The cult of extreme eating has become surprisingly mainstream. Some of the world's most frightening culinary experiences have entirely normal menus - instead, the restaurants themselves provide the fear factor.
1. Fortezza Medicea - Voltera, Italy: Located within a 500-year-old fortress near Pisa, this 120-seat restaurant also happens to be a maximum-security prison. The menu of Southern Italian favorite dishes is prepared and served by convicted murderers and armed robbers. Meals are accompanied by classical piano, courtesy of one musically inclined convict, and patrolled by 20 wardens.
2. Dans Le Noir - New York City, U.S.: In August 2012, this Parisian restaurant chain introduced America to its unique brand of blind fright. In a pitch-black New York City dining room, light-emitting cell phones are verboten and menus are a mystery. The kitchen cuts all elements of the unknown meal into small, bite-sized portions. Most unsettling of all, guests sit elbow-to-elbow at 72-person communal tables, to encourage socializing with total strangers in a cavernous, unlit space.
3. Dinner In The Sky - Worldwide: The vertigo-inspiring Dinner in the Sky serves five courses at a free-floating table suspended some 160 feet in the air. After signing a $10 million insurance waiver, 22 diners are strapped into their chairs and elevated above local landmarks or cityscapes by a 200-ton crane. Created in Belgium, the global menace has appeared alongside the Eiffel Tower, throughout Central London and above Niagara Falls.
4. Poogan's Porch - Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.: Poogan's Porch serves elegant Lowcountry fare like crab soup and roasted grouper over pulled pork ravioli. Meals are closely monitored by the ghost of one-time homeowner Zoe St. Armand, who killed herself on the central staircase 100 years ago. Her black-clad figure has been seen roaming the dining room so often that local police have stopped filing reports. A ghost dog, the namesake Poogan, who died in 1979, has also been felt sniffing underneath tables.
5. Disaster Café - Lloret de Mar, Spain: Not enough turbulence in your daily meal? Head to Disaster Café on Spain's scenic Costa Brava, where the underground dining room simulates 7.8 earthquakes nightly. Wait staff don protective headgear and reflective vests, and patrons are advised to wear machine washable clothing, as the fake earthquake will send wineglasses and dinnerware flying.