Most Adventurous Restaurants

Creative presentation at Square Root (Photo Credit: Madeline Rose)

America’s most eccentric and far-out establishments

If you’re no stranger to cricket dust or sheep’s heart, these restaurants are right up your alley. We searched far and wide to find America’s most eccentric and far-out establishments headed by daring chefs who see cooking as a personal artform.

Some of their dishes are not for the faint-hearted, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from giving each one a chance! The Instagram kudos alone should provide ample motivation for you to visit these adventurous restaurants, presented in alphabetical order.

1Atelier Crenn


San Francisco, CA

Discover chef Dominique Crenn and Atelier Crenn with our exclusive video interview.

In Dominique Crenn’s fanciful atelier in San Francisco, dishes are served bathed in bubbles and atop pristine logs that make you feel as though you’ve stepped into a Tolkien novel. She calls it “poetic culinaria,” but beneath the otherworldly showmanship is an earnest love for and dedication to the essence of rustic, virgin ingredients. See more…

2Atera

New York, NY

Reservation OpenTable

At New York’s Atera, you don’t just taste the food; you see, smell, touch and feel it, too. Chef Ronny Emborg’s all-out sensory kitchen picks produce at its peak and exclusively uses ingredients that are in their seasonal prime to create dishes that deliver a full-bodied sensory experience. By vetting his produce so meticulously, he creates a medley of flavors that impact all your senses, which results in an otherworldly dining experience. See more…

3Café ArtScience

Cambridge, MA

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To call Café ArtScience an adventurous “restaurant,” wouldn’t quite do it justice. Take a classic white-tablecloth Parisian eatery sans bells and whistles and add a bit of Boston’s college scene to the mix. The result is a mod restaurant, classroom and art gallery all in one, where you’ll not only revel in the perfect creaminess of chef Patrick Campbell’s foie-gras-and-rabbit terrine, but you can learn about how it was prepared, too. See more…

4I.O.

Santa Ana, CA

Chef Jason Quinn’s eccentric and witty personality is reflected in the mystery of his eatery, which is short for Invitation Only. Reminiscent of “Fight Club,” the number one rule for securing an invite at I.O. is to never ask for one. But once you’re in, sit back and enjoy the theatrical performance by Quinn and his team at this ultra-intimate, 17-seat restaurant adjacent to sister establishment Playground in Santa Ana, California. See more…

5Juniper & Ivy

San Diego, CA

Reservation OpenTable

In this sweeping 250-seat warehouse dining space in San Diego, celebrity chef Richard Blais couples his inventive west coast-inspired American fare with geometric art and a bustling open kitchen. The kinetic energy in Juniper & Ivy effortlessly flows from its architecture to your plate. Movement and symmetry in a dessert like the kitschy Yodel — a cylindrical devil’s food cake made with hazelnut brittle and white chocolate mousse — is the big finale. See more…

6Schwa


Chicago, IL

It’s the perfect harmony of ingredients. Old school hip-hop and electro-dance jams blare into the intimate dining space and a delicate, quail egg truffle raviolo begs to be eaten in one swift bite. At Schwa in Chicago, chef Michael Carlson keeps it casual and treats guests like family, no matter how exclusive and artistically outstanding the food and restaurant may seem. Once you’ve hurdled past the biggest challenge — securing a reservation — an incredible experience awaits. See more…

7Square Root

New Orleans, LA

In what can be seen as more of a dining experience than a dinner alone, chef Phillip Lopez couples molecular gastronomy with classic New Orleans fare. You’ve certainly had scallops before, but were they ever smoked in a cigar box? At Square Root, where the multicourse tasting menu is ever-changing and always kept a secret, every dish has a story and an element of surprise. See more…

8Travail Kitchen and Amusements

Robbinsdale, MN

Just outside of Minneapolis, this wacky and innovative restaurant is taking America by storm. Expect to find seasonal and artistic American fare served up in a 10- to 12-course tasting menu, and as the name suggests, plenty of “amusements.” Don’t be surprised if you find yourself catching a bag of popcorn from a man dressed in a bright-yellow chicken suit. See more…

9minibar by José Andrés

Washington, D.C.

You’ve never seen a Waldorf salad like this before. At minibar in Washington, D.C. chef José Andrés intentionally deviates from the norm to create masterful dishes with molecular tactics. Whether you’re seated in the intimate dining space of minibar or enjoying a crafty cocktail at the adjoining barmini, expect to be thrilled and even pleasantly confused by the avant-garde dishes escaping the kitchen. See more…