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Long before Banksy and Neckface came along, NYC had been fertile ground for graffiti and renegade street art. What’s new, however, is the emerging wave of looser, street-influenced artistry coming in from the cold to find a home on walls at some of the city’s recently opened dining establishments.

In the days leading up to Lafayette’s debut last spring, Andrew Carmellini and his team first enlisted Eric Junker to draw up an unusual take on the typical signage required of all restaurants — the employee handwashing sign and choking aid sign — before flying the LA-based poster artist out to have an all-out go at the NoHo brasserie’s freshly painted walls. “They had had these beautifully prepared masonry panels that were just awesome to paint on,” recalls Junker of the Roman & Williams–designed space. “They were spontaneous — as all good wall drawings should be. The work reflects the energy and the excitement of the place as it was getting ready to open,” he adds.

Throughout the city, there’s a growing number of restaurants embracing this more casual form of illustrative artwork, whether it’s to lend a cheeky dose of lightness to an otherwise elegant Greenwich Village supper club or to recall an urban trainyard at a late-night Lower East Side taquito spot. Check them out below.

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