Dining Down Memory Lane: 20 Classic Restaurants from the 1990s We'll Never Forget

By Jack Ripley | April 10, 2024

Rainforest Cafe

For every McDonald's or Subway, there were a few restaurants that weren't quite as successful. Though some made a big splash when they first arrived, they fizzled out as times - and customer tastes – changed. Embark on a nostalgic journey through time as we reminisce about the beloved eateries that defined the dining scene of the '90s. If you can still remember when "Seinfeld" and "Friends" ruled Thursday nights and renting videos at Blockbuster was king, join us on a look back at the forgotten restaurants of the 1990s that we still miss.

 

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For many kids, no special occasion was complete without dinner at the Rainforest Café. Though it was one of the many entertainment restaurants that popped up in the 1990s, it offered diners something different. From the moment you walked inside, you felt like you were in the middle of a real rainforest. The décor included bricks painted to look like rocks and artificial plants and leaves around every corner. There were even fake birds hidden in the foliage. Some locations also had waterfalls and live shows.

Topping it off were the animatronics. Imagine sitting down to a meal while seeing tigers, monkeys, elephants, and other wild animals playing nearby. By the end of the '90s, the Rainforest Café had 11 locations, including its flagship restaurant in the Mall of America. Though not as popular today, the chain still has a few restaurants in the U.S. and overseas.

Planet Hollywood

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Imagine seeing Madonna's iconic bustier or Rocky's boxing gloves just feet away from your table. Those of us who had the chance to dine in a Planet Hollywood location had this experience. Planet Hollywood was essentially what happens when you combine a Hollywood museum with a restaurant. Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger were among the early investors. They even showed up to unveil new locations and donated some of their costumes and film memorabilia.

Planet Hollywood was more than just a restaurant, though. Many people came just for the souvenirs, which they bought from the on-site stores. Just like the Hard Rock Café, Planet Hollywood offered shirts, jackets, glasses, and other souvenirs. Most featured the chain's blue planet logo on the front, along with the city's name. While there were dozens of Planet Hollywood locations in the '90s, the chain is down to just three today.