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6 Restaurants Nominated For James Beard Best Design Award In 2017

    dinner table, restaurant

    Restaurants are often judged by the quality of their food, but the design and decor of an establishment are equally important.

    From luxurious settings to eclectic designs, creating a welcoming environment for patrons requires more than just making the space comfortable. Restaurant design considers everything from the building code to efficient space use, and experts at the James Beard Foundation have nominated the following six restaurants for just that. These six North American restaurants are in the running for 2017's best design or renovation award.

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    1. Leo's Oyster Bar

    Leo's Oyster Bar

    Location: San Francisco

    Designer: Ken Fulk Inc.

    True to its name, Leo's Oyster Bar offers seafood and a full bar. The restaurant is in San Francisco's Financial District and is known as much for its food as its design, which features custom-made wallpaper. The interior is designed to re-create the Golden Era of the early 1900s and expands into three rooms: a fern-filled conservatory in the front, the onyx bar in the middle and the cozy Champagne Bar in the very back. Dinner here typically costs around $50 to $60 per person.

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    2. St. Cecilia

    St. Cecilia

    Location: Atlanta

    Designer: Meyer Davis

    Fresh and crisp is what comes to mind when you think of St. Cecilia's decor. The 11K SF restaurant serves coastal European food in Atlanta's Buckhead district and has been consistently named one of the city's best restaurants. Its trendy interior is brightened by three-story high glass windows, and white-tiled fixtures. St. Cecilia's cuisine features modern interpretations of Italian classics like squid ink spaghettini with roasted calamari. Guests can expect to pay between $40 and $60 for dinner here, including drinks. 

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    3. SingleThread

    SingleThread in Healdsburg, Calif.

    Location: Healdsburg, California

    Designer: AvroKO

    The second nominee designed by AvroKO, SingleThread is a 55-seat fine dining restaurant in the heart of Sonoma Wine Country. The interior is an intimately designed mix of rustic luxury, and part of the meal takes place in the gardens outside. The restaurant is supplied with vegetables, honey, eggs and more from a nearby small farm and offers diners an 11-course tasting menu tailored to their preferences. The prices vary, but it is not unusual for a meal here, with wine pairings, to cost between $400 and $700 per person. 

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    4. Momotaro


    Location: Chicago

    Designer: AvroKO

    Momotaro inhabits Chicago's Fulton Market district and offers upscale sushi in a trendy atmosphere. The 11K SF restaurant is fit with three levels that include a private party room and a lower-level lounge in addition to the main eating area, which boasts several distinct sushi stations. The main room of the restaurant features decor that reflects post-World War II Japanese culture, though it is the lower tavern-like level that has received the most media attention. Reports say patrons can take beginning Japanese lessons by picking up a vintage pink phone on the lower level, or even grab a cup of sake while listening to soft-porn Japanese films. The chef's seasonal sushi or sashimi selection will cost you $55 a person, which seems like a bargain alongside the $100 sendai stripling steak. 

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    5. Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant

    Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant

    Location: Los Angeles

    Designer: Home Studios

    Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant is off Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and is both a butcher shop where customers can buy chef-selected cuts of meat, and an upscale restaurant. The dining area is designed in an elegant, industrial fashion with decor that pays homage to the building's past use and dramatic lighting with touches of pink and copper accents. Gwen LA offers a feast-style menu featuring selected meats that require fire-based cooking, and three-course dinners that cost $55/person.

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    6. Kismet

    Location: Los Angeles

    Designer: Jeff Guga

    Located in Los Angeles' Los Feliz neighborhood, Kismet's interior is sleekly designed to create a minimalist, casual feel. The room is long and narrow with wooden booths, tables and chairs backed against the walls with a single walkway. The decor is clean, bright and features wooden fixtures that complement its modern take on Middle Eastern food. Prices at Kismet typically range around $30/person and cuisine includes feta salad, tahini and lamb, but it also offers an enormous rabbit feast for two priced at $80.