Unique Restaurants in Amazing Locations
Yes, food is the main reason we go to a restaurant, but we can't deny that location also affects the experience. And while you don't need to go to extremes to create a nice ambiance, there's something exciting about dining in unusual and unexpected places.
If the idea sounds appealing, you'll be happy to know that there are restaurants in volcanoes, caves, tree canopies and even deep under the sea. These are the most unique restaurants in amazing locations.
29. Restaurant Inside a River
Location: Delaware River, New Jersey
Type of food: Hot dogs
Visit: River Hot Dog Man
What Makes River Hot Dog Man Unique
Few things can make lazy river tubing on a warm summer day better than it already is. But back in 1987, Greg Crance realized that the one thing missing from New Jersey's Delaware River was a hot dog stand.
Not wanting to make people wait to be on land to snack on a delicious hot dog, he set up his small restaurant in the middle of the river.
Since then, tubers have been able to get their fill without having to leave the water.
What Makes the Airplane Restaurant Unique
You've probably seen planes repurposed into Airbnbs, but have you ever seen one repurposed into a restaurant?
If the idea intrigues you, you can head to Colorado Springs to eat burgers and nachos in a 1953 Boeing KC-97 tanker. With 275 seats and plenty of aviation memorabilia, this is the American diner as you've never seen it before.
What Makes the Catacombs Unique
German-born Alois Bube bought this brewery in 1876. And while back then this lager-era brewery was common, it is now one of the few breweries like it still standing.
There are several dining areas in the brewery, including the Victorian-style Alois Restaurant. However, the most unique and exciting is the one that operates 43-feet underground in the brewery's catacombs.
Once the aging cellar of the business, the space will have you dining surrounded by stone walls and gigantic barrels.
26. Lunch in the Sea
Location: Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Type of food: Contemporary, seafood
Visit:Le Méridien Bora Bora
What Makes Lunch in the Lagoon Unique
The only thing that beats dining by the sea is dining in the sea, especially if that sea is the beautiful South Pacific Ocean.
Guests of Le Méridien Bora Bora can request a lunch in the lagoon experience, which includes dining at a small picnic table that is set just offshore and is graced by gorgeous views of Polynesian mountains.
The hotel doesn't advertise the experience, so it's only provided to in-the-known guests who ask for it.
25. Restaurant in an Italian Prison
Location: Milan, Italy
Type of food: Italian
What Makes InGalera Unique
Seeking to reduce recidivism rates, the Casa di Reclusione Milano Bollate — a prison in Milan — opened a culinary school for inmates. But rather than leave things in the theoretical, it also opened InGalera, an in-prison restaurant where inmates are able to gain experience that will help them find employment once they have been released.
Besides supporting a good social cause, the food is great — it is Italy after all!
24. Restaurant in an Italian Grotto
Location: Plugia, Italy
Type of food: Italian
What Makes Grotta Palazzese Unique
This restaurant is set in a deep grotto on a cliff overlooking the magnificent Adriatic Sea. Its location has made it a popular place to dine since the 1700s, when wealthy Italians came to dine and enjoy the views.
Not much has changed since, except that now international travelers are actually aware of its existence. But the magic atmosphere of listening to the sea crash against the rocks while you feast on delicious Italian food remains the same.
Just be aware that the prices match the exorbitance of the restaurant's unique location.
What Makes SnowVillage Ice Restaurant Unique
Located in the Finnish Laplands above the Arctic Circle, SnowVillage is one of a handful of ice hotels that is rebuilt every year entirely out of ice.
And while a stay here is as eccentric as it is amazing, a visit to its Ice Restaurant is nothing to scoff at. Expect regional foods like sauteed reindeer, fried Arctic char and whitefish roe.
You'll probably have to eat fast so your food doesn't get cold, but the memories of this meal won't be leaving you anytime soon.
22. Dine Next to a Giraffe Sanctuary
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Type of food: Contemporary
Visit: Giraffe Manor
What Makes Giraffe Manor Unique
Possibly Kenya's most famous hotel, the Giraffe Manor is notorious for the Rothschild giraffes that freely roam the property.
We're not exaggerating when we say "freely," as the giraffes can go anywhere, even popping in their heads into the hotel's restaurant. Of course, this is part of the allure of the establishment, which willingly leaves its windows open so guests can snap pictures sharing their meal with one of the giraffes.
All the giraffes are residents of the Giraffe Center sanctuary next door and are well-looked after.
21. Caribbean Pizza Boat
Location: St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Type of food: New York-style pizza
Visit: Pizza Pi
What Makes Pizza Pi Unique
Do you love New York-style pizza enough to swim for it? Many people in the Caribbean island of St. Thomas certainly do.
Pizza Pi is a unique food truck that's not actually a truck, but a boat. It is stationed on Christmas Cove, a bay that can only be accessed by boat and that's popular with snorkelers and divers who come to see its coral reefs. Luckily for them, they can swim right up to the boat and replenish their energy with a delicious slice of pizza.
The floating restaurant has proven so popular that even people who are not already in the water come to the spot and swim to the boat for a piece of cheesy goodness.
20. Pub in Middle Earth
Location: Hobbiton, New Zealand
Type of food: Pub food
Visit: The Green Dragon Inn
What Makes the Green Dragon Inn Unique
Fans of "Lord of the Rings" and the Tolkien universe flock to New Zealand's Hobbiton. The actual filming location for the famed trilogy was left standing and has become a beloved attraction.
But besides seeing the pretty round doors around the "Shire," one of the best things to do is head to the Green Dragon Inn for some hearty pub food and refreshing brew. Dining here feels like you've been transported right into Middle Earth.
19. Waterfall Restaurant
Location: Tiaong, Philippines
Type of food: Filipino
Visit: Waterfall Restaurant
What Makes Waterfall Restaurant Unique
Located near Manila at the Villa Escudero resort, this waterfall lets you enjoy Filipino food while soaking your feet in a waterfall.
Tables are set at the foot of the powerful waterfall, and diners are advised to take off their shoes, wade in, and let the water massage them as they eat. Afterward, taking a full-body dip is highly recommended.
This is one restaurant you'll definitely want to bring the kids to. They'll love it, and the waterfall will always be louder than they are.
18. Japanese Buddhist Temple Restaurant
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Type of food: Temple food
What Makes Shigetsu Unique
Located inside the UNESCO-listed Tenryu-ji Temple in Kyoto, Shigetsu temple gives patrons the chance to cleanse their bodies as they cleanse their souls.
The restaurant follows the principles of shojin ryori, a particular cuisine used by Buddhist monks in Japan. Rules restrict the use of any animal products or overly pungent vegetables and emphasize a balance of ingredients, nutrients and flavors.
You'll be surprised at how delicious the food here is and how full you'll be without feeling heavy. All these elements make Shigetsu an affordable, Michelin-approved restaurant.
What Makes Wine Train Unique
Fine dining on board a luxury train that crosses beautiful Napa Valley? Yes, please!
The famous Wine Train of this Californian region offers a truly exceptional dining experience where you'll enjoy a multi-course meal accompanied with wine (of course). For three to four hours, the astonishing landscape filled with vineyards will be yours to take in with absolutely no rush.
16. Medieval Village Restaurant
Location: Carnation, Washington
Type of food: British Medieval
Visit: The Bors Hede
What Makes the Bors Hede Restaurant Unique
Located inside a living museum that recreates life in 14th century England, the Bors Hede restaurant is as authentically Medieval as possible.
Walking around Camlann Village will already feel as if you're in a '90s movie about accidentally being thrown back into the Middle Ages. Once you step into the inn, the feeling will be cemented. You won't find any coffee or tea here, for instance, as the drinks were not yet known in England. Instead, you'll find ale, mead, wine and juice.
Similarly, the food won't include anything anachronical. Try the bourbelier de sangle (roast pork in sauce) or the coudre in temp de noir (roast salmon in almond sauce). And if you're wondering why the names are in French, remember that at this time, French was the official language of English nobility.
What Makes Carn Brea Castle Restaurant Unique
If you like the Medieval motif but aren't keen on being restricted to 14th-century diets, set your sight on the Carn Brea Castle Restaurant instead.
Set in an actual Medieval castle in the United Kingdom, the restaurant takes advantage of its magnificent setting to lure diners in. (Of course, a tour of the castle is also a must!) Interestingly, the castle has pivoted from what you might expect from its history and, instead, offer Middle Eastern fare.
Given how delicious Middle Eastern food is, we're not complaining.
14. Restaurant Under the Sea
Location: Lindesnes, Norway
Type of food: Scandinavian
What Makes Under Unique
Most underwater restaurants are set in tropical seas near coral reefs. Under decided to change the script and bring the concept to the rough waters of the North Sea.
The restaurant itself is unusual, looking like a large shipping container that fell into the ocean by mistake. Half of it protrudes on dark rocks, just barely touching land. The rest is submerged underwater.
And while you won't see sharks and reef fish swimming around, you will have the chance to see more rarely seen species that inhabit the North Atlantic Ocean.
13. Underground Salt Mine Restaurant
Location: Wieliczka, Poland
Type of food: Polish
Visit: Karczma Gornicza
Why Karczma Gornicza is Unique
This restaurant is located in one of the world's coolest underground attractions, the Wieliczka Salt Mine. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the salt mine is known for its massive salt cathedral and has been visited by Copernicus, Chopin and Pope John Paul II, amongst others.
We'll be honest, being underground in an intricate cathedral carved with salt is so impressive, you probably wouldn't even notice if the food were bad. Luckily, it's not. You can expect fresh produce and dishes flavored with the mine's own salt.
12. Exclusive Utah Yurt Restaurant
Location: Solitude, Utah
Type of food: Contemporary
Visit: The Yurt
What Makes the Yurt Unique
Most restaurants pamper you, but the Yurt makes you work for your dinner. Or at least sweat a bit for it.
The interesting prelude to an intimate dinner inside a traditional Mongolian yurt is snowshoeing through a forest at night. Moonlight will show you the path of this guided trek, which will be rewarded with a five-course meal prepared right in front of you.
Needless to say, the restaurant only operates in the winter.
11. Mont Blanc Restaurant
Location: Chamonix, France
Type of food: French
Visit: Le 3842
What Makes Le 3842 Unique
One of the highest restaurants in the entire world, Le 3842 is situated at the very top of Aiguille du Midi, a 12,605-foot peak (3,842 meters) in Mont Blanc.
The restaurant marks the highest point in Mont Blanc (the tallest mountain in the Alps and in France) that you can reach by lift. You can enjoy the best of French fine dining surrounded by Alpine landscapes without having to hike.
Even if you are planning on hiking further up, we recommend making a stop at Le 3842 for one of the most memorable meals France can offer.
10. Restaurant in an Ancient Roman Cistern
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Type of food: Turkish, Mediterranean
Visit: Sarnic Restaurant
What makes Sarnic Restaurant Unique
During the times of the Roman Empire, large, grandiose cisterns were built underground to supply water to the city. Though the cisterns are no longer used for their original purpose, they have become places for unique experiences, such as dining underground in ancient Roman ruins.
The Sarnic Restaurant takes advantage of the arches and columns that the Romans left behind to create an incredible ambience. Soft light hangs from oval lamps on the ceiling, giving even more mystery and allure to this unexpected dining setting.
9. Restaurant in a Volcano
Location: Tinajo, Spain
Type of food: Spanish, barbecue
Visit: El Diablo Restaurant
What Makes El Diablo Unique
El Diablo literally translates to "the Devil." The name alludes to the deep fiery pits of an active volcano that cook your food, but also probably to the fact that you need to be somewhat of a daredevil to dine here.
Focusing on grilling meats and vegetables, the restaurant built a large grill and placed it six feet above the lava of a volcano that is active but hasn't erupted since 1824. If 200 years seems safe enough, you'll definitely enjoy the charred juiciness that the unique cooking method gives the meats.
To make it better, you'll be surrounded by sweeping views of Lanzarote island's Timanfaya National Park.
8. Intimate Restaurant in a Ferris Wheel
Type of food: Contemporary, Asian
Visit: Singapore Flyer
What Makes Singapore Flyer Unique
If you think Ferris wheels make for romantic dates, don't miss out on the opportunity for an intimate dinner at Singapore Flyer.
Overlooking the sleek modern city, this is not your typical Ferris wheel. Rather, each capsule is big enough for a table for two people, who'll enjoy an entire hour and two rotations on the wheel. The restaurant is high-end and very popular for dates.
7. The Rock Restaurant
Location: Zanzibar, Tanzania
Type of food: Seafood
Visit: The Rock
What Makes the Rock Unique
It's located on an actual rock just off the shore of Michamvi Pingwe beach in Zanzibar. Once an outpost for local fishermen, the rock was transformed when a small, but unique restaurant was built on top of it. Local fishermen still supply fresh seafood to the restaurant.
The coolest thing about the Rock is that the experience changes with the tide, literally. During low tide, you can walk up to the restaurant and climb up the ladder, while high tide makes rowing there on a small boat necessary.
6. Lunch on a Hot-Air Balloon
Location: The Netherlands
Type of food: Modern
What Makes CuliAir Unique
A culinary experience on a hot-air balloon. That's what chef Angelique Schmeinck sought to create with this amazing restaurant experience that takes you up in the air.
No, seriously. This restaurant is on a hot-air balloon, and the chef prepares your meal mid-flight. You'll be left breathless by the gorgeous views as well as the culinary show that's happening right in front of you.
5. Underwater Restaurant
Location: Hurawalhi Island, Maldives
Type of food: Modern
Visit: 5.8 Undersea
What Makes 5.8 Undersea Unique
Though there are other underwater restaurants around the world, Hurawalhi Resort's 5.8 Undersea is made completely with glass. You'll get to delight your taste buds while enjoying a 360-degree view of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean.
The name alludes to the depth at which the restaurant is located, 5.8 meters, or around 19 feet deep. Only 10 tables get the privilege of dining as sharks, fish and other marine life swim over and around them. Sure, you can get this at aquarium restaurants, but it's not the same when you see wildlife in its own habitat.
To make things even better, the food is fresh. The tasting menus are great. And the restaurant actually supports dislodged corals that help strengthen the reef.
4. Restaurant Hanging from a Cliff
Location: Yichang, China
Type of food: Chinese
Visit: Fangweng Restaurant
What Makes Fangweng Unique
You've experienced cliff-hangers while reading a book or watching a show, but probably not while eating dinner.
Hanging quite literally from the side of a steep cliff, Fangweng restaurant in China overlooks the Yangtze River, the longest river in Asia and one of the most dangerous rivers in the world.
The food is good, but what really draws in the crowds are the vertigo-inducing views.
What Makes Soneva Kiri Treepod Dining Unique
When you were 7 years old, you may have dreamed of being hoisted up into the sky in a giant pod while adventurous waiters ziplined from the rainforest to you to bring you delicious food.
OK, you probably didn't dream something that specific, but the concept certainly sounds more like the fantastical rant of a 7-year-old than an actual fine dining restaurant in Thailand.
Part of the Soneva Kiri resort's experience, you can dine in the canopy of the Koh Kood rainforest. The food is amazing, and we're not exaggerating about ziplining waiters.
What Makes Ali Barbour's Cave Restaurant Unique
Dining in a grotto is one thing, but actually having to go 33 feet underground, only to come out to a cave with an open ceiling, takes things to another level.
The experience is possible in Kenya's beautiful Diani Beach, where a cave that's 120,000 to 180,000 years old has been transformed into a minimal impact restaurant. This means that little has been altered in the natural cave, except the kitchen and bathrooms. There is not even electricity.
Instead, you'll enjoy a true candlelight dinner with the stars twinkling above you.
1. Dinner in the Sky
Location: All over the world
Type of food: Varies
Visit: Dinner in the Sky
What Makes Dinner in the Sky Unique
Truly unique and incredibly elusive, this concept restaurant is not exaggerating with its name. Cranes hoist up tables, chairs, diners and waiters 160 feet up into the sky, where the entire dinner takes place. Diners are strapped onto chairs and everything is securely fastened, so there is no risk of falling. Still, adrenaline and great views are guaranteed to accompany your meal.
The idea originated in Belgium and now holds limited-time events all over the world. To dine here, you have to wait for the stars to align so the restaurant hosts an event in your city, or fly to whichever city the next event is in.
Dining in the sky doesn't come cheap either, with the cost of a meal being around $300 per person. Still, if you have the money, it'll certainly be a dining experience unlike any other you've had.