10 Most Outrageous Restaurants
Walking into this prison themed restaurant is like stepping onto the set of an old-fashioned, blood-curdling horror movie. The bar looks like it's been carved into a cave-like dungeon, there are skull-shaped lights with handcuffs hung beneath them, and the tables are in cells complete with bars, of course. Order up the cocktail called "Human Experimentation" (served as a set of beakers) or the "Life Sentence," followed by the human specimen salad (which is really just greens topped with grilled chicken) or Dracula's dinner platter (a spread of chicken wings, salads, grilled vegetables). Just don't tell them it's your birthday, or they'll send a "monster" out to sing to you.
Pittsburghers looking to get out of their comfort zone of pierogi and French fry-topped sandwiches need look no further than Conflict Kitchen, a take-away restaurant that serves the cuisine of a country that the U.S. is in conflict with, rotating every four months. Up first: Kubideh Kitchen, serving the classic Iranian dish of the same name: Skewered kebabs of spiced ground meat served on warm barbari bread (baked with black sesame seeds) and topped with chopped onion, mint, and basil. Sandwiches are served in wrappers that are printed with comments from Iranians and Iranian-Americans on the current political conflict between the countries. Coming up is the cuisine of Afghanistan, North Korea, and Venezuela.
Singapore is the center of the medical vacation industry -- an interesting statistic that plays heavily into your evening when you dine at The Clinic. The restaurant is decorated with medical-themed artwork by Damien Hirst (the British artist previously known best for his installation of a shark suspended in a tank) and the "pharma-kitsch decor" extends to stainless steel surgical tables set with wheelchairs. The waiters are dressed in hospital whites and patrons are "fed" via IVs of cocktails that include "Sex on a Drip." Not into the drip? Order margarita "sprays" or whisky-sour "pastilles" designed to look like pills instead. Fortunately, the snack-oriented menu of prawn dumplings, fishcakes, and chicken wings looks nothing like hospital food.
Each winter, the ice hotel is carved anew, and remains open from January to March. Pillars are structured from ice, archways are built out of snow, and cave-like tables are chiseled, set with candles, and lined with fur-topped ice benches. In the bar, you can drink cocoa out of paper cups or brightly hued cocktails in artistic square "glasses" before being served local cuisine on ice plates or retiring to an outdoor hot tub.
This Manhattan restaurant is set up to make you feel as though you have entered a hidden ninja village where two factions are at war. You're greeted by a costumed waiter who bows and leads you down a torch-lit path to a private room. You may hear bangs on the wall as waiters run past in hot pursuit or screams from the torture chamber where they reenact the whipping of misbehaving ninjas who have brought shame on the village. The menu itself includes classic Japanese fare like soba and tempura and your waiter may drop through the ceiling to clear your plates. Some dishes are just as entertaining, including a crab and grapefruit salad decorated with dry ice and a sword (pull out the sword to dig into the dish and a puff of smoke arises) and a green tea ice cream dessert topped with a tower of piecrust designed to look like a bonsai plant. It's a strangely peaceful sight among the chaos of warfare.
Somebody had to do it-the first potty-themed restaurant. Tables are set with toilets instead of seats in a room lined with bathroom tiles. The restaurant's premier dish was what they describe as "a big pile of chocolate ice cream sold in containers shaped like a squat toilet." Today this chain of Taiwanese theme restaurants offers so much more, including beef curry in a toilet and as well as gratins served in bed pans. Sides include soap dishes filled with onion rings, and they also serve shaved ice piled into what looks like a miniature plastic urinal. Still, the signature dish remains the artistically swirled chocolate soft serve.
For those who prefer breakfast in bed, this restaurant is a real treat. Dinner is served on tray-topped beds, which are dressed with sheets and lots of pillows and surrounded by curtains that can be drawn for privacy. It's easier to keep your composure eating finger foods like duck spring rolls and crab cakes wrapped in rice paper than it is with, say, a steak. And, of course, grazing on appetizers rather than ordering an entree will leave more room for the Cloud 9 soufflé or the tiramisu dessert, which is designed to look like a bed itself.
3. Izakaya Kayabuki, Tochigi, Japan
This may seem like a classic Japanese-style pub. But wait until you meet the wait staff. The waiters are actually monkeys (yes, monkeys) dressed in human clothing, one as a man and the other as a woman in a wig. They greet you with hot towels and serve bottles of beer. They'll also hang out with you while you eat your gyoza and teppanyaki. And don't expect the service to be a hairy situation: These macaques understand requests for another round of beer, and hop to it promptly.
If you were intrigued by the scene in the first Sex and the City movie where Samantha suggestively serves sushi without plates, book a private room at this Gulf Coast restaurant. Make a reservation for six or more people and they will arrange a private sushi spread on a naked model (strategically covered in seaweed) as well as sake. The practice, called nyotaimori, originated in Japan and is usually done at a special event. Our advice? Be careful with the chopsticks.
Why must you check your belongings, turn off your cell phone, and order your meal before you're taken to your table? This restaurant, which also has locations in San Diego and San Francisco, is literally pitch black and the waiters are blind or otherwise visually impaired. The prix fixe menus aren't designed to ease your adjustment to dining in the dark-meals start with salad, followed with fork-necessary entrees like tuna steaks, filet mignon, or roasted chicken plus spoon-not-optional desserts including panna cotta. Unfortunately, the restaurant won't spring for your dry cleaning bill if you miss your mouth.
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