Envisioning a unique restaurant concept for your new business is no easy task. The most successful restaurant concepts are ones that provide diners with an experience they’ll never forget, yet market saturation is making it more difficult to deliver an experience that is truly unique.
So what’s a new restaurant owner to do? Well, first you need some inspiration. So we’ve put together a list of 100 innovative restaurant concepts to get your creative juices flowing.
Rangali Island, Maldives
The world’s first – and only – under the sea restaurant offers its guests a 270-degree panoramic view of the Maldives’ sea creatures, with a 14 seat capacity.
2. Dinner in the Sky
Over 45 countries worldwide
Bring your dining experience to new heights at Dinner in the Sky. This one-of-a-kind restaurant, suspended 160+ feet in the air, can accommodate 22 brave diners and three staffers.
3. Parallax Restaurant
Mammoth Lakes, California
Your luxury snowcat chariot awaits! This high-altitude dining experience takes place slopeside at Mammoth Mountain Inn – 9,600 feet up – overlooking the snowcapped peaks of the Eastern Sierra landscape.
4. El Diablo “The Devil”
Las Palmas, Spain
El Diablo’s cook top is nothing short of extraordinary. Located on a Spanish Island, this restaurant cooks its meals over an active volcanic hole in the ground.
5. Sur un Arbre Perché
Looking for a unique way to unwind? Sur un Arbre Perché gives you just that, as you’re seated in a swing for the entirety of your dining experience.
A restaurant supporting the deaf community, Signs gives diners the unique opportunity to use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate with their staff.
New York City, New York
Ever hear of a $1,000 frittata? Norma’s creative breakfast concept comes with a hefty price tag, but with good reason: the frittata is made with one pound of lobster set on a bed of fried potatoes and finished with a pile of caviar. But don’t worry: you can also get a “cheap” version for $100.
Owned by undertakers, Eternity makes for a spooky dining experience. The restaurant is built to mirror a life-size coffin. There are no windows, and funeral paraphernalia is used as decor – even the menu is inspired by death.
9. The Disaster Café
Loloret de Mar, Spain
Looking for an earth-shattering dining experience? The Disastre Cafe will deliver, with 7.8 richter scale earthquakes simulated during meals.
10. Devil Island Prison Restaurant
Devil Island, China
Ever dined in jail? You can at Devil Island Prison! Upon entering, patrons are assigned numbers, photographed, and fingerprinted. The restaurant itself resembles a prison, with sliding jail doors, metal floors, and iron bars. Guests dine in prison cells, served by waiters in black-and-white striped inmate uniforms.
Toronto and Montreal, Canada
Experience food, drinks, and conversation like never before, by leaving your use of sight at the door. While dining in complete darkness, you’ll be served by visually-impaired waiters.
12. Ninja Dining
New York City, New York
If you’re looking for a unique restaurant in NYC, this warrior-themed restaurant’s waiters are dressed like ninjas that deliver your order with a side of nunchuck tricks. That’s definitely something we haven’t seen before!
Clarke Quay, Singapore
Dining at this medical-themed restaurant involves entering through a “morgue”, being seated in a wheelchair at an operating table, and sifting through a surgical instrument drawer to get your hands on some cutlery.
14. Forbes Island
San Francisco Bay, California
Visit this floating island in Sea Lion Harbor for elegant American fare, along with views of Alcatraz and sunbathing sea lions. Built in 1975, Forbes Island tops off this unique experience with it’s underwater dining rooms and bar.
Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
Diners at Rogo’s are required to place their orders on a tablet, which will then be delivered right onto their plates via a 12-meter tornado spiral.
16. Homewood Mountain Resort
Lake Tahoe, California
Enjoy mountaintop dining at this established ski destination, reachable by a scenic ride on the Qual Chairlift. Each summer chefs host a series of Farm-to-Peak dinners on the mountaintop, featuring delicious culinary creations and a bird's-eye view of Lake Tahoe below.
17. RAW Canvas
At first glance, RAW Canvas looks like your classic wine bar and tap house, but once you head downstairs with your drink in hand, you’ll find yourself in an art gallery where you can creatively explore your inner Picasso.
Run by children (ages 5-12), this Amsterdam restaurant aims to teach these youngins all the nuances of operating a restaurant. Attached to a daycare, these children learn the tricks of the trade as chefs, cashiers, and dishwashers – with a helping hand from some adults, of course.
19. The Five Fishermen
Now a fine seafood restaurant, The Five Fisherman was previously a funeral home that housed victims of the Titanic in 1912 and victims of the Halifax Explosion in 1917.
20. Steam Plant
The Steam Plant was created as a tribute to the industrial revolution, allowing diners to dine in a massive steam boiler while they are served favorites like Manila clams in Cutter’s Pale Ale, which is brewed on site.
21. Chill Out
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
This refrigerator lounge requires patrons to suit up in thermal clothing – parkas, shoes, and gloves – in order to enter the Inuit-inspired oasis. Inside, a complimentary drink awaits to help them defrost.
San Francisco & Los Angeles, California
This multisensory experience in California includes unusual food, music, and dancing, as well as experimental and avant-garde live performances. And that’s not all – guests enjoy a four-course internationally inspired meal, while lounging fashionably on white beds.
23. A380 In-Flight Kitchen
A380 is modelled to resemble the inside of a plane, with faux oval-shaped windows, baggage compartments, as well as a speckled blue seats. Guests are served by waitresses dressed as flight attendants – but thankfully, there’s more than chicken and fish to choose from.
24. Villa Escudero
San Pablo, Philippines
Dining at Villa Escudero means enjoying a meal while seated at the foot of a waterfall, feet submerged in calf-deep water.
25. Beetle House NYC
New York City, New York
Zach Neil’s inspiration behind his Tim Burton restaurant was a combination of the visionary director’s films, the music of The Cure, and the art of Salvador Dali. Paying “tribute through food and drink to all things dark and lovely”, their cocktail list includes a “This Is Halloween” and a “Coco Skellington”.
26. The Lockhart
This magical Toronto bar has attracted Harry Potter super fans since day one, with its references to the beloved book series, from its decor to its cocktail menu.
27. Terry Bison Ranch
All aboard the lunch train! At Terry’s Bison Ranch you’ll find a type of cuisine that you might find looking you in the eye. Hop on to munch on some of Wyoming’s famous bison burgers while traveling through the prairies, with bison moseying along the tracks.
28. Kayabuki Izakaya
You can’t avoid monkeying around at this Japanese restaurant. Animal Welfare approved, you’ll be served by a range of five adorable monkey butlers.
29. Dick’s Last Resort
Throughout the U.S.
If there’s one thing you won’t find at this American restaurant its manners. The Dick’s wait staff earns a living by being jerks to customers – and they encourage the same in return!
30. Meow Cat Cafe
This adorable Toronto kitty cafe run is by a mother-daughter team. While you’re getting your caffeine fix, you can conveniently play with some furry feline friends.
31. Cannibalistic Sushi
The type of cuisine is all in the name; fully committed to the cannibalistic theme, waitresses dressed like nurses wheel out your sushi, in the shape of a body, on a gurney. They’ll use a scalpel to make a cut to the “abdomen”, exposing the delicious sushi within.
32. Four Seasons Resort Whistler
Take your après-ski to the next level with this heli-dining experience. A helicopter takes diners atop a glacier for an open-air buffet with stunning views of backcountry horizons.
33. Tongabezi Lodge
These treehouse chalets, equipped with candlelit decks that jut out over the Zambezi river, allow diners to experience a sundown dinner like never before.
34. Pay As You Please
Set your own price at this quirky Irish cafe. Serving simple fare, such as pizza, soups, and salads, Pay As You Please’s unique business model sure brings people through the door.
35. High Finance Restaurant & Tavern
Albuquerque, New Mexico
To dine on this observation deck 10,378 feet in the air, patrons must glide 2.7 miles on a tramline, passing the rugged rock faces above Rio Grande Valley. At the end of the trek, they’re met with green chile chicken alfredo and New York strip steak.
36. Post Office Pies
It’s not everyday that you’d head to the post office to grab a slice. In the former historic Avondale post office, this unusual pizzeria has earned a spot on Thrillist’s list of 33 best pizza shops in America.
37. Porridge Cafe
While this was a pop up, the creative breakfast idea that was the Porridge Cafe is still worth mentioning because we’ve never seen a restaurant concept so dedicated to sprucing up what is traditionally a boring breakfast item. Diners were able to choose from a rotating menu of 11 grains, including buckwheat and quinoa, with interesting toppings like persimmon compote, chia seeds, papaya, and agave nectar.
38. Safe House
Based on the CIA definition of a safe house, this “top secret” restaurant requires a password for patrons wishing to enter the establishment.
39. Barbie Cafe
Licensed by Mattel, this cafe is a dream come true for any Barbie lover. Exploding with all things pink, servers sport tutus, while patrons take in everything Barbie around them.
40. Conflict Kitchen
This restaurant serves only dishes inspired by countries that the U.S. is in conflict with. Based on headlines of the day, recently the kitchen was dishing out North Korean food, in the spirit of Kim Jong Un.
41. Princess Heart
This Tokyo restaurant makes their diners feel like royalty: upon entry, customers are lead to a full-length mirror where they’re prompted to ask, “Who’s the fairest of them all?” – before being seated in a throne and being crowned.
42. Sultan's Tent and Café Moroc
Jump into the alluring culture of North Africa in the heart of Toronto’s downtown. Enjoy an evening of belly-dancing and delicately seasoned Moroccan fare, amidst the exotic jewel and spice colored hues of tented lounges and Moroccan decor.
43. “So You Think You’re A Foodie”
Guests are always in for a surprise at this Chicago restaurant, seeing as they don’t know what they’re getting until it’s served. Each month features a different whole-animal feast prepared by chef Brian Jupiter, but diners only find out what will be served once it appears on their plate.
44. The Elbow Room Cafe
The Elbow Room offers great fare, alongside an unusual element of surprise: at anytime, patrons could be shouted out and insulted by the cafe’s staff.
Niagara offers a one-of-a-kind railway experience. After placing an order at the meal ticket vending machine at the entrance, customers are seated in passenger-car-style seats and delivered their meals by way of an entertaining model railway delivery system.
46. Napa Valley Wine Train
Napa Valley, California
This Napa Valley restaurant takes wining and dining to the tracks. In restored 20th century Vista Dome cars, patrons glide past vineyards in California wine country, from the unique confines of this mahogany-clad train car.
If you think you’ve had fresh seafood, this Tokyo restaurant will make you think again. At Zauo, guests are handed a fishing rod and some bait, after which they’re told to go fish.
48. Namale Fiji
This resort in Fiji lets guests dine under a cave archway on the edge of the Koro Sea. Decked out with tiki torches alongside the lava rock, customers enjoy the breathtaking rainforest vistas while sampling the catch of the day.
49. The Ledge at Skydeck
Comfort food reaches new heights at The Ledge at Skydeck, serving famous Chicago deep dish pizzas from Giordano’s or Oysters Rockefeller, in a collection of private glass boxes extending beyond the 103rd floor of Willis Tower with the city lights sparkling 1,353 feet below.
50. The Singapore Flyer
Hop on the world’s second largest observation wheel, offering butler-serviced dinners in private capsules. Indulge in a four-course meal while rotating 540 feet above landmarks like the F1 Circuit and Collyer Quay.
While enjoying some delicious Pan Asian cuisine, Circus diners are surprised with spontaneous performances. Whether acrobatics, juggling, or just some clowning around, guests don’t know what they’re in for until it takes place before them.
52. Tommy Guns Garage
Get taken back in time at this speakeasy-themed restaurant. You’ll feel like you’re among the likes of Al Capone, as everyone’s dressed daringly and flapper-ish as though they’ll be wining and dining with famous 1920s outlaws, before a music and comedy show.
53. Soneva Kiri
Koh Kood, Thailand
A must do for the adventurous diner. Guests enjoy unique cuisine while dangling from a nest-like treepod in a dense forest above the breathtaking coastline of Koh Kood. Zip-lining waiters come and go, serving some of the island’s greatest dishes.
54. Bors Hede Inne
Entering this fully Middle Ages-themed restaurant asks guests to leave modern gadgets like cellphones and cameras at the door in order to enjoy the 14th century-inspired grub.
55. Clifton’s Cafeteria
Los Angeles, California
Originally opened in 1932, there’s nothing ordinary about this hip and remodelled restaurant. From stuffed bison to a giant fake redwood towering through the middle of the restaurant, California’s past is alive and well at Clifton’s.
56. Lucky Cheng’s
New York City, New York
A pioneer of the concept of being served dinner by glamorous drag queens, Lucky Cheng’s serves up a three-course Asian-American meal, with a side of a cabaret, comedy and Asian dance performances by other drag queens. This unique restaurant in NYC is a full dining–entertainment package that gets diners talking well after they’ve left the place.
57. The Santa Fe Opera
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Kick tailgating up a notch at The Santa Fe Opera. Enjoy a car-side feast of fancy dinner boxes, with flank steaks and spinach tarts, that takes up the parking lot three hours before the curtains open.
58. The Yurt at Solitude
Salt Lake City, Utah
Diners are guided on an “evening snowshoe adventure”, along a lantern-lit pine forests, after which, for $125 a person, a group of no more than 24 guests can enjoy a gourmet meal prepared by chefs right in front of them.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
This Western-style diner at ridge-top Amangani is a winter highlight. Enjoy moonlit vistas of the Gro Ventre Butte while traveling through the National Elk Refuge, before entering a warm tepee where guests tread to a feast of free-range buffalo, prime ribs and salmon.
60. Jekyll & Hyde Club
New York City, New York
Come witness Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” come to life at this English gothic restaurant, complete with animatronic ghouls, and crazy men in capes.
61. Fife & Drum
This restaurant in Massachusetts has taken prison food quite literally, as all meals are prepared by prisoners, as a part of the Northeastern Correctional Centre culinary program. In order to come dine, customers must pass through security at the prison, where they can enjoy a prix fixe, made-from-scratch meal, for the price of $3.21.
New York City, New York
Lone diners rejoice! ICHIRAN’s aim is to strip the dining experience of all unnecessary distractions – including social interaction – to enhance the sensory experience of ramen-eating. You’ll be seated solo at what’s called a “flavor concentration booth” to be left along with your thoughts and your soup.
63. Twin Stars
The name says it all: this Russian restaurant is staffed completely by twins. The pairs are dressed in identical outfits, while tending the bar and serving guests burgers and pizza.
64. Casa Bonita
An eclectic hodgepodge of entertainment with a restaurant attached, Casa Bonita has everything from wandering musicians to arcade games, but the Acapulco-style cave divers jumping into the indoor waterfall and pool is a crowd favorite.
65. Hajime Robot Restaurant
No need to tip your server at this high-tech Japanese restaurant – all guests are served by Hajme robots, fully equipped to dish out any item from their 100+ dish menu, bus tables, and entertain guests with a dance or two.
66. Harvey Washbangers
College Station, Texas
This “state of the art” laundromat allows you to go grab a burger at the restaurant connected, while you wait for your clothes to dry. Located next to Texas A&M University, Washbangers is a hit among college students.
67. Mars 2112
New York City, New York
You’re in for a truly out of this world experience, at this unique NYC outer-space themed restaurant in Times Square. You’ll find costumed alien hosts, Martian red lighting, accompanied by otherworldly-named cuisine and cocktails.
68. Redwoods Treehouse
Warkworth, New Zealand
This pod-shaped structure, situated 32+ feet above the ground, is only accessible via an elevated treetop walkway, made of redwood that’s been milled on site. The breathtaking venue is used mainly for private events, with a 30 guest capacity.
69. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
Throughout the U.S.
With 16 locations worldwide, we have the Oscar-winning film Forrest Gump to thank for this cinematic inspired seafood experience. Check out the quirky menu names “Bubba’s After the Storm Buck of Boat Trash” or the “I’m Stuffed!” shrimp.
This cafe in Japan allows you to spend your coffee break with a few felines. Evening visits are a special treat, as guests get to witness the kitties feast on cat food in glass food bowls arranged in a circle around a floor lamp.
71. Dirty Candy
New York City, New York
A restaurant where vegetables are the main attraction? This type of cuisine may not sound like a lot of fun, but chef Amanda Cohen’s vegetable-focused restaurant takes the vegetarian concept to its most logical conclusion. Dirty Candy is New York’s first vegetable-focused restaurant in the city and “leader of the vegetable-forward movement”.
72. Tonga Room
San Francisco, California
Step into 1940’s Tiki culture at this kitschy restaurant in California, where cocktails are served in tiki vessels and indoor thundershowers take place every half hour.
73. Rattlesnake Saloon
Built beneath a cliff overhang, guests at the Rattlesnake Saloon get the full experience of dining among the landscape’s natural beauty. The saloon’s Old West theme serves up fares like “giddy-up sticks” and “chuckwagon nachos”
Who needs breakfast in bed when you could have dinner? The acronym stands for beverage, entertainment, dining – and you’ll get all three...in bed!
75. De Culinaire Werkplaats
Dining and design intertwine at this highly conceptual restaurant. Everything brought to the table is a work of art. Designers Marjolein Wintjes and Eric Meursing let their creativity flow in the kitchen, creating dishes inspired by themes like “honesty”, “flowers”, or “water”.
Tucked away beneath Barrington Street in Halifax’s downtown you’ll find Noble, an underground speakeasy-inspired bar. Located underneath The Middle Spoon Desserterie & Bar, you’ll require a password to enter, with a new one being released each Thursday.
77. Palms Thai
Los Angeles, California
While Palms Thai serves up some highly rated Thai food, their fare isn’t their claim to fame. Instead, patrons visit Palms Thai to watch “Thai Elvis” perform his hits.
Offering a breathtaking panoramic view of Reykjavik and beyond, the Perlan gently completes a full rotation every two hours.
79. Oasis Cafe
Who knew some of the best falafel in the Chicago is found in the back of a jewelry store. Oasis Cafe serves classic Middle Eastern specialties for under $7.00, ensuring you’ll have some left over cash to spend diamond shopping afterwards.
80. Modern Toilet
Taipei City, Taiwan Province
This quirky restaurant started off selling chocolate ice cream in containers shaped like mini toilets, but then the concept took off, resulting in what is now a full on bathroom-themed eatery.
81. The Heart Attack Grill
Nevada, Las Vegas
Sometimes unique cuisine comes with a side of health risk. Never has a restaurant been more unapologetic about serving unhealthy food than The Heart Attack Grill in Sin City. Founder Jon Basso carries around a “bag of ashes”, that he claims belonged to a patron who died of a heart attack at their restaurant. Long story short: beware the 10,000 calorie burger.
82. The Airplane Restaurant
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Hop on board the 1953 Boeing KC-97 tanker, as an ode to Aviation history, to enjoy some flight-themed menu items, like “runway crunchy chicken strips” and “air tower nachos.” There’s just one catch – you never leave the ground!
You’d better come hungry when visiting Hackikyo in Japan, or you’ll pay. To honor the dangerous conditions Japanese fisherman undergo to put food on their plates, this restaurant will actually fine you if you don’t finish every piece of food on your plate.
84. The Magic Castle
Los Angeles, California
This castle-esque mansion from the early 1900s is known for serving up entrees like strip steak and penne with rock shrimp, along with a side of magic. To enter, diners must say “open sesame” to a bookcase.
85. M. Wells Dinette
New York City, New York
Located in the Museum of of Modern Art PS1, in a building that used to be a red brick schoolhouse, M. Wills Dinette is an homage to the location’s history. In keeping with the restaurant theme, diners are seated at desks with plastic chairs, specials are scribbled on classic green chalk board, and gourmet meals are served on tin cafeteria trays.
86. De Kas
Michelin star chef Gert Jan Hageman converted this 26-foot high glass building into a restaurant and nursery. You won’t find fresher ingredients anywhere else, as those used at De Kas are harvested in the field at sunrise on the same day you’re dining there.
87. The Bubble Room
Captiva Island, Florida
This electric restaurant on Captiva Island is decked out with classic toys from the 1930s and 40s, with moving trains that circle all three floors. What started as a small, one-room eatery has grown into a multi-themed restaurant, occupying all three stories of the house it originated in.
88. The Pointe Restaurant
Diners at The Pointe Restaurant in Tofino are blessed with a 240-degree view of the pounding surf as it crashes into the rocks surrounding the Pacific Ocean.
89. The Catacombs
Several stories below Bube’s Brewery in Lancaster, diners enjoy fine wines, local brews, and classic delicacies, surrounded by stone-lined vaults. Before descending to their table, patrons are taken on a costumed guide throughout the brewery, with the option of a ghost tour.
90. The Sweatshop
What better way to spend your caffeine buzz than trying your hand at stitching together the latest in French fashion? The Sweatshop in Paris combines coffee and crafts, making your cafe-lounging experience a bit more productive than usual.
91. Oasis Surf
Get that heart rate up so you can guiltlessly stuff your face! This Montreal restaurant gives you an indoor surfing complex and restaurant, all in one.
92. REM Eiland
Enjoy a dining experience 22 meters above water at this towering sea escape off the coast of Amsterdam. The restaurant is open for lunch and three-course evening meals, within the confines of a former pirate radio and TV station.
93. The Varsity Downtown
Famously known as the world’s largest drive-in, The Varsity Downtown has been greeting customers through their car windows with, “What’ll ya have?” since 1928. If their delicious burgers and fries don’t win you over, then their entertaining car hops sure will.
94. Christon Cafe
This Biblical-meets-gothic themed restaurant in Tokyo brings an unusual holiness to the dining experience. Where else can you dine under a crucifix with coffin-shaped menus while organ music plays in the background?
At the top of bucket lists of many foodies, you’ll find Chicago restaurant Alinea. The food takes on a true art form, with menu items including sea urchin and snow, which has secured Alinea as number seven on San Pellegrino's World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
96. Fortezza Medicea Restaurant
Similarly to Fife & Drum, Fortezza Medicea is a behind-bars eatery. Guests are served by actual inmates – fittingly – along with plastic cutlery.
97. Trailer Park Lounge
Chelsea, New York
If you’re looking for kitschy in the heart of NYC, Trailer Park Lounge has you covered. With everything from pregnant beer-guzzling mannequins to lit up Santas and a non-working toilet out front, this venue has been deemed the pinnacle of white-trash memorabilia.
98. Zingara Cucina
Zingara Cucina is champion of weird locations; from car parks to laneways, bridges and galleries, this restaurant has no fixed address and frequently changes location.
99. The H.R Giger Bar
This bar is attached to the H.R Giger Museum and devoted to the Swiss surrealist painter, sculptor, and set designer famous for his work on Alien. Although the H.R only serves alcohol, the interior is nothing short of a visual feast.
This Japanese concept cafe has taken a fascinating twist on classic open-air design, combining its interior aesthetic with street traffic. The cafe is situated on a pre-existing parking lot, with bold white traffic markings and asphalt as clear as day, extending this relaxed space into the urban environment.
About the AuthorMore Content by Jackie Prange