I’ve been spending a lot of time in American diners while abroad, not because I particularly miss my American roots (though hearing a little bit of Elvis every once in awhile never hurt) but because themed restaurants in any capacity entertain me like no other. Maybe it’s the feeling of walking into a whole new world. Maybe it’s the break in the string of seemingly identical venues. Maybe it’s the chance to explore my nerdy side while feeding myself at the same time. Whatever the case, themed restaurants and cafes make me happier than a kitten with a ball of yarn or women in shampoo commercials. Here are some of my favorites:
Giger Bar – Chur, Switzerland
Designed by Swiss artist H.R. Giger, the Giger Bar in Switzerland borrows the futuristic style of James Cameron’s sci-fi film Alien. Giger, who worked on the design team that won Alien the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, used incredible attention-to-detail when creating the venue, right down to the furniture which resemble the terrifying creatures that made his film so famous. As long as you can stomach sitting on the skeleton of a mythical creature all night, Giger is the place to be. (And as a bonus, a new Giger location is expected to be announced 2014. Seattle and NYC are among the places being considered.)
The Way Station – Brooklyn, New York
Featuring Doctor Who themed cocktails and a Tardis in place of a restroom (as expected, the inside is supposedly larger than it first appears), The Way Station in New York is a hit amongst the city’s Whovians. Though they can’t guarantee an appearance from The Doctor, the restaurant can promise a fantastic burlesque show and an eccentric and lovable staff. So bring your Sonic Screwdrivers down to this bar and get your nerd on.
Witches in Britches – Melbourne, Australia
Who says Halloween only comes once a year? In this horror-themed restaurant, patrons can enjoy spooky meals served by vampires, witches, and monsters alike. If the creepy props and waiters aren’t enough to scare your socks off, the accompanying horror show should. And if that doesn’t do it, well then at least they tried.
Red Sea Star – Eliat, Israel
Sitting six meters under the surface of the ocean, Red Sea Star is a unique restaurant dedicated to making its guests feel like regular mermaids and Spongebobs. The venue, which boasts an underwater-themed interior filled with large windows on the walls and ceiling, is also the world’s only underwater observatory. You may not want to sleep with the fishes, but those interested can gladly eat with them.
Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Anyone who likes blood and gore will love Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den, a low-key, zombie-themed restaurant in Minneapolis that promises to indulge all your weird Shaun of the Dead and Walking Dead fantasies. All of the drinks are original and handmade, meaning you won’t find them in any other bar. (You also won’t find another place that makes the bar look like the workplace of a mad scientist.) Complete with “emergency weapons” in case of a zombie attack, including a chainsaw mounted to the wall of the front door, Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den is a must-see attraction.
Boeing 747 Restaurant – Mokpo City, South Korea
Though the restaurant portion shut down a few years ago, when Boeing 747 was up and running, it was certainly a sight. Capable of holding over 150 tables, the restaurant provided passengers (I mean, patrons) with a view of a busy runway (I mean, highway) and offered a history of the plane before it was packed with hungry citizens.
The World of Warcraft Restaurant – Beijing, China
Hard-core gamers no longer have to worry about giving up their obsession to make time for silly things like meals or bathroom breaks. In 2008, two Chinese businessmen launched a WoW restaurant in Beijing that featured “Alliance warriors guarding the main dining area” and “WoW-inspired dishes like Ogrimmar Pork Chops, Dun Morogh braised prawns or Darnassus shark fin.” Fans with enough prestige points in the game could even get a discount on their meal. Unfortunately, the venue shut down in 2011 due to the poor economy.
Cardboard Café – London, United Kingdom
Using over 8,000 cardboard boxes, architects at B3 Designers fashioned a café constructed almost entirely out of cardboard. Though the structure was only temporary (the company created it as part of London’s 2008 Design festival), it definitely showed how interesting a recycleable restaurant could be. Luckily, none of the food was cardboard themed.
Honorable Mention: Star Wars Themed Restaurant – Orlando, Florida
No one can say that Disney is not taking advantage of its acquisition of Lucasfilm. According to reports, the Universal Orlando resort aims to open up a Star Wars themed restaurant in the future, and will allow guests “to choose between having breakfast with Darth Vader and other Star Wars characters or eating dinner with Mickey and his pals dressed up in the popular Star Wars attire.” Go there, I will if money, I have.
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