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The Stunning Restaurant Design Trends Most Likely to Take Over 2020

Curved lines, lush greenery, and jewel tones defined the look of 2019’s most beautiful restaurants

Hillary Dixler Canavan is Eater's restaurant editor and the author of the publication's debut book, Eater: 100 Essential Restaurant Recipes From the Authority on Where to Eat and Why It Matters (Abrams, September 2023). Her work focuses on dining trends and the people changing the industry — and scouting the next hot restaurant you need to try on Eater's annual Best New Restaurant list.

I was eating lunch in Brooklyn this summer and got the strangest sense of placelessness. The space was airy and, dare I say, light-filled. An eclectic mix of midcentury chairs surrounded the tables, and on the wall, a mural inspired by Matisse cut-outs, an oh-so-chic reference for 2019. This is what all restaurants look like now, I smugly tweeted with a photo.

In my defense, though, I was right. The year had a distinct look — and it’s a look I’m not alone in hoping makes way for new ideas soon. Rich color, full walls, and luxe furniture were some of the hallmarks of standout 2019 restaurant designs, but they were all too rare.

As we do every December, Eater has called out some of the most beautiful restaurants of the past year. But this time, we’re reading the proverbial tea leaves and speculating as to which of the beautiful restaurants will end up inspiring the design trends of 2020.

Without further ado, here’s a look at what 2020 may well look like.

Design prediction: Jewel tones

If there’s any design trend I expect to be huge in the next year or two, it’s jewel tones, the natural progression after a half-decade-plus of the now-eyeroll-inducing design crutches of blonde wood, white, and millennial pink. Emerald green became an established restaurant power color this year, but it also helps that Pantone has named the rich “Classic Blue” the color of 2020.

As seen in:

Punjab Grill, Washington, D.C.

The interior of Punjab Grill in D.C. Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Scotch Lodge, Portland, Oregon

Design prediction: Maximalist walls

Those blonde wood, white, and millennial pink spaces mentioned above? They tended to have pretty bare walls, maybe with a neon sign or a tidy row of framed pieces. In 2019, some restaurants returned to the gallery wall, while others went for textured wall treatments and large-scale art pieces.

As seen in:

P.S. Steak, Minneapolis

Inside P.S. Steak in Minneapolis. Lucy Hawthorne/Eater Twin Cities

Mariel, Boston

Inside the dining room at Mariel in Boston. Richard Cadan

Tzuco, Chicago

Design prediction: Curved lines

A micro-trend in the making, perhaps? Curved banquets go well with so many of the dominant design themes right now: tropical, midcentury modern, deco-luxe. I wouldn’t be surprised if this style makes it into the Instagram- and Pinterest-worthy homes of 2020, either.

As seen in:

Georgie, Dallas

Inside Georgie in Dallas. Garrett Hall/Eater Dallas

Marcus, Montreal

Inside Marcus in Montreal. Katie Sehl/Eater Montreal

Design prediction: Edgey jungle

Plants have been trending hard in restaurant design for a few years now (with the dead greens to prove it). In 2019, designers pushed harder into full jungle territory, with hanging greenery and a full-on lush look. In 2020, I’m expecting to see folks push the envelope with their hanging gardens, indoor trees, and wall-to-wall leaves and show us something we haven’t seen yet. (See Nari in San Francisco for a prime example of the edgier Jungle 2.0.)

As seen in:

Nari, San Francisco

A tree grows behind the banquettes at Nari in San Francisco. Patricia Chang

V DTLA, Los Angeles