13 Unique Dining Experiences Across America

Because a meal that comes with a magic show is a surefire way to change things up a bit.
13 Unique Dining Experiences Across America image

photo credit: Richard Casteel

We all have restaurants in our life that we can rely on for a great roast chicken and glass of wine. But sometimes you want a meal to surprise you, either through new flavor combos that’ll make you question why you’ve never put foie gras in a musubi before, or an experience full of wafting smoke and thundering sound effects. When you’re looking for a restaurant worth planning a trip around, or simply just want to take a break from your ordinary neighborhood spot, we’ve got some ideas for you. 

You’ll find neon gen-z aesthetics at a climate-conscious pizza spot in SF, sit next to a ghost in a New Orleans seance lounge, and raise a flag to order sopaipillas while you watch cliff divers at a restaurant in Denver



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$$$$Perfect For:Date NightDrinking Good WineQuiet MealsSpecial OccasionsUnique Dining ExperienceImpressing Out of Towners


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Archipelago is about as Pacific Northwest as owning multiple pairs of rock climbing shoes, but you can’t find a meal like this anywhere else in Seattle. The tasting menu spot has a 10-seat dining room and takes creative liberties with Filipino classics: The halo halo has “pineapple” ice made from pines and apples (the tropical fruit doesn’t grow in the PNW), and their imagining of sinigang has plum, green apple, or rhubarb broth instead of tamarind. While you’re marveling how a riff on banana ketchup made with caramelized squash is somehow better than the original, the owners will be cracking UW vs. WSU jokes to really make you feel at home in the land of third-wave coffee spots.

photo credit: Gab Bonghi


Pizzeria Beddia is one of the best pizza spots in Philadelphia, but it’s also home to one of the most intimate, special dinners you can have in the city. Located in a private back dining space, the Hoagie Room is a pizza and sandwich omakase where you can share Cantabrian anchovies, slices of their garlicky tomato pie, and decadent hoagies in a dimly-lit room with a Warhol print on the wall. The two-hour experience also gives you access to the restaurant’s sizable wine collection—simply point at which displayed bottle you’d like to purchase. The night gets capped off with soft serve, and for $75 a person, it’s a solid deal for an unforgettable meal.

photo credit: Jessie Clapp


This tiny sushi spot, located in a parking garage below several stories of plastic surgeons’ offices, is one of the best omakase experiences in LA. The entrance is marked with a nondescript beige door with an attendant wearing a suit, and the dining room feels sleek and inviting, like the finished basement of your friend who is secretly a nepo baby. As the 20 courses start coming out, you’ll forget that you’re underneath Los Angeles—the excellent pieces of fish and even better wine pairings will have you thinking about this place constantly.


Themed bars are nothing new for Austin, but Tiki Tatusu-ya goes above and beyond. There’s a beach house upstairs, and if you descend into the mysterious cave downstairs, you’ll find a space that looks like a set from Legends of The Hidden Temple. The drink menu folds like a giant pop-up book, and the Mai Tais are made with miso-almond orgeat, but you’ll want to focus your attention on the large format drinks, which come out with flickering lights, trailing smoke, and thunder sound effects. Order one to share with bendy straws, along with plenty of snacks like the teriyaki glazed foie gras musubi and the stacked pu pu platter.


Shuggie's in San Francisco immediately feels like a different kind of modern pizza spot—the monochromatic neon green and yellow rooms look like something your mind would conjure up after drinking too much absinthe, and the furniture resembles human legs, lips, and cupped hands. They’re also unique for their all-in approach to eliminating food waste. A buffalo dish not only has wings, but also crunchy livers, gizzards, and hearts, and the crust on their signature trash pies are made from by-products of cheese and oat milk production. Come here to impress a date that’s really excited by their new home composting setup, or as an excuse to really lean into a neon outfit of your choice.


The entire entrance of Pueblito Viejo should come with a jumpscare warning—about a dozen stuffed parrots, Mickey Mouse toys, and wax caricatures will greet you on your way in. Once you’ve acclimated to the sheer amount of lights and puppets in this space, you’ll happily munch on Colombian dishes like apreas con chicharron while musical comedians roast you in Spanish. Pueblito Viejo knows it’s campy and fully leans into it, so don’t bother trying to hide from the musicians and embrace your fate. 


Ilis answers the age-long question of: “What if Noma came to Brooklyn?” The result is a great restaurant that takes itself seriously to the point of being a little bit silly. Inside the former warehouse, you’ll find lots of sneakily expensive Scandinavian furniture, a giant open kitchen, and an army of servers/chefs that could be extras from The Menu. Dishes focus on foraged ingredients throughout North America, like porcinis wrapped in lotus leaf or delicate trout baked in birch bark, but you’ll also encounter some out-there moments like a non-alcoholic Bloody Mary-adjacent beverage you’ll slurp out of a clamshell. 


This speakeasy magic theater will have your attention from the moment you find your way inside from a fake laundromat. Once you’re seated, you can order a classic cocktail like a Manhattan or Sazerac to match the Art Deco scenery, or go for one of the magic-themed drinks, like the Smoke and Mirrors featuring mezcal, amaro, and Fernet. While the close-up magic is impressive to begin with, it’s even more jaw-dropping after a few rounds of rye cocktails.

photo credit: Tabia S. Lisenbee-Parker



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Yao is a Thai-Chinese spot outside of Atlanta that guarantees an entertaining meal out. Its live music keeps things interesting for a first date, or you can plan to catch up with your college friends over weekend dim sum brunch. The menu pays homage to Yaowarat, a historic Thai-Chinese neighborhood in Bangkok, and servers will offer tableside massages alongside plates of har gow and sticky rice. 


Step into your own personal version of Barbie-land, but with a Dolly Parton twist. This rooftop lounge in Nashville is an unofficial chapel honoring the city’s patron saint, with champagne jello shots taking the place of communion wafers. It’s easy to love the French-adjacent dishes like herby moules frites, which help distract from the bachelorette parties  taking curated fit-pics by the pool. 


Walking through the extravagance of the Vegas Strip can make you feel like you’re in a deleted Capitol scene from The Hunger Games. And nothing exemplifies Vegas’ love of excess more than dining at the Garden Table. The singular table is located in a flower-bombed gazebo in the Bellagio Conservatory, so it’s great for your best friend who wants nothing more than to be bathed in attention 24/7. The lamb chops are great, but the real highlight of dining here is watching everyone craning their neck to look at you while they walk past.


New Orleans is a town well acquainted with ghosts, and while we can’t guarantee that a meal at Muriel’s will introduce you to a spirit, the odds are definitely high. You can drink a Sazerac in the dark and moody seance lounge, or on the patio overlooking Jackson Square. But don’t worry about the souls of the departed interrupting your meal. When you settle in for a candle-lit table for seafood gumbo and andouille-crusted red-fish, there’s a separate table reserved for the spirits that jovially haunt the place, set with bread and wine. 


Casa Bonita is full of cliff divers, neon pink stucco, and sopaipillas—and it’s such a legendary place that South Park even dedicated an episode to it. The palatial Mexican restaurant reopened this summer, thanks to the creators of the show. It’s one of the hardest reservations to get in Denver right now—for your own chance to wander into Black Bart’s Cave and sight the Man/Bear/Pig wandering around the space, you’ll have to get on their email list.  

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