The Most Insane Restaurants
Cut into the side of a mountain, almost like a superhero’s hideout, and overlooking the Adriatic Sea, is a restaurant with one of the most striking views you’ll find anywhere in the world. The Grotta Palazzese hotel restaurant sits 74 feet above sea level, built directly into a jagged cliff in Polignano a Mare in southern Italy’s Puglia region. The romantic lighting (much of which comes from reflections off the water) and stunning scenery have been in use for fine dining for centuries; the region’s nobility hosted banquets there dating back to the 1700s. The restaurant is only open from May to October and books up quick, so if you’re looking to grab a cliffside table, you’ll have to plan ahead.
A recent addition to Alton Towers Resort in Staffordshire, England doesn’t require patrons to cling to hamburgers while they’re sent flying through a corkscrew. Instead, diners stay firmly seated at their tables and watch as their meal traverses “a vast rollercoaster track” and “tackles two gravity defying loop-the-loops before dropping 8 metres down the tornado spiral,” according to the resort’s website. The menu of the restaurant, includes a wide array of foods—burgers and steaks, even chicken curry and risotto, and appetizers like nachos, calamari and ribs. Each plate arrives firmly covered, preventing patrons’ food from meeting the unfortunate fate of flying off the tracks. And according to the Birmingham Mail, all the dishes are tested to assure they can withstand speeds “faster than Mo Farah when he ran the 10,000m at the London 2012 Olympics." Check out a video of the restuarant in action here.
The World's Narrowest Restaurant
At El Papagayo in Argentina, there’s not much elbow room because the entire restaurant is built into an alley. Architect Ernesto Bedmar bought the land, which he refers to (in translation) as a “corridor,” in Cordoba, Argentina, 32 years ago. Initially, he turned the space into a loft, but as it “started to deteriorate and turned less profitable,” he wrote in ArchDaily, he began looking for a new use for his alley. He met chef Javier Rodriguez and the idea for El Papagayo was born. The finished space is less than eight feet wide (2.4 meters) but is 105 feet long and almost 23 feet high. The basic plan manages to squeeze in six two-tops, five four-tops and even a long table capable of seating parties of ten. Of course, it has a kitchen, but it also manages to squeeze in three bathrooms and an upstairs office. To liven up the potentially dark space, the ceiling is almost entirely glass, allowing natural light to pour in. Check out more about the space here.
The Rock Restaurant
The Rock Restaurant in Zanzibar is taking sea-to-table to an entirely new level with its completely unconventional location. Built on an old fisherman's post, the restaurant gets its namesake from the rock that anchors it to the ocean floor. Getting there can be a bit complicated: When the tide is low, prepare for a short—and slightly wet—walk right up to the restaurant. Once the tide comes in, you're going to need a boat to make it to dinner. Once inside, there are only 12 tables, making it easy to completely lose yourself to the 360-degree views of the Indian Ocean. Aside from the scenery, the "Rock Special" (lobster, cigal, jumbo prawn, fish filet, and calamari all heated on the grill) sounds like it's worth the trip in itself. Check out more of the restaurant on Travel + Leisure.
Want to get tastefully drunk in a coral reef? Head out to Per Aquum's Niyama resort in the Maldives. They once boasted the first underwater nightclub, Subsix. Now, Subsix has been transformed by Poole Associates into a restaurant and party space. That means that your Little Mermaid wedding fantasy can finally come true. Subsix is literally in the middle of nowhere. The Niyama resort is forty minutes by seaplane to the Maldivian capitol of Malé, and Subsix's entrance is another 500-meter speedboat journey from there. Descend three staircases and you finally arrive and it's the best thing that's every happened to your Instagram. The glass walls allow you to look out on over 90 species of coral reef and all the aquatic life swimming among it—Eels, butterfly fish, turtles, and more. Read more about Subsix here.
If one-of-a-kind restaurant experiences are the kind of thing your vacation itinerary dreams are made of, you're going to want to put El Diablo on your list. This restaurant, on the Spanish island of Lanzarote off the coast of northwestern Africa—is on a volcano. There is a giant grill that's housed over one of the dormant volcano's openings. The food is cooked using the heat from an actual volcano. The last time there was any real activity from the volcano was back in 1824, so your meal should more likely than not be a tame experience. See more of El Diablo on Travel + Leisure.
Cliff Diving Café
Would you like an adrenaline rush with that piña colada? Rick's Café, a bar and eatery in Negril, Jamaica, doubles as a destination for anyone hoping to go cliff jumping on their Jamaican vacation. With cliffs ranging from 10 feet to 35 feet, Rick's cliff jumping can suit everyone from the first-time adventurer to the straight-up adrenaline junkie. And if you're more of a watcher than a doer, you can look out at the cliff jumpers from the bar's main level or get closer to the action on Rick's cliff balconies. Beyond the cliff jumping, Rick's is also famous for its spectacular views of the Jamaican sunset. From the café's balconies, you can look out to the open water as the sun goes down, making for the perfect Caribbean view. f you want to know what's going on at Rick's literally right now, at this very moment, you can even check out the Rick's Live stream of the action and read more about it here.
If you’re traveling to the Philippines and prefer a barefoot dining experience, you’ll want to anchor yourself at Villa Escudero resort’s Waterfalls Restaurant. The outdoor establishment, which sits right smack in the middle of a waterfall and small river, offers authentic local cuisine (seafood, obviously) as guests rinse their feet and cool down in the shallow running water. After eating, you’re also encouraged to dunk your head in the current as a respite from the country’s notoriously hot and humid weather. Though the waterfall is man-made, it sits among a historical plantation that offers unparalleled access to the Philippines’ natural treasures. Lucky lodgers get to enjoy birdwatching, bamboo rafting and excursions to nearby villages. Just remember to pack a waterproof wallet and tip your lifeguard waitress.
The Cocktail Bar in America's Oldest Tunnel
Le Boudoir, a Marie Antoinette-themed underground cocktail bar in Brooklyn—complete with a perfect replica of her private bathroom—has an exciting addition. The cocktail lounge, which can be found via a secret bookshelf entrance at the back of French bistro Chez Moi, was built out of remnants of a centuries-old Atlantic Avenue railroad tunnel. Untapped Cities reported that the tunnel, built in 1844, is the oldest tunnel under any city street in North America. So, while you are at Le Boudoir enjoying cocktails with names like the Guillotine, you can also enjoy a glimpse of Brooklyn history. A pretty incredible way to enjoy happy hour! See more of Le Boudoir here.
Antarctica's 5-Star Restaurant
Antarctica may not boast a thriving art culture or a hot spot music scene—or much of anything resembling normal civilization—but, surprisingly, its food culture is top notch. At Concordia Station, a research station on the largely desolate continent, chef Luca Ficara serves the 13-person research crew five-star cuisine. This 30-year-old Sicilian chef is not just there for food services; he's also one of the test subjects of the research. Concordia Station is a base used by the European Space Agency to test conditions for travel to Mars, because nowhere on Earth is closer to the conditions of space than the -30˚C to -60˚C (-22 to -76˚F) Antarctica. You can follow the crew at Concordia's blog, Chronicles from Concordia and read more about Chef Ficara here.
World's Smallest Restaurant
A restaurant in Italy, billing itself as the world’s smallest, has just one table that seats only two people. Solo Per Due—which is Italian for “Just for Two”—opened in Vacone, Italy, 26 years ago with the same vision they maintain today: an intimate, attentive dining experience meant as a “celebration dinner of love.” According to the Huffington Post, the tiny restaurant is located on grounds that were once home to the Roman poet Horace, in a building that dates back to the 19th century, situated near the remains of a Roman villa. The prix-fixe menu seems expensive but probably fair for the luxurious experience. For €250, diners get a seasonal menu of traditional Italian dishes that is changed daily and tailored to their preferences and dietary restrictions. Also included are flowers, a custom pie and most beverages, including a selection of wines and aperitifs. Guests also have the option of spending the night on the property. Though another option would be to give Solo Per Due a try as the world’s most challenging dine and dash.
Enter Milan’s new exclusive fine dining hot spot, In Galera, where dinner reservations are so coveted, they are booked a month out. Oh, and it’s inside a prison. Located inside Bollate penitentiary, which is a medium-security prison right outside Milan, all the servers and staff at the restaurant—from cooks to dishwashers—are inmates of the prison. And this restaurant isn’t just for show, it boasts a seriously elegant menu that could rival any other Milan spot. The restaurant has no problem winking to its setting. In Galera is actually Italian slang for “in prison” and the room is lined with posters from famous prison movies. Whether it’s the draw of the forbidden world inside a prison or the exclusivity of it all, the restaurant is doing very well. It has 4.5 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor.
Jamban Café, translated literally to “toilet café,” is the latest establishment to offer a wtf-inducing unique dining experience for customers with ironclad stomachs. Located in Semarang on the island of Java, the restaurant serves its soups and drinks in the bowls you’re used to sitting on. There's actually a fancier toilet restaurant in Taiwan, but Jamban Café has a larger purpose. Owner, Budi Laksono, is treating the business as an opportunity to flush preconceptions about the country’s plumbing situation. The reality, unfortunately, is that “many people in Indonesia still do not have toilets,” Laksono, a former public health expert, revealed in an interview with Agence France-Presse. And since public defecation is quite common, he hopes the café will either encourage the use of proper facilities or raise a red flag to the Indonesian government.