10 of the Most Unique Dining Experiences Across the Country

We’ve scoured the top food authority sites, blogs and food enthusiasts to bring you the 10 most unique (and some slightly strange) dining experiences from Chicago to Napa Valley!

 

Wine Train Dining in Napa Valley

Who’s Pick: Fodor’s Travel

The plush Napa Valley Wine Train takes the concept of wine and dine onto the tracks, in restored 20th-century Pullman or Visa Dome cars. As you glide past the vineyards of California’s wine country in the mahogany-clad train car, savor delicious bites, such as the tenderloin in a Cabernet Sauvignon reduction.

1

A Reclaimed Bank and a VIP Vault Room

Who’s Pick: Twisted Sifter

Located in Chicago’s Wicker Park, The Bedford reclaimed a historic private bank from 1926 and transformed the space into a supper club. The 8,000-square foot (743 sq. m) lower-level interior features terracotta, marble and terrazzo, all reclaimed and restored from the original bank. Inside the VIP vault room, the walls are lined with more than 6,000 working copper lock boxes.

2 

Ninja New York

Who’s Pick: Reader’s Digest

In a review in the New York Times, Frank Bruni describes Ninja New York as “a kooky, dreary subterranean labyrinth… You are greeted there by servers in black costumes who ceaselessly bow, regularly yelp and ever so occasionally tumble.” Designed to look like a 15th-century Japanese feudal village full of dark nooks and snaking passageways, you’ll dine amongst stealthy warriors—the waiters—who roam, romp, and perform tricks, all the while serving sushi and sake. Just call it Japanese fare mixed with martial arts flair at its best.

3

High-Altitude Dining at the Ledge at Skydeck Chicago

Who’s Pick: Fodor’s Travel

Comfort food is taken to new heights at The Ledge at Skydeck, which serves famous Chicago-style stuffed pizzas from Giordano’s in a collection of private glass boxes that extend beyond the 103rd floor of Willis Tower. Or opt for Oysters Rockefeller and three-hour short ribs to complement the city lights sparkling 1353 feet below.

4

Joanie’s Blue Crab Cafe

Who’s Pick: The Food Network

Take two steps outside Joanie’s Blue Crab Cafe and you’re likely to spot an alligator — or two, or three. Located in the heart of the swampy Everglades, this crazy restaurant is surrounded by tons of the meaty reptiles, which diners enjoy in the form of chili, ribs and, most popularly, deep-fried gator nuggets.

5

The Airplane Restaurant

Who’s Pick: Travel + Leisure

Putting the diner in airplane dining, this Colorado Springs landmark is on a mission, code name: delicious. Owners gutted a decommissioned 1953 Boeing KC-97 military tanker to make room for booths and a bar, decorating it and the main restaurant spaces with tons of aviation memorabilia. Naturally, the menu is loaded with aviation puns and references as well, such as the Philly Flyer sandwich and Air.  Tower nachos. For more information on the Airplane Restaurant, click here.

Find Colorado Springs restaurant deals.

 6

The Cave

Who’s Pick: CNBC

The Cave is the nation’s only restaurant located in (you guessed it) a cave, serving American steakhouse/seafood and Italian fare. Located in Richland, Missouri, the space may not get much natural light, but it has waterfalls, fish ponds, and even a view of the Gasconade River. The space began as a natural cave that served as a dance hall in the 1920s, situated three stories up on a limestone bluff at a campground (visitors can still rent the cabins). Back then it was not spacious enough for 225 to dine, as it is today; the rest was carved and blasted out over the course of four years.

7

B.E.D Miami

Who’s Pick: One Click Wonders

Instead of breakfast in bed, how about dinner? B.E.D. stands for beverage, entertainment, dining, and that’s exactly what you get…in bed! Executive chef Vitor Casassola’s menu includes cold appetizers like camembert tempura and tomatillo guacamole and entrees like surf & turf and Chilean seabass. And for dessert, an edible “pillow” called Cloud 9 Souffle.

8

Opaque

Who’s Pick: Cheat Sheet

Located in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, Opaque diners enjoy their meals in a pitch-black room after selecting their menu items in a lit room. The theory proposed by the restaurant is that when a diner’s visual senses are cut off, other senses such are heightened which makes for a delicious dinner!

9

Heart Attack Grill

Who’s Pick: Thrillist

One of the few places in Vegas where the food and the waitresses will raise a diner’s blood pressure! This famous hospital-themed joint, Heart Attack Grill specializes in artery-clogging, four-patty Quadruple Bypass burgers, and serves anyone who weighs in at over 350lbs for free. See more deals on dining in Las Vegas.

10

9 Ways to Know You’re Spending Too Much on Food

I’m on a list post kick, so here goes…
1. You go to Starbucks, ever.
But it’s so good.
Coffee
2. You can’t figure out why your savings account isn’t growing 
(and you don’t take lavish trips, buy high-end clothes, or have all the latest electronics).
Piggy
3. You cringe at the thought of purchasing a $40 shirt, but have no problem selecting the $40 filet at an upscale steakhouse.
Because it’s totally worth it.
Steak
4. You’ve become a regular at the lunch cafe in your office building.
Unless you work for Google, we’re assuming you dish out at least 10 bucks a day there.
Lunch
5. One time you packed your lunch.
That one time.
Brown Bag
6. You are in awe of people who eat to live, rather than live to eat.
They chomp on granola bars while composing reports, throw back some raisins and call it a lunch. Dinner is optional.
Granola
 
7. Going out to dinner is one of your favorite activities.
Maybe most favorite.
Restaurant
8. You’ve never used a restaurant deal or discount.
You’ve heard of them but it’s too much work to find one you want when you want it.
Percent
9. You don’t know what Cravor is.
Cravor makes it easy to see all the restaurant deals in you area. Make it your first step to spending less! Visit cravor.com on the web or your mobile device today!
CRAVOR_final-logo-w--tagline

7 Things That Annoy True Foodies

1. People who “hate” foods they’ve never tried.
Anne: Ew, gross. How can you eat raw fish?
Foodie: It’s delicious. Have you ever tried sushi?
Anne: No, never. I hate sushi.
Sushi
2. Dining out with someone who’s on a diet.
Joy: I think I’m just going to have an appetizer.
Foodie: Okay, well I hope you brought a book to read while I enjoy my second and third courses.
Appetizer
3. People who think Ramen Noodles are solely a college student’s cuisine.
Joe: You’re eating Ramen? Are you poor?
Foodie: I topped it with steak…
Noodles
4. Having to eat an entree at a wedding reception.
Foodie: I’ll just fill up on cocktail hour hors d’oeuvres, then smear the dinner around my plate to look like I ate some of it.
Wedding
5. Coworkers who bring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.
Mark: Mmm, this is so good. I’ve eaten the same thing for lunch since third grade.
Foodie: Can this day get more depressing?
PBJ
6. Chain restaurants that have recently discovered avocado, or kale, and use it as a marketing strategy.
Generic-chain-restaurant-commercial: Try our new chicken wrap (which is really our old chicken wrap but now with… avocado!)
Avocado
7. People who can’t pronounce quinoa.
Mary: What’s a kin-o-wah salad?
Foodie: I don’t know.
RestaurantGirls

Another Dinner Deal!

Photo from yelp.com

Photo from yelp.com

A few days ago, we found a deal on Cravor for a new downtown restaurant. The Bull Market is a stock-market inspired restaurant with a pretty neat menu and great location. Last night we checked it out. We enjoyed the sliders with tasty fries and a unique twist on quesadillas – chicken, goat cheese, and strawberry salsa. I had a blueberry margarita that was sweet and refreshing. We ended up getting $8 off the bill by using a Groupon that gave us $20 to use for only $12. Looking forward to trying more restaurants with deals. Keep you posted!

Eating and Earning

Restaurant deals are a great way to save money. Another dine-savvy tip is to sign up for rewards programs and earn points at participating restaurants. Over the weekend, we took a trip about three hours north to Cocoa Beach, FL. We searched for restaurants offering deals in the area and checked reviews. We decided on a sports bar for dinner called Sandbar Sports Grill. The restaurant is affiliated with a number of rewards programs, such as those offered by airlines and hotel chains. What a delicious decision. I had the gator tacos which were just amazing. I paid the check with my credit card linked to Free Spirit Dining and earned some valuable airline points! I definitely recommend signing up for dining rewards programs, especially if you eat out a lot. For foodies like us, it’s a no-brainer! Below is a photo of the entrance of this unique place. If we’re ever back that way, we’ll be visiting again!

Sandbar

Yummy Melty Deal

restaurantfriends

Sometimes the hardest part about being on a food budget is going out to eat with friends. You don’t want dampen the mood by discussing how much you can spend (and then concluding that it will only get you half an appetizer and some ice water). So I discovered that this is one great time to use a restaurant deal. The benefits are twofold: you get to stay on budget and your friends get to save some money too!

Here’s an example from this week. Two friends and I decided to go out to lunch. We knew which area we wanted to go, so I checked out some nearby restaurant deals. I found a great sandwich place with a mouth-watering name – Daily Melt Grill – and a wallet-friendly deal! Pay $12 for $20 worth of sandwiches. Perfect for the three of us. Our total came to $21 (but we only paid $13), then we split the $13 three ways = $4.33/person… for delicious, melty, yummy goodness.

I could get used to dining for less. In fact, I’m going to find my next deal right now. Until next time…

Foodeloo!

New Year’s Resolution

So a few weeks ago I discovered how much I actually spend on food in a week, and I’ve done some brainstorming for ways to cut down on that.

Since the holidays crept up quickly after my last post – and involved traveling, dining out, and of course Christmas shopping – I decided it wasn’t the best time to start revamping my budget (excuse).

But now, like most of the country, I’m using the mantras: “no excuses” and “turning a new leaf”. I will cut down on food spending with a new year’s resolution. It won’t happen all at once, but I’ll do it in steps.

First, I’ll tackle dining out expenses. I think the best way is to use restaurant deals, which are plentiful around the web (but not always accessible when you search alone). That’s why websites like Cravor help by aggregating all the deals near your location and listing them in one place. You won’t believe all the restaurants you know that have deals you didn’t know about!

So step one of my new years resolution to eat and dine for less is to utilize restaurant coupons any time I can. Check back for updates as I post the best deals and most delicious meals.

Happy holidays and best wishes for the new year!

tree

My Food Expense Analysis

After one week of documenting what I spent on supermarket trips, convenience store stops, restaurants and fast food meals, my one-week food expense journal is complete. Here’s my analysis chart:

WeeklySpending

In one week, I spent $159 on food. I spent the least amount of money on fast food (10%). I guess that’s a good thing because I’ve heard it’s not all that healthy (ha). It’s also cheap, so it makes sense that fast food comprises the smallest category of my spending.

Next came supermarket spending (23%). Going forward, I’d like to see a higher percent spent on cost-efficient supermarket shopping than on restaurants and convenience stores.

At convenience stores you pay for just that – convenience. I’m sure this category (25%) was made up of my least cost-efficient choices. Finally, restaurants take first place in my spending experiment at 42% of my weekly food food budget (or lack thereof)! This probably has a lot to do with the higher cost of restaurant meals in general, combined with the need to tip, and perhaps my frequenting them too often.

But what’s a foodie to do? I won’t give up dining out. Homemade is great, but it doesn’t eliminate the need (ok, desire) for professionally prepared and served meals. Restaurant coupons and discounts are out there, but often hard to find right when you need them and where you need them. Websites like cravor.com make it easier. For instance, instead of paying full price two nights ago at Cheesecake Factory, I could have had Cravor search the web for deals at this chain.

So, that’s one of my goals: use more restaurant deals. Another goal is to cook more and become supermarket savvy. Over the next few weeks I’ll work on revamping my spending habits. I’ll check in with stories, recipes, and tips for dining for less. One thing I know is: I’m going to keep craving, but hopefully I’ll start saving! See you soon…

Foodeloo!

A Delicious Meal Pho Real

It’s day one of my food expense journal and I’ve already added a restaurant meal to the list. Since moving to South Florida last year, Brian and I have been looking for a good Pho place. A coworker of mine recommended a place in the beach area just north of us. We both had the beef noodle soup and agreed about the excellent quality. The broth was aromatic and quite tasty. The beef was tender and the rice noodles were perfectly cooked. The damage was $10 a person, which I felt was well worth it for a Saturday lunch. I marked it down in my expense journal, along with this morning’s homemade breakfast. Not bad for weekend day so far. Oh, and relaxing on the beach after lunch in December was priceless!

Pho