Design

The Best Restaurant and Bar Design of 2017

These 15 venues, from San Francisco to St. Moritz, New York to Athens, set a new bar for what a dining and drinking experience can be.

The debut of L.A.’s Vespertine, in October, ignited a fierce debate inside the culinary world about excess and conceptual overreach. “The synergy of setting and sensory delights recalls the fully realized sets of Westworld and Her,” is how our writer described a meal there. The boundaries of dining continued to expand into new realms this year. At barman Ryan Chetiyawardana’s and chef Doug McMaster’s London collaboration, The Cub, the line between food and drink is blurred altogether. Sometimes all it takes is a new gloss to recapture diminishing relevance, which is why we enjoyed the influx of storied restaurants showing off major facelifts this year. A few of our favorites: Maison du Danemark’s dual-concept remake in Paris, the resurrection of a legendary 1930s Athens café, and the relocation of the original Nobu in Manhattan to a stunning Neoclassical space in the Financial District. Finally, either we’re drinking more or bar design is becoming increasingly enlightened. Home Studios’ sophisticated take on an Irish pub and a Blade Runner-esque scotch den by Avroko are proof of that. Here, our all-encompassing look at the most stylish restaurant and bar designs of 2017.


See the rest of our Best of 2017 lists »

Tartine Manufactory, San Francisco

Housed inside Heath Ceramics’ San Francisco outpost, the coolest thing behind this restaurant is its views. Commune Design’s open-plan format for the space a clear line of sight into the kitchen, and a glimpse into the famed bakery’s bread-making process. Read more »

Kulm Country Club, St. Moritz

The Norman Foster–designed dining room in the historic Kulm Hotel in the Swiss Alps balances contemporary style with regional materials, allowing for just enough kitsch to solidify its ski chalet credentials. Read more »

Flora Bar, New York City

Winner of the first-ever Surface Travel Award for best restaurant, Flora Bar honors its setting in Marcel Breuer’s Brutalist masterpiece now housing the Met’s contemporary exhibitions, while adding a touch of elegance for museum patrons and neighbors. Read more »

Vespertine, Los Angeles

The synergy of setting and sensory delights at this highly conceptual restaurant, designed by architect Eric Owen Moss—like a 31st-century time warp. Read more »

Bonechina, Frankfurt

The conceptual space from Studio Aberja defies easy classification. But one thing is for certain: it’s as artful as it is homey, as clever as it is intimate, right down to the serve-yourself pre-batched cocktails. Read more »

Sean Connolly, Dubai

Designed by Sydney-based firms Alexander & Co. and Tribe Studio, the 350-seat bistro inside the Dubai Opera House takes its cues from the seafood-heavy menu and the coast of Australia, where its eponymous chef has lived for almost 30 years. Read more »

Nobu Downtown, New York

This summer, the first-ever Nobu relocated from Manhattan’s Tribeca to a gorgeous Neoclassical building in the Financial District, designed by longtime collaborator David Rockwell. Read more about chef Nobu Matsuhia in our cover story »

Maison du Danemark, Paris

A much-needed face-lift by Danish-Italian duo Gamfratesi has transformed this grande dame on the Champs-Élysées into one of the most forward-looking concepts in Paris, featuring two restaurants with contrasting personalities. Read more about France’s restaurant revival »

Ristorante All’Oro, Rome

Shuttered for more than a year, Riccardo di Giacinto’s Michelin-starred restaurant, known for putting playful spins on traditional Roman dishes, reopened last spring inside a moody space designed by di Giacinto and his wife, Ramona. Read more about Rome’s new restaurants »

Bloom in Town, Puglia, Italy

Architect and designer Serena Rosato captures the city’s beach bar party attitude with a fun-loving “jungalow design,” that comes complete with flamingo-print wallpaper, midcentury lines, and pop-art influences. Read more »

Somerset, Santa Barbara, California

Blending subtle British elegance with the swagger of a Parisian grand café, Somerset, the latest from Los Angeles–based designer Steve Hermann, is fittingly set against the photogenic backdrop of the American Riviera. What to expect: A Mediterranean-inspired menu served in a courtyard flanked by century-old olive trees, and a playlist by the DJ from Paris’s legendary Hôtel Costes. Read more about what’s new in Santa Barbara »

Cub, London

In collaboration with Brighton chef Doug McMaster, the duo conceived a theatrical, open-plan dining room, designed by Juliet Walmsley, where patrons watch from raised tables of recycled yogurt pots as bartenders and cooks prepare the tasting menus in a bar-kitchen hybrid stage below. Read more »

Cold Drinks, San Francisco

Paying homage to a troika of influences—sci-fi opus Blade Runner, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House, and Shanghai’s golden age—Avroko creates the moodiest of scotch dens. Read more »

Zonars, Athens

This revered 1930s café received such a revamp, it’s practically brand new. For proof, just look to the satin-finished tin bartop, terrazzo mosaic floors, and Kubrick-like symmetry from local architectural firm K-Studio, with rotating exhibitions of works by Picasso, Matisse, and Warhol. Read more »

The Spaniard, New York City

A classic New York tavern meets Irish pub, this new venture is the very best of New York nostalgia in a most gloriously luxe package. Read more »

Le Drugstore, Paris

Tom Dixon’s Design Research Studio reinvents an iconic 60-year-old convenience store on the Champs-Élysées as a stylish brasserie. Read more »

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