9 of the Prettiest Restaurants in NYC for Decor Inspiration
Dine in style at these spectacular eateries.
New York is a city that’s world-renowned for its diverse food culture. The bagel shops and bodegas are equally as iconic as the Michelin-starred restaurants that lure travellers in from around the world. It’s a place where one could spend a lifetime and still never experience everything there is to eat – it’s that vast. Unsurprisingly, many of these restaurants also happen to deliver on world-class design that creates a lovely ambience for enjoying a delicious meal.
There are the tough-to-get-a-reservation-at kind of destinations with design by industry legends like Roman and Williams, but at the same time, the city also boasts mom-and-pop spots with decor that feels plucked from a movie set. From lighting fixtures and textural finishes to provoking art and striking furniture, attention to detail is what the nine restaurants ahead are all about.
Continue below to dive into our guide on the prettiest restaurants in NYC for decor inspiration.
You have Alesch and Robin Standefer to thank for this opulent downtown staple. The design duo behind famed Roman and Williams opened La Mercerie in 2017 inside of their design guild and everything from its frescoed arch to earthy paint tones make for the most photogenic setting to enjoy a meal. And you’re in luck: much of what’s inside the restaurant is for sale, so if you fall in love with your plate, you can place an order for it before you leave.
Designed to evoke the mood of Viennese-style cafes of fin-de-siècle Milan, we can think of no better place to enjoy a pizza and spritz than this Fort Greene restaurant. Delight in the dramatic wood-panelled walls and snap a photo or two of the black-and-white tiled floors and breathtaking green marble bar top.
In a sea of minimalist, Scandinavian-inspired design spaces, Thai Diner’s exuberance is a breath of fresh air. The woven bamboo walls are accented by roomy booths, framed portraits, moody lighting, and giant plants. If you’re looking to armchair travel, do it here (preferably with a plate of cabbage rolls stuffed with jasmine rice).
From Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group and Chef Hillary Sterling, this live-fire cooking institution incorporates natural textures such as terracotta, blown glass, and glazed ceramics to create an environment that speaks to modern Italian sensibilities, while still feeling homey. Enjoy housemade pasta beneath warm decorative light fixtures that reflect the dining room’s roaring live fire.
If a moody palette is what you seek, stop searching – Pebble Bar has entered the chat. The recently opened bar and restaurant is situated on three separate floors of a historic townhouse at Rockefeller Center (legends like Johnny Carson and Jack Kerouac used to frequent the old watering hole) and the design incorporates deep paint hues, rich wood panelling, and plush upholstery.
It might be more of a lobby lounge than a full-fledged restaurant, but we're not complaining. This dining and drinking space located within the recently-opened Nine Orchard Hotel is on every aesthete’s bucket list. With a historic Beaux-Arts building as the backdrop, Swan Room's high ceilings and old-world opulence will make you feel like you've stepped back in time, if only for the evening.
Flamboyant and unapologetically fun, Indochine has been welcoming diners since the 1980s with its signature design and dishes. To set the stage: upon entering you feel as though you've stepped inside a French colonial home in Vietnam with its tall potted palms, rattan furniture, and lively wallpaper featuring palm fronds. Everyone from Andy Warhol to Madonna has dined here over the last several decades and it remains a NYC staple.
Dreamt up by the Rockwell Group, this Mediterranean restaurant with Chef José Andrés at the helm, is a lovely nod to the Greek Islands. Awash in light, the room features bronze metals contrasted with white oak wood and blue glass discs intended to look like the Greek evil eye. Curves, textures, and lovely architectural details play off of each other for a space that feels both dynamic and relaxing.
Elegant European brasseries were the source of inspiration for designer Loren Daye’s direction at Le Crocodile, the French restaurant within the Wythe Hotel. Original tilework was kept in place and other unique details – like a procession of chandeliers and the double-height ceilings – also contribute to the opulence of the dining room. Slip into one of the round leather booths, order the steak frites, and enjoy an exquisitely stylish meal.