Portland, Oregon, is a city known for its foodie culture. People literally move here for the restaraunts. And with those inventive recipes and creative dishes comes the necessity for fun, attractive, and functional brick and mortar spaces to enhance the experience of staff and guests alike. When it comes to dining out, it’s not just the food people go for, it’s the experience of being out and being away, and creating that ambiance and design and structure is the work of those who create these very unique Portland restaurants. Here are some of the best of the best you’ll find creating the places where locals and travelers alike stand in line — if not to eat, at least just to get a glimpse of the eye candy inside.

Top Architects and Designers

TVA Architecture

Robert L. Thompson
Bob Thompson
Mandy Butler
Tim Wybenga
Pam Saftler

GSA National Design Honor Award for Sustainability/Adaptive Reuse,
BOMA International Campus of the Year Award,
Custom Home Magazine’s Grand Design Award

920 SW Sixth Avenue, Suite 1500, Portland, OR 97204

[email protected]

About TVA Architecture

Since 1984, when Design Principal Robert L. Thompson, FAIA, founded the firm, TVA’s studio has been charged and created with a passion for Modernist style. TVA Architecture’s culture is marked by award-winning design and the excellence of its employees. With a grand tally of 43 awards from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) National and Regional, it is no surprise that they have also received Local Design Awards for Excellence; a General Services Administration (GSA) National Design Honor Award for Sustainability/Adaptive Reuse; two Governor’s Livability Awards; a Building and Managers Association (BOMA) International Campus of the Year Award; and a Custom Home Magazine’s Grand Design Award. Principals of TVA include Bob Thompson, Mandy Butler, Tim Wybenga, and Pam Saftler.

Featured Projects

LoveJoy Bakers is a beloved ground level, locally-run bakery and cafe located in Portland’s South Waterfront along the Willamette River. The TVA design team took inspiration from the shell building’s exterior palette and then utilized a similar wood finish for the interior ceiling treatment. This decision was implemented in order to visually enhance the small interior space of the café. Upon ordering, one will find that behind the menu board is a rather large wall of encaustic tile. This enlarges and amplifies a strong graphic texture to the space. Additionally, the over-sized glass pendants increase a sense of visual curiosity for customers who are bound to at least glance over the wood and marble espresso bar. The kitchen is separated from the seating area by industrial glazing. This permits the food preparation to not only augment the space, but also takes full advantage of the south-facing corner where large glazed doors open up to another spacious outdoor seating deck during the warm season.

LRS Architects Inc.

Bill Ruff
Steve Lee
T Paul Frank
Trish Nixon
Dan Purgiel
Steve Mileham
Paul Boundy

Commercial Real Estate Community Impact Award,
Association of Retail Environments Sustainability Award

720 N.W. Davis Street #300, Portland, OR 97209

About LRS Architects Inc.

Founded in 1976 by Bill Ruff and Steve Lee, LRS’s award-winning architecture has consistently received positive client feedback, and they have collected over 60 awards for their work, repeatedly ranking in the top tier of Portland architecture by multiple parties, including the Portland Business Journal. Not only does LRS display a top-notch commercial portfolio, but the firm also shines in areas of planning and interiors, housing, and public projects. They have offices both in Portland, Oregon and Shanghai, China. Recent awards in the last year highlight the Erickson Fritz Apartments by the Portland Business Journal for the Commercial Real Estate Community Impact Award of 2016. The New Seasons Market Woodstock won the 2016 Association of Retail Environments Sustainability Award. Managing principals of note include T. Paul Frank, Trish Nixon, Dan Purgiel, Steve Mileham, and Paul Boundy.

Featured Projects

The Barlow project was a 1700-square-foot expansion to the historic Park Tower building in historic downtown Portland. Designed to emulate 1920s speakeasy nostalgia of the flapper era, LRS Architects helped design and expand this vintage artisan bar to not only fit the vintage theme, but also to celebrate the Broadway District’s own history. Close by is the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland’5 Centers for the Arts, and other small theaters, so the creative design was instrumental in creating a successful environment for this restaurant. A demonstration kitchen and mixology station were implemented, and each design detail was given the utmost consideration, all considering the restaurant’s quite visible corner location. The floor-to-ceiling glazing really enhances the allure of Barlow.

LEVER Architecture

Thomas Robinson

4713 N Albina Avenue, Portland, OR 97217

About LEVER Architecture

Lever is a design practice based out of Portland, Oregon, whose architecture includes a multitude of building projects known for their innovative structures and community appeal. Lever was founded in 2009 by Thomas Robinson, who received his Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from UC Berkeley and a Master of Architecture with Distinction from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He then led various institutional projects for Allied Works and Herzog & de Meuron. Lever is known as a pioneer in the development of mass timber buildings in the United States.

Featured Projects

People move to Portland not just for the city itself, but also because its location is such a short drive to nature’s splendor. Just west of Newberg, right outside of Portland, L’Angolo Estate shows off the latest example of the Pacific Northwest’s architecture and what one can do with the local timber industry. Lever Architecture tapped a mill in Drain, Oregon, for upgraded versions of mass-produced beams fashioned from southern Oregon trees. The new tasting room features Doug Fir ceilings and an elegant concrete bar. Lever Architecture designed the airy tasting room. Sleek and bathed in light, the goal of the project was to replicate the wine — not grandiose, but elegant and rooted in the natural beauty of the environment. The project reveals how enduringly beautiful a thoughtful simplicity of aesthetics can be when enjoying a wine and dine experience.

Woofter Architecture

Miles Woofter

107 SE Washington Street, Suite 228, Portland, OR 97214

About Woofter Architecture

Based in Portland, Oregon, Woofter Architecture is a collaborative design practice that believes successful architecture necessitates an environmentally sound, place-based responsiveness to time and culture. The firm has received both merit and sustainability awards from the AIA, along with numerous other awards in excellence, including some rather unique accolades like the Institutional Wood Design Winner, 2013 WoodWorks National Wood Design Awards. Born and raised in Calgary, Canada, Miles Woofter has practiced architecture for over 20 years, developing expertise in the design, documentation, and delivery of sustainable building projects primarily in the Pacific Northwest. Also with 20 years of experience, Jonathan Bolch is a registered architect in the state of Oregon. He currently serves as an adjunct professor of Architecture at Portland State University.

Featured Projects

Julia Wood and Miles Woofter supported the design and documentation of Higgins and was led by the John Hurst Design firm. Higgins is a restaurant that has continually made Portland’s best bar and restaurant list and hasn’t changed in a decade. Its design and feel make you walk in and remember what a city bar is actually for: a neutral, civilized, well-tended place to savor that little piece of time between one thing and the next. With a homey, wood-worn back bar, it’s easy to settle in and feel both cozy and urbane. One of the first farm-to-table restaurants to open in Portland in the early 1990s, Higgins has staying power, and a lot of that is due to the work of Woofter Architecture and its classic, elegant, and timeless design.

Skylab Architecture

Jeff Kovel
Brent Grubb

AIA Design Awards,
AIA Merit Awards,
AIA Honor Awards,
ASLA Merit Awards

413 SW 13th Avenue, Suite 200, Portland, OR 97205

About Skylab Architecture

Skylab Architecture is a full-service and integrated interdisciplinary design studio. They were founded in 1999 with the mission to create meaningful, sustainable architectural experiences. Inspired by the human experience in various places, the firm investigates how to bring the best use of modern elements to people and place and food. Jeff Kovel is the design principal. The other principal is Brent Grubb. The firm is the winner of many awards from the Oregon Concrete and Aggregate Producers Association (OCAPA) and AIA, like the Portland Small Project Award, the Unbuilt Award, and the Merit Award. Other recognition includes the International Americas Restaurant & Bar Design Award.

Featured Projects

Doug Fir embodies an idealized vision of what Portland could be. Depicting a Northwest modernism blended with a log cabin and a hipster bar, the Doug Fir Lounge has the aesthetic of a up-to-date mountain lodge merged with the modernist experience of travel and motel. Enormous glulam beams that were already part of the building were restored and offset by new finishes that gave it a facelift: stainless steel, glass block, and chrome ceiling panels applied in a new manner. The futuristic application makes this a truly unique spot to dine, and then catch a show or spend the night. Another well-known project is Departure, the 9,000-square-foot rooftop restaurant and lounge that sits on the top floor of the old Meier & Frank Building. Now renovated, the original building was made in 1908 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Portland, Oregon. This project truly emphasizes Skylab’s capability to meld an existing structure with high design, creating a new experience for the community to engage in the heart of downtown Portland. The dining room seats 100 and is described as being similar to a cockpit space. Sliding glass doors exhibit a floor-to-ceiling view of downtown. Fifty feet of chart mural work encircles the dining room, all of fantasy island charts.

Orange Wall Studios

Gary Hartfill

240 N Broadway #308, Portland, OR 97227

About Orange Wall Studios

Orange Wall Studios Architecture and Planning was founded in 2004 by Gary Hartfill. Passion, vision, collaboration, and craft are the four key values that the firm was built on. The work of the firm has been featured in Portland Business Journal, both for its upscale architects and as one of Portland’s fastest growing businesses. Dedicated to a collaborative design process uniquely tailored to each client, Orange Wall has customized beloved restaurants in the Portland area and beyond, including the ever popular Pfriem Brewery in Hood River. In projects both in and outside of the restaurant realm, Orange Wall Studios has been awarded for their excellence in preservation, sustainability, adaptive reuse, and community revitalization throughout Oregon.

Featured Projects

Orange Wall Studios Architecture and Planning was founded in 2004 by Gary Hartfill. Passion, vision, collaboration, and craft are the four key values that the firm was built on. The work of the firm has been featured in Portland Business Journal, both for its upscale architects and as one of Portland’s fastest growing businesses. Dedicated to a collaborative design process uniquely tailored to each client, Orange Wall has customized beloved restaurants in the Portland area and beyond, including the ever popular Pfriem Brewery in Hood River. In projects both in and outside of the restaurant realm, Orange Wall Studios has been awarded for their excellence in preservation, sustainability, adaptive reuse, and community revitalization throughout Oregon.

Design Department

Ben Hufford
Eric Black
Meredith Curran

208 SW Stark Street #200, Portland, OR 97204

About Design Department

Design Department is a Portland, Oregon-based firm started in 2008 by Ben Hufford and Eric Black after years of experience at large architecture firms. Ben Hufford remains the design principal at the firm, joined by Meredith Curran, who leads interior design. Design Department describes itself as loving food. And that should be obvious, considering they have been involved in some of the greatest locally loved restaurant and bar projects. Design Department helps clients through the process of lease negotiation, equipment planning, and restaurant/bar design, as well as all permitting processes with the city and the county. Recent Portland clients include: Bamboo Izakaya, Bamboo Sushi, Jackknife, Sweet Hereafter, Dig A Pony, Wilder, Migration Brewing, and Straight from New York Pizza.

Featured Projects

A second project for Bamboo restaurant group, this space earned Eater PDX’s “So Hot Right Now” award shortly after opening. The street location off of NE Alberta is both authentic and warmly inviting. Lanterns were strung above the dining area, and the bamboo huts create a street feel, which was inspired by the “yokocho” dining alleys of Tokyo. This space was entirely built by local artisans but excels in transporting those who enter back into the Showa Era of Tokyo. Another featured project is the bar located in the lobby of the historic Sentinel Hotel in downtown Portland. In 2014, it won the “Stone Cold Stunner” award by Eater PDX and was even featured in Eater National’s “The Year in Beautiful Restaurants: 15 Stunners.” The firm reused the fireplace, and then incorporated the stain glass-domed ceiling in order to create a timeless, intimate space, similar to a 1920s speakeasy. A 65-foot-long marble bar is the central hub and focal point of this popular watering hole.

Ankrom Moisan Architects Inc.

Stewart Ankrom
Tom Moisan

Portland Sustainability at Work Gold Workplace Certification

6720 S.W. Macadam Avenue #100, Portland, OR 97219

About Ankrom Moisan Architects Inc.

A recent recipient of Portland Sustainability at Work Gold Workplace certification, Ankrom Moisan is a national firm founded in 1983 and headquartered in Portland. The firm’s portfolio includes a wide array of award-winning, mixed-use student housing; affordable housing; workplace, hospitality, and healthcare projects; and senior living communities (like the Mirabella, which won the ULI Global Excellence Award). The firm has a mission for and emphasis on creating spaces where people and communities thrive.

Featured Projects

Sinju restaurant is designed with Japanese aesthetic: customers and clients enter and move through spaces that are made within spaces, each arranged to embody balance and delicacy. Areas made for larger communities to gather neighbor more personal and intimate spaces for smaller groups. The bar is designed with Bubinga wood, enhancing the senses in the dining experience. Fabrics and wood-slatted panels hang, which provide both contrast and intimacy against the stone-tiled floors. The art collection that hangs on the walls is from the owner’s own travels to Japan, which imbue the restaurant with a sense of authentic personality, intrigue, and a visual environment. The interiors hold swaths of silk, which, if you look closely, are finely designed in quality and detail, providing the space an identity of luxury and artistry.

Jessica Helgerson

Jessica Helgerson

112 SW 1st Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

About Jessica Helgerson

With work featured in the New York Times, Gray Magazine, Contract Magazine, Architectural Digest, and Casa Vogue (to name a few), you may recognize the designs of Jessica Helgerson Interior Design. Regardless, you won’t forget it once you’ve seen it. Jessica herself has lived and worked in Italy, Switzerland, and France. Her life in Europe and her travels in India, Mexico, Morocco, and the Far East have strongly influenced her work. The design group as a whole has expertise and experience applicable to the many types of projects they complete.

Featured Projects

Jessica’s work with Tusk Restaurant has been featured in The New York Times, Bon Appétit, Food and Wine, Portland Monthly, Gray Magazine, and Contract Magazine. Departing from the norm of Portland’s go-to woodsy aesthetic, the design of this Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant is something to behold. Tusk (named after the Fleetwood Mac album) is a restaurant whose lighting and colors are bright and fresh, giving off the sense of a lively, sunny party. Jessica designed a system of bleached wood dowels that filter the light and even create beautiful shadows along the walls. This was all done in order to make the space feel as if one was sitting outside, but under a shady arbor. The palette, in general, is pale and restrained. There is much room left for the colorful artwork displayed (and of course the bright food), and in order to accomplish this, she chose a pale palette with sophisticated restrictions. The senior designer for the Tusk project was Em Shephard.

Osmose Design

Andee Hess

Interior Design of the Year

2351 NW York Street #7, Portland, OR 97210

About Osmose Design

Andee Hess has already won a slew of accolades, including three Interior Design of the Year merit awards and the prestigious design:retail’s 40 under 40 list. Hess, who once worked for Skylab, began her own company, Osmose Design, in 2009. She prefers her work to not have a signature look, but to instead to be eye catching and unique enough for people to stop and say, who designed this? Osmose blends and pushes the limits of interior design by fusing design build with project management, furniture and lighting design, and branding creative direction, all while making dependable relationships in order to craft masterfully memorable spaces and environments. While not a registered architect, Osmose Design is certainly worth considering for any restaurant design project.

Featured Projects

How can we not mention Salt and Straw? And we’re not just talking about the line out the door for those funky flavors of ice cream. The ice cream bar itself works so well despite always being jammed packed and tiny, thanks to Osmose Design. Osmose rooted all design in the personality and ethics of the company. This includes light-fixtures that were hand-carved to look like scoops of ice cream. Even their wallpaper choice was custom made out of tiny panels to mirror the shape of waffle cones. Hess considers the community, the client, and the space in detail unlike any other. One of Hess’s most recent projects, Q restaurant, honors the area’s bustling business and tourist vibe by creating a nostalgic and classic space that also embraces new excitement and buzz. A rosewood-coffered ceiling bar invites both old and new customers and enjoins a space that is versatile to both privacy and public mingling. Private and intimate booths contain tufted upholstery, custom stained glass sconces, and black granite. The more open dining room has a long central upholstered banquette and tabletops of olive ash. Come in pairs or come as a group, but be sure to notice the cherrywood detailing and painted trellis screen wrap, which proves both a versatile visual of romance and airiness against the walnut floors.

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