The 10 Most Bizarre Restaurants in the World (Slideshow)
June 29, 2016
You’ll have a hard time paying attention to your food at these restaurants, where the scenery and décor are the main attractions
Casa Bonita, Denver
With a jungle interior that gives The Rainforest Cafe a run for its money, Casa Bonita has been a dining institution for over 40 years. The location was once a large retail store, and the restaurant made the most of the 52,000 square feet of space by creating tables and seating for over 1,000 people at a time. In addition to the 30-foot-tall waterfall focal point (complese with cliff divers), the eatery also features strolling mariachis, flame jugglers, a puppet theater, a magic theater, a “haunted tunnel,” and an arcade.
At one time there were four Casa Bonita locations around America (including Oklahoma City, Fort Worth, and Little Rock), but the Colorado location is the only one remaining, and it was named a historic landmark of the city in 2015. No surprise, considering the notoriety of the restaurant, especially after being cited as the favorite restaurant of Eric Cartman on South Park, which featured it in four episodes, including the Season 7 installment actually called “Casa Bonita.”
Dinner in the Sky, Various
Although this venue isn’t a permanent restaurant in a set location, we would be remiss not to include it here. This sky-high dinner isn’t even served on solid ground, but about 180 feet up in mid-air, hoisted via a special crane. At each Dinner in the Sky event, groups of 22 people are seated around the table while a team of five prepares the multi-course feast right in front of them. And if dining while suspended in mid-air isn’t enough to warrant an unforgettable meal, consider some of the big names who’ve led the team in the “kitchen” to date, like Pierre Gagnaire, Hung Huynh, and Joël Robuchon — or the addition of a band suspended nearby for entertainment. It's a stylish affair too, with proper place settings, dishes like filet mignon or prosciutto-stuffed chicken, and plenty of Champagne. Just keep ahold of your fork — dropping it here is a much bigger issue than at most restaurants.
Harvey Washbangers, College Station, Texas
Harvey Washbangers bar and grill in College Station, Texas, features a kooky laundromat theme, which is helped by the fact that the restaurant is an actual laundromat with 80 high-efficiency washers and dryers. It even offers wash, dry, and fold services! Folks opting for self-service (or those who didn’t bring any dirty duds at all) can grab a beer, dig into a 100-percent Angus beef burger, or choose from a number of hot dogs, sandwiches, soups, and salads.
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Maldives
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant in Maldives has several distinctions: It was the first undersea restaurant in the world when it opened in 2005, and it has been ranked by The Daily Meal as the most beautiful restaurant in the world, as well as one of the most romantic restaurants, expensive restaurants, and hardest to get to restaurants. Even though there are numerous underwater restaurants around the world, none are quite as impressive, immersive, and unusual as this one. Located five meters below the surface in the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island hotel, Ithaa features full panoramic and overhead views of the surrounding coral gardens and sea life while diners feast on a seven-course meal of dishes like caviar, agnotti of duck, Maldivian lobster carpaccio, and beef tenderloin for dinner, or a four-course lunch option. Be prepared to splurge (lunch starts around $200 per person, dinner around $300), but also be prepared for the experience of a lifetime. In other words: Bring a camera. Even at night, the aquatic views are spectacular.
Modern Toilet, Taipei
At Modern Toilet, you should avoid judging your meal by how it looks (unless you don’t mind going hungry). That’s because at this Taipei restaurant, your meal is served to you in a toilet. Sit on porcelain bowls at sink tables and get ready to scour the sewers; the menu is divided by bathroom fixture, so you can order the Korean kimchi hot pot or beef curry, served in Western-style toilet bowls, and treat yourself to ice cream swirls in squat toilets. Although the food might not be the fanciest, it’s the experience you should be going for, so don’t feel like you’re throwing money down the drain. (Sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves.)
Ninja, New York City
Prepare yourself for an action-packed meal. Dining at Ninja New York, located within a mock-feudal-era ninja castle in Tribeca, is not for the faint of heart. Once you’ve journeyed down the dark labyrinths to reach the dining areas — which range from cave-like dojos to feng shui rock gardens — you’ll order one of the many Japanese-influenced “Ninja Art Dishes” from your waiter, who will drop down from the ceiling while executing karate chops and sneak attacks to your amazement. Just remember to leave your samurai sword at home.
At Opaque, it’s not so much about what you can see, but what you can’t see. And what you can’t see is literally everything. Based on a European concept that is said to enhance the sense of taste, Opaque features “dining in the dark,” and makes for a truly unique experience. You will be seated in a pitch-black dining room and guided and served by blind or visually impaired staff members who have been specially trained to work in the dark. It’s worth mentioning that all of this is meant to provide the best-tasting event possible, and is not meant to scare anyone in any way. Quite the contrary, actually, as servers are there to help and reassure all guests. The cost is $99 for a three-course prix fixe menu. Although Opaque pops up at different venues across the country and world (including Berlin, Paris, and Vienna) from time to time, Opaque has permanent restaurants in Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco.
Robot Restaurant, Tokyo
Shinjuku is known as one of the most energetic nightlife centers in all of Tokyo — a neon-dipped city already famous for its after-hours antics. Nowhere is as representative of this as Robot Restaurant and Bar. Located in a basement in the Kabukich district, every night bikini-clad girls remotely battle enormous robots in a central arena that looks like the world of Tron during a rave. The show is about three hours and the ¥8,000 entry fee (around $80 USD) includes a mediocre bento box and a drink. It’s the extravaganza — not the fare — that you’ll be paying attention to.
Safe House, Milwaukee
Although the interior of Milwaukee’s Safe House is an eclectic mix of spy and secret agent décor, it’s the outside that makes this restaurant truly bizarre. It’s an unassuming little storefront that is marked as “International Exports, Ltd.,” and if you didn’t already know an eatery was located inside, you’d probably never give it a second look. Heck, even the website’s directions are purposely misleading. The faux instructions from the north direct guests to look for a man in a yellow raincoat and don’t be thrown when he says, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” The directions from the south are even less helpful, simply stating, “Travel north approximately 100 miles. Watch out for alligators. Then follow directions ‘from the North.’” Even if you locate the restaurant, you’ll still need a secret password (no spoilers here!) — otherwise you’ll have to complete a “task” before being granted entry.
The Redwoods Treehouse, Auckland, New Zealand
Believe it or not, there’s an actual eatery that’s actually built into a tree. It might sound like an article from The Onion (both because it’s unbelievable and also because the restaurant looks like an onion bulb), but this unique yellow treehouse measures over 39 feet tall, sits over 10 feet off the ground, and was built from sustainably grown pine and poplar in 66 days. It was originally constructed as part of a marketing campaign, but is now available for private hire, with three catering options available. You can’t make regular restaurant reservations, but the venue is open for private dining, work parties, and other celebrations.