Food » Restaurants » 12 Utterly Unique Restaurants in New York

12 Utterly Unique Restaurants in New York

From retro bars and spooky bistros, to singing waiters and unusual caves, find out about the most fun and unique restaurants in New York.

On top of its famous landmarks and endless opportunities for shopping and dining, New York is home to some of the quirkiest and most unique restaurants you’ll find anywhere in the world! 

New York
Ready to find out about the quirkiest and most unusual restaurants in New York?

There’s Tokyo Record Bar, a cosy cocktail bar where vinyl records are played as you eat Japanese–inspired dishes. Or how about Ellen’s Stardust Diner, a blast-from-the-past cafe serving up delicious American diner staples like hamburgers and milkshakes. 

If you’re looking for unusual restaurants in New York for a girl’s night or a hen do, you could try the Beauty Bar where $10 gets you a cocktail and a manicure! How amazing is that?!

Whether you’re a long-time New York resident or planning a trip to the Big Apple for the first time, all of these fun themed restaurants in NYC offer memorable dining experiences!

Central Park, New York
New York is such a great city for foodies

So, if you’re looking for unique restaurants in New York City, you’ve come to the right place. Oh and if you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss my guide to the best New York desserts. I hope you’re hungry!

Central Park in New York
Time to find out about NYC’s unique food scene

12 Fun and Unique Restaurants in New York

Trailer Park Lounge 

Looking for unusual restaurants in NYC? How about dining in a fun and quirky, upscale trailer park? 

Trailer Park in New York
Trailer Park in New York has retro vibes

Trailer Park Lounge is an all-American, fun restaurant with a trailer park theme. The dining room is jam-packed with random trinkets of Americana culture from Christmas lights and highway signs to a real, working photo booth. 

While this Chelsea-located diner might not be the best spot for a business lunch, it’s the perfect interactive restaurant to enjoy drinks and classic diner. Arrive hungry as the portions are large! Choose from classics including hearty all-day breakfasts, juicy hamburgers and fries, chocolate milkshakes and ice cream sundaes. 

Trailer Park interiors are fun
The interiors of Trailer Park are fun

Tokyo Record Bar 

There’s more to this fun and quirky New York City restaurant than the menu… the music and the people-watching are the real treats! 

Tokyo Record Bar is a cosy cocktail bar and restaurant hidden away on Macdougal Street in Greenwich Village. As a homage to Japan’s famous record bars, you’ll be asked to choose a few songs before dinner. Then, the in-house DJ turns everyone’s picks into a funky playlist for the evening. 

Tokyo Record Bar, New York
Tokyo Record Bar in New York brings the izakaya vibes

Tokyo Record Bar only has 2 seatings per night, so be sure to book in advance. Each night they feature a seven-course tasting menu filled with fresh seafood and Japanese-inspired food and drinks like sashimi, saki, oysters, monkfish and tempura. If you’re a fan of Asian food, you’ll love it here.

Beetle House 

When it comes to unusual restaurants in New York, they don’t come much quirkier than this one. At the Beetle House, Halloween is celebrated every day of the year. 

You’ll be pleasantly spooked by the immersive environment, which features creepy decorations and interactive props. Even the waiters are dressed up in costumes designed to scare.

Beetle House, NYC
Beetle House is great for Halloween lovers visiting NYC

Don’t let the spooky environment fool you, Beetle House actually has a small and intimate vibe, and is perfect for a quirky date night or a catch-up with friends. 

The Tim Burton-themed menu offers spooky delights including the Sweeney Shroom (grilled and marinated portobello mushroom served with a creamy mash), Bloom’s Big Fish (miso-glazed salmon) and Cheshire Mac and Cheese. 

Gory food at Beetle House
Gory food at Beetle House – what fun!

Grand Central Oyster Bar and Restaurant 

Want to enjoy one of the biggest and freshest seafood menus in all of NYC? Then head straight to Grand Central Oyster Bar and Restaurant!

This landmark restaurant is the oldest in Grand Central and features magnificent vaulted ceilings, a large, family-style dining room, market-to-plate seafood dishes and an award-winning wine list. The family-friendly atmosphere is great for families with kids. There’s even a kids menu with some non-seafood choices for picky eaters. 

Grand Central Oyster Bar
The beautiful room at Grand Central Oyster Bar

The seafood is the big draw though. Seafood lovers get ready to feast on popular dishes including fried oysters, fresh lobster, clam chowder, raw fish and the restaurant’s world-famous seafood pan roast. 

Ellen’s Stardust Diner 

No list of unusual restaurants in New York would be complete without a trip to the star-studded Ellen’s Stardust Diner. Turn back the clock and enjoy dining in this 1950s-inspired diner which is located in the famous theatre district of Manhattan.

Ellens Stardust Diner
Ellen’s Stardust Diner is a NYC favourite

This retro eatery is the perfect place for a romantic date or a fun lunch with your friends. Practically every staff member is on Broadway, so expect to get serenaded with show tunes as you feast on classic diner foods like pancakes, rootbeer floats and homemade cheesecake. It’s a lot of fun!

Singers performing at Ellens Stardust Diner
Showtunes and dinner at Ellen’s Stardust Diner

Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Factory 

If you’re enjoying the retro vibes of some of these unique restaurants in New York, you’ll love this spot in Brooklyn. Step through the doors and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to a bygone era. The inside resembles an old-world soda shop. It’s very quirky!

Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Factory
Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Factory is an historic and fun place to go

The Brooklyn Farmacy is actually housed in an historic 1920s apothecary store. At the beginning of the 20th-century people visited apothecaries not only for medicine but to eat, drink and catch up on local gossip. And now it seems nothing has changed!

Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Factory
The desserts are amazing at Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Factory

Enjoy your own slice of New York history while enjoying decadent treats such as huge ice cream sundaes, milkshakes, sodas and more. For something special, try an ice cream sandwich or an egg cream. The Instagram-worthy decor of chic, vintage furniture and period artwork will provide the cherry on top of your visit! 

The Beauty Bar 

How do you fancy treating yourself to a martini and a manicure at one of New York’s most famous beauty saloons?

Beauty Bar New York
Retro vibes at Beauty Bar in New York

This one-of-a-kind East Village cocktail bar pays homage to old-school beauty salon culture with quirky design elements including domed hair dryers, crystal chandeliers and vintage artwork. 

As if the luxurious beauty treatments weren’t enough to lure you, Beauty Bar regularly hosts fun events such as burlesque nights, comedy shows and dance parties. It’s got a great vibe so you’re guaranteed to have an amazing night!

La Caverna 

While an underground cave might sound like an unusual place to enjoy a meal, I promise this is one of the coolest and most interesting dining experiences in NYC right now!

La Caverna offers authentic Mexican cuisine and a fantastic happy hour in a basement styled like a prehistoric cave. This is such a unique spot. There’s even cave art on the walls and stalactites hanging from the ceiling! Both locals and tourists flock to La Caverna for its intimate and relaxed dining and memorable food experience. 

Enjoy traditional and Tex-mex food including tacos, nachos, quesadillas, and churros. If you’re a cocktail lover, you simply must try one of the specialty cocktails. The guava caipirinha gets my vote!

New York City Lonely Planet

Dirt Candy 

Dirt Candy is a chic New York restaurant that has been a pioneer in the world of vegetarian and vegan cuisine for over ten years. This cool spot is well known in the New York culinary scene for creating innovative plant-based dishes that even the biggest meat-lovers will enjoy. 

Dirt Candy, NYC
Dirt Candy is an amazing NYC restaurant for vegetarians

James Beard nominated chef, Amanda Cohen, regularly whips up delicious and surprising meals like broccoli ‘hot dogs’, carrot pizza, and homemade red and yellow pepper gummy bears. 

There is no a la carte menu, just a seasonal, 5-course tasting menu. If you’re visiting for a special occasion, I’d recommend adding in the wine pairing for a truly decadent and creative fine dining experience. 

Jekyll & Hyde Club 

You’ll have a frighteningly good time at the Jekyll & Hyde Club –  one of the most unique restaurants in New York.

The Jekyll & Hyde Club is famous worldwide for its cast of full-time characters, spooky-themed decor and immersive effects that interact with you as you walk by. 

Jekyll & Hyde Club, NYC
Jekyll & Hyde Club in NYC is really fun!

Jekyll & Hyde is no fine-dining restaurant, it’s more the kind of place to visit for a fun experience with friends. Pick from a unique and fun menu of movie-themed food and drinks. Try quirky dishes like ‘The Mummy’ (sirloin bandaged in your choice of cheese), ​​Create-Your-Own-Monster burgers or signature cocktails like the dark rum and lime ‘Bermuda Triangle.’ You’re guaranteed to have a memorable night out!


One of the best places in NYC for those with a sweet tooth! At Serendipity your hardest decision will be whether to order a huge ice cream sundae or a big slice of rainbow cake.

A sundae at Serendipity3
Kitsch and colourful sundaes at Serendipity3

This kitsch restaurant is a bit of a New York institution, with its fun and colourful decor, and a unicorn flying across the wall. It might all sound a bit childish, and in many ways it is! However, why shouldn’t grown ups get the chance to feel like big kids again? And when you see the sundaes here, you definitely will!

Quirky interiors of Serendipity3
How adorable are the interiors of Serendipity3?

A top tip, be sure to try their world-famous Frrrozen Hot Chocolate. It’s famous for a reason!

Spaghetti Tavern

Ever eaten steaming spaghetti out of a bag? Well now it’s time to try it at this western-themed eatery. This is definitely one of the most unique restaurants in NYC.

Spaghetti Tavern
Delicious pasta served in a bag at Spaghetti Tavern

Serving a range of traditional spaghettis in sauce (pomodoro, salmon, mushroom etc), this cosy restaurant has earned a great reputation for the food, drinks and atmosphere. They often have live music too, adding to the vibe. It might seem odd when your steaming parchment bag of food arrives at the table, but believe me – it’s delicious!

If you’re looking for a fun place for a brunch with friends, check out the Bluegrass Brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. With great food, cocktails and live music, what’s not to love?

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about these unique restaurants in New York. From cool restaurants like Trailer Park Lounge to vintage-inspired eateries like The Brooklyn Farmacy, there are so many fun spots to choose from!

If you’re looking for other fun dining experiences in New York, don’t miss my guide to the best desserts in New York and my guide to visiting New York on a budget.

If you need a little bit of help planning your city break in NYC, you can use this handy map to search for accommodation for every budget.

With a passion for food, fun and adventure, Chloe is the content creator behind one of the UK's top travel blogs Wanderlust Chloe. From volcano boarding in Nicaragua, to sailing around Sicily and eating her way around Japan, her travels have taken her to some of the coolest spots on the planet. Named Travel Influencer of the Year in 2022, Chloe regularly works with a number of tourism boards, producing inspirational travel content across multiple platforms. Find out more about Chloe here.

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