9 Restaurants That Take Their Names From Literature

Alices Adventures in Wonderland

Harry Potter fans have it good—when they want to revisit J.K. Rowling’s richly imagined world, there’s an entire theme park to visit, rendering famed locales like Diagon Alley and Hogwarts Castle in intricate detail.

Not all stories lend themselves to the theme park treatment, of course. Luckily, there are still plenty of places you can frequent to feel a bit closer to your favorite books, if only in a spiritual sense. Below, find 9 restaurants that take their names from literature, then tell us which ones we’re forgetting in the comments:

Starbucks (Everywhere)
In what is perhaps the most ubiquitous literary reference of all time, the Starbucks coffee chain takes its name from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (Starbuck is first mate to Captain Ahab). Oddly enough, Starbucks was the second choice, after one of the company’s cofounders rejected the name Pequod. Which brings me to…

Pequod’s Pizza (Chicago, IL)
Another eatery that owes its moniker to Melville, Pequod’s Pizza is named after Captain Ahab’s whaling ship. They specialize in deep dish with caramelized cheese crust, which has little to do with the sea but everything to do with being delicious (aside from Starbucks, this is the only place on the list I’ve actually been to, so I can vouch). The pizzas are served on little wooden cutting boards in the shape of a whale, and also their mascot is a whale with underwear on its head. I am a little confused about that last part.

Moby Dick House of Kebab (Washington, D.C. and surrounding environs)
One more great white whale reference before we’re done. There’s something delightfully incongruous about a Persian restaurant named after one of the great American novels. The chain’s owner explains that the name is a bit of an in-joke, taken from a similar establishment that once operated outside the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

Tequila Mockingbird (Ocean City, MD)
I am pretty sure there’s nothing more of To Kill a Mockingbird in this Mexican bar and grill than the name. But oh, what a name it is.

Le Hobbit Bistro (Québec City, Québec)/The Hobbit Café (Houston, TX)
Though the Tolkien estate has proved to be a bit, shall we say, protective of its copyrights, there are still a whole host of pubs and restaurants named after the people of the Shire. And why not? Who loves good food, good drink, and good company more than a hobbit? Some show more commitment to The Hobbit theme than others. A random survey finds Le Hobbit Bistro in Québec City limits things to a mention of the “character of Tolkien” on its website, while The Hobbit Café in Houston features a special menu with sandwiches named after various characters (this vegetarian would like a Bilbo the Magnificent: guacamole, cucumber, tomato, and alfalfa sprouts with mayo).

Alice’s Tea Cup (New York, NY)
If you’re going to name your restaurant after literature’s most famously loony tea party (from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, naturally), there’s no need for subtlety, and there’s little to be found at Alice’s Tea Cup. From the menu divided into chapters, to the murals depicting scenes from the book, to the butterfly wings worn by the servers, the effort is made to entirely transport you to Wonderland. Just make sure to carefully check the label before taking a bite.

The Lovecraft Bar (Portland, OR)
If you don’t think a dance bar heavily themed upon the Cthulhu Mythos sounds like a fabulous idea, then, well, you are not invited to my birthday party.

Chapterhouse Café (Philadelphia, PA)
I’m going deep nerd on you with this one. This café takes its name from Chapterhouse: Dune, the fifth book in Frank Herbert’s enduring Dune series. There is a reportedly a dog running around that is named after one of the key characters in the saga, and “spice mélange” tea is a signature menu item. Surprisingly, they have neglected to integrate a “sandworm” theme into the menu, despite the obvious “Chai-Hulud” pun (hey, I said I was going deep nerd).

Bluebeard (Indianapolis, IN)
This James Beard Award–winning restaurant is named after the novel by Kurt Vonnegut, Indianapolis’s native son. The décor (including typewriters and hand-typed menus) pays tribute to the author, who famously never trusted word processors or computers, and there’s a Kilgore Trout cocktail on the menu (Crusoe spiced rum, Lazzoroni amaretto, Averna, Wilks and Wilson orgeat, and lime).

What book would you name your restaurant after?

  • Jacqueline Johnson

    There is (or was 7 years ago) a Boo Radley’s restaurant in Mobile, Alabama.

  • mim

    There’s an O’Melia’s in New York City, which I’m guessing is from Thomas Hardy’s poem “The Ruined Maid.”

  • Htom_Sirveaux

    Not to pick too many nits, but the Tolkien estate was pretty lenient in regard to the world Professor Tolkien left to us. It was only after New Line Cinema acquired said rights that *it* began bringing the hammer down on every little enterprise that used any term from Middle Earth. Just sayin’….

    • I don’t profess to be an expert, but from what I have read around the internet, the lawsuits all stem from the Saul Zanetz company, which has owned the rights to The Hobbit since 1976 and has actually sued New Line over profit disputes from the films. One of the posts I liked also mentions the involvement of the Tolkien Estate in the complaint against the business owner.

      However, that doesn’t mean you are wrong when you posit that Christopher Tolkien isn’t that concerned with a restaurant called The Hungry Hobbit — it certainly isn’t entirely clear. Thanks!

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