Boston is historically a college town, and college kids aren’t known for their refined palates. But the youth of the city do lend themselves to innovation and a “try-anything” attitude. In that milieu, Boston has emerged as a food destination, due in part to the host of accomplished chefs who call Beantown home. Eateries spanning a world of cuisine are opening — from Roxbury to Cambridge — without any regard for what is #trending. Here are the top architects designing forward-thinking restaurants to complement Boston’s progressive menus.

Top Architects and Designers

BKA Architects

Barry Koretz
David Seibert
Keith Bettencourt
Kevin Paton
Mindy Kaplan

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.

Bentel & Bentel

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

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

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

Studio Luz Architects

Hansy L. Better Barraza
Anthony J. Piermarini

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

21C Wormwood Street, Boston, MA 02210

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.

Analogue Studio

Vinc Pan
Brian Amaral
Brendan Bergantino
Stephanie Collins

Boston Magazine Boston’s Best Businesses

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.

Hacin + Associates

David Hacin

IIDA New England Hospitality Design Award

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

Gather & Brew are the only permanent dining anchors of District Hall, the first building to open at the new Seaport Square. Combined, the restaurant and cafe occupy 3,000 square feet of the development, serving up breakfast, lunch, and dinner to the Boston’s Innovation District. 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.

RODE Architects

Kevin Deabler, Eric Robinson

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

In East Cambridge, just a block from the Longfellow Bridge, is RODE Architects-designed Commonwealth Restaurant & Market. The project is comprised of 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. The metal is a theme in the RODE Architects portfolio. The firm partnered with Red Door Hospitality to create Coppersmith, a 10.5k-square-foot restaurant in South Boston. The design draws on the building’s past as a 19th-century copper foundry. Due to its size, the space has room for an indoor food truck that serves guests in the dining room and at the 75-seat bar. The space and its rooftop patio are dressed in exposed brick and, of course, copper pendants.

Maryann Thompson Architect

Maryann Thompson
Martha Foss

AIA Awards,
Massachusetts Historical Commission Preservation Award

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.


Stephen Martyak

Zagat Boston Hottest Up and Comers

236 Huntington Avenue, Suite 216, Boston, MA 02115

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.

Sousa Design Architects

Stephen A. Sousa

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

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. Sousa Design Architects created a unique design for a restaurant with an equally unique concept. Typically, grabbing a late night bite means hunting down bar snacks or hitting a 24-hour diner. Noche — Spanish for night — offered upscale plates well into the wee hours. For the $700k build-out, Sousa adorned the dining room with glass partitions, mahogany millwork, and hand-blown light pendants that mimic a starry sky.