In the saturated culinary landscape of Los Angeles, restaurateurs and chefs are increasingly being challenged to provide a 360-degree dining experience—one that extends beyond the food to plating, drinks, and service. But as new dining concepts seek a way to win over the local population of discerning foodies, restaurant design has emerged as a competitive advantage. Here, five local spots worth visiting.
The first thing you’ll notice about West Hollywood newcomer Norah is that the space is cavernous, marked by vaulted ceilings, a large outdoor patio, and multiple dining rooms. The second thing you might notice is the art, hung not as an afterthought, but as a clearly purposeful and integral element to the restaurant’s design.
Owner Rohan Talwar states: “The striking wrap-around bar carries out the restaurant’s two-toned, black-and-white theme—one side adorned in white marble the other in dark stone—enhancing the dining space’s large-scale original black-and-white paintings by designer Thomas Schoos.” 8279 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, 323-450-4211
A bona-fide architectural gem, Miro’s gold-and-black color scheme and geometric facade immediately impresses—and hints at what’s to come inside of this new Mediterranean-focused restaurant. Once through Miro’s front doors, diners are treated to a sprawling, open-concept top floor centered on an over-sized bar, and a basement level featuring a second dining space and tucked-away whiskey tasting room.
Of the space, designer Yasmeen Khan says: “Consciously steering away from local (industrial vintage) trends, Miro takes a more unique, elegant approach synchronizing Chef Gavin Mills' meticulous artisanal culinary process within a receptive space of comfortable luxury.” 888 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 213-988-8880
Though almost hidden on the far northwest side of Abbot Kinney, Matthew Kenney’s Plant Food + Wine is distinctly Venice, both in its vegan menu and bright space. While the storefront-style entrance and intimate front dining room suggests a cozy setting, the surprisingly vast back patio, where diners sit alongside an edible flower and herb garden, impresses and beckons guests to stay a while.
As Kenney explains, the design reflects the menu: “The restaurant’s indoor-outdoor space and refined beach ambiance is the perfect match for plant-based cuisine.” 1009 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, 310-450-1009
When Swiss-based gallery Hauser, Wirth & Schimmel announced they would be launching Manuela as part of their sprawling Arts District concept housed in a converted Pillsbury flour mill, the bar for design was set remarkably high. With the opening of the southern-fare restaurant this October, the finished concept from designer Matt Winter, architect Evan Raabe, and Chef Wes Whitsell excelled in both design and food.
Whitsell notes: “Working in such an artistic environment is very motivating and adds a whole new dimension to the adventure. The visual stimulation comes from the incredible artwork all around you, while my focus is on producing wholesome, great-tasting dishes to complement the surroundings.” 907 E. 3rd St., Los Angeles, 323-849-0480
Just opened in September, this Los Feliz Thai town spot serves up craft beers, wines, and elevated comfort bites—all with a side of local flair that has quickly made this charming bar a go-to for eastsiders. The design features a sleek black exterior, large glass windows, and a simple, clean interior décor centering on a large brick tree mural, which runs alongside one of the main walls.
For this piece, designer Ricki Kline drew inspiration from a brick mural by Portuguese graffiti artist Alexandre Farto. To make it, they looked outside traditional methods: “We removed the paint and plaster to expose the brick as an organic image. This provided a more unique and interesting back drop to the bar and allowed us to preserve some of the original historic fabric of the building.” 5125 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles