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12 Interesting Restaurants To Inspire Your Dining Experience

Owning and operating a restaurant requires strategy and business acumen, but a successful restaurant owner also needs to have a sense of creativity. Your restaurant doesn’t need to have a Michelin star to prove that you provide an amazing dining experience. With a little thought, your restaurant can become a well-known good time. To help inspire restaurateurs, we’ve picked out 12 restaurants from around the world that provide patrons with unique and wild dining experiences.

What Makes a Restaurant Truly Stand Out From the Bunch?

Before diving into the 12 restaurants, you may be curious about what drew us to these few. Many follow a similar formula: unique themes, creative menus, and one-of-a-kind locations. Let's take a closer look at why these attributes pack a punch.

Unique Theme

When people think about themed restaurants and bars, they usually think of the Rainforest Cafes of the world. Themed restaurants and bars keep people intrigued and allow them to experience something outside of their normal day-to-day life: It doesn’t matter if your restaurant serves burritos, BBQ, dim sum, or fried chicken. You can expand any type of cuisine into a larger theme to help your restaurant stand out from the crowd — literally.

Creative Risks With Food & Drink

The theme of a restaurant should extend beyond decor and design: A successful themed restaurant should have a menu with cuisine that fits the atmosphere. Taking this creative risk will further support your overall theme, creating an even more fun experience. It also can make creating the menu — and its descriptions — fun for you and your staff!

One-of-a-Kind Location

Lastly, we cannot understate the importance of location with a themed restaurant. A location that aligns with your overall theme can be the piece that ties the entire dining experience together and can even be the reason diners seek out your business.

You can even convert other types of businesses into fun, quirky locations for your restaurant. For example, Urban Putt — a mini-golf course and restaurant in San Francisco — was built in a vacant historic Victorian building. The owners had a vision, found a space, and ran with it.

12 of the Most Interesting and Unique Restaurants in the World

Now, let’s get into some of the most interesting and best restaurants around the world.

1) Ithaa Undersea Restaurant (Conrad Rangali Island, Maldives)

Located in the Maldives, Ithaa Undersea Restaurant is exactly what it sounds like: a restaurant located five meters below sea level. When patrons enter the dining room, they feel like they're in an aquarium, thanks to the glass walls and ceiling that give diners a gorgeous underwater view. It's perfect for ocean fans and social media influencers alike!

Must-Try Menu Items

The lunch and dinner menus at Ithaa are constantly changing to showcase the best local flavors with a Western twist. The cuisine is served tasting-style, featuring small portions of dishes expertly crafted to support a true fine dining experience. While Ithaa doesn’t offer a full brunch (lunch and dinner only), they are open for mid-morning cocktails.

2) Dinner in the Sky (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)

Unlike any other place on this list, Dinner in the Sky can travel around the world because it’s a free-standing attraction. Dinner in the Sky resembles a combination of a construction crane and an upscale carnival ride. The long neck of the crane holds the table 150 feet in the air as 22 diners enjoy the view and watch the chef prepare dinner in the middle — truly a night to remember! Dinner in the Sky is currently only open for private events but plans to offer ticketed events for the public soon.

Must-Try Menu Items

Because dining at Dinner in the Sky is a one-of-a-kind private event, the menu can be customized to suit the diners. Past menus have included dishes inspired by Asian, French, Italian, and Mexican cuisine. Regardless of cuisine, chefs utilize as many local and organic ingredients as possible.

3) Redwoods Treehouse (Warkworth, New Zealand)

Another outdoor restaurant adventure is the Redwoods Treehouse, located in New Zealand. The Treehouse, which resembles a hot air balloon made of long, thin pieces of wood, was built in a mere 66 days around a live tree for an ad campaign. And after it found worldwide acclaim, the Treehouse was turned into a venue for private dining experiences and other private events. The structure provides an intimate indoor/outdoor seated dining experience for 32 diners.

Must-Try Menu Items

The possibilities are endless at the Redwoods Treehouse, since renters are responsible for partnering with their own catering companies or chefs. Renters could go all-out for a fine dining experience or keep it casual with appetizers for a one-of-a-kind happy hour with indoor/outdoor seating.

4) SafeHouse (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.)

Milwaukee’s SafeHouse restaurant and spy bar has been around since the mid-1960s. The restaurant pulls out all the stops to provide an exciting dining experience, starting with how you locate the restaurant. SafeHouse doesn’t have a marked street entrance: Patrons must enter through the alley. Once they find the entrance, they need to either state the password or do a clearance test to prove they are not double agents. Upon entrance, guests are greeted by a speakeasy vibe and a dining room full of interesting spy-related decor and historical artifacts.

Must-Try Menu Items

The SafeHouse’s menu is full of standard bar fare but incorporates on-theme names like Compromised Chips and Dip, Fugitive Fish Fry, and Snap-O-Razzo All Beef Spy Dog. For the adults, the drink menu is especially fun, featuring cocktails like Agent MKE (a brandy old-fashioned) and The Great Spytini (a classic shaken, never stirred vodka martini). We recommend their award-winning Fried C4 Cheese Curds!

5) The Bubble Room (Captiva, Florida, U.S.)

Another unique eatery that has been around for decades is The Bubble Room in Captiva, Florida. The motto here is, “It’s always Christmas at The Bubble Room.” Though there are Christmas decorations throughout the restaurant, the three-floored space is also full of other kitschy decor. Patrons may have a waiter dressed in a pirate hat, or wearing bunny ears. At The Bubble Room, anything goes. The restaurant is also well known for its abundance of train sets that take up space on all three floors, making it fun for the whole family.

Must-Try Menu Items

The lunch and dinner menus at The Bubble Room have a clown theme and feature dishes like the Crab It While You Can Crabcakes, the Bubble Burger, and the Marilyn Mignon.

6) Heart Attack Grill (Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.)

The Heart Attack Grill is a great example of how even the quirkiest themed restaurant can be successful. Though some patrons may find the theme of the Heart Attack Grill a bit dark and morbid, others love it and lean into the gluttony of it all. Upon entry into the burger joint, diners put on hospital gowns before indulging in comfort food such as the Bypass Burger. The wait staff even dresses up like nurses to really build the atmosphere.

Must-Try Menu Items

One burger on the menu, the Quadruple Bypass Burger, comes with a free wheelchair ride out to your car by your nurse waitress — but only if you finish the burger. Adult diners can also wash down their food with blended drinks accompanied with a shot of alcohol of their choosing, served in a prescription bottle.

In Finland, the Lapland Hotel’s SnowVillage Restaurants embody what Finland is all about: snow and ice. There is the Ice Restaurant, the Ice Bar, and the Log Restaurant. Stepping into the Ice Restaurant and Bar, patrons will feel as if they’re inside a giant igloo — tables and bars are all made of real ice. The temperature is 23 degrees Fahrenheit, but diners are provided warm blankets and candlelight to keep the atmosphere comfortable. And for diners who would prefer not to dine on ice, the Log Restaurant is more traditional, with fireplaces allowing patrons to enjoy a cozy meal.

Must-Try Menu Items

Both restaurants in Lapland Hotel’s SnowVillage feature modern Finnish fare, including reindeer carpaccio, whitefish roe, reindeer shank, and bolete risotto.

One of the more strange dining experiences is Devil Island Prison Restaurant in Northeast China, about a half-hour train ride outside of Beijing. The restaurant is owned by Zhou Keqiang, who reportedly opened the restaurant to deter people from a life of crime. When diners arrive, they are seated at a dimly-lit table inside a jail cell. After they are served drinks and food, the wait staff closes the jail cell and locks it. Definitely not an experience for everyone, but a unique one nonetheless.

Must-Try Menu Items

The prison theme at Devil Island doesn’t extend to its menu, which includes Chinese fare and Americanized bar food like chicken tenders and Corona beer.

9) Trattoria Stella (Traverse City, Michigan, U.S.)

Diners seeking traditional Italian fare in Northern Michigan should look no further than Trattoria Stella. The cozy environment rounds out the rustic, old-world, farm-to-table Italian menu and extensive wine list. Reviewers of Trattoria Stella confirm that the restaurant's laid-back vibe is reminiscent of dining in Italy. With dim lighting, a large wooden bar, and exposed brick walls, it's hard to imagine that the restaurant is located in the basement of an old psychiatric hospital!

Must-Try Menu Items

Popular menu items include spaghetti with lamb meatballs, veal sweetbreads, and wild-caught Atlantic hake.

10) Bern’s Steak House (Tampa, Florida, U.S.)

Dating back to the 1960s, Bern’s Steak House has maintained its reputation for amazing hospitality and outstanding food. The old-school steakhouse provides a fine dining experience and has received numerous awards for its dry-aged steaks and extensive wine collection — featuring 6,500 labels from around the world. The ornate decorations and dim lighting from chandeliers, coupled with its long-standing semi-formal dress code, set Bern’s Steak House apart as a restaurant for the most special celebrations.

Must-Try Menu Items

Bern’s menu features everything from classic filet mignon, porterhouse, and t-bone to Japanese wagyu strip and grass-fed cowboy ribeye. Seafood is also a standout, with shrimp cocktail, oysters, crab cake, and clams high on the list of menu favorites. Even more, Bern’s has a room specifically for dessert that features dessert wines, dinner drinks, and classic decadent desserts including chocolate, ice cream, and other sweets.

11) Onoir (Montreal, Quebec, Canada)

Foodies seeking a completely new experience can look no further than Onoir in Montreal, Canada — where patrons dine in complete darkness. Onoir is the first-ever restaurant in North America to offer this type of dining experience. Dining in the dark can heighten a diner’s ability to smell and taste the food. And because every meal at Onoir is served in the dark, the restaurant has partnered with a local organization in Quebec that helps prepare and train visually impaired people to enter the workforce. As a result, all members of Onoir’s waitstaff are visually impaired.

Must-Try Menu Items

Onoir offers two- or three-course menus with dishes like the Jerusalem artichoke tarte, sea bass risotto with saffron sauce, and nougat glace with dried fruits. The restaurant also offers a separate menu for its terrace during summer, featuring elevated bar food like burgers and duck confit poutine.

12) Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar (San Francisco, California)

Tiki cocktail bars have become popular in the U.S. recently, but the Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar inside the Fairmont hotel has been around since 1945. A lagoon runs through the middle of the space, which was once the Nob Hill hotel’s indoor swimming pool. Now, it holds a stage with live musicians most nights. The Tonga Room occasionally experiences tropical rain storms complete with wind, thunder, and lightning, making this San Francisco restaurant a fun night out for anyone in the Bay Area.

Must-Try Menu Items

The Tonga Room has an extensive cocktail list featuring tiki drinks like the 1944 Mai Tai, the Jungle Bird (black strap rum, pineapple, and lime), and the Fog Cutter (rum, gin, cognac, sherry, orange, grapefruit). In addition to the cocktails, The Tonga Room features on-theme bar bites like The Tonga Pupu Platter, baby back ribs, and shiitake egg rolls.

Create a Memorable Dining Experience With INFI

Now that you have some inspiration to take back to your restaurant or incorporate into your future business plans, consider another avenue to make your restaurant’s dining experience unique and ideal for patrons: self-service technology. This can include anything from a mobile app or digital signage to self-service kiosks. Using a self-service kiosk, like one from INFI, you can increase your diners' autonomy and increase your business's efficiency. Learn more about self-ordering kiosks from INFI.

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