When I was growing up in suburban New Jersey, the most unusual thing about any of the restaurants within a 10-mile radius of my neighborhood was that one of them had a free gumball machine in the entry vestibule. Actually, it wasn't technically free. It was more like the regular kids, like me, knew that if we jiggered the handle just so, it would generally dispense with a gumball, while leaving our quarter untouched, for us to retract until next visit. This either says something about me and my friends, or just how banal this part of New Jersey was. Suffice it to say, kids growing up anywhere near the following 10 amazing restaurants are going to have much more to blog about when they grow up!
1. Opaque, USA
At the moment, there are three Opaques in California. One in San Diego, another in Santa Monica (Los Angeles) and a third up in San Francisco. There are also others planned in cities like Las Vegas. The basic idea of Opaque is simple: you eat an entire meal served by blind (or visually impaired) waitstaff in complete darkness. It's an idea that apparently first surfaced in Zurich. In our era of information overload, visual stimulation can be maddening, right? But imagine, just for an hour or so, abandoning vision in exchange for a new, more stimulating dining experience. I have yet to go to the one near me in Los Angeles, but maybe if enough of you leave comments asking me to, I’ll venture across town and try dining in the dark and then give you a full report.
2. Lumi Linna Castle, Finland
3. Sounds of Silence, Australia
I know what you're thinking: This place is owned by Simon & Garfunkel, right? Wrong. At the Sounds of Silence, you dine under the canopy of the desert night, while your very own storyteller shares tales as told in the stars. Entered into the Australian Tourism Hall of Fame, the Sounds of Silence experience lasts four hours, as you sit under the outback sky.
4. Treehouse Restaurant, Japan
5. The Dining Pod, Thailand
But if eating in trees is your thing, a much more interesting option is probably The Dining Pod on Koh Kood Island in Thailand. Perched atop a cliff, looking over the rain forest, you start with drinks and stunning views to the sea beyond. Then, when it's time to eat, you and three other diners are elevated 16 feet up a tree by a system of winches.
6. Singapore Flyer, Singapore
Sixteen feet is one thing, but this one wouldn't work for me... nope. Not at 165 meters in the air! Yes, it's the world’s largest observation wheel, the same height as a 42-story building. I'll pass on the views of Singapore from the Flyer restaurant, which look stunning from the safe distance of my laptop screen, thank you very much. But if these sorts of things appeal to the Knievel in you, by all means! I wonder if the restaurant's prices are equally as, er, high.
7. Star Tower, Taiwan
8. The Rock, Zanzibar
When the tide is out, you can walk to this one. But once the tide rolls back in, you'll need a boat. Anyone ever been to East Africa? Did you eat here? Let us know what it's like!
9. Aescher, Switzerland
Up we go again! This restaurant is built onto the side of a mountain in the Swiss Alps. If you want to eat up there, you'll need to take a cable car from the town of Wasserauen. For more info, you can visit this site, which is mostly in German. Having studied the language for two semesters in college, I can tell you that this restaurant is close to what sound like some pretty interesting caves.
10. Ithaa, Maldives
From 16 feet in the air at the Dining Pod, we move to 16 feet below sea level at Ithaa, the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island's undersea restaurant. It's the first all-glass, undersea restaurant ever built in the world! The coolest thing about this restaurant has to be the 180° views of reef and marine life. The menu consists of Maldivian-Western fusion cuisine. In case you didn't know, the Maldives is a little country near India's Lakshadweep islands and is formed by 26 natural atolls, the Maldivian word for island.