Toronto's Best Restaurant Design: The Top Five

The success of a restaurant depends on more than just its menu and quality of service. The right design and décor do more than provide ambiance and aesthetic appeal – they can be the difference between a restaurant that's just a place to grab a quick bite, and a restaurant that makes dining an experience. So it's no surprise that Toronto, a mecca of architecture and design, is home to some of Canada's most stunning eateries. Here are our top five picks for the most beautifully designed Toronto restaurants.

Colette Grand Café, 550 Wellington St W
Image courtesy of Colette Grand Cafe
Image courtesy of Colette Grand Café

The vision of architect Gianpiero Pugliese, this French restaurant and bakery at the Thompson Hotel takes traditional elements one might find in a classic Parisian café – the quaint striped awning, the blue and white colour scheme, the checkered marble floors – and puts a refreshingly modern spin on them. The result? A bright and airy space that exudes effortless elegance. Patrons can sip cocktails at the sleek marble-top bar, or dine at tables surrounded by Louis XIV chairs and blue tufted banquettes. Patterned wallpaper, black and white photographs, and fresh white floral arrangements incorporate a touch of French country charm. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in an abundance of natural sunlight, making Colette's an ideal spot for a chic Sunday brunch. In warmer weather, the outdoor pavilion facing Victoria Memorial Park provides a welcome urban oasis.

Böhmer, 93 Ossington Ave
Image courtesy of Böhmer
Image courtesy of Böhmer

Sexy. Eclectic. Industrial chic. All are spot-on descriptions of acclaimed chef Paul Boehmer's trendy Ossington eatery. A former auto garage, Roy Banse and the Brothers Dressler were hired to help transform the space into the stylish and eco-friendly hangout it is today, with both a menu and decorating scheme that emphasize locality and sustainability. The restaurant's high ceilings, concrete walls, and restored wooden furniture are embellished by the vibrant paintings and strands of ivy scattered throughout. Perhaps the most eye-catching accents are the breathtaking wooden chandeliers designed by the Brothers Dressler: they project instant warmth and coziness, and make Böhmer the perfect setting for a romantic dinner.

Sassafraz, 100 Cumberland St
Image courtesy of Sassafraz

Image courtesy of Sassafraz

Rebuilt in 2006 after a fire destroyed most of the interior, this French bistro has managed to remain a local favourite and celebrity hotspot. Located in the heart of Yorkville on a block of old Victorian row houses, it's hard to miss Sassafraz's cheerful bright yellow façade, complemented by retro striped awnings and glossy black mid-century modern doors. Inside, cream-coloured banquettes and crisp white table linens give off a vibe of breezy glamour that never feels fussy or overdone, while recessed lighting provides a subtle glow. In the back room, a stunning vertical garden and indoor waterfall lets you pretend you're dining al fresco in a summer garden – even in the middle of January.

ViaVai Pizzeria & Wine Bar, 832 Bay St

Stephanie Galt

The décor of this affordable Italian eatery, housed below the Burano Condos, simultaneously and seamlessly blends elegance and edge. Glass walls and sky-high ceilings lend brightness and depth to the relatively small setting without compromising its intimacy, while white tufted benches and black Kartell chairs give off a modern minimalist vibe. What really stuns, however, is the art: the restaurant's focal point is a fresco on its back wall by artist Sandro Martini, which adds a literal splash of colour to the white marble canvas. Echoes of this striking piece are found in the additional painted glass installations by Martini that hang from the ceilings. Even the walk to the washrooms will not disappoint oversized murals by Toronto design and production firm Kajart adorn the corridor.

Tappo Wine Bar & Restaurant, 2 Trinity St
Image courtesy of Tappo Wine Bar & Restaurant

Image courtesy of Tappo Wine Bar & Restaurant

If you're looking for the quintessential Distillery District dining experience, look no further than Tappo. Serving up traditional Italian cuisine with a side of unparalleled ambiance, Tappo's stone walls, exposed wood beams, and statuesque pillars give the illusion that one is dining in a historic European wine cellar. Paneled mirrors and glittering chandeliers add a hint of modern glam, resulting in a unique dining experience that puts the 'chic' into shabby chic. Guests can also sit on the quaint cobblestone patio, and marvel at the Victorian architecture of the old distillery buildings while they eat.

Stephanie Galt is a born-and-raised Torontonian with a love for all things style and design. In her spare time, you can find her checking out the multitude of incredible shops, restaurants, exhibits and events that the city has to offer.