Gorgeous Hot Spots in La La Land: Five Restaurant Design Award Contenders

If there is one thing that can make or break a good experience at a restaurant it's the food. If your steak is too bloody, your fries are too soggy, or your pasta ain't al dente…it's sayonara..see you later. Right behind “food quality/taste” has got to be decor/ambiance. Whisk me away from LA to San Francisco, take me on a trip sensory trip to Paris, let me walk into a fantasyland where my worries are checked in at the door. Each year the AIA/LA's Restaurant Design Awards (RDA) honor excellence in restaurant design. The competition is open to all individuals and practices with both restaurant owners and architects/designers invited to submit. Either the project itself must be located in LA or the submitting individual/firm must be based in LA. Submissions are accepted in three main categories: restaurants, cafs/bars and lounges/nightclubs. This blog post is all about restaurants. The Jury's top selections in each category are listed below and now it's up to the people to to vote for your favorite architecturally-designed restaurant! The highest recipient of votes in each category will be announced at the Awards Ceremony and declared the winner of the 2008 AIA|LA People's Choice Award on October 16th. The power in our hands, people! Let's do it! Restaurants: #1 Blue Velvet – 750 S. Garland Avenue – Los Angeles, CA. 90017

Judging from this picture, I'm going two thumbs down. Blue and white stripes on the wall – boring. Upside down hanging lamps – been there done that (but seen better). Hard word floors – big whoop. #2 Comme Ca – 8479 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90069

Decor – Beautiful, gorgeous with their different sized hanging mirrors, use of grays with a touch of red. Love the books, dishes, and chalkboard. Whimsical done right. This French brasserie is my top pick. #3 Katsuya at Americana at Brand in Glendale

Who doesn't like seeing blown up geisha girl features displayed as art? Wait. Sounded strange. Philippe Starck, designer extraordinaire can do no wrong. From the man who breathed life into The Clift in SF and Hudson in NY, Mondrian in LA or the Delano in South Beach…he can somehow transform a space into something no one else could ever have imagine. (Past blog post when sister and I went.) #4 Osteria Mozza – 641 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Use of grays/white/black and vintage hanging lamps make this a classically clean and chic looking restaurant. #5 641 R+D Kitchen – 1323 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA

Went to this place on Montana with my old friend Naz a while back (old blog post) and though I must say that I loved the decor (again..same, red/grey/one/black theme)…my overall experience there was not very pleasant. But if we're judging this only on decor – average. Felt like you were transported to good ol SF. To see them all and vote yourself – check out AIA's website. Which do you like? Have you personally been to any? The bar/club lists are coming next!

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