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The Best Off The Beaten Path Restaurants in California

The Best Off The Beaten Path Restaurants in California

If you're feeling adventurous then take a trip to one of California's strange and memorable dining experiences.

Palig Dzadourian


4 min read

June 10, 2024

Ever feel like a change of scenery is what you need? To go out of town on a weekend lake getaway, or go out in search of one of the weirdest restaurants in California? Since the Golden State is known for its diversity and uniqueness, finding these extraordinary eateries is a breeze. Let’s go through the list of the quirkiest restaurants in California worth visiting. 

Garlic lovers! You need to head over to the Stinking Rose for some awesome garlicky meals.

The Stinking Rose 

Location: 430 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133

If you always think your meals could use more garlic in them, you have to drop everything and head over to The Stinking Rose. Almost everything at this unique restaurant is made with garlic, a dream come true for all garlic lovers. In addition, the unusual decor of the Stinking Rose compliments the off-kilter menu very well. 

If you are thinking about bringing your partner along for a garlicky date, you’re in luck because there are even romantic tents for intimate dinners and garlic-themed rooms if you are feeling a little goofy. Even the desserts here have garlic, so you might want to bring a pack of gum with you. 

Nigerian food is a warm blanket for the soul, especially at Ilé.


Location: 1312 Cole Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90028

Nothing can beat a homemade meal, and Ilé understands that fully. This Nigerian fine dining pop-up is unlike any other, both in taste and experience. You will actually be welcomed into the chef’s luxury loft apartment, where the dishes are served. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind experience.

Making a couple of new friends is also expected, as the intimate and cozy atmosphere will make way for some fun icebreakers and stories, while you dig into flavorful West African cuisine. The chef also loves talking about his personal stories and upbringing in Lagos, so you will definitely be learning a lot this evening. Ethnic food in California never misses.


Location: 2020 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90403

Be the first in line when this unique restaurant reopens in late March to early April of 2023. It’s definitely among the top of the list of weird restaurants and will deliver a sensory experience like no other. Simply put, you will be eating in a pitch-black room, served by waiters and waitresses who are legally blind.  Here patrons order their meal in an illuminated room outside of the dining hall, then are escorted to their table in complete darkness. Eating inside a dark room supposedly enhances your sensory instincts, and sharpens your taste buds. So while it may seem like a daunting way to have dinner, it might give you a new perspective and deeper appreciation for your meal.!

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Location: 6350 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028

If you’ve ever watched an episode of The Voice, you’ll know what you’re getting into when you pull up to this funny restaurant for a unique dining experience. This restaurant feels like you are having a meal on the set of the show, combined with a sci-fi aesthetic. Once you walk in through the doors, you will be met with a boisterous inside, colorful lights going every which way, and many people. 

MainRo offers its patrons a show to remember, as during your meal you will see trapeze artists, aerial acts, and other performances which include your servers busting out some moves to your favorite ABBA songs. If you are a lover of chaotic energy, this is somewhere you need to check out. 

Nighthawk Breakfast Bar 

Location: 417 Washington Boulevard, Venice, CA 90292

For anyone who gets shamed for eating cereal and milk at 2 a.m. in the morning, Nighthawk Breakfast Bar has got your back. This is where you can get your fill of the most important meal of the day, no matter what time you decide to visit. This unique restaurant upkeeps the city’s tradition of the typical made-from-scratch breakfast, without, of course, forgetting the classic fried chicken and biscuits on the side.

Dig into one of the most flavorful dishes you will ever find.

El Mansour

Location: 3119 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA 94121

While this one is not exactly all that weird, it certainly stands out from other restaurants in California. El Mansour is where you’ll get to stuff your face with delicious Moroccan foods with the help of your hands. That’s right, the only utensils you can use here are your hands, and the fluffy bread they serve you before your meals are ready. The colorful and dynamic restaurant also features remarkable belly dancing performances from talented artists that will make the dining experience even more memorable.

While oysters might not be everyone’s cup of tea, The Jolly Oyster makes sure to provide its customers with the freshest ones.

The Jolly Oyster 

Location: 911 San Pedro Street, Ventura, CA 93001

The Jolly Oyster isn’t like your typical restaurant. This is one of many California restaurants that have food trucks you can head to, in order to enjoy your meal outside. You can sit on the sand, or reserve a picnic table at Ventura State Beach. Savor the freshest Kumamoto and Pacific oysters while the tide rolls in.  The scent of the ocean enhances your delicious seafood experience. The Jolly Oyster also places emphasis on sustainable and ethical processes, even providing information for interested patrons. 

Zante Pizza & Indian Cuisine 

Location: 3489 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

Do you feel like Indian cuisine, but your sweetheart is craving Italian? Relationships are all about compromise, so it’s time to visit Zante Pizza & Indian Cuisine. Welcome to this mash-up of Indian and Italian flavors, where your taste buds will explode with joy. Bite into one of the unique dishes you will ever find, a combination of Indian house-made Naan and spicy sweet pizza; You’ll definitely be the cool friend when you bring up this unique dining experience.

Lazy Bear

Location: 3416 19th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

Finding the best food in the Bay Area is quite a difficult task because there are so many mouth-watering options to choose from in the area. Lazy Bear is among these yummy eateries, but it also brings a sense of uniqueness. This weird restaurant does not take reservations; instead, it sells tickets to their dinner. Each ticket is bought a month ahead of your dinner date. As you buy the ticket, you won’t know what waits for you until it gets served, because the menu rotates pretty frequently. Eating at Lazy Bear is like having a cozy dinner party at one of your friend’s places.

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