Fall Preview 2015: 7 Design-Forward Restaurants Opening Across The U.S.

Come autumn, diners are barraged with countless restaurant openings. While the food might be transcendent at some of these newcomers, all too often the ambience is far less ambitious. Not at these seven fluorescent-free restaurants embracing striking design with as much gusto as the menu:

Design-Saltaire At Saltaire in Port Chester, New York, Niemitz Design Group outfitted the former grain warehouse with nautical-inspired blue-and white upholstery, spherical chandeliers, and a marble raw bar. (Photo courtesy of Saltaire.)

Saltaire Oyster Bar And Fish House

Westchester, just outside of New York City, is dotted with charming restaurants. But the area's never been particularly associated with innovative design. Boston-based Niemitz Design Group is intent on changing the status quo with Saltaire Oyster Bar and Fish House, in Port Chester. The brainchild of second-generation seafood buyer and restaurateur Leslie "Les" Barnes (he runs the iconic Queens restaurant London Lennie's), Saltaire is set in a circa-1903 grain warehouse. Original brick walls and high vaulted ceilings pay tribute to that heritage, but there are plenty of contemporary accents as well, including nautical-inspired blue-and white upholstery, spherical chandeliers, and a lustrous marble raw bar. 55 Abendroth Ave., Port Chester, NY 10573

Swift & Sons

As it does with all of its buzzy projects, AvroKO left an alluring mark on the white-hot Chicago restaurant Momotaro. Now the New York, San Francisco and Bangkok-based design firm has teamed up with Boka Restaurant Group once more to open the steakhouse Swift & Sons in Fulton Market. Chris Pandel of the Bristol fame has dreamed up a carnivorous menu, and the design follows suit, paying homage to 19th-century meatpacking baron Gustavus Franklin Swift. The space is meant to be a futuristic vision of what Swift's fictitious headquarters might look like. Drawing on the building's past as a cold storage facility, AvroKO wove in raw concrete columns and set the dining room underneath arched and vaulted ceilings. History melds with luxury, too. In the entry, a gents'-club feel is elicited with stained glass and marble mosaic floors, paving the way to the bar and tavern area, which is decked out to resemble a trading floor with bank teller–like booths. 1000 W. Fulton St., Chicago, IL 60607


The circa-1970 Joni Mitchell album (and title track) Ladies of the Canyon alludes to a gypsy dancer called Estrella, the same name Choice Hospitality has chosen for its Sunset Strip restaurant with Sweetfin Poké and Top Chef Texas favorite Dakota Weiss at the helm. Although stagnant in recent years, this fabled stretch of West Hollywood — home to Book Soup and what used to be the original Tower Records and Spago — is getting a jolt of stylish inspiration from Santa Monica–based Studio Collective. Inspired by the midcentury bohemian bungalows of legends like Mama Cass, Estrella will feature up-lit planters, alfresco fireplaces and an impressive wooden trellis strewn with glass pendants. Cement tiles and wide-plank flooring will complement Weiss's seasonal California cuisine, while Mothers' Auxiliary, a posh, candlelit hideout accessed through a private staircase, flaunts a regal marble bar. 8800 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069

Design-HunkyDory2 Architect Michael Hsu designed the British pub–inspired Hunky Dory in Houston with dark woods, steel-framed glass windows, oak floors and crimson brick. (Photo courtesy of Hunky Dory.)

Hunky Dory/Bernadine's

A 12,000-square-foot "ground-up shell" of a building in Houston's Heights neighborhood is the setting for Hunky Dory and Bernadine's, two interconnected restaurants with two distinctly different concepts from the folks behind hospitality group Treadsack. Austin-based architect Michael Hsu designed both spaces, which are linked by a private dining room. At the British pub–inspired Hunky Dory, led by chef Richard Knight, dark woods meld with imposing steel-framed glass windows, oak floors and crimson brick. The oyster bar Bernadine's, manned by chef Graham Laborde, takes cues from Gulf Coast seafood shacks. Here, whitewashed siding, rusted perforated metal and slatted wood ceilings hark back to summer holidays on the beach. 1819 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston, TX 77008

Indian Accent

Travelers who have paid Delhi a visit might have encountered Indian Accent, chef Manish Mehrotra's sophisticated temple to 11-course tasting menus at the Manor hotel. Now, the acclaimed dining room is making its Stateside debut at New York's Le Parker Meridien hotel. New York–based BHDM Design dreamed up a timeless ambience, complete with warm lighting and terrazzo flooring to accentuate the food. Like the Delhi original, the vibe will be decidedly swank, mingling Venetian plaster with white bronze and hand-applied gold leaf. 123 W. 56th St., New York, NY 10019

Shelby Hall

Dallas diners flock to Sissy's Southern Kitchen & Bar for squash puppies and fried chicken. Now, Lisa Garza-Selcer will tap into her roots with Shelby Hall, her next venture revolving around the cuisine of the Mississippi Delta and Lowcountry. To buoy the barrel-aged bourbon cocktails and seasonal menu by chef Patton Robertson, she tapped local firm Studio 11 Design. First, guests will be greeted by a mirrored host stand flanked by double staircases. Then they might find sanctuary sipping a Manhattan on a galvanized metal farm-style stool at the gray lacquered wood and marble bar. Afterward, dinner is savored in one of the dining room's gray tufted leather banquettes. 1525 Elm St., Dallas, TX 75201


Set inside San Francisco's circa-1854 Mint Plaza, Oro unites two impressive industry folks: executive chef-owner Jason Fox of Commonwealth and Timothy Felkner, former owner-general manager of Zero Zero. Mint Plaza, once dubbed the Granite Lazy since it churned out coins during the California Gold Rush, is a heady backdrop, and local firm Allied Architecture + Design paid careful attention to that history. At first, guests will be impressed by the white marble bar top, juxtaposed with deep walnut tables, metal accented chairs and exposed concrete walls. Bespoke chandeliers, an open kitchen and reclaimed wood panels are all compelling design features, but it's the pops of red and gold throughout that truly elicit the building's metal-minting past. 8 Mint Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94103; 415-974-1212