The World’s Strangest Restaurants

Stories from Food & Wine.
Jan. 29 2012 7:05 AM

Fine Novelty Dining

The world’s weirdest restaurants.


This piece is reprinted from Food and Wine.

“I feel like medieval tonight” is not a common response to that classic question of where to eat, but it could be soon. Once relegated to theme parks and kid-friendly chains, oddball dining experiences are gaining in popularity.

The appeal of outlandish restaurants lies in our penchant for escapism. “Some of it is trying to go back to our roots,” says Rupert Spies, a senior lecturer at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. “Eating with our hands is a very sensuous and primal experience,” he explains of restaurants like Medieval Times, where diners are addressed as “Lord” and “Lady,” and no utensils are provided. 


Customers look beyond decor and atmospherics; food is an important part of the fantasy. “There are only two things that are equally intimate,” Spies says. “One is sex, and the other one is eating.” A meal has to fit in with the surroundings and with diners' tastes. “You are transporting yourself for an hour or two into a different world,” Spies says. “Food helps, because it is so immediate; it helps you become completely immersed.” 

Much like travelers on vacation, diners who go to theme restaurants usually embrace the full experience. “You have the music, you have the decor, the ambiance, the behavior of the people who serve you. Even if it’s just around the corner, you want to completely escape," says Spies.

Still, some weird restaurants seem to find success by just being plain bizarre. At a restaurant called Modern Toilet in Taipei, Taiwan, the seats are toilets, bowls are shaped like bathtubs and the glasses resemble urinals. At least the food, including beef sirloin hot pot and pork with black pepper sauce, is reportedly delicious.

More from Food & Wine:



Scalia’s Liberal Streak

The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.

Scotland Votes to Remain in U.K.

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

Sometimes Women Do Make Fake Rape Allegations

And we need to treat that as a serious problem.


Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey

No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.


The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Cliff Huxtable Explains the World: Five Lessons From TV’s Greatest Dad

Why Television Needs a New Cosby Show Right Now

  News & Politics
Sept. 18 2014 8:20 PM A Clever Attempt at Explaining Away a Vote Against the Farm Bill
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
The Slate Quiz
Sept. 18 2014 11:44 PM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Double X
Sept. 18 2014 8:07 PM Crying Rape False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.