San Francisco is definitely abnormal when compared to the average American city, so it’s no surprise it’s also home to a number of strange places to dine. Check out this list of the weirdest restaurants in San Francisco and make your next dining experience an eccentric one.

1. Opaque – Dining in the Dark 

689 McAllister St
San Francisco, CA 94102 (Fillmore)

$$$$ – American (New)

We always hear that the blind have heightened senses to compensate for their lack of sight. While eating in a pitch-black room for a night won’t necessarily grant you these abilities (that would require your brain to rewire itself), visual deprivation undoubtedly encourages you to focus on parts of a meal that might go unnoticed, like subtle flavor changes and unique textures.

At Opaque, patrons eat a full-course meal in complete darkness—like, “can’t see your own hand in front of your face” dark. All the servers are blind, too, so you are experiencing a night in their world.

Opaque UpOut

Amazing photo of the food and interior decor.
Tips:
  • It’s open Wednesday-Saturday for dinner only.
  • It’s located in a basement which you can access through a door to the right of Indigo, so don’t stress when trying to find parking that you can’t find the storefront, either.

 

2. Red Door Cafe

1608 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94108 (Lower Pacific Heights)
$$ – Breakfast & Brunch

Littered with troll dolls and dildos, this is a brunch experience for those who aren’t easily offended.

The owner, Ahmed, runs this crazy brunch joint just the way he likes it—extremely gay. Don’t be surprised if he’s wearing a leopard print onesie or even less. This also means you might be subject to a sassy interview at the door before being let inside. Want to get in? Have a sense of humor and be polite, and you’ll be just fine.

On top of the eclectic decor and Ahmed’s wild attitude, the food is both beautiful and delicious.

Red Door

French Toast, Korean BBQ Vegan Tacos, & some NSFW friends. Image: Francisco H.
Tips:
  • READ HIS RULES. For example, don’t come with a party larger than two. Seriously, you won’t be seated. If his list of requirements offends you before you’ve even gotten there, then this isn’t the place for you.

Red Door Cafe

 

3. Brainwash Cafe & Laundromat

1122 Folsom St
San Francisco, CA 94103 (SoMa)
$ – Internet Cafe, Laundry

Eat, drink, and do laundry.

BrainWash was somewhat of an accident. Susan Schindler was planning to open a nightclub but was informed of a need for a laundromat south of Market, so she decided to merge a cafe with laundry to “create something truly unique, even in an industry renowned for its blandness.”

The result? You can eat pancakes, drink a coffee, browse free wifi, drink $1 beers during happy hour, go to stand-up and open mic nights, play pinball, and hang out at the parklet outside, all while doing your laundry.

brainwash cafe upout

Inside BrainWash. Image: Laura S.
Tips:

 

4. Supperclub

430 Mason St
San Francisco, CA 94102 (SoMa)
$$$$ – American (New)

You’ve most likely heard of Supperclub in the nightclub context, but have you ever thought to do dinner there?

The chef prepares a 4-course meal that is served to you in an oversized white bed with your shoes off, which doesn’t happen, like, ever. While eating and drinking cocktails, you also get to watch an avant-garde show featuring acrobatics, trapeze, and burlesque. If you like the vibes, you can always turn up after dinner and club until the wee hours.

supperclub

The magical beds of Supperclub.
Tips:
  • Make sure you wear something that is comfortable enough to lounge in on the beds…aka ladies, maybe not the best night to break out one of those tight bandage dresses.
  • It isn’t cheap and might not have the best service, but it is no doubt worth experiencing at least once.

 

5. Tonga Room

The Fairmont Hotel
950 Mason St
San Francisco, CA 94108 (Nob Hill)
$$$$ – Asian Fusion

Yes, this is a tourist trap, but you can’t act like it isn’t one-of-a-kind. Totally kitschy and pretty weird, it is people-watching gold…like Disneyland, except located in the Fairmont.

In 1929, the Fairmont built at 75-foot swimming pool, but in 1945 Metro Goldwyn Mayer’s set director Mel Melvin transformed it into the Tonga Room it is today.

The inside is decked out in mid century-modern Tiki decor (the 40s and 50s were a strange time) and every half hour there is a pseudo-hurricane. Additionally, the Island Groove Band plays live music in the middle of the water on a moving raft-platform. The food is nothing spectacular, but the tropical cocktails are strong and served in tiki-themed vessels. Aloha!

Tonga Room UpOut

Inside the Tonga Room.
Tips:
  • If you are a local, you probably aren’t going to go, but it’s entertaining to know it exists.

 

6. AsiaSF

201 9th St
San Francisco, CA 94103 (SoMa)
$$$ – Asian Fusion

Good food, loud music, beautiful women—okay, this dinner doesn’t seem too wild. Except that the women are actually the world famous transgender Ladies of AsiaSF, and they are probably hotter than you.

These divas are not only your servers, but they also perform on the Chinese Red runway bar throughout your meal. Plus, one of the dessert options is macapuno (a type of coconut), ube (purple yam), and langka (jackfruit) ice cream cones, so we aren’t mad about that. And much like the aforementioned Supperclub, you can head to the club downstairs after dinner to continue the fun.

AsiaSF Some of the Ladies of AsiaSF. 
Tips:
  • Good place for a Bachelorette Party or a rowdy birthday.
  • Check in on Yelp for a free shot.

 

7. Forbes Island

Pier 41
San Francisco, CA 94133 (Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach/Telegraph Hill)
$$$ – American (New)

Eating at Forbes Island is more on the romantic side than the totally crazy side, but it most certainly is unique. Why? Because you are eating underwater on a man-made floating island.

Your nautical night starts off with a short boat ride to get you to the island, along with a little history lesson. After that, feel free to explore the island before you eat and be sure to check out the views from the 40-foot lighthouse.

Forbes Island SF Portholes next to the dinner tables.
Tips:
  • Go early or on an off-night to grab a spot next to the portholes so you can watch fish swim by while you eat.
  • If you are easily bothered by seasickness, keep in mind that the restaurant does sway a little.

 

8. El Mansour

3119 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94121 (Outer Richmond)
$$$ – Moroccan

Okay this one isn’t THAT weird, but you eat with your hands while watching belly-dancers. The last time I’ve done anything remotely close to that was when I was 3 years old and stuffing birthday cake into my mouth at a community swimming pool.

Food-wise, it’s Moroccan so certain traditions are kept, like washing hands before meals with rose-scented water and drinking mint tea. The belly dancers are super talented and interact with the patrons, even teaching a lesson or two.

el mansour sf The cozy interior of El Mansour. Image: Sienna O.
Tips:
  • The servers will give you plates of warm, fluffy bread. Utilize it as your makeshift utensils.
  • The exterior tiling is gorgeous, so you should snap a photo outside for a pretty backdrop.

 

9. Karma Kitchen

Taste of the Himalayas
1700 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709
Free – Indian

So you’ve gotta hop on BART to get here, but it’s definitely worth mentioning because of its innovative philosophy. Karma Kitchen is run entirely by volunteer work. Yep, the entire staff is working out of the kindness of their own hearts. On top of that, it is based on a pay-it-forward concept – so you receive your meal as a gift from a previous customer, and you have the chance to pay as much as you want to gift a meal to the next person. All the money goes toward buying food ingredients for the next month.

The food is good and you get unlimited amounts of Nepalese/Indian cuisine. So yeah, you could go in and eat for free, but the idea is that you have something warm deep down in your heart that inspires you to throw some dollars down. Maybe you’ll even be inspired to volunteer the next time you go.

karma kitchen berkeley upout

Even the meals are kind.
Tips:
  • Arrive early unless you like long lines, because this only happens on the last Sunday of the month from 11am-3pm.

 

There you have it: UpOut’s list of the weirdest SF restaurants. Have another one in mind? Comment below! And for all you SF locals out there, check out the Insiders Club to get exclusive access to awesome events.

 


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