Overview

Los Angeles has a history of giving rise to fast food chains like In-N-Out, California Pizza Kitchen, and Orange Julius, which hasn’t gotten in the way of its reputation for upscale dining at spots like Spago and The Palm. In the city’s culinary scene, celebrity chefs present themselves through their unique restaurants the way big screen stars reach audiences in their films. The two industries often collide, with many Los Angeles spots gaining popularity by making regulars out of A-Listers. Our top 10 L.A. restaurant architects thrive on the pressure to create a distinctive dining experience in a competitive market.
Architects
10
City
1
Projects
18

Top Architects

10
Make Architecture

Architects:
William Beauter, AIA, LEED AP

Awards:
AIA LA Restaurant Design Award Jury Selection

Address:
2664 Lacy St Los Angeles CA 90031

Contact:
(323) 669-0278 |
admin@makearch.com

About Make Architecture

Make is a collaborative design firm that produces architecture as well as furniture and graphics for clients. Each design practice informs the others in this multidisciplinary studio. Founded in 2000 by Jess Mullen-Carey and Bill Beauter, the company focuses on site- and client-specific design solutions. Make has won AIA Los Angeles juried and people’s choice awards for restaurant design. Make’s projects have drawn attention from Dwell, Hospitality Design, The Architect’s Newspaper, GQ, Los Angeles Times, and more.

Featured Projects

Make Architecture designed two spaces for Beer Belly, a craft beer chain owned by couple Jimmy and Yume Han. The 1,500 square-foot space in Koreatown doesn’t give away its past as a dated Chinese restaurant. Dark, medium, and light stained mahogany boards interlock across the ceiling, walls, and integrated banquette seating. The pattern also wraps around the bar where specially trained “beertenders” serve up a rotating roster of 12 local brews. The exterior draws a crowd with street art-style graphics by local artist MR44. At the AIA LA Restaurant Design award-winning Long Beach location, wood also climbs the walls and ceilings, but this time in slats of Douglas fir that allow daylight into the space, and criss cross in the center of the room to form bench backs. The matte black bar and bar back, formed with crystalline facets, adds an organic yet urban touch.

9
Studio MAI

Architects:
Milo Garcia

Awards:
Short list of specific awards

Address:
304 S Broadway Studio 400 Los Angeles CA 90013

Contact:
(310) 255-0982 |
info@studio-mai.com

About Studio MAI

A boutique design company, Studio MAI develops residential and hospitality projects out of their office in the heart of Los Angeles.Through their product design firm, MAI Lab, founder Milo Garcia and his team have developed an intimate knowledge of materials, enabling them to create interiors that surpass a client’s expectations and push the industry forward. The staff also draws on their diverse backgrounds, from fine art to industrial design. Studio MAI designs encourage interaction and lingering, advantages noticed by Los Angeles’ celebrity chef community. Studio MAI projects in the U.S. and abroad have drawn attention from AIA Los Angeles, Surface Magazine, L.A. Weekly, L.A. Mag, and CBS News.

Featured Projects

When Verve Coffee Roasters moved to expand outside of their homebase in Santa Cruz, they collaborated with Studio MAI on Verve Cafe, the company’s first Los Angeles outpost. Verve shares a 1,600-foot space with Juice Served Here, so the space had to reflect and complement both brands. Both nod to organic ingredients and nature, so Studio MAI dressed the patio in vertical gardens and red wood furniture. Inside, the service counter’s mirrored base makes the space feel bigger, while the custom floor pattern, based on an amplifier grill, adds a personal touch and another focal point for guests while they wait for their fresh press and espresso.

8
SFJones Architects

Architects:
Stephen Francis Jones, AIA

Awards:
AIA Los Angeles Restaurant Design Awards

Address:
4218 Glencoe Ave Studio 2 Marina del Rey CA 90292

Contact:
(310) 822-3822 |
info@sfjones.com

About SFJones Architects

Anisette, La Brea Bakery, Spago. SFJones Architects has designed several of L.A.’s most beloved restaurants. Among the firm’s high-profile Los Angeles projects are the Century Plaza Hotel and Lucky Strike Lanes in Hollywood. Outside of the U.S., the firm has designed restaurants in Japan and Kenya. The firm has been recognized by AIA Los Angeles, and their work has appeared in LA Daily News, Los Angeles Times, and Interior Design.

Stephen Francis Jones was once the in-house architect for Wolfgang Puck Food Company, an icon in the Los Angeles food scene. With his experience at WPFC and architecture degrees from University of Florida and UCLA, Jones struck out with his own firm in 1996, but was quickly lured back into the Puck fold with an invitation to design Spago Beverly Hills. Since, the firm has designed Wolfgang Puck eateries around the world.

Featured Projects

SFJones sought impact and drama in the original design of Spago Beverly Hills. One of its standout features was a sloped roof with exposed hardwood beams in purple. The main dining room opened to a herringbone tile patio, sliding etched-glass doors separating the spaces. In 2014, SFJones helped La Brea Bakery to modernize their flagship café without losing their clout. The new bakery is a 4,750 square-foot brick and glass space. The patterned wood plank floor draws customers into the sit-down dining room, with teal wood banquettes, and the takeaway area. In the latter, bread and pastries take center stage in a 35-foot lighted display case seated on a waterfall marble counter. The two zones are divided by a wood-burning stove positioned proudly under the business’s new logo. Clean and elegant, Hamasaku in West Hollywood draws in hungry celebrities with a casually refined menu and atmosphere. The design utilizes blond wood panels set at various angles to create a dynamic, visually stimulating space without appearing busy. Black ceiling beams and flooring create vertical depth. A gravel and wood sitting area adds the open feeling of the outdoors to the dining room.

7
Montalba Architects

Architects:
David Montalba, FAIA, SIA, LEED AP

Awards:
AIA Los Angeles Restaurant Design Awards, AIA National Young Architect Award, AIA Institute Honor Award

Address:
2525 Michigan Ave Bldg T4 Santa Monica CA 90404

Contact:
(310) 828-1100 |
info@montalbaarchitects.com

About Montalba Architects

Montalba Architects has produced humanistic designs for architecture projects in the U.S. and abroad. Their design philosophy is in line with the restaurant market, with a focus on social environments with conceptual intent. Several magazines have covered the firm’s work, including Wallpaper, Montage, Modern Luxury, Surface, and Architectural Digest. The company has earned several AIA design awards, including six for restaurant design since 2007.

David Montalba founded Montalba Architects in 2004, and he continues to lead the firm as Principal. The work he has produced over his 25-year career has garnered honors such as the 2008 AIA National Young Architect Award and a 2011 AIA Institute Honor Award. Montalba Architects has a satellite office in Lausanne, Switzerland, but their headquarters is in Santa Monica’s Bergamot Station arts complex. The site, where more than 40 employees work on designs for their diverse portfolio, enhances the collaborative and creative atmosphere the firm has sought to develop. Montalba Architects pursues progressive design solutions by investing in their staff with educational stipends.

Featured Projects

Chef Bryant Ng’s restaurant Cassia is a 4,800 square-foot indoor/outdoor space in a 1937 Art Deco building in Santa Monica. Its historical character influenced Montalba Architects’ design for the restaurant, which has a main dining room, three bars, and a private dining room. Original exposed concrete is offset by blackened-steel framing between the restaurant’s various zones. Calacatta marble and bleached walnut recall vintage finishes of the 1930s. Cassia routinely lands on lists of L.A.’s top restaurants, and the design earned Montalba Architects a 2017 AIA Los Angeles Restaurant Design Award. The firm used similar finishes to a totally different effect at Nobu Malibu. The beachfront outpost of the celebrity favorite restaurant takes advantage of panoramic ocean views. At this site, bleached wood, concrete, and stone are arranged in a deep-set horizontal terrace that emphasizes both the open-air West coast aesthetic, and the Japanese emphasis on integration with the surrounding environment. The deceptively simple structure won an AIA Los Angeles Restaurant Design Award in 2013.

6
Belzberg Architects

Architects:
Hagy Belzberg, FAIA, OAA

Awards:
AIA Restaurant Design Honor Award, AIA Los Angeles Merit Award

Address:
2321 Main St Santa Monica CA 90405

Contact:
(310) 453-9611 |
studio@belzbergarchitects.com

About Belzberg Architects

Hagy Belzberg established his Santa Monica firm in 1997, and over the last 20 years, has developed a reputation as an intensively involved restaurant designer. Belzberg Architects’ body of work has drawn coverage from over 200 national and international publications, including Interior Design, Architectural Record, and the New York Times, and garnered more than 50 national and local awards. The American Institute of Architects has recognized the firm’s work with more than 20 honors.

Featured Projects

Belzberg Architects transformed a former Brentwood Village medical office into romantic lounge Bar Toscana. Exposed brick and steel-framed windows add to the cool industrial atmosphere. A dark bar top that seats 12, and dark wood floors, glow with light from a backlit bottle display. West Hollywood Prova Pizzeria displays how Belzberg designers are capable of reimagining the ordinary to create individualized designs. The 2,000 square-foot tenant improvement was a finalist for an AIA LA Restaurant Design Award. Belzberg utilized graphics and hand-finished details to elevate simple wood and concrete. Traditional shiplap-style walls retain their comfortable charm, but take on a much younger tone dressed in three different stains and washed-out painted white honeycombs. The honeycomb pattern is repeated in a two-tone, forward-thinking take on a cobblestone floor. An open white subway tile kitchen with marble countertops complete the modernized yet warm pizza shop.

5
Kelly Architects, Inc.

Architects:
George W. Kelly, AIA

Awards:
AIA People’s Choice Award

Address:
2404 Wilshire Blvd 1E Los Angeles, CA 90057

Contact:
(213) 380-8498 |
hello@kelly-architects.com

About Kelly Architects, Inc.

Trends come and go, especially in L.A., so instead of going with whatever style is of the moment, Kelly Architects designs restaurants that play to the qualities that have made their clients successful restaurateurs. The strategy has paid off, with multiple AIA People’s Choice and Restaurant Design awards. Founded in 2003 by George W. Kelly, AIA, the company has built a reputation for dynamic, responsive design that makes the best use of classic elements, while bringing out each venue’s individual character. Kelly Architects’ portfolio of over 250 Southern California venues includes popular spots such as Osteria Mozza, Public School 310, The Falls, Hotel Shangri-La and The Edison.

Featured Projects

AIA People’s Choice award-winner Osteria Mozza is one of L.A.’s most talked about—and most expensive—restaurants. Chef Nancy Silverman worked with Kelly Architects to design a Melrose location worthy of the neighborhood and the award-winning Italian cuisine. The atmosphere reflects the simple but refined menu. Beveled stone bar and table tops pop against the wooden, black floors and back bar. Subtle touches, like marble kickboards beneath the bar, and matching black molding on wood cabinetry, elevate the experience.

4
Knibb Design

Architects:
Sean Knibb

Address:
822 Lincoln Blvd Venice California CA 90291

Contact:
(310) 450-5552 |
info@knibbdesign.com

About Knibb Design

Sean Knibb opened his design/build firm at just 23, and has led his team to become sought-after designers for commercial and residential projects. California Home & Design, Boutique Design, and several other digital and print outlets have sung the praises of Knibb’s work, from a number of spots for notable Chef Roy Choi to boutique hotel, The Line, in Koreatown. Knibb Design focuses on enhancing the environment and working with existing elements to weave comfort and drama into a client’s vision.

Featured Projects

Celebrity chef and restaurateur Roy Choi’s Culver City A-Frame serves up Hawaiian-inspired soul food in a space that feels like an upscale seaside shack. Knibb Designs, Choi’s frequent collaborator, adapted what was previously an IHOP. The ceiling is, indeed, an A-frame of knotty pine planks. Walls of the same wood rise halfway up the structure and curve in toward diners, like the crest of a wave. The cozy dining room is bathed in light from multi-sized windows at one end of the “A.” Another Knibb and Choi venture, Commissary at the Line Hotel, utilizes a different set of materials to create a similarly elevated beach aesthetic. Resembling an oversized greenhouse, the vegetable-focused restaurant sits atop the hotel roof next to an inviting pool. Potted shrubs and hanging plants, along with assorted table shapes, and even a garden hose at one end of the bar, create a backyard environment.

3
Tag Front

Architects:
Mehdi Rafaty, and Mandi Rafaty

Awards:
AIA Design Award, AIA Jury Excellence Award

Address:
1117 N Sherbourne Dr West Hollywood CA

Contact:
(310) 734-8477 |
info@tagfront.com

About Tag Front

Tag Front architecture firm opened in Orange County in 1989 and moved to Los Angeles ten years later. Today, their designs have reached beyond Southern California to Europe and Asia. Founders Mehdi Rafaty and Mandi Rafaty are selective when it comes to new projects and clients. Their personalized approach to commercial, residential, and retail designs thrives on a mutual understanding of the brand’s intent and generally displays their modern aesthetic. One of their repeat clients, Boa Restaurant Group, is known for spots that draw A-listers like Scarlett Johansson, Sharon Stone, and Ryan Seacrest. Where celebrities go, the press follows. Hospitality Design, World Hyper Interiors, and Surface Magazine have taken notice of Tag Front’s AIA award-winning work.

Featured Projects

Boa West Hollywood has a sophisticated and fun atmosphere worthy of its celebrity patronage. Graphic columns radiate from within with warm light, which bounces off of a luxurious gold-panel back wall. More light passes between the laser-cut wood waves that separate wine storage from the main dining room. Still, the light comes across as just enough of a glow to add an energy to the venue, without taking away from its mystique. Round banquettes offer intimacy in what is actually an open setting.

2
Studio Unltd.

Architects:
Greg Bleier

Awards:
AIA Restaurant Design Awards, Los Angeles Business Council Architectural Awards

Address:
1920 Violet St #201 Los Angeles CA 90021

Contact:
(323) 275-4859 |
info@studiounltd.com

About Studio Unltd

Variety, Eater, and Hospitality Design magazine have all published glowing reviews of Studio Unltd.’s clients, some of L.A.’s most popular restaurants. Greg Bleier established the firm less than a decade ago, but with his background in interior design, experience with major architectural firms in New York and L.A., and a dedicated team of Los Angeles’ young design talent, the company has become synonymous with the city’s hottest eateries and culinary celebrities. The studio orients designs around a client’s brand and finds success when they have realized a client’s vision with an expressive space.

Featured Projects

Studio Unltd. transformed a mall parking structure into Simbal, Chef Shawn Pham’s former spot in Little Tokyo. Designs for the Eater L.A.’s Stone Cold Stunner winner made use of exposed concrete and American Ash wood in different finishes to create a beautiful dining room and bar without competing with the bones of the utilitarian building. Simple, black overhead light fixtures dangle among matching exposed duct work. The black comes back again at the bar wrapping around a massive open kitchen. Stainless steel appliances and workspaces bounce light from retractable windows along the street. In Marina del Rey, Chef Jason Neroni’s Catch & Release brings northeastern flavors to SoCal. Studio Unltd. brought Neron’s Maine-inspired menu home by playing off of existing wood paneling with a shingled soffit above the bar and open kitchen. Above the dining room, ropes and light fixtures hanging from pulleys subtly nod at Chef Neron’s fishing background.

1
Preen, Inc.

Architects:
Alexis Readinger, Assoc. AIA

Awards:
AIA Restaurant Design Award

Address:
931 Chung King Rd Los Angeles CA 90012

Contact:
(213) 625-2100 |
info@preeninc.com

About Preen, Inc.

In just over ten years, Preen, Inc. has worked on over 100 projects in the Los Angeles area and abroad. The firm works with hoteliers and chefs to produce progressive and provocative designs. Among their clients, Preen, Inc. counts in-demand brands, such as Umami and Omega. Architectural Digest, Los Angeles Times, Bon Appetit, and Elle Decor are among the print and digital outlets that have covered Preen, Inc.’s work.

Texas-native Alexis Readinger received her Master’s degree in Architecture from UCLA in 1999. Six years later she opened her own hospitality design firm, Preen, Inc. A LEED-certified Green Building Advisor, Readinger is committed to the neighborhood the firm calls home. She serves on the boards of the Chinatown Business Council and the Chung King Road Association. Preen, Inc. and their clients have accumulated nearly 20 design honors and #1 restaurant rankings.

Featured Projects

Odys and Penelope is the most recent restaurant by Michelin-star chefs Karen and Quinn Hatfield. The 4,200 square-foot restaurant is an anchorpoint in the revival of the La Brea corridor. The menu focus on wood-fired and smoked cuisine called for a subdued, comfortable environment. Preen, Inc. designed a neighborhood-style eatery with exposed brick and wood ceiling beams. The open kitchen is inset in a steel sculpture, with large cutouts for storing wood. Custom wooden benches and polished concrete flooring are inviting and warm, but don’t distract from the spectacle of fire and the quality of the food. The Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects awarded Preen, Inc. and Odys and Penelope Best Restaurant Design of 2015. The chefs of Odys and Penelope have another Los Angeles foodie scene darling in Hatfield’s. Having received a Michelin star for the restaurant’s first iteration, the Hatfields looked to expand. A natural palette of acorn and olive give the space a warm, intimate feeling, though the 3,000 square-foot restaurant offers double the seating of the original. The most distinctive feature is a metal and linen chandelier over the main dining room, which takes the form of the molecular structure of honey. In 2010, Angeleno Magazine named Hatfield’s restaurant of the year, and in 2014, Jon Favreau shot his film Chef in the restaurant.

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