1The McBarge (Vancouver, British Columbia)
Built for Expo '86, the McBarge (officially the Friendship 500) was meant to show off cutting edge tech and design.
The state-of-the-art McBarge had garden rooms, tasteful art, and panoramic views, but the key attraction was the hidden kitchen, with a conveyor belt that delivered burgers and fries hot to the serving counter.
The restaurant was part of a new marketing ploy based around "affordable elegance"— hence, the upscale floating bistro feel.
After the exhibition, the plan was for the restaurant to be floated to a new location, allowing people to enjoy their Quarter Pounders on the open water, but it never really took off. The McBarge has spent the last 30 years anchored, a disused and unloved relic, just offshore in Burrard Inlet, in southwestern British Columbia.
But that's about to change. Owner Howard Meakin has moved the boat to Maple Ridge, where it is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar makeover. And while it may not come back as a McDonald's it IS coming back. (Meakin can't tell us how, per his non-disclosure agreement.) Stay tuned!
2The Murinsel Cafe (Graz, Austria)
This artificial floating platform lies in the middle of the Mur River. It was designed by New York artist Vito Acconci on the occasion of Graz becoming the 2003 European Capital of Culture.
The building, in the form of a giant sea shell, measures 47 m (154 ft) in length. Two footbridges connect it with both banks of the Mur. The center of the platform forms an amphitheater, and the cafe is a wonderful place to drink coffee or enjoy a cocktail.
3The Waterfront (Covington, Kentucky)
Some floating restaurants see a run of misfortune they just can't overcome. The Waterfront is one establishment that couldn't beat the odds.
“We've been hit by runaway barges. We've been hit by a tugboat. We've been hit by a runaway iceberg,” owner Jeff Ruby said. “I almost lost an employee when it hit us.”
In 2014, he finally lost the restaurant for good when it sank into the Ohio River. A barge that hit the restaurant in Covington, Kentucky, two weeks before it went down, may have caused it to sink.
Ruby hopes to bring back his riverfront restaurant, only, this time, it will be on land. “It's sexy to dine in a floating restaurant, but it's not safe sex,” he said. “It's better just to have the view.”
4The Chowder Barge (Wilmington, CA)
The Chowder Barge was built in 1934 as a support vessel for the film Mutiny On The Bounty. To keep it afloat, it was permanently docked with ferro cement in 1974.
Located amongst the many sailboats and powerboats in Los Angeles Harbor, guests can either drive up to the dock where the Chowder Barge is located or run a dinghy or other small boat up to the guest dock to begin their dining experience.
The barge has been, and continues to be, a favorite filming location in the recent past—Dexter, Sons of Anarchy, Wanted, Sunken City and Inherent Vice have all been shot here.
5Jumbo Kingdom (Hong Kong)
Since 1976, one of Hong Kong's top tourist attractions has been Jumbo Kingdom. This floating restaurant is moored in the middle of Aberdeen Harbor. Designed like a Chinese palace, the restaurant is one of the world's largest—it can seat up to 2,300 diners in a multi-faceted complex, which includes a tea garden and a gourmet restaurant, serving high-quality traditional Chinese and modern fusion dishes.
6The Rustar Floating Restaurant (Dubai Creek, Dubai)
Also billed as one of the world's largest floating eateries, the Rustar Floating Restaurant accommodates up to 400, and is, "designed with all the elements that constitute a memorable evening." A dinner cruise includes a full-service bar, five-star entrees, top notch live entertainment and even Henna painting as you relax amongst the dhow's "expertly handcrafted teak decorations."
7Veli Lake Floating Restaurant (Kerala, India)
Talk about picturesque! Veli Lake is a spectacular natural attraction that flows right into the Arabian Sea. In the center of the lake lies an entire floating village that can only be reached by a series of bridges.
The Veli Lake Floating Restaurant is part of this complex and is connected to the rest of the village with its own tiny floating bridge. Dinner is a seated affair, with a selection of spicy dishes from the region prepared with locally produced products.
8C Restaurant (Vancouver, British Columbia)
Vancouver may have a thing for floating restaurants. The C Restaurant was built on a bed of trash—approximately 1700 plastic bottles made up the base of this gourmet restaurant. The establishment featured six courses of top-notch organic food paired with biodynamic wines and a fantastic view while floating on the fruits of creative engineering.
The C closed its doors in 2014 after being purchased by the Viaggio Hospitality Group, who appear to have built a larger restaurant in the same area. While we don't know what will go in the space where the C was located, we'll keep you informed if a new floating establishment (of any kind) takes its place.