One of the MANY things I love about living in New York City is that if you can imagine it, then it’s probably here in some way shape or form. That’s why I absolutely had to make a list of the coolest themed restaurants in NYC where you can start acquiring a sophisticated palate.
This way you can experience some of the most insanely cool restaurants in NYC just, hopefully, without all the gobs of tourists that you’ll find at chain restaurants like Bubba Gump Shrimp in Times Square.
Yeah sorry, I just can’t bring myself to ever recommend a chain restaurant in NYC.
But even by New York City standards, some of these places are pretty insane, but I mean that in the best possible way.
And rest assured that:
All of these places are infinitely trendier and way cooler than me. I’m actually legit surprised some of these places let me in because I just don’t have the swag to pull it off.
Oh, wait, the only reason they probably let me it is because I had money.
And money talks way more than my absentee level of coolness. And while the food at some of these places is better than at others (because some of these places are primarily about the experience), I promise that you will find something on this will wow even the most angsty of teenagers in your life. They may not let you know it but I swear that they will be impressed.
But enough rambling from me, the very definition of anti-cool. Let’s check out some of my picks for the hippest bars and coolest themed restaurants in NYC (you’ll also find an assortment of fun bars in NYC, fun restaurants in NYC, and unique restaurants in NYC).
Because there really is something for everyone on this list of weird themed restaurants in NYC.
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***Looking for the best hotels in New York City? Some of my faves include the Lucerne Hotel (best-hidden gem), Holiday Inn (best value), Greenwich Hotel (best pool), and Pod 39 (best budget hotel with small rooms but great atmosphere and service).***
1. Ellen’s Stardust Diner
If you’re planning to see New York in a day, then this is the one restaurant that you absolutely MUST go to.
And no, you’re not here for the burgers or shakes…unless you’re in the mood to shake it like a polaroid picture!
You’re here for the glitz, glam, and the show tunes because basically, every member of the waitstaff is on Broadway and will take musical requests as they sling out your hotdogs and hamburgers.
They even have nightly performances so that you can “let it go” and take a break from impromptu frozen karaoke sessions with your kids.
Just be prepared and come with a fat bankroll.
Yeah, the prices are steep. Think like $15 for some challah french toast. This place is also uber-touristy since it’s a literal hop, skip, and jump away from Times Square.
Just think of it as supporting the arts or as paying for dinner and a show. And when compared with the cost fo a Broadway show, this place is pretty reasonable.
2. Alice’s Tea Cup (one of the many more kid-themed restaurants NYC))
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I bet you can guess the theme behind this iconic, New York City afternoon tea stop and cafe since well duh, it’s kind of in the name.
This iconic, New York City tea parlor is all about Alice and Wonderland, with fantastical, wonderland inspired decor that includes, dolls, vintage teacups, and vibrant floral patterns; whimsical decor that makes you feel as though you’re indulging in a very merry unbirthday at the one and only, Mad Hatter’s tea party.
And while there are currently three different locations:
This place is insanely popular and doesn’t take reservations. Therefore, skip the long line and avoid visiting during breakfast and brunch on the weekend, when pretty much all of New York is here with their kids in tow.
The menu here offers guests heartier food options like savory crepes, BLTs, and salads that are perfect for dining later in the day, when you’ll probably have the entire restaurant to yourself.
Now for some Girl with the Passport real talk.
I was not a HUGE fan of the food here. I thought my crepe was mediocre and left with the impression that this place was more concerned with ambiance than with the quality of the food,
But who knows.
Maybe I visited on an off day. That’s why I suggest you visit for yourself and form your own opinion.
However, I still wouldn’t expect any culinary masterpieces (#justsayin).
***Love Alice and Wonderland? Don’t forget to visit the statue in Central Park, right next to the MET.***
3. Ninja Restaurant
Of course, there’s a ninja-inspired sushi bar in New York City. I mean, obviously, life cannot go on unless you have ninjas serving you sushi in Tribeca.
Okay yeah, I didn’t expect to find Ninja in Tribeca either but just go with it since these guys kick way higher than I ever could.
Hokey AF? You betcha!
But this is one of those places where you splurge and go once for the unique experience of it all. Plus, it’s way cheaper than buying a round trip ticket to Japan so really, you’re saving yourself a ton of money.
That’s why you need to::
Embrace the kitsch of it all as you wander over wooden bridges and through dimly lit, lantern lighted tables that make you feel as though you’re dining in a quaint little Japanese village.
Be prepared though.
Because those crazy ass, black masked wearing, martial artists of doom, are super camouflage and leap out at will, scaring the crap out of you as they yell, “ninja” at the top of their lungs.
Yup, this place is not for the faint of heart or for the low in cash.
4. Jekyll and Hyde (one of the fun restaurants in NYC for birthdays)
I honestly cannot believe this place is still around.
I first went about 15 years when my friends and I were graduating from high school and had no idea what to do to celebrate this mildly momentous occasion. So we booked a table and dined at this haunted house themed restaurant.
And Jekyll and Hyde was pretty fun.
Here, the waiters dress up as ghoulishly fabulous mummies, vampires, werewolves, and more. They even stay in character while serving you your food so it really feels as though you’re dining amidst a creeptastic horror show.
And then there’s the insane decor.
This restaurant actually has sophisticated special effects that interact with you as you walk to and from your table. Plus, each floor has a distinct theme that is related to the overall restaurant concept, which centers around a haunted 1930’s English Explorer’s Club.
Is the food the stuff gastronomic dreams are made of?
No. I feel like the grub is on par with a place like Planet Hollywood or the Hardrock Cafe. But the experience is definitely uniquely fun, even if the wait can be ridiculously long.
I mean clearly, these guys are doing something right since they’ve been scaring the crap out of people since before the new millennium.
So if you’re looking for a truly memorable dining experience then this is the place to go, unless you have a heart condition. Then you might want to take a hard pass.
***Another great way to experience New York City is through a through and a food and history tour of NYC’s Flatiron district.***
5. Barcade (perfect spot to experience NYC nightlife)
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Baby girl had a modeling shoot this afternoon near one of the coolest bars in NYC! Why doesn’t every bar have arcade games in them?!? ?
Looking for a little more adult fun?
Then check out Barcade, the arcade-themed bar that is basically a more adult style Dave and Busters, just minus the prizes and the hordes of children running around.
Started in Williamsburg in 2004:
Barcade now has locations all over the country thanks to its extensive drink list and an assortment of vintage arcade games that have me jonesing for a little duck hunt action a la Nintendo.
This place is like my childhood come to life with arcade games like Donkey Kong, Mortal Kombat, Pacman, and more!
So embrace the nostalgia of yesteryear and fuse it with an American style craft beer. Because I sincerely hope that the beer doesn’t remind you of your childhood.
I’ll be failing epically at the pinball machine, reliving the not so glorious where I played on my Sega Genius until the wee hours of the morning.
6. Beetle House (one of the uber fun bars in NYC)
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OMG, OMG, OMG! Dreams really do come true! This place is like Beetle Juice meets the Nightmare Before Christmas.
Dedicated to all things Tim Burton:
Beetle House celebrates Halloween all year long at this East Village themed bar, Between the surgical equipment adorning the walls and the gravestones everywhere, the only thing missing is a cameo appearance from Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter.
Sorry, I can’t guarantee any star appearances.
But you can ease your disappointment with fun drinks like the Beetle’s Juice (tequila, blackberry, lime) the This is Halloween (Fireball, pumpkin, sour apple), the BIG FISH Bowl (Coconut Rum, Vodka, Gin, Tequila, Blue Curacao, Pineapple Juice), and Alice’s Cup O’ Tea (Peach Vodka, Gin, Tequila, Rum, Peach Schnapps).
I’ll stick with the awesome Tim Burton themed menu that offers insanely quirky cool menu items like Sweeny Shroom (grilled and marinated Portobello mushroom served with garlic mash, covered in mushroom sauce, roasted peppers, and scallions) and the Chesire Mac and Cheese (Vegan cheddar, Monterey, and American cheese sauce topped with bread crumbs and stewed tomatoes).
Yup, I’m a vegetarian so I stuck with the vegan mains.
7. Beauty Bar
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With locations all over the United States:
This beauty saloon meets bar was started in 1995 and is home to the one and only martini and manicure (only $10 for a manicure! Crazy right?) happy hour.
Loyal patrons continue to gather around the vintage, domed hair dryers that pay homage to the 50s – 80s style beauty salons of old, making this themed bar a truly unique place to rock out in Gramercy.
So crimp your hair, put on some leg warmers, and get out that Aqua Net girl! Because we’re about to party like it’s 1985!
And if the beauty salon style decor isn’t enough for you:
Beauty Bar also has nightly DJs, as well as scheduled comedy shows and burlesque shows. Yup, its gonna be a hot time in the old town tonight with my helmet-style hair.
***If you want to see some of what Brooklyn has to offer then check out this 3 hour, Brooklyn Brownstone’s food tour.***
8. Meow Parlour (talk about the cat’s meow)
So unless you’re living under a rock that shields you from anything trendy:
Then you know that cat cafes are totally a “thing” right now (one of my favoirte coffee shops in NYC). That’s why it’d be a real crime if I didn’t hop on the include at least one cat cafe on this list of cool themed restaurants in NYC.
PS, Koneko is another great cat cafe too!
And as much as I loather conforming to the masses, I really did enjoy cuddling some cute kitties at this Chinatown cat cafe.
I didn’t actually drink any coffee or ingest any food per se, but I did get to pet a ton of kitties and had a wicked awesome time doing so.
All the kitties here are up for adoption so this cafe really does help these stray kitties find some great homes.
But How Does it Work?
All you have to do is go online to Meow Parlour and make a reservation for a 30-minute time slot. And yes, you MUST make a reservation since this place is SUPER popular and you don’t want to show up and be unable to experience all the kitty awesomeness within.
When You Arrive:
Just check in at the front desk, sign a waiver, take your shoes and coat off, go over the rules, and sanitize your hands. From here, all you have to do is brace yourself for a veritable kitty paradise.
You basically chill out, order some food, pet some cats, and live the dream for about a half hour. Just keep track of the time because they won’t remind you when your half an hour is up. And if you go over your time limit, you’ll be charged another $10.
9. Boobie Trap (experience real New York nightlife)
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Gone are the days of old when beer + boobs = Hooters.
Yup, say hello to your new best friend Boobie Trap, an eclectic bar located in Bushwick. This slightly R-rated neighborhood hangout is not so family friendly.
Adult patrons of all kinds will get a chuckle out of the sexualized, B-movie memorabilia and 90s era troll dolls that can be found anywhere that has the wall and shelf space.
The drinks are pretty cheap. Domestic tall boys will only cost you between $4 – $7 and wait for it… draft beers actually flow out of a naked mannequin. Oh, and there’s even a barbie chandelier and rubber boobs that adorn the bathroom ceiling.
Before you get too hammered though:
Embrace your inner child and play a round of monopoly or color it up in a nuddie coloring book. They even kick ass, Southern comfort style grub like cajun mac and cheese and jalapeno cornbread muffins; menu items that are great if you need sustenance to absorb all that alcohol.
And yes, the food here is actually good.
***If you’re a foodie like me then check out this food tour of the one and only Greenwich Village.***
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Happy Sunday 😉 #newyork_world #christmasinnewyork #bucketlist #christmas #newyork_instagram #nybucketlist #effortlyss
This Gramercy Park bar and restaurant is basically like Christmas on roids and a great place place to celebrate the holudays in NYC.
Walk in and you’ll probably need a pair of sunglasses just to see amidst a sea of shimmering lights and sparkling Christmas bulbs. Just imagine garland, baubles, and ornaments as far as the eye can see.
Ahh! My retinas!
But Rolf’s just wouldn’t be the same without it’s insanely, over the top Christmas decorations that take staff over a month to set up and that hang around from the end of November through May!
Talk about Christmas spirit!:
Apparently, they sell German food too but I don’t know anyone who has actually eaten here. I came, hung out at the bar, took some photos, got elbowed by hordes of tourists and proceeded to exit ASAP.
But even with the insane crowds, Rolf’s is still worth a visit.
Just be sure to visit during the week, or make a reservation, if you’re interested in trying their classic German menu, filled with pork, chicken, sauerkraut, and more, since this iconic Christmas restaurant is not exactly a well-kept secret.
Finito! Those are my pics for the absolute coolest themed restaurants in NYC!
I even threw in some unusual bars in NYC so that you can experience some mildly authentic NYC nightlife during your next trip.
So tell me, how many of these unique restaurants in NYC have you been to?
Hope inspiration all of them since I want to give you some inspiration for your next trip to NYC.
And if this list of entertaining restaurants in NYC has you feeling even a little inspired, then pin this now and read it again later!