Being a nerd is hard work. You burn a lot of calories caring about things so passionately, following them intently and debating them obstinately. It’s important to replenish yourself with some sweet, sweet sustenance before you Hulk-out on your friends and loved ones over whether or not that fall should have killed Rhodey. When the time comes to recharge your batteries, where better than someplace designed specifically with nerds in mind? Sometimes it’s just nice to be among your own people. This article explores the best places in the world to enjoy some nerd-dom while you eat, with everything from an eatery with an actual TARDIS to a bar designed by H.R. Giger himself. It’s kinda like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, except that you won’t have to put up with the guy with the least right to pretentiousness pretentiously pronouncing his last name. So shut the front door and buckle up, because this gangsta trip to Nerdy Flavortown is gonna be off the hook!
The Way Station
The Way Station in Brooklyn, New York is the place to visit for all proper Whovians. This safe haven for Doctor Who fans features an actual TARDIS (which is really a bathroom on the inside), Doctor Who themed drinks and fare, and Doctor Who Sundays where everyone shows up in costume to watch some Doctor Who together in the screening room.
The bar doesn’t just cater to Whovians, though. All nerds are welcome and many other aspects of nerd culture are paid homage. They even do Buffy the Vampire Slayer Monday, where, you guessed it, everyone hangs out and drinks while watching some Buffy. In addition to showing films (including regular features from local filmmakers), the place is a bustling music venue and even hosts a typically nerd-themed burlesque show on the last Thursday of every month.
If you’re not excited about The Way Station by now, then there is something dead inside you.
HR Giger Bar
H.R. Giger was a Swiss surrealist artist perhaps best know for his contribution to the look and feel of the Alien movie franchise and everything that aped its style afterward. The good news for fans of Giger is that they can not only immerse themselves, but also wine and dine, in his unique biomechanical aesthetic that he lent to two bars he designed in Switzerland. The first was opened in 1993 in Chur, Switzerland, while the second was opened in 2003 at the Museum HR Giger in Gruyères, Switzerland.
Everything at both locations, from the walls and ceilings to the tables and chairs, were designed by the artist himself. There were plans being made to bring the Giger Bar to the United States shortly before Giger passed away, but they seem to have understandably been abandoned. Switzerland may be a bit of a trek for some, but spending an evening inside the intense mind of Giger would be well worth it. Just stay away from the braised facehugger. If improperly prepared, it can lead to some really nasty indigestion.
This quaint cafe in Milan, Italy was designed by visionary director Wes Anderson. The cute little eatery is absolutely littered with Anderson’s signature style and makes visitors feel like they’ve truly stepped into one of his films. The cafe features a pastel decor, an endless supply of quirky kitsch, and the most symmetry you’ll find outside of a cafe designed by Kubrick.
About the cafe, Anderson has said:
“While I do think it would make a pretty good movie set, I think it would be an even better place to write a movie. I tried to make it a bar I would want to spend my own non-fictional afternoons in.”
The cafe also boasts a snazzy jukebox curated, of course, by Anderson, as well as a couple pinball machines, one paying homage to a Wes Anderson short film, Castello Cavalcanti, and the other showcasing Steve Zissou from The Life Aquatic.
If you’re a Wes Anderson fan at all and you ever find yourself wandering around Milan, you now know what to do.
The Grillenium Falcon
Okay, so this isn’t a restaurant or bar, but a food truck still counts as an eatery, right? And with a name like The Grillenium Falcon, this bit of genius in Fayetteville, Arkansas easily secures its place as the best name on this list. The Grillenium Falcon operated from the restaurant Hammontree’s Grilled Cheese and offered 15 varieties of grilled cheese, including 26 cheese options, six vegetables, seven sauces and spreads, and eight types of meat, as well as salads and homemade soups. The sandwiches had interesting names like “Jack to the Future,” “East of Edam,” and “Cheebacca.”
Unfortunately, this truck no longer seems to be traversing the streets of Fayetteville in less than twelve parsecs, but with any luck, one day it will be discovered and revitalized by a plucky, young scavenger.
The Green Dragon Inn
This bar/restaurant isn’t just a recreation from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit sagas, it’s the real thing! Well… kinda. Located on 14 acres of lush, rolling hills in Waikato, New Zealand, The Green Dragon Inn is part of the Hobbiton Movie Set, which is where Peter Jackson filmed portions of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s sprawling fantasy epic. Even thought the interior shots of the Inn were shot in a studio, they were meticulously recreated at the tourist destination after filming wrapped. Now, tourists can schedule tours of The Hobbiton Movie Set and actually live and drink like real hobbits for a couple of hours.
The Inn offers traditional fare, including their famous beef and ale pie, as well as a selection of beers brewed exclusively for the Inn. The Southfarthing range includes Girdley fine grain amber ale, Oatbarton traditional English ale, Sackville cider, and Frogmorton ginger beer. So what are you waiting for? Fly your ass to New Zealand and get drunk like a hobbit!
For those of you infatuated with vampires, look no further. Located in Tokyo, Japan, Vampire Cafe creates a truly vampiric experience with its dark, blood red ambiance that features a plethora of candles, coffins, and blood-smeared mirrors. The cafe even requires its staff and servers to stay in character as undead ghouls at all times.
The gourmet fare is also heavily influenced by the theme.
While dining on these chilling creations, you’ll want to make sure to have the perfect beverage to wash them down. You can try cocktails like Dracula- The Count’s Power or Iron Maiden- The Virgin’s Fresh Blood. It may sound spooky, but the vibe has been described as just campy enough to strike the perfect balance between scary and fun. Besides, even if it does end up being an actual vampire trap à la From Dusk Til Dawn, the nice thing about it being in Japan is that your chopsticks could double as stakes.
EXP Restaurant + Bar
For all the gamers out there, EXP Bar + Restaurant in Vancouver, Canada is the spot for you. This overloaded gamer’s paradise displays beloved videogame characters on pretty much every surface, from Boos floating on the walls to characters depicted 8-bit style in tilework on the bar. There are always gameplay videos playing on the bar’s huge TV screens and on certain nights it hosts myriad events, including video game tournaments, video game trivia, and even bingo. The full-service bar also boasts some seriously delicious food- especially their burgers!
If you get a chance, make your way up to the Great White North and try some dishes like the Chocobo chicken sandwich, Kale-esi salad, or Alucard’s steak altar. This is one part of the map you’ll definitely want to explore before it’s game over.
If you thought you were going to get out of this list with only one Doctor Who-themed restaurant, think again! This Beacon, New York treat may not keep you imprisoned or steal your DNA, but it’ll delight with little nods to the beloved TV show, including menu items like Big Bang 2 bangers, “fish” fingers and custard, and Madame Pompodour sponge cake.
The enchanting decor features a dalek, a huge Van Gogh exploding TARDIS painting, and, much like The Way Station that was profiled earlier in the list, a TARDIS facade that leads to a bathroom. The owner, who can often be found decked out in TARDIS blue, is a transplant from London, which explains the British sensibilities of the joint. The Pandorica should definitely be on your list of places to experience while the phenomenon of experience is still extant.
Claiming the title “America’s only comic book, science fiction, and video game theme restaurant,” Brooklyn, New York’s Action Burger really is a safe place for nerds. Packed with nerd memorabilia, from arcade games to vintage comics, Action Burger is staffed by a knowledgeable and passionate crew. If you’re looking for a debate on anything nerd, you can probably find it here.
The menu is separated into hero fare and villain fare. Hero food is healthier things like veggie burgers, grilled chicken, wraps, and salads, while villain food is burgers, bacon, hot dogs, and fried foods, which seems to invert the popular Dark Knight quote into “You either die a villain or live long enough to see yourself become a hero.”
Owner Vlane Carter isn’t just a comic book enthusiast, he’s also a creator. He is the author and publisher of the BIO-Sapien series. Many of the dishes at Action Burger are named for characters or technology in the BIO-Sapien series. The restaurant was also featured on the Food Network’s Mystery Diners, where they were trying to solve the mystery of missing comic books. For a place rich in personality and a certain nerdy je ne sais quoi, look no further.
Unique to this list, Barcade is actually a growing chain. With locations throughout the northeastern United States, including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, Barcade pioneered the trend of combining a craft beer bar with an arcade, which is being emulated by so many other bar and arcade hybrids throughout the rest of the country. The original Barcade opened with a line-up of classic games like Tapper, Q*Bert, Donkey Kong, Tetris, Frogger, and Rampage. Nowadays, if you’re looking for a video game that’s been placed inside a person-sized box, you can probably find it at Barcade.
With the growing cultural influence of people who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, Barcade was really an inevitability. Exerting incredible influence over movies and television, as evidenced by the resurgence and subsequent domination of properties like Marvel and DC superheroes, Transformers, G.I. Joe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and countless others, the present belongs to the children of the 80’s and 90’s. And what better way to please those adults who are still very much in touch with their inner child than to provide the best aspects of both worlds, alcohol and video games!? There might be a lot of things in the world that can get you down, but if you’re anywhere from your mid-twenties to late thirties, take solace in the fact that much of the world right now is yours, as your childhood is being rebuilt around you.
So that’s it for this space/time warping road trip. It was the bomb dot com! Winner, winner, Galactus‘ dinner! Guy Zangieri will catch you next time!