When you have the perfect weather and gorgeous scenery, it calls for the next essential link — delicious food in a dynamic dining experience. With the best tacos, seafood, burgers, chicken wings, kid-friendly restaurants, craft breweries, and much much more, San Diego offers its residents and visitors some of the most mouthwatering food in the world and, as can be expected, is home to some of the best restaurants and restaurant architects in the business. This list includes restaurant architects and designers who have created interiors that ignite not only our appetites but our imaginations. They have created platforms where the ordinary act of refueling the machine can transform into a magnificent and memorable dining experience.

Top Architects

Awbrey Cook Rogers McGill Architects + Interiors

Tom Awbrey
Clifford Cook
Dennis Rogers
Scot McGill

1045 14th Street, Suite 100, San Diego, CA 92101

About Awbrey Cook Rogers McGill Architects + Interiors

Awbrey Cook Rogers McGill Architects + Interiors is as San Diego-based architectural and interior design firm that was founded in 2002, where they recognize that enjoying a great restaurant is more than just about the food, it’s about the overall dining experience. The firm is recognized for its ability to make thoughtful transformation of spaces into elegant and unique properties that will offer value to their clients as patrons make lasting memories in the spaces they create. Their mission is to strive for design excellence and provide exceptional client service. Taking their clients from the beginning stages of a design to the completed project, ACRM Architects + Interiors provides the best quality of service at every stage of the design process.

Featured Projects

One of ACRM Architects + Interiors’ designs is for D-Bar restaurant, a concept created by Food Network’s celebrity chef Keegan Gerhard. The dessert-oriented dining space includes high ceilings, exposed masonry walls and woodwork, and large glass doors that open up the space to enjoy indoor-outdoor dining and take in the San Diego sunshine. Located in the Hillcrest community of San Diego, the 4,500-square-foot space also features a sidewalk café, oversized skylights, polished concrete floors, and field-constructed cable and wood trusses that give the space an industrial and modern feel. Another of the firm’s designs is the famous Corvette Diner, a 14,250-square-foot space with an abundance of character that looks and feels almost like a vibrant museum. The restaurant features quintessential diner decor on overdrive. The space is bright and vibrant, with a Corvette raised on an interior platform — both a touch of classic beauty and a perfect conversation piece as patrons dine.

Larson Design Services

Denise Larson

3940 Hortensia Street, San Diego, CA 92110

About Larson Design Services

Denise Larson leads Larson Design Services with a strong love for architecture and a dedication to making the old new again. She has been serving her clients in the San Diego area for the past 10 years. Her lifelong passion for architecture and design shows in her work, her attention to detail, and her efforts to do everything possible to ensure that her design challenges are resolved successfully to the client’s utmost satisfaction. Denise has worked on projects ranging from restaurants and bars to historic homes in areas including Hillcrest, Mission Hills, Old Town, Del Mar, and Ocean Beach, among others. Her firm provides a complete range of services, including feasibility studies, programming and space planning, and architectural design services, among many others.

Featured Projects

Tavern at The Beach is one of Larson Design’s incredible works. It is a remodel and second-floor addition that took a vast amount of research and strong efforts in historic preservation to transform the space from its original 1927 Spanish style to the modern but historic popular San Diego hotspot. The work involved the removal of dry wood ceilings to expose the beautiful inner structure. The team added two commercial kitchens and installed numerous roll-up doors to add the indoor-outdoor dining element. New skylights, which once were used as train cabooses, were also installed. The addition of a giant new bar, a back-lit keg room with windows, and tap lines all serve as the perfect elements for a San Diego beachside tavern. Barley Mash is another of Larson Design’s architectural transformations, located at 5th and Market in San Diego. When the firm first took on the project, the historic structure from the late 1890s was in a very poor state. The ground was exposed and the entire building needed structural retrofitting. The transformation includes an expansive central bar with suspended wood beams, warm red brick walls, and exposed piping, which collectively create a space that is both modern and historic, warm and industrial, edgy and inviting. It is a testament to the firm’s ability to transform a failing structure into a new mod spot known for craft beer, bourbon, and flatbread pizzas that delight San Diego’s locals and visitors alike.


Aaron Anderson

K+BB Design Awards Merit Award,
AIA San Diego Citation and Young Architect of the Year Award,
AZ Chapter Design Excellence Award

1431 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

About StudioAnderson

StudioAnderson’s goal as a firm is to use architecture as a tool to design and create extraordinary spaces that are reflections of their client’s dreams and aspirations. Led by their principal, Aaron Anderson, a San Diego-based architect, they are a firm dedicated to paying keen attention to the details of a project. Their use of materials — like intricately cut steel, contrasting woods, and stylized glass — are always innovative and a pleasant surprise to their clients. Their thoughtful designs have been awarded the K+BB Design Awards Merit Award, the American Institute of Architects San Diego Citation and Young Architect of the Year Award, and the AZ Chapter Design Excellence Award.

Featured Projects

Studio Anderson’s projects include the Salt & Cleaver restaurant, which is a brilliant architectural design that incorporates wood, steel, brick, glass, and light into an amalgamation that’s visually exciting and modern. What resembles a suspended cage over the central bar feels industrial, the garage doors open the space with indoor-outdoor appeal, and the use of warm brown brick juxtaposed against sleek wood and steel feels edgy but also surprisingly inviting and fresh.\nThe concept for a colorful and playful space for the Un Mundo Mexican Grill is also one of the studio’s designs. One of its main features is a geometrically inspired ceiling with soft blue and white designs, and a wall featuring a beautiful logo that takes center stage. The minimalist but artistically inspired design is a blend of color and contrasts. A large window opens, allowing bar seating to enjoy the fresh outdoor air, making for a memorable dining experience.

Orness Design Group

George Orness
Ken Relethford

Greenbuild Editor’s Choice Honors

5955 Mira Mesa Boulevard, Suite H, San Diego, CA 92121

About Orness Design Group

The formation of Orness Design Group in 2005 by George Orness and Ken Relethford as a foodservice consulting and equipment company was born out of the founder’s desire to personally provide exceptional consulting and design services to their clients. With over 75 years of combined experience and a talented staff that adds their brilliant and collaborative work to each project, Orness Design Group has become a premier design and contracting company in the San Diego area. For their efforts in keeping their work green, U.S. Builders Review recognized Orness Design Group as a Greenbuild Editor’s Choice 2016 Honoree.

Featured Projects

Among their many restaurant designs is the Cucina Enoteca, a two-story, 8,500-square-foot wine shop and Italian restaurant located in Del Mar’s Flower Hill Promenade. The restaurant has an exposed central kitchen surrounded by bar seating. Arguably the most distinctive feature is the use of lighting — horn chandeliers hang in the expansive space and bring in the wild and wonderful natural world. Also as a nod to the location’s proximity to the polo fields and the nearby thoroughbred club, an “ode to the equestrian” is installed with over 400 toy horses strung in a unique installation along the staircase leading to the second floor. With its modern interior and eclectic design, this Del Mar restaurant has become a hot spot for Italian food lovers in the San Diego area. The firm is also responsible for the kitchen design of Stone Brewing Company, with its warm brown brick and steel interior. There is a sense of timelessness and elegance in this design, and the soft lighting adds comfort and ease to the space.

Hauck Architecture

T. Dustin Hauck

4888 Ronson Court, Suite F, San Diego, CA 92111

About Hauck Architecture

Hauck Architecture is a San Diego based, full-service architecture and interior design firm specializes in craft beer projects. The firm is led by T. Dustin Hauck, who has over 20 years of architectural practice experience and takes pride in delivering an exceptional design to exceed his clients’ expectations. As principal of the firm, he takes responsibility and serves as the driving force behind anything the firm undertakes. And under his leadership, since 1996, the firm has been changing the restaurant design industry. The firm is committed to pinpointing each and every green or sustainable design solution available to them that will increase efficiency and decrease their environmental impact.

“My family has always been involved in the construction industry. Growing up, I was always excited to look at the drawings on a job site that showed how a project went together. I wanted to be the one that prepared those drawings and come up with the ideas.” – Dustin Hauck 

Featured Projects

One of the firm’s designs is the Sublime Alehouse, which features wood accents, exposed piping, and a pristine, white bar that wraps around the central serving station and contrasts with the otherwise rustic beauty of the space. The alehouse also features three large garage doors that open to expand the space and add an element of edgy, industrial beauty to the restaurant. The firm is also responsible for the design of the Elbowroom in San Diego — a restaurant and bar featuring warm brick wall and quintessential pub decor, with the unexpected touch of large crystal chandeliers that adorn the space with light and delicate grace. The mood lighting and a firepit in the outdoor area have successfully helped the Elbowroom become a popular hangout in San Diego’s Kearny Mesa.

Lahaina Architects

Philip Cudaback

SDAF Orchids Award

3268 Governor Drive #141, San Diego, CA 92122

About Lahaina Architects

Lahaina Architects is a San Diego-based architectural firm established in 2007 by architect Philip Cudaback. The firm operates with the philosophy of providing creative designs in a relaxed but professional atmosphere. They are a group of passionate architects with over 30 years of combined experience, who strive to create beautiful designs while taking cost-efficient and forward-thinking measures that exceed their clients’ expectations. They have worked with a long list of clients that include local restaurant operators, local and national retailers, real estate investors, property owners, large corporations, developers, and public agencies. The team at Lahaina Architects has worked on a vast variety of projects and is licensed to practice in California, Colorado, and Nebraska.

“We are always in search of the right fit for both Architects and Clients” We have found several throughout the years.” -Philip Cudaback

Featured Projects

One of Lahaina Architects’ designs was for the transformation of The Patio on Goldfinch, a 3,700-square-foot space that once housed an old classic TV repair shop in the Mission Hills area of San Diego. The striking transformation and beautiful design perfectly blends elements such as steel, wood, and glass with a modern and sophisticated feel. There are high ceilings, tall beams, and soft wood-panelled walls throughout, accented by beautiful crystal chandeliers and greenery. As the first LEED Gold award-winning restaurant in San Diego, The Patio on Goldfinch offers the ultimate indoor-outdoor dining experience with a design that is mindful of the importance of energy conservation. Lahaina Architects’ design for the Swell Cafe had at heart the mission of creating a space on the beach that would be as comfortable for patrons as sitting on their own private patios. Swell Cafe, located just one block away from the ocean in Mission Beach, does just that. The design has a relaxed atmosphere and incorporates a living wall and natural wood bench seats to create the ultimate San Diego indoor-outdoor dining experience.

More recently, Lahaina Architects designed Nectarine Grove in Encinitas. The new renovation is located in the heart of Leucadia on Coast Highway 101. All 1,825 square feet of the former marketplace has been transformed into a paleo and gluten-free restaurant. Using natural materials and lots of light Lahaina Architects evoke a bright and vibrant atmosphere.  Their contemporary approach includes the floor‐to‐ceiling feature wall and an exterior column wrapping.

OBR Architecture

Garric Oliver
Christopher Bittner
Anney Rosenthal-Hall

3817 Ray Street, San Diego, CA 92104

About OBR Architecture

Established in 2008, OBR Architecture was born from the desire to create lasting and meaningful relationships with their clients, projects, and the environment. As a small firm, they are dedicated to not only meeting but exceeding their client’s expectations. With the partners’ wide array of experience, the firm has the ability to take on a variety of project sizes and types and can adjust quickly to changes in programs, budgets, or designs. Over the years, they have developed an exceptional collaborative and artistic approach to every project, and their goal is to inspire their clients in achieving the clients’ dream designs.

Featured Projects

Of their impressive list of restaurant designs, Saiko Sushi and its oversized round chandelier stand out. The design incorporates traditional Japanese themes — red, brown, and black colors — into a modern concrete and wooden world. There is a linear visual draw and a minimalist appeal that both fascinates and entertains the viewer. But at its core, it is a fun, modern sushi bar that focuses on drawing attention back to the sushi chefs, in order to bring the focus back to what’s most important here — the food! The firm also worked on the design for Bottlecraft Little Italy in a new mixed-use development in the Little Italy area of San Diego. There is a coldbox and tasting mezzanine at the center of the space. A floor-to-ceiling palette wall allows glimpses of patrons heading to and from the mezzanine, and a baltic, birch bar-top wraps around the coldbox, while sectional roll-up doors add the perfect accents to the front facade.

H2 Hawkins + Hawkins Architects, Inc.

J David Hawkins
Steven Hawkins

Golden Nugget Awards,
SDAF Orchids Award

726 9th Avenue, Suite 1, San Diego, CA 92101

About H2 Hawkins + Hawkins Architects, Inc.

H2 Hawkins + Hawkins Architects, Inc. is a successful client-focused San Diego architectural firm rooted in integrity, collaboration, and high quality design. It was founded by brothers David and Steven Hawkins, with over 30 years of experience between them. Their work focuses on transforming buildings into healthy, prosperous environments that are not only beautiful designs, but also become a great benefit to the people who inhabit them. H2 has received numerous design awards, including the 2014 San Diego Orchid and the 2014 Builder’s Choice/Custom Home Magazine Grand Award, nine Gold Nugget awards of Merit, and two Grand Gold Nugget Awards for outstanding design from the Pacific Coast Builders Conference. It has been featured in Sun Coast Architects & Builders Magazine, Best of American Remodeling Magazine, The Moscow Architectural Journal, the San Diego Union Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Diego Daily Transcript.

Featured Projects

The unique Caffe Pan Bon in the Little Italy district of San Diego is one of H2 Hawkins + Hawkins’ chic and modern restaurant designs. It is a 10.4k-square-foot space that features a dramatic main dining room, a two-story space with a 4,000-square-foot modern mezzanine, and a beautiful balcony lounge area. H2’s main goal with this space was to integrate the aesthetic and design concepts of Cierreesse Arredamenti from Italy into the restaurant’s overall feel, which they did while also creating a one-of-a-kind dining experience. \nAnother of H2’s restaurant designs is the equally exquisite Olive & Rose in San Diego, with an edgy but welcoming interior. The space features a large wood beam accent spanning the length of the restaurant, offering both function and form. It is warmed by red brick walls. Tall ceilings are decorated with exposed piping, and large windows allow beautiful natural light to accentuate the restaurant’s earthy but industrial atmosphere.


Matthew Ellis

SDAF Orchids Award

2731 B Street, San Diego, CA 92102

About PGAL Architecture

Responsible for some of San Diego’s hottest restaurants, including the famous Juniper & Ivy and The Crack Shack in Little Italy, Bluemotif Architecture, now known as PGAL, is an award-winning San Diego based firm founded in 2002 by architect Matthew Ellis. The firm has brought its creative genius to the successful completion of over 50 commercial and residential projects throughout Southern California. They believe that every project presents a new opportunity to create a space that will be remembered, felt, and appreciated. They strive to achieve design excellence, while ensuring that with each project they are making healthy and environmentally responsible design choices. To do this, they offer educated choices to their clients in order to create the most beautiful and sustainable space imaginable.

Featured Projects

PGAL Architecture did a full architectural transformation of an existing industrial metal warehouse building into a kitchen and outdoor patio for the new dining concept at the famous Crack Shack in Little Italy. The new fast-casual concept by Michael Rosen, Richard Blais, and Jon Sloan features a relaxed outdoor dining environment. The existing metal shed houses the kitchen. A new shed structure covers the equally new outdoor-indoor bar and the semi-enclosed area they call the “living room,” which includes an open flame fireplace and a multi-screen TV. There is also a semi-enclosed trellis, firepit, tree-counter bar-top, and bocce ball court in the outdoor dining area. The firm also revitalized a 90-year-old concrete and timber warehouse into a gritty yet sophisticated restaurant where Top Chef winner Richard Blais now cooks. Juniper & Ivy Restaurant thus became a famous trendy addition to the quickly evolving San Diego North Little Italy neighborhood. The exhibition kitchen is at the center of the restaurant, which also features an elegant dining room, a mezzanine for private dining, and a cocktail lounge. The bones of the old warehouse surround the new lavish, stylish interiors, creating a balanced combination of character and a real presence of history with a contemporary flair. The green J&I sign has also become a beacon for travelers down Kettner Blvd.


Paul Basile

SDAF Orchids Award,
AIA Awards

840 11th Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101

About BASILE Studio

Paul Basile has been designing beautiful restaurant spaces for the past two decades and draws his inspiration from big markets like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. His is one of the most recognized and prolific names in Southern California design. In San Diego, he is responsible for some of the city’s finest restaurants, with the most unique designs that are true works of art. He is frequently referred to as the “brick and mortar guru” of San Diego. BASILE Studio has been featured in many publications, including the San Diego Union Tribune for their work on the restaurant Born & Raised — a stunning classic design. The studio has also received wide-ranging critical acclaim and multiple awards for interior design, transformative design, adaptive reuse, sustainability and divine details, from organizations such as the American Institute of Architects and San Diego Architectural Foundation.

“I’m a fourth-generation builder so creating beautiful spaces is in my blood. Everything we do at BASILE is custom designed and built in-studio and each project is completely unique. We are fortunate to have a whole crew of talented artisans working for us to bring these designs to life.” – Paul Basile

Featured Projects

Paul Basile led the team in the glamorous design of Ironside Fish & Oyster in San Diego. Throughout the process, they were very mindful of the importance of the fishing industry to San Diego’s Little Italy, and the team was careful to incorporate the concept into the design and honor that relationship. Located on India Street, the team performed a full, comprehensive restoration of the space. It became an imaginative and carefully crafted, contemporary interpretation of the classic fish house and oyster bar. It is complete with glamorous vanity lights lining the ceiling over the bar. There are three open-air culinary “hubs,” featuring an impressive raw bar, chef’s table, and bakery. Another of the firm’s designs was Kindred, the winner of the 2016 SDAF Orchid for Interior Design. It is a French Gothic-detailed establishment with hints of heavy metal influence that is edgy and exciting. Almost all of the features were custom-made, including an LED backlit, mirrored coffered ceiling, a custom oak seating installation, tall French Gothic-inspired flip windows, an oversized spirits chandelier, and a 900-pound, black, four-eyed wolf sculpture. Together these elements make for a restaurant-going experience that manages to be much more than just the food. It’s a visually stunning space that is sure to entertain patrons for years to come.

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