When you're going out to a restaurant, the food is probably the biggest concern. Whether you're going to get a good meal or not can make or break any eatery's reputation. However, right after the meal, the next biggest question is "What's the vibe of the restaurant?" Some places like to keep it low key. Others like to have more of a party atmosphere. Then, there are those restaurants that decide they're going to have a big personality, and they're going to wear it on their sleeve. These are theme restaurants, and the truth about them is that sometimes, they work really well, and other times, they fall completely flat. It all depends on the execution, the theme itself, and how much it adds to (or takes away from) your enjoyment of the experience.
There are some theme restaurants that are really cool. Whether they're taking you up into the sky or letting you pretend to be in a spy thriller, they deliver on their premise in fun ways without sacrificing the duties of a restaurant. Then, there are other theme restaurants that seem to make poor choices. Maybe they associate their food with toilets, or they have ninja waiters jumping out at the patrons throughout the meal. These places might have great food, but the actual experience of eating a great meal is lost in the bad experience from the restaurant's gimmick. The real magic is in striking a balance between the two and delivering great food and drinks as well as a fun theme with good ambiance. These are 10 theme restaurants we'd love to visit (and 10 that would send us to McDonald's).
20 We'd love to visit: 5.8 Undersea Restaurant
There's something very calm about being able to see underwater, and yet at the same time, there's also just the right element of danger. That's the kind of sensory experience you might experience if dining at 5.8 Undersea Restaurant, an eatery that's part of Hurawalhi, a luxury resort located in the Maldives. Diners can have a delicious meal while marveling at all of the underwater life that might go whizzing past the giant glass windows. There's no shortage of a view in this restaurant, as the entire place is covered by glass, allowing a full view of the beautiful undersea surroundings—though you might feel guilty if you order the fish right in front of all of its former friends.
19 We'll stay away from: Heart Attack Grill
In the last few years, it's become something of a popular gimmick for some restaurants (particularly the ones in the United States) to boast about how unhealthy their food is. If you don't like it, then get out! However, the restaurant that seems to own this attitude the most is the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas. At this outrageous burger joint, the servers dress like nurses, the food is given names like the "Triple coronary Burger," and patrons over 350 pounds eat for free. It's one thing for a restaurant to play with the idea that their food causes coronary distress, but the Heart Attack Grill has actually had several cases of customers experiencing severe health issues while eating there. We think we'll pass on this one.
18 We'd love to visit: Dinner in the Sky
Anyone afraid of heights should probably just skip this entry entirely. Now that they're gone, let's talk about Dinner in the Sky. This unique dining experience, which originated in Belgium, allows people to enjoy a gourmet meal while a crane lifts their table into the sky! Several chefs accompany the table and cook the meal right in front of the guests, all while they're strapped tightly to their seats. This would be a great way to have a meal with an amazing view, although you might want to avoid something like this if it's a particularly windy day.
17 We'll stay away from: Modern Toilet
Are you the kind of person who thinks that eating out of a toilet would be the height of fun? Then this may just be the restaurant for you! The Modern Toilet restaurant in Taiwan makes the stately porcelain throne the centerpiece of all of its meals. It's also the general theme of the restaurant. The customers don't sit on chairs; they sit on toilets! How this ended up being popular is beyond us, aside from the obvious novelty of the whole thing. Still, how could anyone think that eating a meal out of a toilet would be appetizing in any way? These are two concepts that aren't supposed to be combined!
16 We'd love to visit: The Lockup
Would you like to go to jail for a meal? Probably not. But how about a pretend jail where the servers will bring you drinks in test tubes and you get to sit in a cozy booth that also happens to be behind a barred gate? That's the experience you get at The Lockup in Japan. This jail-themed restaurant is the kind of place that caters more to the experience of its customers rather than really memorable dishes. However, their drinks are presented in some really fun ways, and diners are led to their tables by a waiter dressed as a policeman (one of the diners will even be handcuffed during this time). It might be a little spooky, but that can really add to the fun of the meal.
15 We'll stay away from: Hospitalis
Everyone loves hospital food, right? Of course not! So why on Earth would anyone choose to simulate the experience of eating in a hospital? We don't really know, but that idea seems to be a winning one for Hospitalis, a hospital-themed restaurant in Latvia, which includes all of the accoutrement of a hospital dining room. That means that the servers are dressed up in nurse uniforms, you sit in a wheelchair, and the floor of the dining room is made of shiny, perfectly cleaned and sanitized white tiles. Diners can even be strapped into a straitjacket and fed by the servers if they so please. This place sounds like the stuff of nightmares.
14 We'd love to visit: The HR Giger Bar
HR Giger was a truly unique artist. He was the designer behind the Xenomorph in Alien, and his work strikes a complicated balance between beautiful and grotesque. It's no wonder then that the HR Giger Bar has a truly breathtaking interior. The bar and restaurant, which has two locations in Giger's native Switzerland, combines delicious food and drink with Giger's signature biomechanical art style. Giger helped to design both of these restaurants, and although some diners might be put off by the intense decorations, others might find a haunting beauty in their surroundings. The Giger Bar website describes the experience as "lending the feel of being literally in the belly of a fossilized, prehistoric beast." Sounds pretty cool to us!
13 We'll stay away from: The Airplane Restaurant
Airplane food has been a punchline ever since sportcoat-wearing comedians started talking about it on stage in the 1980s. That means that the experience of eating on an airplane isn't exactly the most exciting or sought-after experience in the world. Yet people still flock to the Airplane Restaurant (there really weren't any suggestions for a more creative name?) in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It might just be for the experience of eating food in very cramped quarters (just imagine the lack of leg room), as the restaurant doesn't exactly serve gourmet fare. This place is really little more than a diner shoved into a decommissioned airplane. Other than that, there's not really much to it at all.
12 We'd love to visit: The Trailer Park Lounge
Alright, so the idea of eating in a trailer park might not exactly be the fanciest thing, but we have to admit that this place sounds like it's a lot of fun. The Trailer Park Lounge, located in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York, has a vibrant, retro feel to it that eschews the idea of being classy and just encourages its patrons to enjoy the surroundings and have fun. Their food menu is uncomplicated, which is sometimes a welcome surprise, and they're known for their creative cocktails. The whole place has a fun, loose, and overall friendly feel to it and would be a great place to just hang out for a little while.
11 We'll stay away from: Ninja
Does a restaurant with a bunch of ninjas working there sound like a lot of fun to you? It might, in theory. However, in practice, you might get really irritated after your meal is interrupted several times by waiters sneaking around and jumping out of corners to scare you. That's the general gimmick at Ninja in New York, a restaurant where the servers are highly skilled at pulling all kinds of ninja tricks that might be amusing at first but would become tiresome as you're trying to enjoy your meal while it's still warm. Seriously, why would anyone want to be put on edge like this while they're trying to eat?
10 We'd love to visit: Cat Cafe Nekorobi
There are plenty of cat cafes around the world at this point, but if you really want to have the perfect cat cafe experience, then you need to go to Cat Cafe Nekorobi in Japan, which might just be the original cat cafe. Even if it's not, it's by far the best and most well known of the bunch. The interior of this cafe has a really chilled-out vibe, and of course, the cats are adorable. Plus, if you come at the right time, then you get to see the feeding ritual, where the cats eat out of food bowls arranged in a perfect circle. It's definitely the kind of place you have to experience if you find yourself in Japan (and you love cats).
9 We'll stay away from: Robot Restaurant
Have you ever been to a restaurant that seemed to have a lot going on, like maybe a lot of road signs and crazy junk on the walls, and thought to yourself, "This is a bit much for me?" Well, the Robot Restaurant in Japan is kind of like that but multiplied by a million. This restaurant, which also features live performances by human singers and, you guessed it, robots, is colorful, lit up, and most of all, loud. This is the kind of place you might go if you were really not expecting to have a nice, quiet meal. If bright lights, loud noises, and a whole lot of crazy stuff going on isn't your thing, then you might consider eating somewhere else.
8 We'd love to visit: Safe House
We'd like to tell you how you could get into the Safe House restaurant in Milwaukee, but nobody knows. That's because this spy-themed restaurant takes their theme to the extreme, requiring their patrons to deliver a secret password for entry. The password isn't easily found on the restaurant's website, but anyone who can figure it out and get inside will be treated to one of the coolest restaurants in the city, complete with great food and drink as well as a truly retro spy-themed interior. This is the kind of place that does a theme right and builds up buzz by making itself hard to find and even harder to get into.
7 We'll stay away from: The Bubble Room
The Bubble Room is exactly the kind of theme restaurant you'd love if you're really into toys (and we mean really into them). This colorful little eatery in Captiva, Florida, is home to model trains, toys, aquariums, and servers dressed like boy scouts. This might be the kind of place that's a lot of fun for kids, but we feel like adults would quickly see through the veneer and recognize that this entire restaurant is one big gimmick. It's also just a little too cute, and when you're trying to find a fun place to eat, the Bubble room might just be a little too sugary for more grown-up tastes.
6 We'd love to visit: Labassin Waterfall Restaurant
Imagine a restaurant where the floor is covered in water. If you were in a city, that might be kind of gross and would definitely make you wonder if something had gone wrong with the plumbing. However, it's exactly the kind of thing you'd enjoy experiencing at the Labassin Waterfall Restaurant in the Philippines. This amazing restaurant, built into the shallow part of a river, sits right by an actual waterfall. Customers walk through the river in their bare feet and sit at tables set right in the water. As far as admiring natural beauty while you eat goes, there might not be anything as cool or awe-inspiring as this.
5 We'll stay away from: Medieval Times
To be fair to Medieval Times, there's definitely a decent portion of the population that would love to relive the days of jousting knights, sword fights, kings, queens, and all that other medieval stuff. However, we're going to look at this place as what it's supposed to be: a theme restaurant. Sure, the shows might be impressive, but how much could you possibly want to pay for a piece of "just okay" chicken, no doubt eaten behind a 12-year-old's birthday party? Medieval Times might just become a thing of the past itself unless they can somehow convince HBO to let them do some Game of Thrones-themed shows. Then, we might be interested.
4 We'd love to visit: Redwoods Treehouse
As a kid, I always thought treehouses were the coolest thing ever. Every time one was featured in a movie or a TV show, I immediately got jealous that someone had a place to hang out, read comic books, and generally just be a kid. That might not be the exact experience you would get at the Redwoods Treehouse in New Zealand, but it's pretty close. This restaurant, built into an actual Redwood tree ten meters off the ground, can only be booked for private events, but it would definitely be worth it. This is the perfect place to live out that fantasy of hanging out in a treehouse while also getting a pretty great meal!
3 We'll stay away from: Converted Coach Bus
You know how it's really fun to sit on a coach bus for hours and hours? You probably don't because if there's anything that can really be described as dull, it's that exact experience. Still, that didn't stop someone from turning a coach bus into a restaurant in Shenyang, China. the restaurant allows customers to sit on a bus and face forward, just like they were going somewhere (like maybe to a more fun restaurant). The waiters walk up and down the aisles, delivering food to every seat. This really sounds dull, and no matter how good the food might be, there's really nothing that could make us want to spend extra time in an uncomfortable and cramped bus.
2 We'd love to visit: The Lockhart
Do you love Harry Potter but really don't want to shell out hundreds or maybe even thousands of dollars to go to the Wizarding World at Universal Studios? Then why not pay a visit to the Lockhart in downtown Toronto? This Harry Potter-themed bar and restaurant serves up delicious food and drinks inspired by JK Rowling's series of books. This is the kind of place for really hardcore Harry Potter fans because it doesn't shove the theme in your face. Instead, it relies on the world of Harry Potter as a starting point and goes from there in creating really great dishes and beverages inspired by the adventures at Hogwarts and abroad.
1 We'll stay away from: Opaque
Dining in the dark isn't fun. There are plenty of restaurants that have utilized this gimmick, but we'll focus on Opaque as the main case study for this entry. At these restaurants, diners are taken into a pitch black dining room, where they cannot even see their hand in front of their face. Some of these places employ waiters with night vision goggles, while others actually hire legally blind people to be waiters. Either way, the lack of any visual stimuli is supposed to allow diners to fully experience the taste of their meal, but we're pretty sure that's not how our senses work. It also seems like you'd be out of luck if you dropped a fork. Then again, no one would ever know if their steak was undercooked either.