America has a lot of wacky hotels and attractions, yet one of it’s most interesting, to me anyway, would have to be the dining scene. Many of these are included on our city guides for each of these cities but here is a compilation of the most fascinating. I have also chosen to include a variety of celebrity owned restaurants because they tend to be very unique as well. Although, celebrity owned restaurants go out of business especially fast, mainly because the celebrity gets too caught up in the dream of owning their very own restaurant and then abandons the place after it’s been open a few months and expects their “loyal” staff to take charge (Scott Disick’s Ryu, Britney Spears Nyla, Steven Spielberg’s Dive!, Jennifer Lopez’s Madre’s, Ludacris Straits, Ashton Kutcher’s Dolce Enoteca e Ristorante..). Let’s let our celebrities stick to their singing, acting and reality shows and stay away from what goes in our mouths. So without further ado, here they are, here are the best of the best, which happen to also be extraordinarily themed.
Started by and frequented by celebrities and tourists alike, Planet Hollywood currently has 4 restaurants across these great states, with locations in Orlando, Myrtle Beach, NYC, and Las Vegas.
1. The Safe House – Milwaukee, WI
Ever dream of being James Bond? Well, now you can! Sort of. Head to the Safe House to begin your spy career. Say a password to get in—oh, don’t have it? Don’t worry. You can work your way in. Complete your first mission by waddling like a penguin for 30 seconds, and Safe House will unlock their doors. Try their “spycialties” like “Agent Provocateur Steak Sandwich” and “Cuban Missile Crisis.”
2. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co – Throughout The US
Forrest Gump is the only Oscar-winning film to have its own chain of restaurants. The movie might be 15 years old, but Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is still going strong with 16 worldwide locations. Try the “Bubba’s After the Storm Buck of Boat Trash” or the “I’m Stuffed!” shrimp to fully immerse yourself in the Forrest Gump Experience. Tom Hanks not included.
3. Tommy Gun’s Garage – Chicago
Pretend you’re Al Capone in this speakeasy-themed restaurant. Slip on something daring and flapper-ish before heading over to drink with some of the most famous outlaws of the 1920s. Chow down on “Big Bill” Thompson, “Don’t Call Me Chicken” and “The Kingpin” before watching a music and comedy show. Actors perform musical selections from Duke Ellington, George Gershwin and Cole Porter.
4. Ninja – New York City
Ninja is like a full-experience ride. Upon entry, your waiter—dressed like a ninja—asks you to pick one of two paths to your table: simple or dangerous. And with that, the scene is set. Ninja is decorated like a mountain village, complete with gorges, tunnels and drawbridges. You will be entertained throughout dinner with magic tricks and elaborately displayed dishes. Be careful though: your ninja waiter just might try to kill you as you chow down. Be sure to escape at the end of the night before being caught!
5. Opaque – Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, NYC, Dallas
This is a restaurant about your senses. More specifically, it focuses on removing one of them completely. Opaque is a pitch-black restaurant, so your attention is fixed solely on your other senses, like taste, smell and feel. Visually-impaired waiters guide you to your table so no light is necessary in the restaurant. And unlike most of the other restaurants on this list, they focus on making a great food experience as well.
6. Harvey Washbangers – College Station, TX
Fond memories of college laundry rooms? Didn’t think so. But if you’re interested in reliving the experience, take your laundry to Harvey Washbangers, which is a real laundromat with a bar and grill attached. Order some college-like food (wings, burgers and chili) while you wait for the light board to notify you when your laundry’s done.
7. Bors Hede Inne – Carnation, WA
Can’t afford a trip to Europe but too classy for the Renaissance Faire? Head to Bors Heded Inne, a fully Middle Ages-theme restaurant serving up 14th century grub. Taste the Moutoun Camelyne and Blamanger, real 14th-century recipes prepared 14th century style in rural Washington. But be warned—it’s mercilessly Middle Ages, meaning you’ll have to leave behind your modern toys and gadgets like cell phones and cameras.
8. Jekyll & Hyde Club – New York City
The Jekyll & Hyde Club is exactly what you’d imagine: an English gothic restaurant based on Robert Louis Stevenson’sThe Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, complete with animatronic ghouls. Watch out as you’re heading to the bathroom—crazy men in capes may jump out at you. It’s all part of the full dining experience, along with wacky characters wandering the aisles and voices from the “spirit world” talking to you at dinner.
9. Casa Bonita – Lakewood, CO
This is Cartman’s (from South Park) favorite restaurant—you have been warned. It’s really less themed and more an eclectic hodgepodge of entertainment with a restaurant attached. There are wandering musicians, arcade games and a portrait studio. Most famous attraction? Acapulco-style cave divers jumping into its indoor waterfall and pool.
10. Tonga Room – San Francisco
The Tonga Room replicated 1940s-Tiki culture with kitschy cocktails in tiki vessels and indoor thundershowers every half hour. The Island Groove band plays on a raft on the lagoon in the middle of the restaurant. The restaurant has been around since the 1940s, so there’s a historical element not usually found in themed restaurants. Kick up your feet and let the island feel come to you.
11. Magic Restroom Cafe – Los Angeles
This place just opened a few days ago as America’s First Toilet-Themed Restaurant. All the dishes, seats and food items are all focused on toilets, bathrooms and human bodily functions. You even get to sit on a toilet (with the seat closed of course) while you are eating! Dishes have names like “black poop” (which is a chocolate sundae) and “bloody number two (vanilla strawberry sundae). Ah don’t you just love potty humor. I got so excited when I heard about this (I’ve heard about the Asian ones for years and always wanted to go) that I ranked it at #2 on this list. Now I need some of you guys in the LA area to go and try it and tell me if it really is all that it is cracked up to be!
Update: Wow this places profits are being flushed down the toilet, but seriously! They have 25 Yelp reviews at 2.5 stars saying great atmosphere but poor service, overpriced, small portions, wait times of 2.5 hours. Wow, I hope things get better ASAP for these first time restauranteurs.. or else I’ll remove it from the list. I still want to go though!
12. Aureole – Las Vegas
Located at the Mandalay Bay resort, this massive four-story restaurant is home to the largest wine tower in the world, with 10,000 bottles, starting from the 18th century. Their black-suited “wine angels” can be seen gliding up the tower on cables to retrieve wine bottles. Each table is given an electronic tablet that contains detailed information about all of their wines
13. JayZ’s 40/40 Club – New York City
The name 40/40 derives from a record only four men in baseball have obtained. Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Alfonso Soriano are the only players to have hit 40 home runs and stole 40 bases in a single season.
14. Jean-Philippe Pâtisserie – Las Vegas
Home to the world’s largest chocolate, at 27-feet tall. fountain fully functional fountain pushes through 2100 lbs of chocolate at a rate of 120 quarts a minute It’s located at the Bellagio. Jean-Philippe Maury is the Executive Pastry Chef for the Bellagio. He oversees a team of seventy people who produce over 15,000 pastries a day for all the restaurants and shops inside the Bellagio. xquisitely detailed pastries, beautiful whimsical cakes, and a wonderful assortment of homemade candies and chocolates. You can even buy “bottled” chocolate from the chocolate fountain. Come at lunch time to indulge on a Nutella and Banana Crepe.
15. Medieval Times – Throughout The US
This dinner theater has US locations in Atlanta, Baltimore, Buena Park, Chicago, Dallas, Lyndhurst, Myrtle Beach and Orlando. All restaurants resemble castles, host jousting tournaments, and follow dining etiquette from the 11th century (no silverware).
16. Sci-Fi Dine-In – Orlando
Located inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park, this indoor restaurant is designed to look and feel like you are at an old-fashioned drive-in movie theater. Enjoy old sic-fi movie clips shown on the big screen.
17. Picasso – Las Vegas
Located within the Bellagio resort, which is home to the most fountains out of any other hotel in the world. This opulent restaurant offers unparalleled virews of the Bellagio fountains, As if that wasn’t enough, this restaurant is actually home to $30 million worth of real picasso paintings. Michelin considers it to be among the three best restaurant in Las Vegas, as a two star Michelin restaurant. The only other two star restaurant is Guy Soy and the only three-star restaurant is Joel Rubuchon.
18. Serendity 3 – Las Vegas, NYC, Washington DC, Miami, Boca Roton
They originated in New York but also have a Las Vegas location, right outside Caesars Palace. They are best known for their delicious ice cream and for having thr most expensive ice cream sundae in the world (in must be ordered 48 hours in advance). It contains five scoops of Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream, rare Amedei Porcelana and Chuao chocolate, American Golden caviar, passion fruit, orange, Armagnac, candied fruits from Paris, and marzipan cherries. On top of that, there’s real gold everywhere, from real gold dragées to the 23-carat edible gold leaf. You even get to enjoy your sundae with an 18-karat gold spoon. But their most famous dessert, however, is their incredible frozen hot chocolate. Other menu items include sandwiches, hamburgers and salads. This is a favorite among many celebrities, including Kim Kardashian.
19. The White Horse Tavern – Newport, RI
A little off the beaten path but definintely worth the visit if you are in the area. This is the oldest restaurant in America, built in 1673, and among the oldest restaurants in the world.
20. The Varsity – Atlanta, GA
This is the largest drive-in in the world, which can accommodate 600 cars. Originally named “The Yellow Jacket,’ The Varsity was established in 1928 at the corner of Luckie Street and Hemphill Avenue in Midtown Atlanta. Its founder, Frank Gordy, a Reinhardt University graduate, briefly attended The Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) but dropped out in 1925. Then, as now, the restaurant catered heavily to Georgia Tech students. As the business grew, Gordy was forced to move the restaurant to 61 North Avenue (on the northwest corner of Spring Street) to accommodate the crowds; the present structure now covers two city blocks. It was here that the name was changed to “The Varsity,” reflecting his desire to expand to other college campuses. During the drive-in era, The Varsity began its curbside service, which continues to this day.
Have you ever eaten any at any of these? Was the food any good? We would love to hear from you in the comments section.