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The science behind the growing experiential dining craze is compelling, and the multi-sensorial possibilities are seemingly endless. So which culinary adventure should you try? Here’s our guide to some of the best hot spots around the globe.

Photography provided by Under

If You Like Dinner with a Side of Adventure

At Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort in the Philippines, patrons travel to the base of Labasin Falls, where they can enjoy kamayan, a traditional Filipino feast that’s served in banana leaves and eaten with your hands.

Meanwhile, Norway’s aptly named Under invites you to savor your meal submerged 5.5 meters beneath Lindesnes’ icy waters. While dining on briny sea kale, foodies can enjoy unfettered views of the majestic marine life of the North Sea.

Photography provided by Umstead Hotel

If You Love Art as Much as You Love Food

Chef Steven Greene of Herons restaurant at North Carolina’s Umstead Hotel models his dishes after the property’s unique paintings, complete with curatorial explanations. “People want an element of surprise,” he explains. “If you’re eating at a restaurant and the food is phenomenal but you’re arguing with your significant other, the food isn’t going to taste as good. Your senses are enhanced throughout a positive, immersive experience. A special moment makes food taste even better.”

Greene may be onto something. Recent Oxford research revealed that when a salad resembled artwork by Russian painter and abstraction pioneer Wassily Kandinsky, diners enjoyed it more than traditionally plated fare.

Photography provided by Le Petit Chef

If You Want to Experience Ratatouille IRL (Sort Of)

The team at Le Petit Chef inside Hotel Phillips in Kansas City, Missouri, uses cutting-edge 3D technology to project an animated 2.5-inch-tall chef onto tables. At a recent dinner, as classic French music played and guests looked on with bemused wonder, the diminutive augmented-reality chef crawled out from a hole in the table, fired up a steak on each of their plates, used a tiny saw to chop down a stalk of broccoli, got into a skirmish with a pesky fly and briefly caught himself on fire. As the food he cooked was delivered moments later (after the faux fire had been extinguished, of course), patrons burst into applause.

Photography provided by Rosewood Mayakoba

If Youre Craving a Clandestine Cocktail

Restaurants aren’t the only establishments upping the ante when it comes to seducing adventurous guests with unique experiences. La Isla Secreta at Mexico’s Rosewood Mayakoba aims to recreate the intrigue of a 1920s-era speakeasy. Whimsical lagoons hide its undisclosed location, accessible only by boat, and customers must use a coin procured at the hotel’s Zapote Bar to get there. “There’s something magical about gliding through the lagoons under the stars,” says Mixology Director Joshua Monaghan.

Photography provided by Alchemist

If Youre Ready for Food that Makes You Think

In Copenhagen, Denmark, two-Michelin-starred eatery Alchemist by famed chef Rasmus Munk boasts a staggering six-hour, 50-course tasting menu that starts with a modern dance and ends with a ball pit. While guests nosh on fare like freeze-dried butterflies and sheep’s brains served in a head-shaped mold, projected AR images and culinary stunts turn the experience into a meditation on some of the thorniest issues of our time.

To wit: Pig’s blood ice cream shaped into a droplet of blood comes paired with a QR code urging diners to donate blood. Before eating an intricately prepared yet somewhat ghoulish-looking course dubbed “burnout chicken,” guests must extract the chicken’s claw from a cage while sitting in a room surrounded by dead farmed chickens in cages. Then as diners are served “plastic fantastic” — a mysterious, diaphanous-looking dish resembling Saran Wrap — images of sea turtles stuck in ocean plastics flash across the walls.

“I hope we will set things in motion,” Munk says. “I want Alchemist to comment on the present and create something that resounds beyond the restaurant industry. I want people to eat — and then think.”

Read this article as it appears in the magazine.

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