by Sarah Bruning, Condé Nast Traveler
We love good food here at Condé Nast Traveler. But we can't lie--location matters, too. And there's no doubt we'd go out of our way to visit a restaurant in an an amazing and unexpected location--like the ocean floor, perhaps, or inside an ice castle...
1. UNDER THE SEA
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant Rangali Island, Maldives
Situated more than 16 feet below sea level in the Indian Ocean, this glass-enclosed spot cost about $5 million USD to construct. Patrons can scope 180-degree views of coral reefs and a wide variety of fish, as well as manta rays, sharks, and other aquatic inhabitants.
2. IN AN ICE CASTLE
LumiLinna Snowcastle Restaurant Kemi, Finland
Don't even think about ditching your coat once you're inside; the food served may be warm, but the temp at this eatery is a steady -5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Farenheit). Typically open from January through April--for as long as the weather hovers around -8 Celsius (about 18 degrees Fahrenheit)--this icy architectural wonder is reconstructed every year from a special set of molds.
3. IN A TREE
The Dining Pod Koh Kood, Thailand
The barefoot-chic Soneva Resorts are all about the surrounding turquoise waters, and the company has made water part of its commitment to doing the right thing. Soneva banned imported bottled water and instead sells its own water in reusable glass containers. The benefits are twofold: It eliminates carbon emissions from transporting plastic bottles, and 50 percent of the water revenue helps fund global water projects. More than $600,000 has been raised so far, helping about 600,000 people in 52 countries.
4. ON A REMOTE ROCK
The Rock Zanzibar, Africa
What began as a fisherman's post off the coast of Michanvi Pingwe beach has become the location of one of Zanzibar's most iconic seafood restaurants. During low tide, guests can walk from shore, but during high tide, the eatery provides boat service.
5. ON THE SIDE OF A CLIFF
Aescher Wasserauen, Switzerland
The Alpine altitude won't be the only thing taking your breath away at this cliffside chalet; the cable car ride up is just as amazing/terrifying. But even if you're wary of heights, the mountain views will be worth braving the trek.
6. IN A REFURBISHED GREENHOUSE
De Kas Amsterdam, The Netherlands
In 2001, Michelin-starred chef Gert Jan Hagemen prevented this glass structure from being demolished and transformed it into a farm-to-table restaurant, where many ingredients are picked fresh daily from the garden outside.
7. IN A CAVE
Grotta Palazzese Puglia, Italy
Tucked inside a limestone cavern, this summer-only spot (open May through October) has hosted elegant dinners since the 18th century, when Italian nobility held banquets in the space.
8. IN AN AIRPLANE
The Airplane Restaurant, Colorado, United States
Used in the 1950s to refuel other aircraft, this Boeing KC-97 tanker has been converted into a fully functioning restaurant in which 42 people can nibble on all-American fare.
9. HANGING FROM A CRANE
Dinner in the Sky, Locations vary
Inviting friends to dinner is one thing, but hosting a fete, 160 feet up in the air? Now that's a party. Offered in several cities as a pop-up restaurant, this roving soiree straps participants to chairs surrounding a fully set table.
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