Speaking generally, underground restaurants are best-kept-secrets, and eating at one is by reservation only – if you can find the contact details. However, there are a few restaurants around the world that literally offer dining underground.
Set in caves and grottoes, their unusual locations and sumptuous menus mean they are usually also by reservation only. As for their prices, let’s just say that playing bingo for money, and winning at it, will help pay the bill. Here are 5 of the world’s best cave restaurants.
5. Bientang’s Cave Restaurant, South Africa
Located in picturesque Hermanus and overlooking Walker Bay, Bientang’s is a cave restaurant and wine bar with a history. It is said that what is now a popular destination for delectable seafood was once home to a woman named Bientang, famous for her fiery temper and supernatural powers.
Whether the stories are true can never be proved, but what is certain is that the two-tiered venue named in her honour is both child- and pet-friendly, and, at certain times of the year, even offers sightings of whales in the bay.
4. Ristorante Grotta Palazzese, Italy
If you are heading to Italy between May and October, and have the budget for it, be sure to book at table at Ristorante Grotta Palazzese. It is found in the Summer Cave at the Grotta Palazzese Hotel in Polignano a Mare, and is famous for its exquisite location with a view of the Adriatic Sea, as well as for its authentic Roman cuisine.
According to locals, the cave was used for lavish banquets from the 1700s onwards.
3. The Caves Hotel, Jamaica
The private dining caverns of Jamaica’s Caves Hotel are accessible to guests only, which makes getting in a little trickier than simply booking a table for supper. That said, if you can afford it, you and your partner get a table for two in a cave with dozens of candles, a carpet of bougainvillea petals, and a sea view.
After a seafood supper, you can retire to a cliffside cottage, or take a stroll along a 7-mile beach.
2. Alux Restaurant, Mexico
Located in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, the Alux Restaurant is set in a cave large enough to accommodate 250 diners.
The cavern is separated into smaller dining rooms, and it also boasts a cocktail lounge and a walkway that offers chances to explore the unusual setting.
The menu has Mayan influences, and staff are dressed in traditional Mayan costume, which all makes for an unforgettable experience.
1. Ali Barbour’s Cave, Kenya
Hidden almost 10 metres underground, Ali Barbour’s Cave at Kenya’s Diani Beach is approximately 180 000 years old. The restaurant it now holds is considerably younger, and well worth a visit.
Its specialities include steak and seafood, which you can enjoy in the glow of candlelight and, if you are lucky enough to be seated near one of the natural holes in the roof, the stars as well.
The restaurant receives brilliant reviews regularly, many of which describe it as an exquisite, bucket-list experience. This, of course, means that booking is essential.