are just a few.
I like these garage-kit eateries, but each time I’m in one, I half expect the server to stop at my table and offer to check my oil level or caution that my air filter should be changed soon. That or they will change your wiper blades for a good tip.
Still, they work very well, thanks to tall ceilings and the ability to open the huge roll-up glass-panel doors, which give restaurant architects a simple way to provide dining al fresco in the summer, and keep lots of natural light flowing into them in the dreary winter days.
The design of Voyager is utterly simple but works within its three full cinderblock walls and a partial roll-up truck garage door with glass panels.
The interior wall along the bar has been trimmed with rough lumber, two-by-fours, and two-by-tens, blocked out to make display shelving that hold assorted bottles and other odd, kitschy items.
The Kahiki Supper Club Was The Most Iconic Restaurant In Columbus
When the Kahiki Supper Club opened in Eastmoor on E. Broad Street in 1961, it was unlike anything Columbus had seen before. The restaurant was opened by restauranteurs Lee Henry and Bill Sapp, who also brought Columbus yet another iconic restaurant, The Top Steakhouse.
Tiki mania was all the rage after World War II when American soldiers were returning from the South Pacific in droves. Having lived in Hawaii, I can tell you that Tiki Bars are entirely a mainland-made fantasy, but that didn’t stop their popularity. The essence of tiki bars and restaurants like Kahiki was achieved by blending elements of Asian, Polynesian, and Caribbean cultures to create a “faraway” feeling experience for guests.
The restaurant was unlike anything else in the city. With its giant Moai statues flanking the main doors, unique architecture, and tropical vibes, the restaurant left visitors feeling completely transported.
Once inside, there were all of the typical tiki accouterments, including fish tanks, faux rain forests, and kitschy, tropical decor. Hundreds of guests could be seated at once inside the dining room of the Kahiki. The restaurant even had its own gift shop and faux lagoon. For years, Kahiki was the place to be in the city. Celebrities frequently visited the restaurant and it was a popular destination for drinks, dinner, and fun.
Some of the restaurant’s most famous guests include Bob Hope, Gypsy Rose Lee, Van Johnson, and even Zsa Zsa Gabor, who reportedly ordered milk. To be honest, I don’t really know why I found her ordering milk so interesting, but I did, and I wanted you all to know. It’s such a Zsa Zsa Gabor thing to do.
The drink menu at Kahiki had all sorts of incredible tiki cocktails. Sure, they had classic options like a Mai Tai and even creative options like the Suffering Bastard, but their most revered cocktail was The Mystery Drink.
The Mystery Drink was all about the drama. The cocktail served four and would be brought out by a Mystery Girl, whose arrival to the table was signaled by a giant gong. When I say we never had anything like this in Columbus before or since I truly mean it.
The Kahiki was about more than just food and drinks. It was an experience, and it was one that visitors came back and back again for through the years. In the book Kahiki Supper Club: Polynesian Paradise in Columbus, authors David Meyers, Elise Meyers Walker, Jeff Chenault, and Doug Motz tracked down former employees, former owners, and old stories about the incomparable restaurant.
A vintage postcard from Kahiki Supper Club.
The writers share the story of Philip E. Kientz, a German Village resident and artist, who carved the famous moai statue that stood outside the restaurant. Kientz served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II and after being discharged in 1945, he returned to Columbus and enrolled at Columbus College of Art & Design.
Kientz’s work went on to be iconic around the city, where you could see it in the Nativity scene at the State Auto Insurance building, Street of Yesteryear at the old COSI, and even the famous Lazarus Christmas displays.
Recent efforts have been made to restore some of Kientz’s work from the Kahiki. Affectionately called George, this is one of the last remaining statues from Kahiki and it stood outside of the Grass Skirt for years until the tiki bar closed in 2019.
11 Unusual and Strangest Restaurants From Around The World
If you think you have seen or heard of weird restaurants, things and places in your life, then you have got another think coming because am about to shock you.
I thought that I have had enough of weirdness and unusual stuff until I stumbled upon some of the weirdest and strangest of restaurants from around the world.
Frankly, if some of these strange restaurants from around don’t make you giddy, then I guess nothing ever would.
Ranging from restaurants floating in the sky, to those found under the sea, to those in the tombs, to where you get served in prison uniforms by waiters dressed as prison wardens and down to where you get served by monkeys.
And when you think you have had enough weirdness, there is also the restaurant where you eat humans. Well, not in that sense, but a lookalike that makes you feel more like a cannibal. It can’t get weirder than this.
I call these the unusual and strangest restaurants from around the world!
I had much fun researching, compiling and writing this article and I have no doubt that you are about to get thrilled and tickled with these list of unusual and strangest restaurants from around the world.
Buckle up for a roller coaster ride.
Monkey Tavern – Izakaya Kayabuki, Japan
There is no doubt that monkeys are smart in fact smarter than you would ever think so much that they can be used as waiters and waitresses.
In Japan, the owner of the Monkey Tavern certainly put this to good use in his restaurant as he uses monkeys to serve his guests.
Well, if you happen to breeze in there you would certainly save some bucks as you wouldn’t have to tip monkeys…and the owner, Kaoru Otsuka gets away with having not to pay workers.
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Maldives
Located in Maldives, Ithaa restaurant is one of the strangest restaurants in the world and also one of the most expensive as it costs $5 million. Imagine the cost just to make your taste buds happy.
However, it is not the cost that puts ithaa in this list but the unusual and weirdness. Imagine a restaurant located 16 feet below the surface of the Indian ocean, and as you eat your eyes are feed with an array of sea creatures just swimming around.
This aquarium styled eatery is the first of its kind in the world and certainly weird in a good way.
Devil Island Prison Restaurant
If there is another name for weird, then the Devil Island Prison Restaurant would definitely earn it. This restaurant is built and modelled after a concentration camp, aka prison. The owner wanting to raise the awareness of how difficult and tough prison life could be and to scare away people from a life of crime decorated the restaurant to the last detail as if it were a real prison.
This restaurant is located in china. The realistic decoration includes a large steel structure at its entrance just like a real prison. The floors are made of metal and the inside doors and windows have steel bars.
The owner takes things to the extreme as the waiters are dressed as in-mates with white striped uniforms while the security personnel there are dressed up like guards.
Even the food you get served is brought in typical prison trays.
My dear, if this doesn’t scare or gives you the creeps about prison life, then you are probably a hardened criminal already.
To take matters a notch up, you are photographed, finger-printed and given the option of being handcuffed just like a criminal.
You are treated like a criminal.
There is no fancy table with decorations…nah! Remember you are being treated like a prisoner.
For me……I don’t cherish the experience, and this is sure one of the strangest restaurants from around the world.
When I first saw the theme of this restaurant, it scared the craps out of me and I bet it did same to you. The cannibalistic restaurant sure fits this list as one of the strangest restaurants from around the world when it comes to weird.
Though you are not served human flesh or raw meat, the name alone gives the creeps.
Located in Japan, the food served is called Nyotaimori and it means ‘female body plate’ and is one of the strangest and unusual food from any Japanese restaurant.
Here, they serve you Japanese sushi and sashimi inside a woman’s body.
Well, not a real human body as in flesh and blood but it’s real enough. The body is actually made from food and is placed on a table tailored after a surgical table found in a hospital.
Customers are free to eat from any part of the body. What makes it look so real is that as you cut and dig into the food, it will appear to be bleeding just like a real human body.
Kick me if this is not weird enough!
Dinner In The Sky
Dinner in the sky experience can only be described as crazy and breath-taking! If you fancy high altitude and aint scared of heights, then this might be for you.
With its origin from Belgium and having spread to more than 40 cities around the globe, the idea revolves around hoisting guests in a crane who are securely strapped into dining chairs 160 feet above the ground.
Tables, waiting staff and along with everything required to enjoy a good floating meal above the ground are taken along.
If you don’t see this as weird and strange, then I wonder what is and all for a meal that costs about $30, 000!
Black Ants Restaurant
If there is another stronger word for strange, the Black Ants Restaurant would almost certainly earn it. This is a New York restaurant where black ants are served as part of the meal.
If you have fear or distaste for creeping or crawling creatures, then this is not for you. Here at this New York restaurant serving traditional Mexican cuisine, creepy crawlies are on the menu. Be ready to get served insects in your drinks and appetizers. Grasshoppers are also on the menu.
For those not enthusiastic about finding insects in their meals, you can go with the traditional Mexican cuisine, sans-ants.
If you have never eaten at the Black Ants Restaurant, you might want to give the black ant guac a trial. It’s been said that it’s well worth it.
Modern Toilet Restaurant
Located in Taipei and owned by Eric Wang, the idea behind this strange restaurants was born when one of the owners was reading while sitting on a toilet.
Initially, they were just into the sales of chocolate ice cream sold in toilet shaped containers but as the idea caught on and became a success, it was turned into a full-fledged toilet-themed restaurant. The meals are served in non-functioning toilet-shaped bowls dinnerware.
If you flinch at the idea of eating in a place that gives you the idea of a toilet, then this is not for you. The surprising thing about this restaurant is that it is highly affordable. With just $10 you get a sumptuous meal in a toilet-shaped bowl.
If this is not one of the strangest restaurants in the world, I wonder what is.
If you have watched Disney’s cartoon, Frozen, then you might get an idea of what the Ice Restaurant might look like. While the owners don’t turn what they touch into ice, almost everything in the restaurant is ice-themed. Diners get to sit on ice benches and chairs, they get to eat at ice tables and eat out of ice plates, and they also get to drink from ice glasses served from a bar made of ice.
What have you got to say about that!
I have watched Frozen and I loved it…especially the Ice Castle scene. If you really want to get that Frozen world Disney experience, then the Ice Restaurant based in Dubai it is.
I have no doubt whatsoever that the lady by your side will love it!
Dinner In The Dark
Have you ever considered the idea of eating in a pitch black restaurant with myriads of other people just digging into your meal?
Spooky, some of you might say……but this is what you get at Dinner In The Dark restaurant, a joint located in Beijing, China.
All the rooms in the restaurant are designed so black and so dark, and incoming visitors are guided by waiters who are equipped with night view binoculars.
This certainly fits this list as one of the strangest restaurants from around the world.
Flashlights and mobile phones not available, and visitors can only smell and taste the food by eating in the dark. Just use your senses to relish the meal.
Though coming at the tenth position on this list, it’s one of the strangest restaurants in the world. Now imagine the idea of eating in a cemetery….with tombs around you.
That’s the lookalike you get with the Tombs restaurant located in Ahmedabad, India, though you get served meals by real people and not zombies.
This strange restaurant is quite well-known for menu like the milk-tea and bread rolls, as well as the tombs between the tables. The owner of the restaurant claimed to have opened the restaurant for about 40 years, an inheritance, and doesn’t know who are buried beneath the graves.
Draculas And Witches In Britches, Melbourne Australia
For fans of the supernatural like Vampires, Werewolves, Dracula and Witches, you will find these restaurants a dream come true. Owing its popularity to the resurgence of the Twilight phenomenon, these horror-themed restaurants based in Melbourne are the craze.
Draculas claimed to have served more than three million people in the 30 years it has been in business. Draculas offers its drinks in a graveyard and you are also welcome to a ghost-train ride.
The 40 years old Witches in Britches is located in Wicked Castle, offering a kitschy interactive show with its roots in contemporary pop culture with pumpkin soup made of herbs picked from ‘the old hags garden’, and ladled from a cauldron.
There, you have it. Some of the most unusual and strangest restaurants from around the world.
If there is any other weird restaurants not listed here that you know of, kindly make mention of it in the comments section and we will be sure to add it up.
Research Materials Used For This Article and Further Reading:
Where to Eat Great Nachos from Coast to Coast
Here are 10 great spots to dig in to heaping platters of crunchy, gooey nachos across the country.
Photo By: Gillian Dougherty
Photo By: Eugene (Huge) Galdones ©2013 Galdones Photography // All Rights Reserved
Nachos Every Way
A heaping platter of crunchy, gooey nachos might be simple, yet its power to satisfy and comfort is undeniable. Whether flaunting pork, brisket or pickled onions, this cheese-shellacked blanket of tortilla chips is especially cherished during football season. Here are 10 of the country's best takes on this humble staple of Tex-Mex joints.
By Alia Akkam
Boston: The Painted Burro
Chicago: Little Goat
Denver: Tacos Jalisco Mexican Food
Houston: Ninfa's on Navigation
At the original circa-1973 Ninfa's on Navigation &mdash not Houston's myriad Tex-Mex impostors of the same name &mdash nachos, strewn with cheddar cheese, refried beans, guacamole, pico de gallo and pickled jalapenos pave the way for the restaurant's acclaimed flour-tortilla-wrapped tacos al carbon.
From fun and exciting to the downright disturbing, here are 25 very weird restaurants around the world, some of which will leave you grateful that the Hibachi chef’s onion volcano was the most thrilling part of your dinner.
This is a truly strange culinary world that involves giant samurai robots, masked monkeys, chicken-juggling, nightmare hospitals, cavemen, earthquakes, twins, spies, monks and of course &mdash of course &mdash ninjas. First up, a restaurant that cooks your dinner with the help of an actual volcano…
El Diablo (Lanzarote Island, Spain)
Located in Timanfaya National Park in the alien landscape of the “Montañas del Fuego” or Fire Mountains, the El Diablo restaurant is built over a large volcanic hole on an island that is home to literally hundreds of volcanoes and looks almost exactly as it did after the last eruption in 1824. The volcanic hole is a geothermic anomaly that produces a constant searing heat every hour of every day, with temperatures approaching 1000 degrees F. In fact, temperatures are so hot that it required nine layers of basalt rock to create the massive grill that serves this perpetually booked restaurant.
Disaster Café (Lloret de Mar, Spain)
If the volcano the El Diablo restaurant was built on ever erupts again, diners there might experience something similar to what the thrill-seekers at the Disaster Café paid extra for — an earthquake measuring a 7.8 on the Richter Scale. The ground floor of the restaurant is alien-themed, naturally, and the spaceship decor doesn’t hint at the simulated destruction lurking below. Many of you might be thinking,"what a great way to prank a friend or family member while also treating them to a nice dinner", but if your mark isn't suspicious of the long elevator ride down, they almost certainly will be when they see the waitstaff carrying extra-heavy plates dressed in construction helmets and safety gear.
Kanibal Di Jepang (Tokyo, Japan)
If you thought Japanese sushi restaurants crossed a weird line with Nyotaimori (eating sushi and sashimi off of a naked woman) then this may not be for you. It probably really shouldn’t be for anyone. At Kanibal Di Jepang (Cannabilistic Sushi), customers specify the gender they would like to eat and an edible sushi mannequins is served to them on an “autopsy tables” by “nurses” with a “surgery knife”. More disturbingly, the sushi mannequins are carefully crafted to appear as realistic as possible, with breast and genitals, sashimi that mocks human organs and a red blood sauce embedded in the skin layer so the mannequin will bleed.So, yeah. Not really going to cash in a Groupon for that one. That said, The Sushi Mannequins would make a truly spectacular band name.
Hospitalis (Riga, Latvia)
Medical fetishism and food combine to create a dark hospital fantasy in a twisted restaurant unlike any other. Waitresses in sexy nurse uniforms serve food made to look like body parts on stainless steel dishes for guests to eat with genuine surgical tools. Bartenders in lab coats prepare your drinks in beakers, test tubes and IV bags. Diners can also customize their dining experience by choosing from differently themed areas to match your mood like an operating theater, a dentist’s office or even a gynecologist’s office. Sign the mandatory agreement and you’ll become a “patient” and strapped into a straightjacket to be spoon fed by a naughty nurse.
And if that weren’t enough, for just a little extra money, Eli Roth will personally feed you warm chocolate pudding while he recounts his favorite bloody movie kills. (I made that last part up of course. Eli Roth does not work at Hospitalis. Probably.)
Le Restophone (Montpellier, France)
Le Restophone is a unique restaurant and bar with a intriguing and fun concept. All of tables are numbered and equipped with HD phones. This provides a simple (and anonymous) way for even the shyest of guests to break the ice with one another. Once a connection has been made over the phone, patrons can meet in real life on the dance floor complete with DJ.
Dinner In The Sky (International)
Hosting a special event that needs to make a lasting impression on your guests? How about a luncheon suspended almost 200 feet over the Grand Canyon? Or an unforgettable dinner reception far above the streets of Paris— complete with a pianist? Dinner in the Sky can accommodate 22 people (including your Sky Chef and other staff members) on their suspended platform for eight hour sessions, which at two sessions an hour can provide a uniquely thrilling experience for up to 350 people. Just remember, you must be at least four feet tall and at least ten years old to ride this ride.
La Table des Gourmets (Paris, France)
Impress your foodie friends (or perhaps a priest or two) by partaking of a gourmet three-course dinner in an actual 12th-century French chapel. The menu La Table des Gourmets (literally, The Table of the Gourmets) includes an assortment of fine wine and select cheeses, snail, salmon, beef, lamb, duck and monkfish. Crème brûlée and a wide variety of fruit, ice creams and sherbets are offered for dessert.
Mahikamano Hammock Café and Gallery (Tokyo, Japan)
After a horrifying sushi experience, many of you may need a change of pace. Why not a stylish café where patrons are served homemade pumpkin gnocchi and custom-blended Mahikamano tea while relaxing on cozy, oversized hammocks? Why not, indeed.
Kayabukiya Tavern (Utsunomiya, Japan)
Just north of Tokyo (thought we were done with Tokyo, didn’t you?) there’s an izakaya (a traditional sake-house which also serves food) where customers are served hot towels and the occasional bottle of sake by costumed monkeys.The Macaques learned how to serve tables by watching their owner wait on guests and now work two-hour shifts for tips (which is boiled soya beans and bananas).
Twin Stars Diner (Moscow, Russia)
Inspired by “The Kingdom of Crooked Mirrors”, a Soviet Cold War-era film, where a young girl Olya meets her twin, Yalo, from an alternate mirror reality, owner Alexei Khodorkovsky has created a restaurant where all of the waiters, bartenders and chefs are identically-dressed, identical twins. As might be expected, staffing the restaurant has proved challenging but the unique concept seems to be paying off for Alexei and his diner in a city famous for its theme restaurants.
Twin Stars Diner (Moscow, Russia)
Speaking of the Cold War, Bunker 42 is a restored Soviet-era command bunker buried over 200 feet below the city of Moscow. Originally completed in 1956, the 75,000 square foot facility was purchased by a privately-held company in 2006 and granted a much less grim destiny to fulfill: become the world’s deepest/largest/strangest museum/restaurant/karaoke bar ever. If that weren’t enough of a draw, you can also have your dream wedding in Stalin’s meeting room.
It may just be me, but I would swear the Bunker 42 video is actually a walkthrough of an unreleased chapter to Bioshock.
La Tête dans les Olives (Paris, France)
The most exclusive restaurant in all of Paris can be found after hours in the center of a tiny Italian delicatessen just off of Canal Saint-Martin where Michelin star chefs are known to shop for authentic Italian produce and world-class olive oils. A seat at Cédric Casanova’s coveted foldable table for six will need to be booked at least three months in advance by mail (actual stamped, paper mail) and as there is no menu, the actual meal will be determined by the season and the inspiration of the host. The reward for such unprecedented patience is an unforgettable culinary journey guided by a masterful and charming host at perhaps the most intimate restaurant in the world.
Pravěk (Prague, Czech Republic)
You're in a restaurant enjoying a tasty draft beer just minding your own business, when the man at the table next to you pushes aside a plate of discarded bones and begins grunting and loudly banging a rock on the table to get the waiter's attention. You may be at Hooters, but chances are you're at Pravěk, a prehistorically-themed restaurant in the Czech Republic.
The basement restaurant is convincingly constructed to look like a dark prehistoric cave with mammoth drawings on faux-stone walls and stalactites on the ceiling. Waiters and waitresses dress as cave-dwellers in animal skins, frequently grunting and mimicking primate behavior but amazingly never breaking character for the entirety of your visit. Book an event to party with drumming and dancing natives and enjoy a whole cooked animal. Unsurprisingly, fire-cooked meat dishes dominate the menu but what else could a hunter-gatherer want for their Stone Age feast?
Inamo (London, United Kingdom)
From dinner in the prehistoric past to refined Oriental fusion from the future, Inamo in Soho, London uses an interactive ordering system on the cutting edge of modern technology to make their restaurant stand out. An advanced projector mounted on the ceiling above the table not only displays a realistic food and drink menu on your plate, but a touchscreen tabletop will let you see what is happening behind the scenes in the kitchen order a cab even change your virtual tablecloth. Inamo isn't all for show though, as its Pan-Asian cuisine and cocktails are among the best London has to offer.
The Pudding Club (Gloucestershire, United Kingdom)
The first rule of Pudding Club: Don't talk about Pudding Club.
The second rule of Pudding Club: You DO NOT talk about Pudding Club.
Third Rule of Pudding Club: Well, the rules get pretty British after that.
Not so much a restaurant as a revered tradition, Pudding Club takes place in the Three Ways House hotel in Cotswald Village. Dedicated to preserving the Great British Pudding, The Pudding Club meets every Friday for an evening of entertainment (presided over by the Pudding Master) which culminates in the Parade of Seven Puddings where guests sample and rate the seven puddings following strict rules of pudding etiquette (only one pudding her bowl, please) After the Parade of Seven Puddings (I HAD to say that again) has concluded, guests vote for their favorite pudding and award the winners certificates. If the pomp and circumstance has overwhelmed you, you can retire for the evening to the Chocolate Suite or Sticky Toffee Room, just two of the seven available Pudding Club rooms themed after traditional puddings. I swear I'm not making this up.
Fortezza Medicea Restaurant (Volterra, Italy)
This ancient fortress now serves as a high-security prison for murders, thieves and Mafiosos — it also happens to be a wildly popular restaurant. Started as an experimental rehabilitation program, the restaurant is run by the inmates of the prison. Which is to say, an actual team of convicted criminals — the head chef was imprisoned for murder — prepares and serves customers in a dining area under strict surveillance and the watchful eye of numerous patrolling guards. Guests who visit this popular attraction must submit to multiple checkpoints and surrender all their personal belongings. Oh, and you'll also need the approval of The Ministry of Justice in Rome. That's a lot of work for plastic silverware.
Nocti Vagus (Berlin, Germany)
As Berlin's first restaurant to offer dining in the dark, Nocti Vagus (The Night Wanderer) has been inviting their guests to immerse themselves in this unforgettable dinner experience for over a decade. Diners are guided through their culinary journeys by the restaurant's blind waiters who encourage guests to stimulate their remaining four senses. Taste, touch, smell and hearing not only play an important role in dinner but in their dinner theater as well. Nocti Vagus hosts a variety of dinner shows and concerts where famous German stars and starlets do everything from solving dastardly murders to battling horrifying phantoms — all in complete darkness.
Snow Village — Ice Bar (Kittilä, Finland)
Every late November, a magical village of ice and snow emerges from the ground in Finland. The giant complex (over 200,000 square feet and 1,000 truck loads of snow) changes shape and size every winter but consists of a restaurant, a bar, numerous lobbies, hotel suites, and outdoor slides and sculptures. After steering a pack of huskies through the Northern wilderness, Arctic adventurers can savor Lappish delicacies at the Ice Bar at illuminated ice tables in a restaurant and bar constructed and decorated — as the name might suggest — entirely of ice and snow. Later that night, guests can gear up for a snowmobile safari or gear up for the igloo disco nightlife (which may very well be the same gear). Note: Igloo Disco will be the first album from the Sushi Mannequins..
Ka-Tron Restaurant (Bangkok, Thailand)
If you're still impressed by tableside guacamole then you haven't eaten in Bangkok's Ka-Tron Restaurant. Situated in an open courtyard behind a nine foot wall stacked with roosters and surrounded by private karaoke rooms — some stacked two-stories high — there is a long, raised metal stage draped in neon lights, rubber chickens and glittering chicken statues. On either end of the platform there are two very mysterious (but menacing) mortar-like catapults. What could possibly be happening here that requires rubber chickens and catapults? If you guessed "bizarre occult ceremony involving ritual chicken shaming", you'd only be half wrong.
In fact, diners gather from around the world to witness a spectacle that can be seen nowhere else in the world. Guests who order the first dish on the menu, "Fly Chicken", a specially-marinated whole chicken destined for greatness, will watch in awe as a waiter brings their chicken to the stage, sets it on fire, and launches it out of a catapult high into the air. Another waiter on a unicycle (obviously), uses his superhuman speed and agility to catch your flaming poultry on his custom-built helmet-skewer (!). Once your dinner is successfully impaled on the head of your wheeled waiter, he then brings your glorious bird to your table and sets it upright on it's detachable skewer trophy-like &mdash with a small Thai flag and congratulatory flower where the it's head used to be. Now, I ask you, can the Flying Chicken (as it is colloquially known) put on a show, or can the Flying Chicken put on show?
Note: Just down the street from Ka-Tron Restaurant is the worlds's largest Chinese restaurant, the Royal Dragon, but it didn't make this list because they only utilize roller-skates and zip lines to serve their guests. That's barely trying in Bangkok.
Hajime Robot Restaurant (Bangkok, Thailand)
If you've ever secretly longed for a giant, dancing samurai robot to serve you modern Japanese cuisine (and who hasn't), I'm pleased to say that the Hajime Robot Restaurant is finally here to fill that robot samurai-shaped hole in your heart. Order sukiyaki or shabu from their touchscreen buffet and watch as a samurai motoman prepares and serves your meal from a long enclosed glass corridor in the center of the restaurant — presumably, the glass will save you from rampaging samurai robots during solar flares, lightning storms and robot uprisings. To take your mind off the impending robotic enslavement of humanity, every half an hour popular Asian pop music blasts through the speakers so you and your new robot "friend" can party like its 2099 — at least until someone orders another round of sushi or SkyNet becomes self-aware.
Ninja New York (Manhattan, New York)
If robot samurai from the future aren't your cup of tea, then perhaps a visit to feudal Japan for some decidedly modern cuisine might be just the thing. This 6,000 square foot subterranean labyrinth of a restaurant is designed to look (and feel) like a ninja village, so everything is not always as it seems: diners are guided to the main dining area by a secret path known only to the ninja staff individual rooms are laid out with maze-like complexity "clever contraptions" are set throughout the restaurant to deceive and amuse guests ninjas surprise you from the ceiling while ninja magicians surprise you at your table a select dish may explode in flames after a fuse is lit a delicately crafted tiramisu masquerades as a bonsai tree for dessert. Be sure to take it easy on the sake or you may not make it out alive.
Casa Bonita (Lakewood, Colorado)
Imagine a restaurant so unbelievable that when featured in the episode "Casa Bonita" in the TV series South Park, many South Park fans thought the restaurant was too ridiculous to be an actual restaurant — an impressive feat. But the episode was in fact an animated homage to the very real Casa Bonita, a nearly mythological amusement park that doubles as a Mexican restaurant near Denver, Colorado where South Park's creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone grew up.
The entrance to one of the nation's top ten roadside attractions is easy to spot, as I would imagine an 85-foot tall pink tower with a gold leaf dome and a statue of Quahuatomec (the last Aztec emperor) really stands out in a strip mall — at least where I live. But I've never been to Colorado. Once inside the 52,000 square foot restaurant, families will be delighted by a thirty foot tall waterfall designed to look like the cliffs of Alcalpulco. Swinging over on a rope, divers talk with lucky guests and then make expert dives into the 14-foot pool below. A dizzying array of roving mariachi bands, magicians, fire jugglers, rogue gorillas, puppet shows and gunslinging cowboys are around every corner. If you aren't playing skee-ball in the arcade, be sure to visit one of Casa Bonita's more popular attractions, Black Bart's cave where terrifying meets kitschy, or kitschy becomes terrifying depending on your age. As a kid, Casa Bonita is wondrous, unforgettable experience. As an adult with kids, you'll wonder when Hunter S. Thompson opened a Chuck E. Cheese's. Either way, Casa Bonita should make your bucket list.
Note: The creator of Casa Bonita, Bill Waugh, was also responsible for Taco Bueno and the lesser known — but closer to my heart — Crystal's Pizza & Spaghetti. There were only ever four Crystal's Pizza & Spaghetti (three in Texas and one in Tulsa, Oklahoma) but I remember going through the cave entrance at the Abilene location as a kid like it was yesterday. An evening of amazing pizza and video games sounds pretty fantastic even now. After, what had to be $300 in quarters, I vividly recall finally making it to Earth in Gyruss. I was pretty convinced that I would be recruited Last Starfighter-style sometime later that evening to save the galaxy from the Kodan Empire. Plus, having my android duplicate take my math tests wouldn't hurt either. Sadly, I was never asked to join Star League but so few of us land up working in their field of study.
The Safe House (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
If, like most people, you make the annual pilgrimage to Milwaukee to touch the Bronze Fonz, be sure to stop by International Exports, Ltd. located just a few blocks away. Once inside this suspiciously non-distinct building, you’ll be greeted by a woman behind a red velvet rope who'll ask you for the password (I can’t reveal the password for national security reasons but you won’t need one if you can hula hoop, waddle like a penguin, shake your bunny tail or sing a silly song). Upon verifying your “identity”, a built-in bookcase will swing open revealing a hidden passageway to Milwaukee’s best-worst kept secret, The Safe House. Half interactive spy museum and half bar and restaurant, agents staying at The Safe House can choose to dine in World War II-era Paris, Berlin, London, Hong Kong or Moscow.
Once agents are given their geographical assignment, they’re given missions to complete (if they choose to accept them, of course) that will take them on a mind-boggling tour of owner Francisco Scaramanga’s — I mean David Baldwin’s — spy memorabilia through a series of hidden rooms, revolving booths, concealed passages, false doors, dead-ends and secret exits where you can spy on your friends, play with two-way mirrors, solve the world’s largest mechanical puzzle or view an authentic piece of the Berlin wall, a Russian jail door or even Austin Power’s guitar. Occasionally, you’ll even see an Ultimate Martini shoot through a plastic vacuum tube that runs throughout the restaurant (shaken, not stirred).
Know a girl turning 21? Make her a birthday reservation for the On Her majesty’s Secret Service package. Once she’s had a few drinks she’ll be kidnapped and "disappeared" down a spiral staircase to the basement only to reemerge through the floor in a decommissioned jet fighter cockpit, giant spy-drink in hand. This post will now self-destruct in three seconds.
Exchange Bar & Grill (New York, New York)
Former economists Levent Cakar and Damon Bae created the Exchange Bar & Grille with a clever gimmick in mind — drink prices are determined by supply and demand just like Wall Street, except here it's always a "beer" market (A "beer" market. Anyone?) A 35-foot "stock" ticker runs over the bar, displaying the fluctuating drink prices which change a quarter at a time. A savvy drinker can lower the price of their beer while simultaneously driving up the price of their friends' beers (all in good fun, of course). Some insider information will let you take advantage of the Market Crash for almost happy hour-like drink prices.
Clydesdales Restaurant (Windsor, Australia)
Clydesdales Restaurant offers diners of “exceptional taste” a truly exceptional and intimate dinner experience, a five course dinner tour of historical Windsor in a meticulously restored 1890’s omnibus carriage, drawn by a team of plumed and powerful Clydesdales, Handsome Harry, Cheeky Charlie and Banjo. The carriage can seat eight guests in air-conditioned comfort, has a modern sound system and is available for lunch and dinner tours, romantic evenings, receptions, weddings, hen’s nights and kitchen teas. (Bonus points if you know what a kitchen tea is and are NOT from Australia.)