25 Truly Strange Restaurants From Around the World
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 — of course — ninjas. First up, a restaurant that cooks your dinner with the help of an actual volcano…
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.)
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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).
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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?
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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..
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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 — 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.
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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.
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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...
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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.
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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...
NOTE: And just because — the top 23 James Bond Moments.
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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.
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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.)
Featured image credit: John Hurll/YouTube