In the era of Instagram, every part of life is a photo opportunity, but nothing more than food. People are prepared to travel far and wide to find the most picturesque slice of avocado toast or elegantly sparse plate of haute cuisine. With the news that a group of chefs are planning to build the world’s highest restaurant at Everest Base Camp (11,600 ft above sea level) we have tracked down the world’s most extreme restaurants open now, where the view and the architecture rival the food for impact.
The Rock – Zanzibar
The beaches of Zanzibar are known for their peerless white sand and crystal seas, and since 2010, for one of the world’s most unusual dining experiences. Once a fishing post, The Rock restaurant sits on top of an isolated outcrop on Michamvi Pingwe beach on Zanzibar’s southeast coast. When the tide is out, it is accessible by foot; when the tide is in, diners can either wade or wait for a boat, admiring the small thatched structure apparently floating on the sea’s surface. With a menu centred on seafood with an Italian twist, The Rock guarantees an entirely singular dining experience.
Ristorante Grotta Palazzese – Puglia, Italy
Puglia’s extraordinary coastline has been drawing visitors for centuries, and this restaurant in the cliffs has been a destination for just as long. Records and paintings show that the location in Polignano al Mare hosted gatherings as far back as 1700.Today’s diners can enjoy traditional Apuglian cuisine at tables perched either overlooking the Adriatic Sea or set back on the terrace with views into the large central grotto.
Sea at Anantara – The Maldives
The Maldives is famous for its diversity of sea life, the water thronging with fluorescent corals, tropical fish, reef sharks, manta rays and turtles. Sea at Anantara offers diners the chance to enjoy the underwater show while eating, with a dining room totally surrounded by the sea.
Accessed by the world’s first underwater wine cellar, the restaurant has a menu ranging from the hyperlocal – such as Maldivian lobster – to the gourmet, including pan-seared Japanese wagyu beef.
Sirocco – Thailand
Not for those with vertigo, Sirocco in Bangkok has been the world’s highest al fresco dining experience since opening in 2003. Situated on the 63rd floor of the State Tower, Thailand’s fourth tallest building, this extreme restaurant serves Mediterranean food with 270˚ views of the Chao Phraya River. Sky Bar, the world’s tallest open-air bar, is conveniently situated just one floor up.
El Diable restaurant – Lanzarote
Creating a new restaurant is always a challenge, but some architects have it harder than others. Eduardo Caceres and Jesus Soto had to lay nine layers of basalt rock in lieu of foundations for El Diablo in order to protect the Cesár Manrique-designed restaurant against the still fiery volcano that lay beneath. But there are up sides: the location has staggering views over Lanzarote’s Timanfaya National Park and the 400˚C heat of the lava bubbling below grills meat to perfection.
Stone Flower – Switzerland
The Alps offer a wealth of jaw-dropping dining options, such as the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise next to Europe’s highest cable car station, and Le Panoramic in Chamonix, which at 8,963 feet above sea level is The Alps’ highest restaurant. But for the combination of style and elevation Mario Botta’s Fiore di Pietra is hard to beat. Elegantly positioned near the 1,704m apex of Mount Generoso, the structure’s two restaurants offer light modern cuisine and panoramic views over Lake Lugano and the Alps.
Huashan Teahouse – China
Those looking for a culinary challenge should look no further than this Buddhist and Daoist temple suspended at the top of Mount Hua’s most remote southern peak. The teahouse, at 2160 m above sea level, is accessed by a path known by some as the Heavenly Stairs, and by others as the most dangerous hike in the world – at one point the steps vanish entirely leaving only narrow strips of wood, which in turn reduce to a couple of foot pegs and a chain.
In response to a deluge of daredevils attempting the climb, the Teahouse now offers tea and refreshments to those who make it to the top. This is not a given – every year a number of hikers fall to their deaths while attempting the climb.
At.mosphere – Dubai
It’s not surprising that the world’s highest building, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, should also play host to the world’s highest restaurant. Found at 442m on floor 122, At.mosphere makes the most of its scale with views across the city and Dubai’s other, more diminutive skyscrapers. The menu is fittingly elaborate, offering poached foie gras, wagyu beef and three different types of caviar, while a seven-course tasting menu with wine pairing starts at £372 a head.
KOKS, the Faroe Islands
It’s not often that a single restaurant creates a flood of tourism to an out-of-the-way destination, but KOKS, the brainchild of chef Poul Andrias Ziska, has undoubtedly put the Faroe Islands on the map. Dubbed ‘the world’s most remote foodie destination’ by the New Yorker, and lauded for its transformation of the islands’ meagre resources into a Michelin-starred, 17-course tasting menu, KOKS offers a seafront location as dramatic as its food.