Here in the U.S., we’re spoiled by fantastic restaurants all across the country, serving the best sushi, delicious BBQ and out oh-so-delectable pizza. But, sometimes, you and your group crave more than an outstanding meal. If you’re looking for an all-around experience, an ordinary white tablecloth spot just isn’t enough. Enter the concept of the themed restaurant. From coast to coast, there are plenty of wacky, unique, oddly themed eateries—whether you want to feel like a ninja or chow down on more garlic than you thought yourself capable of eating. Here is a list of some of our favorites.
Themed restaurants in America
This railroad-themed restaurant has been delighting diners since it opened in KC in the mid-60s. At cherry-red vinyl booths among RR memorabilia like wooden train sets and crossroads sign, visitors order tried-and-true burgers, crinkle-cut fries and thick milkshakes, then wait for a ceiling-mounted “train” that runs on tracks to deliver the order right to the table. It’s an old-fashioned good time that kids, in particular, are sure to love.
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jennifer J.
Leave it to Vegas to host this over-the-top restaurant where waitresses dress up as nurses and the kitchen serves the most unhealthy, heart attack-inducing food you can possibly imagine. Customers don hospital gowns as they await towering, loaded burgers that range from “Single Bypass” (one patty, various strips of bacon) to an awe-inspiring “Octuple Bypass” (eight patties, 40 strips of bacon). Fries are cooked, unsurprisingly, in pure lard, and shots are served in those little plastic prescription pill containers. Customers weighing over 350 pounds eat for free and, if you dine here regularly, that goal begins to seem attainable.
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Heart Attack Grill
Located within a stone’s throw of Colorado Springs’ small city-owned airport, the Airplane Restaurant is housed within a converted KC-97 U.S. Air Force tanker. Diners can sit at small tables within the plane itself or in “the terminal,” an attached dining room. While the food isn’t anything special—don’t expect much more than burgers, fries and a few straightforward salads—the fun involved in chowing down on non-airplane food while inside an airplane is, well, totally worth it.
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jessica H.
This unique Nashville restaurant combines an aquarium visit with a seafood restaurant: a bit of a strange idea to chow down on the very creatures you’re observing but, hey, whatever works. Diners are seated around a 200,000-gallon aquarium, where they can take in marine life such as tropical fish, sharks, stingrays and more. Fish is at the center of the menu, too, with offerings such as clam chowder, a lobster “tower” with avocado and black beans, and crab-stuffed shrimp. Several times a month, guests are treated to a “Mystic Mermaid” show, where “mermaids” dive into the tank and put on a choreographed-to-music performance.
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Marcus B.
Founded in 1931 as a pay-what-you-can cafeteria, Clifton’s was recently renovated, restored and reopened. Today, diners tuck into comfort food fare like turkey pot pie and mac and cheese across all five floors of this enormous space. With a jaw-dropping forest theme featuring intricate murals and a huge “tree” that spans each level of the restaurant, the ambience is the real draw here. While the menu prices are no longer left up to the diner, at least the Wi-Fi is free.