File under: feasts for the eyes. Presentation is an important part of the dining experience, and Boston restaurants have been really upping their game with regard to design. With the once-ubiquitous gastropub look giving way to more diverse aesthetics, here we present some of the most attractive interiors in town.
Chef-owner Matt Jennings played a significant role in designing the new restaurant's space with McMahon Architects, the Boston firm behind restaurants like Pastoral and Alta Strada. The end result resembles a citified country home filled with Shaker chairs and black-walnut dining tables, plus a distinct bar area with comfortable lounge furniture. The interior is also full of thoughtful details: lounge cocktail tables come from the same designer who created the wedding ring of Jennings' wife, Kate and a tile mural features an ad for a Somerville tapioca company that Jennings found in one of his vintage cookbooks.
Best Seat to Take in the View: Set against one wall in the main dining room is a private banquet, a nook of charred barn wood where couples can have a romantic dinner under the glow of pendant lights made from corrugated cardboard. (Sustainable design points!)
120 Kingston St.; 617-993-0750
The 121-seat Southie space was created by Assembly Design Studio, the same firm behind the look of sibling restaurant Lincoln Tavern & Restaurant, and is intended to feel like an already-established part of the neighborhood. Hence some chipped paint, rough-hewn woods and strings of lights that make the eatery feel like a familiar favorite haunt. The rustic-chic result features tabletops made from former ceiling beams and a 62-ft. bar that boasts antique ceiling tiles pulled from an old general store in New Hampshire. Like a pair of purposefully worn designer jeans, the look is just the right amount of artfully distressed.
Best Seat to Take in the View: From the bar, while sucking down one of 41 tequilas and mezcals, including an $80 sip of DeLeon Extra Anejo for big spenders.
412 W. Broadway, South Boston; 617-917-5626
More is more at this subterranean Harvard Square hot spot for Asian-inspired street food, which is covered in more splashes of color than your fourth-grade pair of Hammer pants. Pull up one of the space's 46 seats (painted in bright primary colors), perhaps at the eight-seat, L-shaped bar by the kitchen. Splashy, colorful murals that evoke vintage propaganda posters were created by South Shore-based artist Rene Gagnon, who went wild with what he calls "post-graffiti abstract expressionism."
Best Seat to Take in the View: A large table tucked away in a brick- and mural-lined alcove, offering semiprivate dining on a first-come, first-served basis.
48 John F. Kennedy St., Cambridge; 857-285-6948
Its aesthetic won't appeal to everyone, but in a dining scene where it feels like restaurants are constantly competing for the title of "Darkest, Most Wood-Filled Gastropub," we tip our hat to Cafe ArtScience for taking a totally different approach. The Kendall Square restaurant is a 2,500 sq. ft. space with towering glass windows, sleek, contemporary furnishings and cool, green hexagonal tiles hanging over the 25-seat semicircle bar — where innovative beverage master Todd Maul mixes up potions like a Mr. Wizard of mixology. As befitting a restaurant that resembles an Apple store, there's even a shelving display filled with gadgets for sale invented by founder and Harvard engineer David Edwards, like Le Whaf, a glass decanter that uses ultrasonic waves to create flavor clouds.
Best Seat to Take in the View: Inside the restaurant's hivelike 100-seat auditorium, host to ongoing programs and seminars on issues like food innovation and sustainability. Learn while you nosh.
650 E. Kendall St., Cambridge; 857-999-2193
This is not your grandpa's diner car. The Davis Square landmark was actually added to the National Register of Historic Places back in 1999. But following a recent ownership change, Rosebud upgraded its culinary and aesthetic game. The dining room is lined with white bricks on a glistening accent wall and lots of rough-hewn woods, particularly by the bar, where locals cozy up in barrel-backed stools to sip from 18 draft lines. For the sleek new interior owner Joe Cassinelli worked with Sousa Architects, the same firm behind Boston restaurants like Temazcal and The Gallows.
Best Seat to Take in the View: The dining room looks great, but if there's space we still love to grab a seat in the front facade, the original car, which still boasts the kind of cherry-red booths you'd expect in a diner. It's just that now they're in gorgeous tufted leather, not tattered vinyl.
381 Summer St., Somerville; 617-629-9500
Hospitality bigwig Seth Greenberg invested about $4 million to transform a former Fort Point textile factory into a 240-seat brasserie, designed by Brookline's Somerton Park Interiors, that recalls French country-chic upstairs and an après-ski hideaway in its downstairs cocktail lounge, separately dubbed Chalet.
Best Seat to Take in the View: An 11-seat high-top communal table affords a nice view of the main dining room.
Okay, we admit "stunning" isn't a word typically associated with a Fenway-side fried chicken and barbecue joint. But great design is in the details, and from wagon-wheel chandeliers to walls adorned with Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson record sleeves, this latest from one of our 30 Under 30 honorees, designer Stephen Martyak (Boston Chops), is one rocking roadhouse.
Best Seat to Take in the View: Any one facing the stage, where jumping country-western and bluegrass bands hold court.
An urban-chic steakhouse outside the city, this Burlington newcomer from chef Mario S. Capone (formerly of Scampo) is handsome and chic, with a dramatic catwalk mezzanine lined with wine cases.
Best Seat to Take in the View: At one of four interactive "bartending stations" where guests can get up close and personal with those making their drink.
This glitzy restaurant is expectedly gorgeous, given that it doubles as an art gallery. Unmistakably modern, it boasts a circular foyer bar with a fabulous street-art-inspired mural and purple chandelier of blown Venetian glass, plus dining rooms lined with rotating exhibits. (Like what you see? Good. The art is for sale.)
Best Seat to Take in the View: One that faces your favorite framed work, of course. Though we're partial to the bar seats that afford a view of well-dressed diners making their grand entrance, as well as chef Rachel Klein at work in the open kitchen.