More Than Just Pieces of Flair
Looking for ways to spice up your dining experience that don't involve Tabasco sauce? Here are some restaurants that will satisfy your taste for adventure, anonymity and amusement as well as your appetite.
Ninja New York
New York, New York
In New York City, we know anything can happen, and that applies to your dining experience, as well. Ninja New York is a subterranean sanctuary designed to look like a 15th-century Japanese feudal village full of dark nooks and snaking passageways. You'll need to sharpen all your senses before dining here because the waiters aren't out-of-work actors, they are athletes trained in ancient ninja principles. Your armed server will leap and silently creep up on diners. Part victim, part customer, you'll love the extreme dining experience at Ninja New York.
San Francisco, California
At the Dark Dining Dinner party, diners will stimulate their senses -- by eliminating one. Don a blindfold and put your trust in the chef at this intimate rotating dinner party that seats 20 bold diners. Andre Crump brought the concept of dark dining to the San Francisco area in 2007, and since then he's been bringing the party to a different restaurant every 4 months. The party begins with cocktails before guests slip on their blindfolds -- after which only the wait staff, fitted with military-grade night-vision goggles, can see. The experience can be both scary and sensual and gives a whole new meaning to the term blind date.
Yup, you read right, Modern Toilet in an article about restaurants. At this eatery, everything from the dishes to decor is bathroom-themed. The chairs are toilets (non-working, of course) and the walls are covered with showerheads. Owner Wang Tzi-Wei opened Modern Toilet after the success of his ice cream shop that sold swirls of ice cream served in mini toilets. Now there are 12 branches of Modern Toilet throughout Taiwan and Hong Kong. If you think this bathroom-themed restaurant seems tame in comparison to deadly ninjas or sense deprivation, then order the lemonade and curry chicken, severed in mini urinals and toilets. Go ahead, we dare you.
In Waxahachie, Texas, you can find some of the best Cajun comfort food in the state with a side of paranormal activity, to boot. Owners Richard and Anne Landis resurrected a dilapidated Victorian home in 1984, creating Catfish Plantation. After a series of strange occurrences, a team of paranormal experts was brought in. They quickly deemed the restaurant haunted by 3 ghosts -- former residents Will, Caroline and Elizabeth. These 3 cause tip money to levitate off the tables and sometimes brew coffee for Melissa in the morning. Caroline is implicitly against drinking alcohol and may break your wine glass to communicate her point. This is one restaurant where courage is as important as an appetite.
San Francisco, California
Supper Club in San Francisco is reminiscent of the popular supper clubs of the 1930s and 1940s that combined dinner and entertainment. However, this dining experience definitely kicks it up a notch. Once you pass through the restaurant's gold doors, you'll need to get your bearings and check your inhibitions. You'll pass through La Bar Rouge and enter the White Room, the core of Supper Club. Here, the performances are as daring as the menu; 10 resident artists entertain diners with risque dance moves, soaring song and tricks of the mind. The menu consists of four innovative and palate-pleasing courses designed by chef Guus Wickenhagen. You can even order an at-table massage from Supper Club's in-house masseuse.
Let loose your inner spy at Safe House. David Baldwin opened the retro restaurant and house of espionage in 1966, capitalizing on the Cold War's spy craze. To enter the restaurant, you need to know the password, although we're told that "Control" has never turned away a hungry spy for not knowing the password. Once inside, you'll see spy-holes, 2-way mirrors and a labyrinth of hidden passageways. One of the restaurant's booths is actually a secret entrance to the social club next door. Make sure you order the signature cocktail, the Spytini. Bartenders send the shaker through 600 feet of tubing that passes through every room in the restaurant before landing back at the bar and being poured into your glass.
The Republic of the Maldives
The Ithaa Undersea Restaurant at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort is located at the bottom of a spiral staircase that descends underneath the Maldives' crystal-clear water. The all-glass restaurant opened in 2005 and has become a popular destination for luxury travelers. The menu, of course, consists of seafood, but if eating the creatures you can see swimming past your table seems a little too weird, order the beef rib eye or rosemary veal jus. Act fast to score a table at Ithaa. The restaurant's steel structure is protected from corrosion by a coast of zinc paint, but the saltwater and marine growths that adhere to the paint will eventually break it down. Which means that Ithaa will have to resurface in the next 15 to 20 years.