Restaurants in Comic Books
You can learn much about the world around you by the food that you eat. That extends to the restaurant community, fictional or otherwise. Restaurants have always been at the frontlines of culture, a common ground for sampling new experiences or a meeting place to gather and learn from one another. In every medium —fictional or otherwise— restaurants tell you the story of that world around them, be that in the cuisine of choice, the available food, or in the rules for who is welcomed and who is not. While restaurants in comic books seem trivial, they are often used to reflect the challenges or socio-political culture around them, giving you a tiny glimpse into a larger world.
Restaurants in Comic Books
In all of the multiverse of comics, there are scant few restaurants that make recurring appearances throughout. Whether in the real or fictional world, restaurants are a neutral ground, a place to dine and relax. As such, they rarely take up much page time in mainstream comics, which we’ll define here by superheroics and not the type of smaller, more intimate stories from indie publishers. While superheroes spend more time fighting crime than having a quiet lunch, that doesn’t mean you can’t find restaurants in their world. Restaurants in comic books tell you plenty about the world they inhabit. Let’s take a look at a few.
Big Belly Burger
Big Belly Burger is often featured in the background of the DC Universe character The Flash. A super speedster, the Flash’s powers burn an extraordinary amount of calories, making for a hungry character. Because of that need for constant fuel, the Flash is often seen eating fast food, which is both an in-universe joke about the character and a comment on the fare’s relative affordability. Unlike characters like Batman or Iron Man, The Flash (in any incarnation) operates on a middle-class budget, making quick-service food a must.
A location run by the demon Mephisto, think of Mephisticuffs like a magical version of Medieval Times. Appearing in a spin-off of the Avengers titles, Mephisticuffs is an underground fight club/restaurant located in the fictional city of Bagalia. Like a villainous NYC, Bagalia is known for welcoming and fostering the criminal element. It makes sense then that their restaurants would feature violence as part of the central attraction.
The Shawarma Palace
Appearing as a throwaway line from Tony Stark at the end of the first Avenger’s (Marvel) movie, The Shawarma Palace is introduced in the final post-credits sequence as a reprieve battle-weary heroes. Not only did the restaurant survive the battle of New York City, but the staff was ready to serve the Avengers soon thereafter. While the film was released in 2012, it was a prescient reminder of the restaurant industry’s perseverance.
A restaurant owned by hero/entrepreneur Booster Gold, Planet Krypton is the DC Universe equivalent of Planet Hollywood. The restaurant exists in a future DC multiverse as a celebration of all things superheroic. A museum of sorts, the restaurant features staff dressed as classic superheroes, including Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Planet Krypton reflects the cultural importance and real-world bankability of superheroes.
Written by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, Get Jiro! was published by the now-defunct Vertigo imprint from DC Comics. In Bourdain’s fictional world, master chefs control the underworld as ruthless gatekeepers of culture. A parody of his experiences, the comic book offers a glimpse into the competitive and often cut-throat professional restaurant work world.
The Gunga Diner is seeded quietly in the background of the world of the Watchmen. An Indian food franchise, the restaurant was designed by creator Alan Moore to portray global strife discreetly. After wars and massive famine in India, refugees poured into the United States. With those refugees came a blending of cultures, with the Gunga Diner replacing traditional staples of the American landscape like McDonald’s with something different.
Bars in Comic Books
It’s no real surprise that bars play a recurring role in comic books as venues for exposition dumps and/or rests in the action. Throughout human history, alcohol has served the role of social lubricant and drinkable alternative to potentially unsafe/pre-sanitation waters. Bars and pubs are communal spaces that afford a certain irreverence, whether that’s a place to unwind or commiserate. Let’s look at a few prominent examples of bars in superhero comics and what they tell us about that world.
The Oblivion Bar exists outside of known reality in the DC Universe, as a haven for magic-users looking for like minds. As a magical locale and pocket dimension, the bar changes shape to accommodate patrons. While the Oblivion Bar might benefit from a guest management system to keep parties at odds separated, it does have a magical bartender to help navigate the crowd and follow all the appropriate Dram Laws to keep guests safe.
Harry’s Hideaway/The Green Lagoon
Finding someplace to relax isn’t always particularly easy for the X-Men mutants, a racial metaphor that mirrors the Civil Rights movements from the 60s and beyond. Mutants in the Marvel Universe come in all shapes and sizes, from mutants who pass to those who don’t. While mutants are often persecuted in the Marvel Universe, there are a few spots more than happy to help. The first x-haunt was Harry’s Hideaway, a mutant friendly bar just down the road from the X-mansion in Westchester, New York. A pub, Harry’s offered mutants a place to exist free of judgment, even going so far as to host events for the X-Men and their extended friends and family.
By comparison, the Green Lagoon turns the notion of a mutant-friendly spot on its head as a mutant-only bar located on the now sovereign X-Nation of Krakoa. The mutant exclusive location is the perfect hang out for decompressing and debriefing and features a who’s who of patrons.
The Bar With No Name
Of all the dives on this list, the Bar With No Name is the most notorious as a hang-out for villains. A franchise set in a few locations, the Bar With No Name provides a neutral ground for super-criminals to fraternize, whether that’s celebrating a heist or planning their next. This particular venue is the perfect place to employ a guest reservation system, ensuring that no do-gooders interrupt the vibe.
Conclusion: Restaurants in Comic Books
These are just a handful of bars and restaurants in comic books and superhero media. In each example, the establishment tells you a little about that world, including their cultural values; the things that warrant parody or celebration; or general socio-economic complexities. Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments section below.
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About the Author
Syd is a content marketing specialist, which are fancy words for writing pretty to tell a good story. He likes writing things about food, drinks, and music. He’s a musician himself, a father of two, and loves his wife a whole lot.