8 Quirky Restaurants Across the U.S.

We try to find at least one quirky restaurant on every trip. Seeing monkeys play on an island all to themselves or getting rolls thrown at us while eating just adds to the vacation, wouldn’t you say? We find them through reviews or friends and some of them are ones we just happened upon when traveling through a place. Some are tourist traps (but hey, that’s usually for good reason, right?) and some are off the beaten path.

Heading to New York, Florida, Georgia, Washington, Kentucky, Texas, or Missouri any time soon? Take a look, maybe you’ll be in the area of one of the quirky restaurants we’ve visited.

Monkey Bar in Homossasa, FL
Monkey Bar in Homosassa, FL

The Monkey Bar

Where: Homosassa, FL

Trip: Visiting Inverness, FL

Highlights: Monkeys! Not to eat, but to watch. The tiki bar overlooks its very own Monkey Island, which houses a small family of spider monkeys. The island has a small tree house, palm trees, a boat, and a lighthouse for the monkeys to play on. They are quite entertaining to watch while you munch on dinner. The island is situated on the Homosassa River, which is a haven for other wildlife including bald eagles and dolphins.

Monkey Island in Homosassa, FL
Monkeys playing on Monkey Island!
Monkey Bar
View from a boat ride along the river.

Lambert’s Cafe

Where: Sikeston, MO

Trip: Driving Chicago, IL to Memphis, TN

Highlights: Rolls are tossed every which way by the wait staff so you better know how to catch!  Need a roll to go with that sweet, sticky sorghum? It’s best to make this stop when you are ravenous, because the portions are big and the sides are good.  Oh the sides are good and you can have as much as you want! Every meal comes with unlimited pass arounds including macaroni, fried potatoes, black-eyed peas, and fried okra.

Lambert's Cafe
Getting our giant scoop of sorghum molasses for our rolls.
Lambert's Cafe
Home of the throwed rolls!

Lambert's Cafe

Fat Smitty’s

Where: Port Townsend, Washington

Trip: Driving from the San Juan Islands, WA to Olympic National Park, WA

Highlights: From the outside to the inside, this place was full of quirkiness. The outside was decorated with strange potato head looking faces and off the wall statues. Inside, the entire ceiling was covered with dollar bills. Apparently they donate all the money to charity once the ceiling is full, which must happen often, because when we were there they had just taken all of it down a month prior and it was almost full again. Their burgers were greasy, huge, and delicious.

Fat Smitty's Outside
That burger was as tall as us!

Fat Smitty's in Washington

Fat Smitty's in Washington
It was so big we split it. Greasy goodness!
Fat Smitty's Inside
Look at all those dollars hanging!

Patti’s 1880’s Settlement

Where: Grand Rivers, Kentucky

Trip: Driving from St. Louis, MO to Chattanooga, TN

Highlights: Patti’s was not just a restaurant, which is what we expected; it was an experience that took us back in time. The building itself had really low ceilings, stained glass, and was decorated with an 1880’s theme. The grounds had a variety of quirky things including gem mining, gardens, a cute pot-bellied pig, miniature golf, and a grist mill.

We had the hot brown (Kentucky dish), the famous pork chops, and the flower pot bread. Lunch was a little pricey compared to what we usually spend, but it was big portions and really tasty. The waitress told us tours stop there and it usually gets quite busy, but we visited between lunch and dinner and didn’t wait at all to be seated.

Mill at Patti's 1880's Settlement

Butterfly Chair at Patti's 1880's Settlement
Loved this butterfly bench!
Pot-bellied Pig at Patti's 1880's Settlement
Isn’t she cute??
Outdoor Patio at Patti's 1880's Settlement
Outdoor seating

The Original Crab Shack

Where: Tybee Island, Georgia

Trip: Savannah, GA

Highlights: The outdoor patio had a fun, swampy, tiki feel (like finding some awesome tiki bar in the middle of the Georgia lowlands) and looking out at the water was great. We loved being able to chuck our scraps into the hole in our table. A great place for a family dinner: you can make a mess, be loud, and feed live alligators.

The Crab Shack in Tybee Island, GA
The Crab Shack in Tybee Island, GA
Gator Lagoon at the Crab Shack
Gator Lagoon at The Crab Shack
The Crab Shack - Where the Elite Eat in their Bare Feet!
The Crab Shack – Where the Elite Eat in their Bare Feet!
The Crab Shack in Tybee Island, GA
Garbage hole right in the middle of our table!

Prosperity Dumpling

Where: Chinatown, New York City, NY

Trip: New York, NY

Highlights: This place is the cheapest on our list. We loved the fried pork dumplings (4 for $1) and sesame pancakes ($1 each). We can’t really call it a restaurant, it was more like an indoor stand with one small table on the outside. The quirkiness comes more from the people you meet and see while waiting in line. When we arrived, the line was out the door so we knew we were in the right place.

Waiting in line to get our dumplings!
Waiting in line to get our dumplings!
Pork Dumplings
Pork Dumplings
Sesame Pancake
Sesame Pancake

Blue Owl Restaurant and Bakery

Where: Kimmswick, MO

Trip: Driving from St. Louis, MO to Memphis, TN

Highlights: When we walked into this restaurant, we felt like we went back to a simpler time similar to our experience in the Amish Country. The interior and exterior were both blue and white décor. Even the wait staff had white shirts with blue smocks. The furnishings were unassuming and homey. The levee high apple pie, made with 24 apples, was made to pay homage to the levee outside the restaurant that saved it from washing away during a nasty flood.

The Blue Owl Restaurant in Kimmswick, MO


Levee high apple pie
Levee high apple pie

Mi Tierra Cafe

Trip: San Antonio, TX

Highlights: Located in the Historic Market Square, Mi Tierra Cafe is the most colorful and festive place we’ve ever been to. What is it about Christmas lights that make you feel happy and peaceful instantly? They decorate with Christmas lights year round and what a sight to see. Coldplay said it best, “Oh, Christmas lights, light up the street. Light up the fireworks in me. May all your troubles soon be gone. Those Christmas lights keep shinin’ on.”

Mi Tierra Bakery
Mi Tierra Bakery
Every room was so colorful!
Every room was so colorful!
Even the bar was lit up!
Even the bar was lit up!

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Quirky Restaurants Across the U.S.

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Angela E. is a travel writer from the Chicagoland area who has visited all 50 states in the US and has traveled extensively around the world. She is passionate about exploring the great outdoors and hiking in particular. Her love for nature has taken her to some of the most beautiful locations on the planet. She has written extensively about her travels on her own website, Dang Travelers, and has been published in collaboration with other travel websites and multiple visitor bureaus around the country.

8 Responses

  1. Stacy

    So cool and what an amazing idea! Crazy to think I have lived within an hour of three of these restaurants at different times in my life and never knew they were there!

  2. Alex S

    Great list! I just wished there were a few on the list that were in the mountains somewhere. There must be some unique ones that are in the Rockies or in Vermont or New Hampshire.

  3. Cindy Wade

    Terry’s Turf Club, Cincinnati Ohio. Visually unique! Every advertising neon sign imaginable, inside and out. Small and always packed. Mostly limited to hamburgers, but, oh my, what wonderful burgers . The choices are endless, and you can’t find french fries this good anymore. On evenings before sporting events downtown, the wait which will be outside, can be 30 plus minutes. A must!!!!!!!!

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