Life in 2020 has been strange, to say the least. The worldwide pandemic has left its mark across every industry and on every country on the planet. While it may be easy to despair at the lifestyles we’ve left behind, we have chosen creativity instead. In a beautiful collaboration of art and science, we have seen the creation of new spaces, inventions, and protocols to keep people safe and enjoying life as we now know it.
The restaurant industry has been on its toes since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. From switching to take out and delivery to limited openings, sometimes followed by quick closings, adaptability has been the name of the game. Indoors, we have seen dining rooms spaced out with fun placeholders, like mannequins, teddy bears, and cardboard cutouts. While other restaurants have put serious work into their outdoor patios by adding space, more superior furniture, and, of course, fire pits to keep diners cozy as temperatures drop, one trend seems to be gaining momentum—dining bubbles.
These dome-like structures allow diners to go mask free with their chosen dining companions. Some are made of plastic or PVC materials. Others are small glasshouses. Both provide privacy, warmth, and reprieve from the wind and elements. Not to mention, they are quite adorable. They are particularly popular at restaurants with a view, allowing guests to overlook beautiful waterfronts or city skylines.
Beatrix in Chicago has begun adding “dining igloos” to stave off the cold season blues, and dining greenhouses for larger parties. While the weather this fall has been unusually warm, restaurants are smart to get ahead of the arrival of bitter winter winds. Igloos include heaters, and should be a beautiful way to enjoy the scenery and city lights regardless of rain, sleet, or snow.
Whether you’re dining in an igloo, bubble, dome, or greenhouse, restaurants are assuring guests these structures are fully sanitized between use. Many restaurants are also adopting serving tools, like longboards, which allow servers to remain outside of the bubble with minimal contact while bringing food and drinks to the table. Dining structures such as these are encouraged for members of the same household as well as those who are part of your “quarantine bubble.” However, as there is less airflow than traditional outdoor dining, you may want to choose another option for meetings with anyone not in your immediate circle of contact.
If you’re ready to have a dining bubble experience of your own, check out the list below.
If you’re craving sushi, Hashiri in San Francisco was one of the first restaurants to offer outdoor dining under a dome in the area.
For vegan eats with waterfront views, check out Mediamatic in Amsterdam. They were also the first venue that captured worldwide attention with their mini-greenhouses.
If you’re looking to take in the skyline, head to the I|O Rooftop at the Godfrey Hotel in Chicago, but not before reserving a private igloo.
For underwater dome dining, check out the Aqua Gastronomy pop up in Singapore. They just added extra holiday dates for the winter after an overwhelming amount of interest.
If you’re looking for adventure, head up to the tree pod dining experience at Soneva Kiri in Thailand. They were social distancing long before it was cool, with just you, your party, and a zip lining server.
Of course, you can also try searching for “dining pods,” “dining igloos,” or “dining bubbles” in Google maps, and see what comes up. Restaurants are adding features like this daily as they adapt to the ever-changing culinary landscape. As always, know current travel restrictions and availability before planning a trip to any location listed.
Meet the Writer!
Desiree Mulkey is a freelance writer and storyteller with a passion for food, health and wellness, and the great outdoors. She is also a proud rescue dog mom to her hiking companion, Louie.