8 Weird Restaurant Concepts That Really Stand Out

Beata Grace Beatty

Beata Grace Beatty

Beata is a Florida-based freelance writer. When she’s not researching and pitching story ideas, she’s reading, walking on the beach, fiddling with home projects, and keeping up with her two daughters.

Eating out is no longer merely a way to fill our bellies. Around the United States, going to a restaurant has become an adventure, and unique restaurant concepts are taking center stage from coast-to-coast.

A side of kitsch with your meal

The Beetle House – New York and Los Angeles

 

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At this gem (in the heart of Tribeca and one in Hollywood), every day is Halloween. Do you love horror, gothic arts, and moody music? Creator Zach Neil says customers can “…feel completely comfortable to be as freaky as they want to be.”

Tim Burton fans will love this eccentric restaurant with cocktails like the Coco Skeleton and Bio-Exorcism and bites like the Corprese Bride Salad and Edward Burger Hands. Jessica L, a Yelp reviewer visiting from Norfolk in April 2019 wrote, “This was the most fun and exciting bar I’ve ever been…I got the “Beetle’s Juice,” twice – it’s basically the best blackberry/lime margarita you’ll ever taste in your life.”

The SafeHouse – Chicago, Illinois

 

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Few unusual restaurant concepts persevere like the SafeHouse in Chicago. This place, established in 1966, is considered a  local landmark and cultural icon. Visitors and critics dub this one of the “most Instagrammable” restaurants in Chicago for both locale and cuisine, and it’s a must see!

Nylii B. from Chicago agrees, “This place is awesome, really cool, Insta-Worthy and I love their spy/agent concept…the best SPY BAR in Chicago. Hands down!”

After you sneak your way in through the hidden entrance and prove you’re a friendly agent, expect secrets passages, interactive gadgets, and kitschy, spy-themed booze and grub.

Work up an appetite just getting there

Yurt at Solitude – Solitude, Utah

Yurt at Solitude – Solitude, Utah

@solitudemoutain

Tops in the one-of-a-kind restaurant list are the outstanding, mountain-top restaurants dotting the United States. If you are in the area, don’t miss Utah’s Yurt at Solitude, which includes a three-quarter-mile snowshoe trek to a Mongolian yurt.

Daniel D. of Pleasant Grove, UT recently wrote, “Such a fun and unique dining experience. The hike in is gorgeous, and the yurt itself is wonderfully cozy…The service is impeccable…This is one meal you will not want to miss!”

Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro – Aspen, Colorado

Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro

Take a Sno-Cat ride up Aspen Highlands for a special four-course meal. Jackie G from Laguna Hills raves, “Sno-Cat ride up the hill to the bistro was an awesome adventure. The service for our party of 15 for dinner was great. The champagne, wine, salmon crudo, lobster and crab bouillabaisse, scallops with Spanish chorizo. and bean sofrito were all fantastic! Everyone should experience Cloud Nine.”

The Rim – Hawaii

The Rim - Hawaii

At the Volcano House in Hawai’i National Park, feed your heart, eyes, and belly. Overlooking the Kilauea caldera and billowing Halema’uma’u Crater, guests feast on unique Pacific-region dishes. Aisha S. from Brampton, Canada agrees, “Probably the best food on our Hawaiian trip. I had the crab cakes, best I’ve ever had…and the view was breathtaking.”

A meal by plane or train

The Wine Train – Napa, California

 

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Most travelers to wine country vineyard hop over by car or limo. Try something out of the ordinary, and enjoy the breathtaking area via vintage train. Established in 1864, Napa Valley Wine Train offers a slower pace of enjoying gourmet meals, winery tours, and special events like Murder Mysteries, holiday-specific rides, and romantic dates.

The trips are usually a three-hour, 36-mile, round-trip from downtown Napa to St. Helena. Chris V. from Palm Springs, CA writes, “To experience Napa and capture what is so alluring about wineries and experience the decadent and elegance that comes with enjoying a train meant for luxury, you have to reserve your seat on the Napa Valley Wine Train. With amazing views, great wine, and comfortable seating, we felt as if we were dining with nobility.”

The Airplane Restaurant – Colorado Springs, Colorado

The Airplane Restaurant

Air history buffs can enjoy a meal in the restaurant’s pièce de résistance, a fully intact Boeing KC-97 tanker. Built in 1953, and repurposed into a restaurant worthy of the weird restaurant concept monicker, this impressive airplane refueled aircraft all around the world.

David from Plano, TX says its a must for families and flight enthusiasts. “A lot of fun, the airplane is great with plenty of buttons to push and explore. If you have younger kids or airplane fans it’s a must.” The menu is chock-full of air history, including the Wright Brothers, and the plane’s specs. You’ll be more than satisfied with the food, drinks, and desserts.

Tasting history

The Steam Plant – Spokane, Washington

 

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Historic preservation can fuel some outstanding and unique discoveries in dining. Steam Plant Kitchen and Brewery is a prime example. For 70 years, this industrial location in Spokane housed a steam plant. Today, four massive steam boilers are restaurant seating and a waterfall and wishing well. The dining experience includes handcrafted sandwiches, wood-fired pizza, crisp salads, and tasty desserts in what owners consider a beautiful, authentic and welcoming environment.

Local Josi H. says it best, “I think the Steam Plant is one of my very favorite buildings in Spokane, it truly is. I remember being 9 years old here and wanting to explore the stacks. I have taken so many tours…the rooftop, the stacks, even of the brewery, and yes their beer is life! The stacks are beautiful. They are truly an iconic, beautiful piece of history.”

Unique restaurant concepts capitalize on social media shareability

Savvy chefs and restaurateurs are getting people to walk through their doors by capturing their senses as well as their Insta-maginations. An adventurous, epicurean spirit combined with unique and sometimes outrageous restaurant concepts in location, entertainment, and of course, food is often the key to a restaurant’s success.

You don’t have to be on the top of a mountain to focus on experience. As you conceptualize your new restaurant, focus on activities beyond eating. (Sometimes that activity is as simple as snapping a selfie in front of a beautiful wall of succulents or using a particularly beautiful bathroom.)

You should be able to answer this question: What makes my restaurant stand out?

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