Because a meal that comes with a magic show is a surefire way to change things up a bit.Less
Calling Oasis a hidden gem would be a little too on the nose, considering it’s tucked inside of a literal jewelry store in Chicago. Once you walk past all the glittering rings and watches, you’ll find this Mediterranean spot where you can grab a cheap meal. The menu has classics like stuffed grape leaves, falafel, and baba ganoush, all of which are much cheaper than the jewels on display.
The experience of dining at Magic Castle in LA begins with the process of getting in. You’ll need to know a magician. But the effort is worth it, since you’ll be rewarded with a classic steakhouse dinner followed by a magic show in one of the Castle’s intimate theaters. The food is good, but not the point. Dishes like beef wellington and grilled rack of lamb are really here to set the stage for magicians performing in different theaters inside the castle.
Cicada Club is a supper club in Downtown LA that’ll make you feel like you’re walking into a time machine, or at least a deleted scene from La La Land. There are plenty of Old Hollywood details like chandeliers and a big band stage, plus a huge dance floor for showing off your best prohibition-era cosplay and charleston. It’s also one of the few places in town where you can dress up and not feel silly, so put on your Oscar-worthy best.
Shuggie's in San Francisco immediately feels like a different kind of modern pizza spot. The neon green and yellow rooms are monochromatic and look like something your mind would conjure after drinking too much absinthe, and you’ll find furniture resembling human legs, lips, and cupped hands to sit on. Don’t mistake Shuggies’s out-there style for a lack of substance—it’s also unique for its all-in approach to eliminating food waste.
Pizzeria Beddia is one of the best pizza spots in Philadelphia, but it’s also home to one of the most intimate, special dinners you can have in the city. Located in a private back dining space, the Hoagie Room is a pizza and sandwich omakase where you can share Cantabrian anchovies, slices of their garlicky tomato pie, and decadent hoagies in a dimly-lit room with a Warhol print on the wall. The two-hour omakase also gives you access to Beddia’s own sizable wine collection.
Monster Vegan in Philly is challenging the idea that great vegan food can only be found in bright, all-neutral dining rooms with a giant monstera or next to a crunchy yoga studio. This vegan spot screens ‘80s-era horror films and serves spooky-themed dishes like vampiro tacos with oyster mushrooms in a space decked out in dark, moody colors and lightning. They also have a solid Happy Hour, so you can pop in for bar bites and a Beware the BLOB... arita.
Turkey Leg Hut first started as a food truck serving, you guessed it, turkey legs to hungry rodeo-goers, but now it’s a full-fledged institution in Houston’s Third Ward. The plates are over-the-top in the best way possible, with Flintstones-esque pieces of poultry doused in cajun alfredo sauce and crawfish mac and cheese. You’ll see people joining in (or dodging) the occasional impromptu two-step in the aisles after drinking a few of their frozen cocktails.
A gas station might not be your first choice for a vibey sit-down meal, but El Carajo Tapas and Wine proves that you can have an excellent dinner and fill up your gas tank at the same time. This Spanish spot in Miami is located past the pumps and fridges full of energy drinks, but once you’re inside, it’s all rustic Spanish interiors, pulpo al ajillo you’ll want to lick off your plate, and fluffy slices of tortilla espanola.
You can find just about any type of dining experience in New York City, but almost nothing is exactly like Mắm. The stars here are the wide baskets of bún đậu mắm tôm, an iconic Hanoi street food you can’t really get anywhere else in the city. You’ll see lots of people spilling out from the tiny dining room onto the sidewalk and street on brightly colored plastic stools, dipping fried tofu cubes and sticky rice sausage into fragrant, spicy shrimp paste sauce.
It feels like NYC has reached peak omakase, but Mr. Moto is actually a place that stands out. The experience begins before you even sit down—you have to decode an email puzzle to get to your meal. The solution is your entrance code to the speakeasy-like dining room that’s tucked away on St. Mark’s. Once the omakase begins, you’ll get 21 courses highlighting hyper-seasonal ingredients, like shirako or red gurnard flown in from Japan.