They say not to judge a book by its cover, but as a self-professed design junkie I have to admit to having eaten at a restaurant purely for its interior design on many occasions. Lucky for me, my meals in those establishments almost always turn out to be delicious, unforgettable experiences, so maybe there’s something to be said about that. Keep scrolling for 16 design-worthy restaurants you simply must add to your bucket list.
Let’s be real: We would dine at Le Sirenuse’s La Sponda restaurant in Positano for the Michelin star, the view, the food, the wine, and pretty much everything else. But the fact that the restaurant is lit by four hundred flickering candles and draped in climbing vines makes our hearts swoon. Add this one to the honeymoon bucket list.
La Sponda | Via Cristoforo Colombo 30, Positano
It doesn’t take much convincing to dine at The Musket Room in Nolita, which was recently awarded with a Michelin star and is a winner of the Restaurant and Bar Design Award. The 70-seat eatery is lined with a lime-washed exposed brick wall and boasts teal blue banquettes and midcentury lighting.
The Musket Room | 265 Elizabeth St, New York
This intimate restaurant in Miami’s South Beach is an Italian seaside-inspired hotspot. Set in a lush Mediterranean mansion–turned–hotel, Casa Tua (literally your home in Italian) is meant to feel like a home away from home. The courtyard trees are sprinkled with hanging lanterns, while the interiors are decorated simply with ticking-stripe banquettes, rattan chairs, and expertly styled bookcases.
Casa Tua | 1700 James Ave, Miami Beach
Courtesy of The Butler
Nestled in the backstreets of Potts Point, Sydney, The Butler sounds like everything you would want to experience from Australia, and more: a sunset overlooking the Sydney skyline, a relaxed atmosphere, and fresh craft cocktails. The inspiration is French colonial, with wicker cane chairs and stunning foliage wallpaper to prove it. One-way ticket to Australia please!
The Butler | 2011, 123 Victoria St, Potts Point, Sydney
It would be foolish to pretend to want to eat at Copengahen’s Noma for the décor only. It was, after all, voted the world’s best restaurant. But the fact that it’s decorated in a moody, minimal Scandinavian palette that could only be described as 50 shades of grey (and brown) doesn’t hurt. The rustic wood beams and sheepskins draped over midcentury dining chairs might also have something to do with it.
Noma | Strandgade 93, 1401 København K, Copenhagen
Courtesy of Liza Beirut
Consider us officially smitten. Liza Asseily’s Lebanon outpost of her Paris institution has stolen our hearts. With wallpapers ranging from banana leaf to blown-up ancient Lebanese lira (the local currency) and images of a ceramic metropolitan cityscape, the décor transports diners to another world in each of the many rooms of Liza Beirut.
Liza Beirut | Metropolitan Club, Doumani Street, Beirut
Courtesy of Palazzo Margherita
Leave it to the Coppola family to create an unforgettable dining experience. At Palazzo Margherita, their Italian hotel set in a veritable 19th-century palazzo in Bernalda in the south of Italy, one could dine in one of five tiny establishments. Watch the chef prepare fresh authentic Italian dishes in the eat-in kitchen, grab a pre-dinner cocktail at the family bar, or enjoy grilled seasonal vegetables and meat in the Garden Grigliata.
Palazzo Margherita | Corso Umberto I, 64, Bernalda
Courtesy of American Trade Hotel
In the dining room of Panama City’s American Trade Hotel, get a taste of Clara Icaza’s innovative take on Latin American cuisine in a communal atmosphere. We’re delighting in the textured wall hangings, leafy banquette cushions, patterned tiles and brass sconces. It a veritable feast for the eyes.
American Trade Hotel | Plaza Herrera Casco Viejo, Panama
Would I fly all the way to Copenhagen to eat Italian? If the place looked like Cofoco Italy, you bet I would. Designed by Norm Architects, the Italian eatery is a delight of antique brass, Carrara marble, and accents of teal green and chambray blue. They could be serving me Olive Garden and I would still be happy (but I’m sure their food is delicious too)!
Cofoco Italy | Niels Bohrs Allé 2A, Søborg
Courtesy of Watsons Bay Beach Club
Yet another impossibly cool spot to stem out of Australia, the Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel and Beach Club tugs at our beach bum heartstrings. At this point, the fact that Australia has some of the world’s best seafood, and that the restaurant's watermelon salad resembles a rainbow cake, is secondary. We’ll be present for the décor and the sunset cocktails.
Watsons Bay Beach Club | 1 Military Road, Watsons Bay, Sydney
Quirky rustic details are juxtaposed with modern elements in this popular Atlanta bistro. Black steel columns are a stark contrast to the shiny ivory tiles. St. Cecilia serves southern Italian fare in a lively atmosphere with expertly crafted décor. Our favorite detail is perhaps the restroom doors that read “beware of sirens.”
St. Cecilia | 3455 Peachtree Rd, Atlanta
Courtesy of Les Chouettes
You really can’t go wrong if you’re dining at Les Chouettes, a favorite restaurant of Inès de la Fressange. The woman behind the book Parisian Chic essentially invented the French girl way of living. In French, chouette means owl, but it’s also an adjective to denote something that’s fun or great. This 20-meter high establishment sits underneath a large glass roof, the whole space encased in an Eiffel Tower–esque turn-of-the-century iron structure. The place is decorated in patterned tiles, subway tiles, jewel-toned leather seats, and more brass lighting and mirrors than we can count. What’s not to like?
Les Chouettes | 32 Rue de Picardie, Paris
Designed by Steven Gambrel, this small restaurant nestled on a charming West Village street has light and reflective surfaces to mirror the healthy-eating approach of the chef, David Standridge. Though small and understated, Café Clover exemplifies beautiful, elegant restaurant design.
Café Clover | 10 Downing Street, New York
Courtesy of The Line Hotel
Courtesy of HRS
Courtesy of Travel + Leisure
Ian Schrager is the uncontested forefather of boutique hotels and their innovative dining establishments. It comes as no surprise that his latest London EDITION restaurant is a serious feast for the eyes. Michelin starred Jason Atherton presides over this elegant space serving a contemporary British fare.
The London EDITION | 10 Berners St, London
At this point we’re just experiencing severe wanderlust. Do you know any breathtakingly beautiful restaurants we should know about? Sound off in the comments below!