If you’re considering going to Olive Garden for the third time this week, stop right now and consider some creative alternatives.
Instead, visit one of these wacky restaurants for unique dining experiences that put good fun, fantasy and more on the menu.
Dick’s Last Resort, multiple U.S. locations
Customers take delight in the sarcasm and rudeness as they are forced to wear paper hats saying things like “will give lap dances for $1” and “I eat the little chocolates out of the litter box.”
Few jokes are off-limits as waiters direct customers to fake bathrooms and shout rude comments at guests and each other. Dick’s has locations across the United States, from San Francisco to Orlando.
As the website says, “Dick’s Last Resort is known for its outrageous, surly, and energetic servers who dish out good grub, cold booze and heaping helpings of sarcasm.”
Just don’t take your 4-year-old here unless you’d like to add some words to her vocabulary.
The Stinking Rose, San Francisco
This garlic-centered restaurant serves its eager customers more than 3,000 pounds of garlic every month.
And the garlic fun is not limited to the food. The Stinking Rose’s walls are adorned with animated garlic characters, and the restaurant is filled with garlic-themed collectibles.
The world’s largest garlic braid winds its way through the restaurant, keeping the pungent smell in the air as customers dine on garlic-filled dishes like Forty Clove Roasted Garlic Chicken and salmon in a lemon butter garlic caper sauce.
Just think, if your date turns out to be a vampire, you’ll be all set.
Ellen’s Stardust Diner, New York
With the slogan “home of the singing waitstaff,” the restaurant entertains guests with professional-level renditions of Broadway tunes and popular songs.
Dishes like the Dean Martin (spaghetti and meatballs) and the Jerry Lee Lewis (a buffalo fried chicken and blue cheese wrap) highlight the diner’s throwback vibe.
There are 1950s-era films playing on authentic 1956 Predicta televisions to complete the transition to another world.
Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den, Minneapolis
The dark mad scientist lab interior features mixologists who concoct masterpieces like strawberry jalapeno tequila, bubblegum vodka or Earl Grey tea-infused gin with orange bitters and egg yolk.
Gory zombie movies play on the TVs, guests sit in dark booths, and employees dressed like zombies hang around, adding to the creepy vibe.
As owner Donny has told customers, “Sorry, we’re fresh out of brains. Can I get you a Bloody Mary? I’ll put extra blood in it.”
Conflict Kitchen, Pittsburgh
The restaurant’s cuisine rotates every couple of months to serve foods from a hot spot with which the United States is in conflict.
As the cuisine changes, so do the distinctive food wrappers. Each time a new location is featured, the food wrappers are printed with interviews with people from that place on topics like health care, the arts and the economy.
Former versions of the restaurant have served Iranian, Cuban and North Korean foods.
Currently, the Palestinian territories are being featured, and the menu boasts treats like maftoul (a garlicky chicken and couscous dish) and tamar Hindi (chilled tamarind juice with rose water).
The Duce, Phoenix
Take a boxing class and then enjoy the all-day brunch menu before sidling up to the 1915 Chicago drug store soda fountain for a creamy dessert.
Everything is made from scratch in “Duchess,” the 1965 Airstream trailer. Choose from menu items including gooey macaroni and cheese muffins, baked cinnamon pecan French toast or Pabst marinated chicken sausage sliders. Or just order them all. We won’t judge.
An hour of kickboxing surely warrants eating all of the cheese and ice cream you could ever want.
Trailer Park Lounge, New York
If a bathtub full of beer bottles and the Elvis and Dolly Parton memorabilia don’t make you feel like you’re in a trailer park at the Trailer Park Lounge, the literal side of a trailer mounted on the wall will.
Chow down on a thick sloppy joe, Frito and tater tot chili or a classic Double-Wide burger before enjoying a Moon Pie for dessert.
Make sure you bring your camera to truly capture the kitschy dive bar atmosphere.
Really get into the mood with a giant margarita, the signature “Jim Bob’s I.Q.” (a surreptitious stab at TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” patriarch) or some good old PBR.
Safe House, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Whether you’re an actual escaped convict or just someone who wants to play spy for the day, the secrecy surrounding Milwaukee’s Safe House is enough to get anyone’s blood pumping.
After 8 p.m., guests need a password to confirm that they are friends, not foes. As the website says, “Hint … Control never turned away agents on the run because they didn’t know the password.”
Not only is the uber-spy atmosphere an experience in and of itself, but customers can also play blackjack and enjoy an intriguing magic show while they eat.
The upscale cuisine includes dishes like the Sean Connery (herb-buttered flame-broiled steak) and the Soviet Defector (beer-braised baby back ribs).
If you become obsessed with Safe House, you can jump up a clearance level by joining the Very Important Operatives membership group, which offers discounts and your own code name.
Ninja New York, New York
Sushi with a twist is a definite understatement when it comes to this 1800s-inspired Japanese dining experience.
The dark New York restaurant is a mazelike “ninja village,” with iron bars and cold stone lining the walls. Guests travel down narrow corridors to be seated, and then, after ordering fresh sushi dishes, the fun begins.
At any moment, a sleek ninja could jump out at you from a shadowy corner and scare you with a series of tricks or slight-of-hand illusions.
Make sure to order a dish marked with a special presentation symbol to receive your meal with lights, fire or intricate karate chops.
The Exchange Bar and Grill, New York
This is one of the few restaurants where the price of your drink changes from day to day … and you control it!
At the Exchange Bar and Grill, the prices of alcoholic beverages fluctuate in 25-cent increments with supply and demand. There’s a real-time stock market style ticker above the bar so you can keep track of price changes.
The fewer customers who order a specific drink, the lower the price drops.
While the fully stocked bar is the main attraction, popular foods like fried Oreos and waffle fry nachos leave customers raving.