Although fine cuisine is normally the hallmark of a great restaurant, some venues strive to provide an unforgettable ambiance as well. From locations in some of the most exotic or iconic places in the world, such as the Eiffel Tower or atop the Rocky Mountains, to a cliff in Italy or a castle made of snow, there are certain restaurants that should be visited not only for the food but for their unforgettable surroundings and locations. Here are 10 restaurants around the world that will not only satisfy guests’ taste buds but also provide a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
13. El Diablo Restaurant – Teguise, Spain
This restaurant probably offers the world’s most unique concept of a barbecue: the food that is served here is cooked using heat from an active volcano 6 feet below the kitchen.
The restaurant was built on 6 layers of basalt rock to ensure the safety of patrons (and besides, the volcano has been peaceful since the 19th century). In addition to the chefs’ novel food preparation technique, the views from the restaurant of the surrounding volcano and the red landscape of Lanzarote’s Timanfaya National Park are also amazing, especially at sunset.
12. Sarnic Restaurant – Istanbul, Turkey
The setting of this restaurant is historical and unique: the dining area is located in a 1000-year old Roman cistern, gently lit by iron chandeliers. The ceiling is domed, supported by six stone piers. It’s located in a historic part of the city, at the top of a hill at the end of a narrow Ottoman-style street, behind the St. Sophia.
This means its ambiance is not only spectacular but also quite educational, as it highlights the city’s varied history. Sarnic serves classic food from the region and offers live music for guests.
11. 360 Degrees Restaurant, Phuket, Thailand
This restaurant is set in a tropical paradise near the picturesque Layan Beach in Phuket, Thailand, perched atop a hill with a view of the nearby Andaman Sea. As the name of the restaurant suggests, dinners and drinks can be enjoyed while overlooking incredible, 360 degree views of Phuket as the sun sets.
The view is also beautiful and relaxing during the day, as visitors can gaze out at the ocean and lush greenery underneath the tropical sun while enjoying a specialty cocktail. The quality of the food is said to match the quality of the restaurant’s views: the presentation of the food is wild and exotic and features fusion flavours from around the world.
10. Stuckli Sky Dining – Dinner in a Ski Lift in Sattel, Switzerland
Breathtaking views over the Swiss Alps can be enjoyed from the mountaintops in a specially-equipped revolving ski gondola. The views in this restaurant are boundless; visitors can gaze at the sunset over the mountains while being served an appetizer, main course and dessert in the cozy gondola.
Those who choose to dine at this restaurant in the sky will quite literally enjoy their dinner, which features regional specialties, “between heaven and earth.”
9. Snow Castle Restaurant – Kemi, Finland
Hotels carved from the ice or snow – and their corresponding restaurants and bars also carved out of ice – have become a trend in recent years, popping up in many cold countries over the winter months. One of the most well-known “snow” hotels and restaurants is located in Finland.
The Snow and Ice Castle Restaurant in Finland is rebuilt every year and opens for the winter season around the end of January, with unique architectural features and ice sculptures that vary year to year. At the restaurant, patrons can dine in temperatures that are kept at around -5 Celsius (chairs carved from the ice are covered with furs) while enjoying the establishment’s regional-inspired specialties such as salmon or perch.
8. Tree Pod Dining – Soneva Kiri in Koh Kood, Bangkok
The dining experience at Soneva Kiri is a bit surreal: patrons can dine in a private woven bamboo pod suspended 16 feet up in a tree. The experience of dining in a treetop pod is a little bit like a childhood fantasy: guests can imagine, for just a little while, that they are actually living in a treehouse.
To get to the treetops, guests are seated in the pod, which is then carefully hoisted into the tree. As they are enjoying gourmet food, they will be serviced by personal waiters who reach the pod via a zip line. The pod overlooks the stunning surroundings of the area’s tropical vegetation and the nearby aqua blue coastline.
7. Labassin Waterfall Restaurant – Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort, Philippines
The Labassin Waterfall Restaurant offers lunch to patrons who are actually seated at bamboo tables located directly in the spillaway of a dam. The relaxed atmosphere allows guests to dangle their feet in the water as they enjoy their meals in this exotic setting.
Unfortunately it’s not a natural waterfall, but the sparkling waters and surrounding lush green forest still offer a memorable and scenic natural location to have lunch. The food at this rural location features local Filipino cuisine, including fish and fruits served buffet-style.
6. Sky Dining at The Singapore Flyer – Singapore
It’s definitely more luxurious than a carnival Ferris wheel: the Singapore Flyer’s Sky Dining offers dinner patrons incredible views of a sunset over Marina Bay Sands. The Singapore Flyer is the world’s largest observation wheel. It offers a VIP dining service to guests, who board a semi-private dining capsule.
The multi-course meal unfolds as the sun sets over the magnificent panoramic views of Singapore. The rotating wheel moves slowly enough that guests do not feel the movement as they enjoy their meal.
5. Le Jules Vernes – Paris, France
Le Jules Vernes is located in one of the most iconic places in the world, the Eiffel Tower. Located on the tower’s second level, the dining room of Le Jules Vernes highlights views of the surrounding city.
Dining at this restaurant may also be one of the more relaxing ways to visit the landmark: patrons can ride a private elevator, avoiding the crowds and long waits. The food that is highlighted at the exclusive restaurant, which is run by Alain Ducasse, is classic French cuisine, featuring multi-course meals paired with wines.
4. Treehouse Restaurant – New Zealand
Another restaurant that draws upon the whimsical concept of dining in a treehouse, the Treehouse Restaurant in New Zealand offers patrons stunning views from the tree-tops of a forest. Patrons can enjoy fresh, seasonal foods as they are served in a unique pod-shaped dining room that is suspended 10 meters high in the trees.
The restaurant is set amongst a wilderness setting about 45 minutes from Auckland, New Zealand. This architecturally very unique restaurant has views that are stunning during the day and the pod itself is lit beautifully at night.
3. Outdoor pop-up dinners in Ferrara, Italy
This chic, secret and romantic outdoor pop up restaurant – called Street Dinners – has been organized once a year in the city of Ferrara, Italy. (The fifth “pop up dinner” will take place this year in September.) Those who wish to participate in the experience purchase a ticket which includes aperitifs, a table and chairs, and two dinner menu choices. Guests must provide their phone number because the secret location where the dinner will take place is announced at the very last minute via text message and Twitter. Participants receive three messages: the first text message announces where the aperitifs will take place, and then an hour before dinner time, instructions are given about where to pick up the table, chairs, place setting and the selected dinner. Finally, a third text message tells diners where the meal will take place. The unique concept has become a massive hit. The dinners usually take place in a scenic location and include music and entertainment.
2. Grotta Palazzese – Polignano a Mare, Italy
In this Southern Italian restaurant, open only during the summer months, patrons can enjoy spectacular views of the Adriatic Ocean from inside a limestone cave.
This unique setting, along the rocky shores of Italy’s scenic and historic coast, is almost something out of a fairy tale – or a sleek James Bond movie set.
If guests to the restaurant time their visit well, they can also enjoy a spectacular sunset and then at dusk, the deep hues of the gently-lit dining area will be complemented by the crisp, sparkling blue waters of the ocean outside.
1. Ithaa Undersea Restaurant – Rangali Island, Maldives
This has been called the most beautiful restaurant in the world, and for good reason: situated 5 metres or about 16 feet below sea level, the Ithaa restaurant is literally located underwater in the blue waters of the Maldives. Its dining room, surrounded by a glass ceiling and walls, provides patrons with panoramic views of the vibrant waters, coral reefs and schools of fish, sharks and other natural ocean life that will swim around serenely as guests enjoy a multi-course meal. The exclusive restaurant serves lunches and dinners that feature modern European cuisine, including delicacies such as lobster and caviar. The food and drinks are luxurious, but the real draw is of course the spectacular undersea views.
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