Overview

As a food destination, Boston never disappoints. From award-winning chefs and avant-garde restaurateurs to college diners and neighborhood go-to’s serving beloved comfort food, Beantown has much to offer. Eateries spanning a world of cuisine are opening — from Roxbury to Cambridge — without any regard for what is #trending. With this new generation of culinary innovators come restaurant spaces that are as fresh as the next menu. Here are the top architects designing forward-thinking restaurants to complement Boston’s progressive palate.

Top Architects and Designers

Analogue Studio

Principals:
Vinc Pan
Brian Amaral
Brendan Bergantino
Stephanie Collins

Awards:
Boston Magazine Boston’s Best Businesses

Address:
129 South Street, 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02111

About Analogue Studio

With a team of seven designers and architects — including Brian Amaral, AIA, Brendan Bergantino, and Stephanie Collins IIDA, LEED AP — Analogue Studio has amassed a list of commercial, corporate, and hospitality clients that include Legendary Entertainment, Duck & Chicken Restaurant Group, Workbar, and the Boston Society of Architects. The firm’s founder and Principal Vince Pan AIA, BSA, LEED AP, graduated from Princeton University with a Master of Architecture. In 2011 he established Analogue Studio, a design company Architect Magazine has counted among their top 50 architecture firms in the United States. Contract Magazine, Boston Globe, Women’s Wear Daily, and Design Bureau have taken notice of Analogue Studio designs throughout Boston.

Featured Projects

Analogue Studio designed Night Market, which brings Asian street food to Cambridge. Duck & Chicken Restaurant Group tapped the firm to draw on all of their design services, to take the Harvard Square restaurant from an idea to an experiential eatery. With Analogue Studio architecture and branding, the basement space transformed into a bustling, outdoor alleyway, with columns wrapped in graffiti, exposed brick and stone walls, and brick floors. Wood cladding made of mismatched planks suggest a makeshift food stall. Another Harvard Square restaurant, Parsnip, is a totally different yet also successful Analogue Studio space. The two-story space features a refined dining room on the main floor, under a second-story, Mid-century lounge. The design team collaborated with the executive chef to lay out a kitchen that would serve both levels. Analogue Studio outfitted Parsnip with custom furniture pieces and two boomerang-shaped bars that recall 1950s curvatures. The dining room features a herringbone, wood floor, and intimate alcoves. Upstairs, a black, slatted ceiling absorbs light that passes through the landmarked building’s large, round windows.

Bentel & Bentel

Principals:
Frederick R. Bentel
Maria A. Bentel
Paul Bentel
Peter Bentel
Carol R. Bentel

Awards:
Jamaes Beard Awards,
Hospitality Design Hall of Fame,
Archi Awards,
SARA National Design Award

Address:
22 Buckram Road, Locust Valley, NY 11560

About Bentel & Bentel

Sixty-year-old architecture firm Bentel & Bentel is based in Locust Valley, New York, but the firm’s leadership team has deep New England roots. The late founders and couple, Dr. Frederick R. Bentel, FAIA, and Maria A. Bentel, FAIA, graduated with architecture degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Still a family-run practice, Bentel & Bentel is now led by partners Dr. Paul Bentel, FAIA, Peter Bentel, AIA, and Dr. Carol R. Bentel, FAIA, ASID, IIDA. The firm’s Boston hospitality projects have earned 3 James Beard Awards, Archi Awards and a SARA National Design Award. The three partners also made it into the Hospitality Design Hall of Fame, and Carol and Paul are Fellows of AIA. They have also landed in the pages of Boston Magazine, Boston Globe, Interior Design, and Hospitality Design.

Featured Projects

The Bentel & Bentel design for Houston’s played off nearby architecture and Boston’s colonial history. The external structure for the 9,000-square-foot restaurant was designed to be a stylistic fulcrum between the surrounding classical buildings and the contemporary monoliths that have begun to permeate the landscape. Tucked under a plaza, the bronze and glass facade recalls Quincy Market’s cupolas and domes, but the contemporary lines belie an aesthetic seachange and nod at the simplicity of nearby storefronts. Inside, the finishes are similarly layered in intent. Oiled stone, leather, and wood glow under warm, modern lighting. The design was recognized with an AIA Long Island Chapter Design Award and a National Honor Award from SARA. In another successful comingling of contemporary and classic vernaculars, Bentel & Bentel designed B&G Oysters, a South End locale helmed by Chef Barbara Lynch. Marble counters and glass tiles lend unpretentious luxury to the classic New England seafood fare. The ceiling and the wall opposite the kitchen are dressed in a rhythmic pattern of flat and recessed bleached wood panels, adding depth to the restaurant without overwhelming the small space.

Other notable and more recent work include Garrett Harker’s Les Sablon, Benedetto for chef Michael Pagliarini, Row 34 and Island Creek Oyster Bar for Garrett, Island Creek Oyster Bar in Burlington, and Row 34 in Portsmouth New Hampshire

Bergmeyer Associates

Address:
51 Sleeper St., 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02210

About Bergmeyer Associates

Bergmeyer Associates is a design collaborative offering full design services across the country with offices in Boston and Los Angeles. The firm is known for its expert architecture, branding, and design work for retail, restaurant, corporate, and commercial spaces. Its leadership is comprised of president Mike Davis, FAIA, vice president Rachel Zsembery, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, and principals: Brian Perlow; Darryl Filippi, AIA, LEED AP; Jonathan Nelson; Matt Hyatt, AIA, IIDA, LEED AP BD+C; and Mare Weiss, IIDA, RDI, LEED AP. It’s a multi-awarded firm with accolades coming from IIDA New England, AIA New England, Eater Boston, and the Retail Design Institute.

Featured Projects

Bergmeyer Associates has worked on award-winning restaurants with COJE Management Group multiple times. Two of their projects — Mariel and Lolita — have earned Design of the Year awards from Eater Boston. Cuban-inspired Mariel embodies lived-in glamour. Located at a former bank, the lounge space boasts striking chandeliers hanging from original, 23-foot ceilings, and graffiti-accented walls of original sandstone. Careful detailing of solid woods, ornate tiles, and stone columns evoke a sense of faded elegance. For Lolita, a dark, sprawling space nestled along the water in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood, the design is anchored on bold colors and playful interpretations of The Day of the Dead. The overall aesthetic is reminiscent of a reclaimed church and befits the location—a basement space of a building that dates back to 1902. Bergmeyer successfully converted the former storage area into an alluring restaurant complete with leather seating, an altar-like bar, hand-painted “stained glass” artwork, full wall murals, and a skull-covered ceiling. Lolita was also honored by the Retail Design Institute in 2017.

BKA Architects

Principals:
Barry Koretz
David Seibert
Keith Bettencourt
Kevin Paton
Mindy Kaplan

Address:
344 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

About BKA Architects

An international, full-service architecture and interior design firm, BKA Architects has designed residential and commercial environments since 1974. Founded by Principal Emeritus Barry Koretz, who is a member of American Institute of Architects (AIA), and the team of 40+ designers and administrative staff is now led by President David Seibert, AIA, and Principals Keith Bettencourt, AIA, and Kevin Paton, AIA. With Interior Design Director Mindy Kaplan, member of the International Interior Design Association IIDA, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP), certified by the Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ), the leadership team has steered the firm to complete projects featured in Business Insider, The Boston Globe, and Boston Magazine.

Featured Projects

Sweetgreen tapped BKA Architects for their expansion to Summer Street in the Financial District. The firm combined the existing architecture with the salad chain’s prototypal design features. The corner location is wrapped in broad windows, bathing the interior in natural light. Grooved columns frame the service counter, a clean, white volume set under a bright white overhang. Wood accents, like the stepped entryway, warm the slate-colored floors. At the Sweetgreen School Street outpost, BKA Architects also integrated different original architecture, in deference to the history of Downtown Crossing. Here, sealed concrete floors and exposed brick show patina, while white cladding bridge older elements with the company’s clean aesthetic. For a new frozen yogurt spot, BKA Architects designed a location and a brand that would set the business apart from its crowded category. The result is Discoyo in North Easton, where customers dispense frozen treats from machines built into a multicolor, fluted alcove, then enjoy their dessert concoctions in white, tufted booths or a lounge furnished with LED seating.

Hacin + Associates

Principals:
David Hacin

Awards:
IIDA New England Hospitality Design Award

Address:
500 Harrison Avenue, Studio 4F, Boston MA, 02118

About Hacin + Associates

A New England Design Hall of Fame inductee, David Hacin, FAIA, established Hacin + Associates, a South End team of more than 20 designers. Twelve years after its founding, the architecture firm expanded to provide interior design services, and they eventually would also offer graphic, exhibit, and furniture design. Through their partnership with Sasaki Associates, Hacin + Associates works toward sustainable and boundary-pushing advancements in architecture. Hacin is a member of the Boston Civic Design Commission and a co-founder of the Design Industry Groups of Massachusetts. Under his direction as principal and creative director of Hacin + Associates, the firm’s restaurant projects have drawn attention from Interior Design magazine and earned a Hospitality Design award from the International Interior Design Association New England chapter.

Featured Projects

Dubbed as a ‘subterranean oasis’, South End restaurant Shore Leave is a tiki bar and food destination located 20 feet below street level. Inspired by America’s tiki culture, Hacin + Associates’ design went beyond stone and wooden figures to include a highly considered selection of tropical and mid-century modern elements. The space includes communal booths, private tables, and three bars, seating about 100 guests. The project has been highlighted by Boston Magazine, Eater Boston, and Improper Bostonian. The firm is also up for a James Beard Foundation Outstanding Restaurant Design award. In District Hall, Hacin + Associates designed the restaurant + cafe duo, Gather & Brew. Gather is meticulously lit to complement — and not distract from — floor-to-ceiling windows and views of the harbor and Institute of Contemporary Art beyond. The articulated, wood-panel ceiling — milled by computer numerical control — holds dozens of dangling bare bulbs, reflecting their glittering light. Brew is situated along District Hall’s central corridor, drawing guests into a comfortable seating area that invites collaboration. This space is lit by punchier LED lights, the luminous equivalent of a shot of espresso. Gather & Brew have grabbed the attention of Improper Bostonian, Boston Globe, Phantom Gourmet, and Metro.

Maryann Thompson Architect

Principals:
Maryann Thompson
Martha Foss

Awards:
AIA Awards,
Massachusetts Historical Commission Preservation Award

Address:
741 Mt. Auburn Street, Watertown, MA 02472

About Maryann Thompson Architect

Maryann Thompson Architect, a Cambridge-based design firm, is making a mark on the Boston foodie scene with restaurants in the pages of Boston Magazine, Bon Appetit, Improper Bostonian, Esquire, and The Boston Globe. Founder and Principal Thompson studied at Princeton University before obtaining Master of Architecture and Landscape Architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. Martha Foss, AIA, also a principal, is an 11-year veteran of Maryann Thompson Architect, educated at the University of Virginia and Yale University School of Architecture. The team has earned three national American Institute of Architects awards, multiple honors from AIA chapters throughout the Northeast, and a Preservation Award from the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

Featured Projects

Trade, named Best New Restaurant by Boston Magazine and Improper Bostonian, was designed by Maryann Thompson Architect in collaboration with Chef Jody Adams. The Downtown Boston restaurant takes advantage of some of the original architecture in the Russia Wharf high-rise, ground floor space. Steel, riveted columns got a coat of white paint, while the brick ceiling was sealed and whitewashed. Sculptural, white ceiling panels partially obscure the mechanical infrastructure and serve as a reflective counterpoint to the polished, amber, concrete floors. Oversized, hammered metal light fixtures and a custom, articulated mirror installation suffuse the restaurant with a deceptively simple and intimate glow. Bon Appetit Magazine named Trade one of their Top 50 Best New Restaurants. On the other side of the Charles River is Maryann Thompson Architect-designed Rialto. The Cambridge restaurant opens on a mosaic foyer. As diners make their way to the lounge, then through to the dining room, the way is occasionally interrupted by sheer panels, creating moments for appreciation of the rich mahogany floors, intimate banquettes, and backlit stone finishes. Mohair, suede, and glittering quartz invite touch, leading Esquire magazine to name Rialto one of the most romantic eateries in the U.S.

McMahon Architects

Principals:
David McMahon

Address:
535 Albany Street, Suite 3F, Boston, MA 02118

About McMahon Architects

David McMahon, AIA and member of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), earned as Master of Architecture from Yale University before working with prestigious design firms I.M. Pei and Partners and CBT Architects. In 1997, McMahon established his eponymous firm and has served as president and CEO for the last 20 years. Also at the helm of the firm’s restaurant designs is Niemitz Design Group-veteran and McMahon Architects Director of Hospitality Neli Ialamov, who trained at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design. The team has had multiple dining projects land on the Boston Globe list of Boston’s 50 Best New Restaurants — even holding down five locations ranked in the same year. Boston Business Journal, Eater Boston, Esquire have published writeups on some of McMahon Architects’ top restaurants.

Featured Projects

Architectural Digest profiled Townsman, a McMahon Architects-designed restaurant owned by James Beard Award nominee Matt Jennings. The Kingston street brasserie spans 4,500 square feet, from its spirited dining room to the granite-topped bar and outdoor patio. Deep, leather armchairs and a matte black ceiling are juxtaposed with floor-to-ceiling glazing and polished concrete floors. Up to 180 guests can enjoy a bite at a natural wood table, in the lounge, or seated at the crudo bar topped with butcher block. Most seats come with a view of the open kitchen. Tasting Counter — deemed Boston’s Most Important Restaurant Opening by Zagat — is a more experimental foray into the open kitchen concept. All 20 seats in the untraditional dining room are arranged around a U-shaped countertop. In the center, Chef Peter Ungar and Chef Marcos Sanchez, prepare a multi-course meal. The restaurant is tucked into a corridor in Aeronaut Brewing Company, but it can’t hide from the press. Boston Globe rated Tasting Counter three out of four stars and it was No. 1 on the Boston Magazine list of the Top 25 Best New Restaurants.

RODE Architects

Principals:
Kevin Deabler, Eric Robinson

Address:
535 Albany Street #405, Boston, MA 02118

About RODE Architects

Kevin Deabler, AIA, LEED AP, and Eric Robinson, AIA, LEED AP, founded RODE Architects in 2005. The South End firm benefits from the pair’s extensive experience in their fields. Deabler obtained degrees in architecture and environmental design from North Carolina State University’s College of Design. Both worked with prominent, Boston-area architecture firms — CBT Architects and Charles Rose Architects, respectively — before partnering. Today they lead a team of close to 20 designers and staffers to produce architectural solutions for education, residential, and hospitality clients. Look for RODE Architects restaurant projects in articles published by Boston Business Journal, Dorchester Reporter, Boston Herald, Boston Magazine, and more local and national outlets.

Featured Projects

Rode Architects brought to life the first solo restaurant of Boston legend, Top Chef contestant, and James Beard Foundation award winner, Chef Karen Akunowicz. The Fox & the Knife opened in 2018 at a narrow, deep space near the busy intersection of West Broadway and Dorchester Avenue, near the Broadway T stop. It aims to be a slice of summer in cold Boston with its deep blue walls, dark velvet upholstering, dark wood tabletops, high ceilings, and warm lights. Floor-to-ceiling Broadway-facing windows flood the space with natural light while a 6-seat bar looks into the kitchen, showcasing the meticulous preparation of artful dishes. The restaurant has been named one of the best new restaurants in America by Eater National, Food & Wine, and USA Today. In East Cambridge, just a block from the Longfellow Bridge, is Rode Architects-designed Commonwealth Restaurant & Market. The project comprises two main spaces: the 1,300-square-foot market and a 5,200-square-foot restaurant and bar that spill out to a patio. In both the dining room and shop you’ll find the seasonal, farm-to-table fare that inspired the restaurant’s finishes and architecture. Simple, wood pallets are elevated by careful arrangement as partitions around the private dining room, glowing in the warmth of backlighting and exposed brick. The copper-topped bar reflects light from industrial-style pendants and offsets the more rustic finishes.

Sousa Design Architects

Principals:
Stephen A. Sousa

Awards:
Boston Architectural College Alumni in Practice Award,
Boston Magazine Shooting Start Award

Address:
81 Boylston Street, 2nd Floor, Brookline, MA 02445

About Sousa Design Architects

Sousa Design Architects offers architectural, interior, and graphic design to clients across residential, hospitality, and commercial sectors. Founder and Principal Stephen A. Sousa, AIA, NCARB, graduated with an architecture degree from Boston Architectural College. In 1998, Sousa established his eponymous firm, and 20 years after he obtained his degree, his alma mater and his peers recognized him with an Alumni in Practice Award. Sousa and his team have sourced materials from all over the world to create a distinctive portfolio of nearly 200 restaurant projects. Many of those restaurants have captured the attention of Boston Magazine, Boston Globe Magazine, Wallpaper, and Hospitality Design.

Featured Projects

Joe’s American Bar & Grill has a number of locations in the Boston area, but the Newbury Street spot in Back Bay has a feature that sets it apart from the others — and every other eatery in Boston. Sousa Design Architects converted the existing greenhouse of the 30-year-old Joe’s into an all-weather patio topped with a retractable roof. The restaurant used to open to the sidewalk via folding, glass doors, but the new design allows diners to enjoy an al fresco experience without the restaurant sacrificing room for more diners. Hailed by Boston Magazine as 2018’s Best Southeast Asian Restaurant, Tiger Mama is a culinary adventure headed by James Beard Foundation Award winner Tiffany Faison. Sousa Design Architects headed the architecture and interior design of this one-of-a-kind restaurant. The firm took the challenge of turning a previously difficult space for a restaurant into a bustling hub of Southeast Asian cuisine and design. Ash-wood chandeliers installed in the dining room were inspired by baskets of rice and fish while an ever-changing living wall of herbs, succulents, and palm fronds make for a perfect backdrop for bright orange accents and a disco elephant. For this eclectic yet comfortable mix, Tiger Mama took home a Restaurant Design of the Year from Eater Boston.

Studio Luz Architects

Principals:
Hansy L. Better Barraza
Anthony J. Piermarini

Awards:
Architectural League of New York Young Architect’s Award,
Architectural Record Design Vanguard Award,
Hospitality Design Magazine Wave of the Future Award

Address:
21C Wormwood Street, Boston, MA 02210

About studioTYAK

studioTYAK is an entertainment-focused architecture firm designing eye-catching Boston restaurants and venues. Founder and Principal Stephen Martyak — the first designer to land on the Zagat 30 Under 30 list of Boston’s Hottest Up-and-Comers — studied design at Boston Architectural College before going on to receive his Master of Architecture from Savannah College of Art & Design. As director of design for Tribeca Builders in Boston, Martyak rounded his knowledge base. He established studioTYAK in 2012, and in just five years, the firm’s portfolio has drawn notice from Design New England, Boston Magazine and Eater. Martyak is also a founding member of Design Museum Boston and an associate member of the Boston Society of Architects.

Featured Projects

Boston Chops subverts the typical steakhouse aesthetic with a design that draws on its South End surroundings. Thrillist named the eatery “one of the Best Designed Restaurants in America,” for its sensual and urbanized decor. Throughout the richly appointed bistro, shining chrome and blackened steel accents balance the natural textures of slate tile walls and reclaimed oak panels. The 40-foot bar is wrapped in deep green tiles and topped with butcher block. For Southern food spot Loretta’s Last Call, studioTYAK designed an environment that would transport diners from the Fenway to Nashville. A native of the South himself, Martyak drew on his own experiences to design Boston’s first country music bar. Live performances take place in front of a patterned, wood backdrop, emblazoned with the restaurant’s namesake and surrounded by marquee lights. Guests can take in the show at a table under the red-painted, coffered ceiling, or sit at a bar constructed from reclaimed wood with more than 150 years of history.

Whitlock Design Group

Address:
681 Main Street, Suite 3-31, Waltham, MA 02451

About Whitlock Design Group

Bill Whitlock, AIA / NCARB, started Whitlock Design Group in 2000 after working for a couple of firms straight out of Cornell University. His firm is now a leader in restaurant and hospitality design with an extensive portfolio of dynamic and innovative retail, restaurant, and entertainment venues. He serves as the New England representative to the American Institute of Architects Small Firm Round Table and chair of the Small Practices Network of the Boston Society of Architects. The firm’s work has been covered by Boston Magazine, Eater Boston, The New York Times, and GQ.

Featured Projects

Whitlock Design Group is behind the massive new multi-level restaurant and brewery of Trillium Brewing Company in Fort Point. Located at a Boston Wharf warehouse, its design tells the story of Boston’s early rise as a prominent industrial city through its timber structure and brick walls. The space uses a palette of wood, concrete, and blackened steel. The first floor features a beer hall, a brewery, and a retail space that is designed with a large glazed wall behind its prominent bar that showcases stainless tanks and wooden Foeder tanks. The second floor is a warm restaurant space that plays with brick and wood. The project has been featured by Eater Boston and Boston Magazine. Whitlock Design Group worked on famed Irish pub MJ O’Connor’s Boston Park Plaza location. Centered between beautiful groin vaulted ceilings, the space is anchored by a large island bar topped with Carrera marble and a mahogany base with floating glass shelves and beer taps. Whimsical artwork and chandeliers enhance the arched ceilings and pay homage to the restaurant’s Irish heritage.