Long gone are the days when the word "café" simply means a place to grab a coffee or tea with friends. Indeed, as chains like Starbucks and The Coffee Bean become more globally ubiquitous, a new breed of themed cafes is taking over the world.
Some of these cafes are remarkable due to their decor (or, for now let's say "ambiance"), in spite of having relatively pedestrian menus. Others might look ordinary from the outside, but offer bizarre food and beverage selections. Still other combine these two qualities, but no matter which of the world's strangest cafes you visit, you're sure to have an experience that's out of this world.
Tokyo's Owl Cafés
Truth be told, this entire article could be about weird cafes in Tokyo, whether you visit the city's cat cafes (which are now spreading around the entire world), a reptile cafe in Yokohama or the Robot Restaurant that sits in the neon-bathed wonderland of Kabukicho.
As of now, however, the most unique breed of cafes in Tokyo are the owl cafes popping up around the city—the most convenient are Ikefukuro Cafe in Shinjuku and Akiba Fukurou Owl Cafe in Chiyoda ward.
The menus at these cafes aren't remarkable (as is the case with Tokyo's cat cafes, some feature only vending machines), but then again coffee isn't really the point of them. The owl's majesty notwithstanding, many believe that the birds have healing powers, which alone earns Tokyo's owl cafes a place on this list of world's strangest cafés.
Cereal Killer Cafe in London, UK
Just as Tokyo has a reputation for weird, London has a reputation for being drunk. But the city's Cereal Killer Cafe doesn't (yet) serve any alcohol—the only intoxication you'll get setting foot in here is a sugar rush, from the more than 100 varieties the cereal and 30 types of milk it stocks.
How about kitschy British "Royal-O's" themed to William and Kate, with vanilla almond milk? Of course, even if stick to something more classic (you can't go wrong with, say, Cheerios with whole milk and a spoonful of honey), the bizarre ambiance of this place is sure to make you feel special inside—is there anything more comforting than sitting in a room full of grown-ups eating cereal?
Strange Donuts in St. Louis, MO
While Tokyo's owl cafes are weird in terms of their ambiance and Cereal Killer gets points for its funny name and ambitious theme, Strange Donuts doesn't look particularly odd from the outside—well, minus having the word "strange" in its name.
Indeed, the daily offerings at Strange Donuts are actually rather normal, with the exception of the "Gooey Butter" donut themed to St. Louis' infamous cake of the same name, and perhaps the "Campfire" S'more donut.
It's not until you get to the super-limited daily specials, which have recently included "Chicken & Waffles" and "Sriracha Short Rib," that Strange Donuts starts to live up to its name. That and the fact that it's one of only a small number of U.S. establishments that accept bitcoin, a crypto-currency that's becoming more ubiquitous, but still far from being mainstream.
Café Therapy in Prague, Czech Republic
If London is the drunkest city in Europe, Prague definitely comes a close second, if only due to all the Londoners who holiday there. For this reason and others, the concept of Café Therapy is strange: A sober space (it specializes in gourmet food rather than beverages of any sorts, in fact) that employs rehabilitated drug users, and also donates a portion of its proceeds to combating the addiction epidemic in the Czech Republic.
One of the world's strange cafes, to be sure, but also one of the most wonderful. The next time you're in Prague, make sure to consider skipping happy hour or a night out and enjoy delicious, homemade Czech food at Café Therapy instead.
Unicorn Cafe in Bangkok, Thailand
If you haven't already read about the Unicorn Cafe, located in the heart of Bangkok just steps away from one of the city's busiest public transport nexuses, the good news is that unicorns are eternal and time matters very little to them.
The better news is that while most of the items of this list of world's strangest cafes are either more appealing in terms of their theme or food/beverage offering, the Unicorn Cafe succeeds in both these areas. It's not only decorated with unicorns big and small and summarily iridescent in its color and ambiance but offers unicorn-themed food, including an (imitation) Unicorn Burger and a drink called "Unicorn Blood," among other items that will inspire you to walk the rainbow road to the cafe.
Cafe Jamban in Semarang, Indonesia
Upon first inspection, Cafe Jamban seems just about as undeserving of acclaim as Semarang, the city in Indonesia's central Java region where it operates. But just as the Dutch-colonial flavor of Semarang slowly charms and captivates you as you walk around its city center, the reason for the inclusion of Cafe Jamban on the list of world's strangest cafes take a moment to set in.
Well, if you don't speak Bahasa Indonesia anyway—the word "Jamban" means "toilet" in the language, so locals probably aren't surprised to find a general toilet theme upon walking inside.
Then again, Cafe Jamban goes beyond a toilet theme, serving up Indonesian dishes like Nasi Lemak and Beef Rendang in bowls shaped like squat toilets. And as is the case with Prague's Café Therapy, Cafe Jamban has a greater social mission: Educating visitors about the sanitation issues Indonesia faces and donating a certain percentage of its profits to helping the development therein.