By Nile Cappello | November 11, 2016 | Food & Drink
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
PHOTOGRAPHY COURESY OF UMBRELLA LA (NORAH); MIRO; Erica Rae Brown (PLANT FOOD + WINE); Joshua Targownik (MANUELA); Tabula Rasa Bar