So you’re out at dinner and the bill arrives. You’re faced with a decision: cash or credit? Within recent years, however, an entirely new, virtual currency called Bitcoin has come into the fold, and it’s slowly creeping into our lives. For example, restaurants, bars, and food trucks around the world now let you pay for your meal or beer with a currency that exists completely digitally, and we’ve tracked down 11 that have paved the way.
Bitcoin is a rather complicated currency, but we’ll do our best to put it into layman’s terms: It’s a form of money that has no central bank, and exists entirely virtually. Anybody can buy bitcoins, and merchants can easily accept them as payment (and are in fact encouraged to because transaction fees are lower than those charged by credit card companies). Because there’s no central control, however, they can be easily stolen and lack consumer protections. If you pay for an item with bitcoin and want to get a refund, it’s impossible to get your money back, and if an exchange collapses or is subject to a heist, there’s no way to recover the stolen funds (this happened earlier this year when one of the world’s largest exchanges, Mount Gox, filed for bankruptcy after the theft of 744,000 bitcoins). Many economists won’t even call it money; they instead refer to it as a “medium of exchange” because they store no value.
Relatively few average citizens own bitcoins; they’re primarily the domain of speculators, resulting in incredible volatility (for example, its value slipped by 14 percent just this past weekend as Chile stepped up regulations). That said, if you got in on the ground floor and haven’t been subject to any theft, your bitcoin stash might just make you very wealthy. In March 2011, the price of a bitcoin against a U.S. dollar was about 1to 1. As of today, one bitcoin costs about $444 but in the past it’s spiked to more than $1,000.
For as long as bitcoins have been around, however, people have wanted to buy food with them. Why? Possibly because it’s pretty cool (in a geeky way) to tell your buddies that you bought the pizza you’re eating with bitcoins (in fact, the first real-world bitcoin transaction, in 2010, was for two pizzas).
Today, there are more than 1,000 brick and mortar businesses that will let you pay for your items with bitcoins, even more online exchanges that accept the currency, and even a handful of ATMs that will give you the cash value of your bitcoins on the spot. There’s even a website that tracks restaurants in the U.S. that will let you pay with bitcoin (67 at pubishing) right now. Read on to learn about some of the restaurants, bars, and food trucks that will accept bitcoin as a form of currency. While it might take a while for it to go mainstream, don’t be surprised if several years down the road you’re asked, “Will that be cash, credit, or bitcoin?”
The Pink Cow, Tokyo
This “California casual” restaurant was the first in all of Japan to accept bitcoins.
This cult-favorite burger joint serves some of London’s best burgers. They’re also one of the only restaurants in the city that accepts bitcoin.