Disclaimer: This list does not pay homage to our traditional 24/7 diners or mom + pop cafes. The stakes are higher than ever as customers are demanding more than a waiter placing their meal in front of them with a smile and a “Is there anything else I can get you in the meantime?”. Actually, since you asked, yes there is. We as a society wish to be able to jump in a pool of sprinkles at the Museum of Ice Cream and to eat transparent pumpkin pie at Alinea…These are the unusual and exuberant experiential dining experiences that are hot on the market.
Have you ever dreamed of game hunting with your 5 best mates in the Scottish Highlands with a glass of whiskey? Neither have we, but now we are going to start. Smoky Barrels has brought the World’s first virtual hunting social entertainment concept to London. Using cutting-edge Swedish technology they have transformed the traditional sport of hunting into a multi-player simulation game. Paired with fresh game meat entrees and craft cocktails it is an experience not to be missed.
Tasted, tested, and tried by top restaurant critics such as Pete Wells, Korean two-time Michelin Star restaurant, Atomix, is an open concept kitchen that allows their tasting menu to shine through their beautiful plating and sophisticated atmosphere. Customers flock to New York in order to experience their spectacular small plates packed with larger-than-life flavors, which (according to former diners) is very much worth the money.
JoJo’s is a modern-day diner with trendy, over-the-top milkshakes and shots with a sugary twist. With adorable decor consisting of an actual milk bar wall veiled under rows of 1950’s vintage glass milk bottles, murals of Chicago favorites such as Bill Murray, and teal stools and chairs lining wooden counters and tables, this dream of a bar is an experience on its own.
Mini Golf got a facelift! Say goodbye to outdated and corny courses. Puttshack is mini golf reimagined. Inspired by arcade and fairground games, the courses are decked out in neon lights, bright colors, and vintage props. With upscale interactive courses, high end drinks and casual dining, it’s the perfect date night spot! And best of all, no need to keep score, with never seen before technology, the game will keep track for you. This trendy venue has locations in London and the surrounding area as well as plans to open multiple locations in the US, so keep your eyes out in the coming year!
Located in Miami, Palme D’Or is a French restaurant known for their High Tea, tasty dinner menu, and, drum roll please, cheese trolley! You heard me right. A Michelin Star chef delivers this beautiful cheese cart to your table for you to pick and choose French, Italian, and other international favorites.
Movie watching has just been elevated to new levels with Silverspot Cinema; a sleek new take on movie theaters that involves the latest films combined with food beyond overly salted nachos and your classic popcorn. With over thirty menu items and a full bar, waiters can bring your orders directly to your cushy recliner seat because let’s admit it, leaving in the middle of that new movie you’ve been dying to see for a refill on popcorn is one of the ultimate downfalls for all movie-goers.
What happens when you combine the best aspects of Pinstripes, Nickle City, and Rock Box bar. Punch Bowl is an adult-playground of arcade games, music, bowling, unreal food, and even better-crafted drinks. Feel like karaoke? Belt it out. Pac-Man? Let’s have a four-player game! Shake or fan-favorite Watermelon Polo Bowl? Why not both. All play, no work, live large at Punch Bowl or go home trying.
Iconic Chicago restaurant and bar, Maude’s is the perfect date night spot. Speaking from someone who has personally dined there, their food and drinks are more than noteworthy, however, their appeal lies inside the restaurant itself. Their beautiful dark, alluring aura accompanied with elegant dimmed chandeliers and huge leather-bound booths, will make you come for the pate and stay for the sexy atmosphere.
McDonald’s? Sure. Burger King? Why not. LEON? Game-changing! With the traditional fast-food experience, we all know and love, LEON wanted to create a healthy alternative in which customers can customize their meals based on dietary restrictions and food preferences. Not only are their ingredients sustainably sourced from their own family of food growers, but they also offer amazing breakfasts, treats, and even deliver. I mean, does it get any better?
In New York looking for an insanely cool bar with amazing food, great Japanese sake, and to top it all off, a vinyl jukebox to play new and classic hits. With only 18 seats, this record bar is hot on the market with their family-style foodservice and late-night DJ sessions. Definitely worth stopping by if you’re ever in the neighborhood.
Want to tour Paris or London on a swanky bus while eating gourmet food? Who wouldn’t?! The Bustronome offers you a double-decker tour bus with a panoramic terrace and chef-prepared French gastronomy. Stopping at some of the world’s most iconic landmarks such as a priority access pass to the Arc de Triomphe or Buckingham Palace (depending), it’s hard to not enjoy the views while dining on some of the most delicious food and wine out there.
Cat-lover’s I’m looking at you! Be prepared to be me-wow’d (sorry, I had to) with Meow Parlor; “New York City’s first cat cafe”. Grab a macaroon or two while enjoying a friendly furry face. With twelve foster cats all up for adoption, it’s hard not to stop inside for a coffee and a belly rub or two.
Not a fan of cats? Have no fear, the Dog Cafe is here! The Los Angeles cafe is dedicated to cuddling up to a rescue pooch while enjoying a nice hot cup ‘o joe. With constant new pups being brought in, it’s worth stopping in to play with adorable 2-year-old Basset/Dalmation mix Georgie or puppy-eyed 4-month-old Rottweiler/Husky mix Raven. After 10 minutes of looking at these pups through the Dog Cafe’s site, there is a very good chance I’ll be booking my flight to LAX in the next few days…
Four pizzerias. One bus. You and me. Let’s do it. A dream come true, Scott’s Pizza Tours offers public and private events for customers; the original NYC pizza bus, Crosstown pizza walk, pop-up pizza tour, Pizza Party bus, and No Limits Pizza Quest. With 63 New York pizzerias to choose from, it’s hard to say no to Scott’s Pizza Tours. Anyone else’s mouth-watering?
Ninja New York is all about the entertainment. With actual ninja’s swinging from the rafters, it’s hard not to be amazed by the acrobats and the lavish, equally show-stopping, food. So much fun for younger kids or even those just looking for a bit of a thrill.
For all those planning a trip to London, there’s a super trendy bar calling your name. The Alchemist Bar is a “creative cocktail bar” located all across the country. Hard to miss, the ambiance has been described as edgy with a cozy twist and their drinks as inventive and delicious. Dedicated to being “unconventional, dark & controversial”, their mixology has remained unmatched in London’s eye.
Da Vinci’s Donuts are each a piece of artwork. With a gourmet touch thanks to the owner, founder, and head baker, Melissa Rudd, she has offered flavors that have wowed every customer that has walked in their store. Having been recognized by magazines and online shows, their cake-like donuts made headlines across America. As yours truly is a Chicago-native, I’m thankful they
Located amongst the hustle and bustle of NYC, Noda is an omakase or a Japanese restaurant in which the chef lays out your member. Riddled with 5-star ratings and a communal table that seats only 8 people, this beautiful restaurant is ideal for special occasions. Being served by one chef and a handful of other diners creates a very intimate experience for you as the customer.
London restaurant and bar chain, Mr. Fogg’s, has over 6 locations across the country. With an adorable Victoria era vibe, they offer TONS of events on their calendar. Almost every day is dedicated to a new concept or theme… I’m talking more than I can even scroll through on their site. From a day of Dockside live music to Fogg’s New Years’ Eve Masquerade Ball. Who wants to join me to Tom Carradine’s Cockney Sing-Along?
Raved by top magazines and critics, Momotaro is one of Chicago’s gems serving modern Japanese cuisine. James Beard Awarded, executive chef Gene Kato, strives to immerse you in his culture through using everything from Japan. Even the Japanese white charcoal (Sumi) used for their iconic robata grill. From the food, plating, or decor, there are many concepts that put Momotaro on this list. My new year’s resolution? To find out which one is my favorite.
Another Chicago-born restaurant, Tanta is dedicated to its unique Peruvian-inspired dishes and flair. Everything from their eating utensils to the paintings and artwork hanging on the wall screams the bright and vivid culture of Peru. Unfamiliar with this type of cuisine? Well so was I, however, I couldn’t seem to put the fork down when handed the Peruvian corn cake and pork fried rice. Topped with an amazing outdoor roof-top bar, Tanta has become a tie between Chicago and Peru culture.
As if being located in the magical Ibiza, Spain wasn’t cool enough, Sublimotion has been pegged as the “World’s most expensive restaurant”. Not only experience for your wallet (poor thing), you begin being escorted by Land Rovers and end at the Willy Wonka meets Alice in Wonderland type dining experience of walls displaying colorful projections around the communal, 12-seat table. Each backdrop the walls project reflects the meal you about to enjoy. Sublimotion is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.
With an adorably loud Italian aesthetic, the Chicago Pizza Boss food truck is roaming the Wind City with mouthwatering menu items. With over 15 wood-fired pizzas to choose from, it’s hard to pick between the spicy Hell Fire Kiss or a classic Neopolitan. If their food doesn’t lure you in, then maybe their two giant Italian pizza ovens on top of their truck will at the very least peak your interest.
Hate human interaction? Who doesn’t? Spyce serves locally sourced nutritious fast food with service help from robots. Yes, you heard me right. With 7 robots behind their open concept kitchen, you can watch your food being prepped in one of the “cooking woks” in less than three minutes. It’s hard not to feel good when walking out of Spyce knowing you ate a delicious, healthy meal while also supporting the environment with Spyce’s sole use of electricity and water as their energy source. A robotic hat’s off to you and the team, Spyce.
The uber mysterious Please Don’t Tell bar or PDT for short, is a speakeasy-styled hang out located in Lower Manhatten. Extremely hard to get in without a reservation, the bar is hidden under the mask of Crif Dogs restaurant. It’s all worth the bizarre entry (through a phone booth, of course) once you are served their specially crafted cocktails and delicious bar food.
Prepared to be “Wow’d” the second you step into “Chicago’s Best Drag Show”, Lips. With rows of elaborately decorated tables and chandeliers dripping with crystals, it’s near impossible to shut your mouth when taking in the intricate routines of their performers while being signature apps named after some of the Queens. Nothing says a good night like scream-singing along to Mariah Carrey and bottomless mimosas. Did someone say future Bachelorette venue??
A gourmet Italian dining experience with some of the freshest, local, and seasonal ingredients? Sure, of course. But in your own home? I mean, does it get any better? Chef Andrew curated and founded the idea of Via Alba as he wanted to bring the complexity of Italian cuisine to the comfort of your own home. Each menu is designed specifically for your event and planned carefully with Chef Andrew himself. Able to cater to up to 200 guests, the Via Alba team guarantees an exceptional meal that makes you feel like your dining right in the heart of Tuscano Italy.
What’s white and green with plenty to go ‘round? St. Louis’s Twisted Ranch restaurant. With nearly 40… yes, 40 different flavors of the ranch, Twisted Ranch are for the true ranch lovers with nearly everything on the menu able to be dipped in one of the iconic sauces. Can’t decide which to try? No big dill (ba dum tss). Order up the “Ranch This Country Flight 13” where you can choose 13 different flavors with a basket of fries.
Thursdays are about to become your new favorite day of the week thanks to Thursday Kitchen. This New York spot introduces what owner and chef, Kyungmin Kay Hyun, says is the “New Korean”. This tapas meets Asian cuisine is the intersection where foods such as kimchi paella and eel tacos are born. With live music, good vibes, and even better food, Thursday Kitchen will make you think: TGIT!
Milk + T is focused on 4 concepts we can all get behind: self-serve boba, natural ingredients, decreasing waste, and serving incredible and quite aesthetically beautiful drinks. Traveling the roads of LA (and two other walk-in shops), this boba truck allows customers to choose everything from sweetness level to preference of boba and toppings.
Probably the most interesting cafe to look into (and the next restaurant on my bucket list), the Seattle Blind Cafe is geared to “create award-winning positive social impact”. Their mission is to fully immerse their customers in a pitch-black restaurant and perform live acts, music showcases, and many more interesting experiences. Hoping to spark up conversations between guests without the modern distractions of our phones and crippling social anxiety (thank you social media), there’s a reason this cafe has been written about in TEDx and visited by pop star Katy Perry.
When visiting NYC’s Evil Twin Brewing, prepare to be amazed by their absolutely stunning Greenhouse with levers of on-tap, in-house brewed beers lining the walls for you to help yourself and grab a seat at one of their picnic table-style benches. Someone order me a pint of “That Yoga Studio Used To Be A Really Cool Dive Bar” or a “The Hardest Thing About Parking My Electric Scooter Is Double Blackberry Blueberry Raspberry Pancake Lassi Gose”. Yes, those are real names on their draft list, and yes they sound and look amazing.
The Magic Castle takes their clubhouse very seriously. Allowed only if you are invited by an Academy member, you must review their dress code and rules before entering. Once in, sporting your most elegant wear, you will be treated to dinner and, of course, a magic show. This castle is the end all be all for all aspiring magicians. With 4 types of memberships, it is not an easy feat to get in. Even the Junior Magician membership requires an audition in front of the Academy’s Junior Committee. Exclusive to say the least…
Bistro. Bowling. Bocce. These three B’s belong to Pinstripes, a delicious restaurant-bar that delivers bowlers and bocce ballers a place to hang out and enjoy a drink or two. Catering to corporate events, weddings, kids, and everything in between, Pinstripes has a menu and entertainment even for those that swear against the sports. With a relaxed yet formal vibe, they’ll gladly steer you away from those dusty bowling allies with cheap nachos and sub it out for a tenderloin slider, a signature Salty Dog drink, and a state-of-the-art ally.
Social media influencers (21+) and news reporters alike, listen up! The Original Cannabis Cafe is all the rave. Walking into their modern, earthy decor, one would never think their motto is marijuana. Being the first restaurant and lounge to break this barrier, they pride themselves on integrating two separate menus; one for their dispensary quality joints, vapes, edibles, and so forth, and the other for their amazing salads, sandwiches, and snacks.
This unique bar located in St. Louis is exactly how it sounds. Offering card readings on the weekends, this place is an awesome hangout for the mysterious and superstitious. Even if you’re just a little-sticious or not-at-all-sticious (Michael Scott, I’m looking at you) this bar has super cool drinks, a great gothic aesthetic, and note-worthy bar.
If I ever achieve my dream of getting a boat, you betcha I’m going to be parking it in Christmas Cove in the Virgin Islands, right next to PiZZA Pi: the boat that makes and delivers New York-style pizzas from it’s floating oasis. With a pizza-oven and pick-up window boarded on, you can literally come up for air while snorkeling, grab yourself a slice, and continue on your way. This food-truck-turned-boat has combined two national treasures: pizza and soaking up the sun.
Founded by Chef Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas, this James Bead Awarded restaurant is the Next big thing to hit Chicago. With a menu that constantly changes to explore worldly cuisines, they offer up beautiful pieces of art on the plate in front of you. In classic Chef Achatz style, he takes you through his world-view with absolutely stunning plating through meticulous placement and planning, it almost pains you to stick a fork in it.
SmallMan Galley is for big dreamers. This space interchanges restaurant concepts by bringing in aspiring chefs and restauranteurs to present and show off their skill and dishes in a full kitchen and a 200 seat audience. If you’re one of those hopeful chefs reading this, then know the owners are there to help in every aspect of your restaurant. From the curation of the menu to the organization of staff, they want you to succeed just as much as you do. This brilliant concept has launched some insane new restaurants. Yours can be next.
Welcome to Chicago’s renowned farm-to-table gourmet dining experience. This tasting menu restaurant changes its menu daily, all depending on what is in season. The stunning atmosphere makes you feel like mother nature herself. With plants and wood detailing decorating every aspect, their aesthetic of “fresh” shines through beautifully. I’m telling you, the dishes and decor themselves are worth a Google search, they are that remarkable.
Swinging halfway around the world, restaurant Prive De Dessert in Paris France has some tricks up their sleeves. This place is sure to fool you with their dinner entrees that embody desserts and their desserts that embody entrees. Order the profiteroles? Receive steak tartar and fries that look exactly like the cream-puff pastry. Want the steak with puree? Receive a brownie with caramel sauce instead. Mind blown? So is mine.
Hotpot alone is an experience for the customer as they can BBQ their Korean meats and veggies as they prefer. Some argue that a classic hotpot just doesn’t feel right without some bubble tea. Well have no fear, Xiang Hotpot is here! With their Insta-worthy half tomato broth, half milk tea broth, you get both salty and sweet. Dipping anything from red beans to mini Oreos in the sweet side to the pork beef and spicy fried dough on the savory side. Or vise-versa, if that’s how you roll. Hey, I’m not here to judge. This spot will skyrocket your expectations on hotpots.
SafeHouse in Chicago is the city’s worst-kept secret. This popular spy-themed restaurant and bar will have you living out all your James Bond fantasies. Accommodating of all ages, their themed menu items, and intriguing decor makes this spot amazing for the family. SafeHouse’s only mission is for you to kick back, relax, and enjoy a Cuban Missle Crisis sandwich and a tall glass of Espionage.
As adorable and kitschy their name may sound, The Fat Duck is everything but that. Chef Heston Blumenthal takes his visions of food very seriously, pegging the dining experience as a “journey”. In almost Alice in Wonderland-like fashion, Chef Blumenthal brings his guests through some of his favorite childhood memories with a map substituting a menu and the goal of getting your “nostalgia ball rolling” through his dishes. If a 4-hour-long journey that triggers all five of your senses doesn’t sound magical, then I don’t know what does.
This must-try spot in Nashville is quickly making headlines in Eater Magazine, Good Morning America, Reader’s Digest, etc. Why the concept of pairing a beautifully fluffy Brioche donut and a deliciously juicy sausage-dog inwrapped by their Brioche bun has made everyone question their life goals. Experience their food solo or take it a step further and fully immerse yourself in their Brioche baking technique with their workshops. I don’t think I’ve said Brioche so many times and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it.
Extremely hard to miss, this rainbow-themed restaurant has everything. From their carnival-like interior to their vast food and drink options, The Bubble Room is amazing for the days you want to escape into your own little fairy tale world. With the adoring theme of “It’s always Christmas in the Bubble Room”, it holds a whimsical atmosphere dedicated to the theme such as the Elf room and an insane amount of Christmas lights. The rainbow ones of course.
Everyone loves a good beautifully-made burger. However, the question here is whose making said burger? Or should I say, “what”? Creator has developed the “#freshestburgerever” with its assembly line robot. Dispensing each ingredient at a time to eventually build up the classic hamburger we all know as love, Creator has perfected the way burgers as treated, handled, and sourced from. It’s truly a sight to see and worth a YouTube search. Better yet, if your ever in the San Francisco area, be sure to order one of their eight signature burgers and watch the assembly unfold before you.
Home to some amazing suites, entertainment, and most importantly, dining, the Buffet at the Wynn hotel has been voted as Las Vegas’ best buffet multiple times for multiple reasons. Walking in, you can’t but gasp as the towering flower arrangements amongst the white pillars and bright patterns of the chairs and awnings. With over 15 live-action cooking stations and over 120 different dishes to choose from, their pastries, seafood, and everything in between is something you almost dread to leave in Sin City. If you’re a buffet fanatic such as myself, then, my dear, it seems we have places to be!
An amazing opportunity to show your friends your artistic side all while enjoying a glass of wine or two (or three), Studio Cellar can make that happen with their paint and sip events. New to the world of Bob Ross? Take an instructional class that comes with alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to help stir up some creativity. Maybe your a struggling artist just dying to let loose. A freestyle class may be more your speed which also comes with the ability to order drinks in the studio. Whichever you choose, your guaranteed a good, tipsy, time.