15 of the Most Unique Restaurants Around the World
At these quirky restaurants, people come for the atmosphere and stay for the food.
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant—Rangali Island, Maldives
No need to waterproof your cell phone to take photos in one of the most unique restaurants in the world. Located at the Conrad Maldives, Rangali Island Resort is a gorgeous and intimate underwater restaurant (seating capacity is 14 people) that is more than 16 feet below sea level. Opened in 2005, the all-glass restaurant has a menu consisting of fresh seafood, beef rib eye, veal, and other gourmet dishes. Encased in a transparent acrylic roof, the restaurant offers its diners a 270-degree panoramic view of sea creatures swimming in the Maldives’ crystal clear waters. While a zinc paint coating protects Ithaa’s steel structure from corrosion, the saltwater and marine growths adhering to the paint will eventually break it down. Make a reservation while you still can. Here are the strangest hotels in the world.
Ninja New York—New York City, USA
In a review in the New York Times, Frank Bruni describes Ninja New York as “a kooky, dreary subterranean labyrinth… You are greeted there by servers in black costumes who ceaselessly bow, regularly yelp, and ever so occasionally tumble.” But don’t worry, you won’t need to defend yourself with your own kung-fu moves. You’ll dine amongst stealthy warriors—the waiters—who roam, romp, and perform tricks, all the while serving sushi and sake. Designed to look like a 15th-century Japanese feudal village full of dark nooks and snaking passageways, just call it Japanese fare mixed with martial arts flair at its best.
Dinner in the Sky—Montreal, Canada
Got an appetite for high altitude? Originating in Belgium, the concept for this novelty-based mobile restaurant involves a crane hoisting guests, who are securely strapped into “dining chairs” 160 feet up in the air, along with a table, wait staff, and everything that’s required to enjoy a meal floating above the ground. Dinner in the Sky has gained popularity worldwide and is now offered for limited run periods in cities around the globe, including Montreal. These unique restaurants offer fine dining, incredible views, and a story like no other.
Redwoods Treehouse—Warkworth, New Zealand
You already know about the magnificent sites in the Redwood National and State Parks in California, but the trees near Warkworth are famous for an entirely different reason. It’s called Redwoods Treehouse. Built in 2008, the pod-shaped structure is situated over 32 feet above the ground in a Redwood tree in the town of Warkworth, north of Auckland. Diners access the venue via an elevated treetop walkway built of redwood milled on site. The striking venue is used exclusively for private functions and events, with a capacity of 30 guests.
Cat Café Nekorobi—Tokyo, Japan
If watching cat videos gets you in a good mood, this unusual coffee shop will make you swoon with joy and cuteness. Nekorobi is a hip cat café located in the entertainment district of Ikebukuro where you can spend time with friends of the feline kind. Patrons enter through modern glass doors into a dimly lit joint where cats prowl and sprawl out, and where a drinks dispenser vending machine offers a variety of hot and cold beverages including coffee, royal milk tea, green tea, and instant miso soup. Visit in the evening and you’ll have a chance to witness the dinnertime ritual where the kitties feast on cat food in glass food bowls arranged in a circle around a floor lamp. For feline lovers, this place is no doubt the “cat’s meow.”
Safe House—Milwaukee, Wisconsin
This Midwestern U.S. restaurant has a rather nondescript exterior, but that seems to be precisely the point. Everything related to the spy-themed restaurant is based on the CIA definition of a safe house, which is meant to be a seemingly innocent premise where an intelligence organization would conduct its covert operations in relative security. Nowhere will you find a sign advertising “Safe House,” and you even need to know the password to enter the establishment. If you ever find yourself in Milwaukee, this top-secret restaurant is worth seeking out; though remember, you didn’t hear it from us.
Modern Toilet—Taipei City, Taiwan Province, China
This is the only place where dining etiquette and bathroom etiquette are one and the same. The idea for this odd restaurant was conceived by one of the owners while he was reading while sitting—where else?—on a toilet. Initially, it only sold chocolate ice cream in containers shaped like a squat toilet, but once the humorous spin became a great success, a full-fledged, bathroom-themed eatery emerged. Today, Modern Toilet is a chain with locations across Asia and it has plans for further expansion. If the idea piques your curiosity, drop into one of these unique restaurants and have a seat at one of the (non-working) toilets where meals are served in toilet bowl-shaped dinnerware.
De Kas—Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Anyone who owns a garden knows that nothing compares to making a meal with fresh produce you’ve grown yourself. Imagine a restaurant where the menu selections are prepared using the freshest possible ingredients, and by freshest, we mean harvested in the field at sunrise of the same day you are dining there. Welcome to De Kas, an old greenhouse in Amsterdam that was due to be demolished in 2001, but was saved by an ambitious Michelin star chef, Gert Jan Hageman, who converted the unique twenty six foot high glass building into a restaurant and nursery. Mediterranean vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers are grown and harvested at the greenhouse and garden near the restaurant, and Hageman can be found in De Kas’ nursery daily, working the soil, planting, weeding and harvesting herbs and vegetables.
The Bubble Room—Captiva Island, Florida
Opened in 1979, this eclectic restaurant decorated with classic toys from the 1930s and 1940s started as a small one-room eatery, and today has grown into a multi-themed restaurant occupying all three stories of the house it originated in. Staff are known as “bubble scouts,” each wearing a different crazy hat. Moving trains are on all three floors and photographs of old-time movie scenes and stars adorn every available wall space. “It’s always Christmas at the Bubble Room” is a theme made evident by the presence of the many Father Christmases, the Elf Room, and year-round Christmas lights. Music from the 1920s to 1940s serves as the soundtrack for The Bubble Room, and the bright and cheerful pastel colors of the venue make it a near-hallucinatory experience. Favorites on the current menu are original items offered since the restaurant’s early days such as Socra cheese (a cheese served flamed tableside), Bubble Bread, and many of the colossal-sized desserts.
This novel experience certainly puts a new spin on the term “blind date.” Dining in the dark has been around for quite some time abroad, but the concept was only first introduced in Canada in 2006, with the opening of O.NOIR in Montreal and then a second location in Toronto in 2009. O.NOIR’s philosophy is that a diner’s enjoyment is amplified when his sight is eliminated as the other senses become heightened. Flashlights, cellphones, and luminous watches are prohibited from the dark dining establishment. The evening starts in a lit bar where guests place their orders; then they are led by a server into an unlit dining room, where a two-hour seated dinner service begins with servers explaining where everything is placed on the table. Maybe the mood lighting could qualify this dining experience as one of the most romantic restaurants in every state.
Heart Attack Grill—Las Vegas, Nevada
Of all the unique restaurants on our list, this one is absolutely the least healthy, so if you’re trying to stick to a diet, steer clear of Heart Attack Grill. Waitresses are dressed as nurses, customers’ orders are called prescriptions, and customers themselves are referred to as patients; Heart Attack Grill really leans into their theme of giving you a heart attack. And they honestly just might. With Single, Double, all the way up to Octuple Bypass burgers, ranging in size from 8 to 32 ounces of beef, just your main dish could have over 9,000 calories. You can add on Flatliner fries, order disgustingly unhealthy drinks, and even order cigarettes from your waitress, with candy cigarettes an option for kids. Your “nurse” will take your blood pressure before you eat, and you can opt to be weighed in, too. If you weigh over 350 pounds, you eat for free.
Kayabukiya Tavern—Utsunomiya, Japan
We’re headed back to Japan for this unique restaurant! This traditional sake house has one interesting addition that makes it anything but “traditional”: monkeys! Two monkeys are currently employed by the Japanese restaurant. The younger macaque monkey, Fuku-chan, will bring you a hot towel before your meal to clean your hands, while the older macaque, Yat-chan, will actually take your drink order and bring you your beverage. More monkeys are currently being trained as servers at this restaurant. You can leave your furry waiter a tip in the form of boiled edamame. You’ll have to be careful about when you go, thought—the monkeys work very short shifts—but while they’re in the restaurant, they enjoy playing with all the customers as shown in videos like this one.
The Airplane Restaurant—Colorado Springs, Colorado
This unique eatery is exactly what it sounds like: a restaurant inside a fully intact Boeing KC-97. The plane was originally built in 1953 and was converted into a restaurant in 2002. The inside has been cleared out and overhauled, and seats 274 dinners. Another bonus? The food is incredible—much better than what you’d normally get on an airplane! Open for lunch and dinner, expect classic Americana cuisine, and a room full of memorabilia and rare flight artifacts. Just make sure you don’t order one of the things you should never eat at a restaurant.
Chodovar Brewery and Spa—Chodova Plana, Czech Republic
This company has a long proud tradition of brewing beer—over 500 years! But they didn’t stop there. After enjoying a delicious meal at the Beerarium, Stara Sladovna, located in the original malt house of Chodovar Brewery, offers an authentic beer garden experience, with an additional outdoor terrace which looks out over gardens and the historical local downtown. This restaurant seats 300 people, but the beer menu, compiled by the first certified beer sommeliers in the Czech Republic, isn’t what makes this dining experience so unique. When you’re finished with your dinner, head to the restaurant’s spa, and take a beer bath in the brewers’ original beer blend before being wrapped in fleece and handmade quilts to rest and rejuvenate your skin.
Lapland Hotel’s SnowVillage Restaurants—Kittilä, Finland
Be sure to wrap up as warmly as you can before visiting these unique restaurants in Finland—two of them are made completely of snow and ice! The Lapland Hotel’s SnowVillage features three restaurants, The Snow Restaurant, The Ice Bar, and The Log Restaurant, which has the same menu as the Snow Restaurant but is open all year and is a bit warmer. The Snow Restaurant serves classic Finish cuisine including salmon soup and reindeer filet and is expected to reopen December 12, 2019. The Ice Bar offers blankets to their clientele to stay warm in their candlelit bar, serving Nordic-themed cocktails and hot chocolate. Need more uniqueness? Try staying at the wackiest places you can rent on Airbnb.