Whether you want a polished palace that serves up the prettiest macarons, a renovated department store with trippy bathrooms and creepy dolls, or a dreamy dining room with Corinthian columns and coved ceilings, Phoenix restaurants deliver more than food.
Here are 13 spots with dazzling design.
214 East Roosevelt Street
602-218-6734 Sake Haus might look all business in the front – picture a wood-paneled box surrounded by a patio on Roosevelt Row – but it’s all party in the back. Go through the black door and you enter a swanky sushi and drinking den decked out in edgy murals by local artists, hanging paper lanterns, and a red glowing bar that pulses with a Tokyo street vibe. Cocktails are innovative and inspired by Japanese flavors like yuzu and shishito, the sake selection is impressive, and bottles are half-price on Mondays. The sushi is fresh and fun, and the crew are totally in on the party.
4338 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
480-970-1007 The Insta opportunities at Diego Pops are endless. Snap a selfie at the pink pineapple wall, another with the punk Frida Kahlo painting, definitely at the bright blue and white tiled patio bar, and pucker up in front of the neon “Como Mexico” sign. The modern Mexican menu is just as fun and funky, with camera-ready street corn coated in Flamin’ Hot Cheeto dust, Brussels sprouts nachos topped with a pop of millennial pink beet crema and an I’m-ready-for-my-closeup guava coconut cocktail served in a baby coconut.
Tía Carmen5350 East Marriott Drive
480-293-5000 Entering Tía Carmen, Top Chef alum Angelo Sosa’s restaurant at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, is like walking into another world. The modern, monochromatic oasis is sorta Star Wars, sorta Dune, and totally mesmerizing. With more soft curves than right angles, the bar area with its satellite-sized light shades winds through soaring arches to the dining room, an open space of convex walls with handmade plaster light fixtures floating above. Cocktails combine local herbs and spices with artisanal agave spirits and come as pretty as sunsets, while contemporary Southwest cuisine is beautifully plated on local artisan pottery. Check out the Spice Wall, a piece of art created with real spices.
Zu & Pocha
1212 East Apache Boulevard, Tempe
480-590-2903 At Zu & Pocha, a modern seafood restaurant and bar with Korean flair, your attention will bounce between the white marble-topped tables, the circular booths illuminated with halo lights, the textured walls, and the impressive raw bar where seafood is exactingly displayed over ice. Above the dining room, the ceiling features flourishes of flowers and greenery floating from wooden slats. The food comes with the same flair, including sculptured dishes like mini lobster rolls on black charcoal brioche buns popping against terra cotta plates and raw oysters resting on beds of crushed ice.
40 North First Street
602-252-2285 Let’s start with the exterior of Hanny’s, the downtown mid-century marvel housed in the former men’s department store by the same name. On the corner of Adams and First Street, the three-story stunner stands proud with rounded corners and original street-side display windows where diners sipping martinis replace mannequins. It’s architecturally impressive, but it’s the inside touches that really wow, from the huge wraparound backlit bar where the registers once sat to the old dressing rooms-turned-unisex-bathrooms that look more like a neon house of mirrors. If the bathrooms weren’t trippy enough, check out the creepy doll display in the basement. If you dare.
Růže Cake House
7033 East Main Street, Scottsdale
480-438-8692 Every angle at Růže Cake House strikes a pretty and polished pose. Cascading plants pop against the white-washed walls. Copper-colored pendant lights and metal chairs play off bleached wood tables and the “Stop & taste the roses” neon sign will make you stop and smile. In fact, the whole bright and cheery place, brimming with natural light and a sunny disposition, with a whimsical menu of cotton candy-topped boba teas and magical macaroons in flavors like fruity pebbles, will improve your mood. Order a cookie butter dirty chai latte made with local dairy and house-made syrup and raise your pinkie in solidarity.
The Canal Club
4925 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
480-424-6095 A trip to the Canal Club should begin at the bar. The showy centerpiece, with its turquoise tile, hanging globe lights, rattan chairs, and bright neon sign is a sip of 1930s Havana with tropical-tasting cocktails to match. The vibrant eatery inside the Scott Resort also includes bright botanical wallpaper, plush golden banquettes, Bauhaus-inspired chandeliers, and lush greenery both inside and out. Order ceviche, Cubanos, and churro donut holes while soaking in the vacation vibes.
Futuro at Palabra Collective
909 North First Street
602-730-3227 The first thing you’ll notice at Futuro is the color white. The exterior of the building, the interior walls, the geometric tiles fronting the bar, the exposed beamed ceiling, the minimalist seating, they're all white. Housed in a hair salon and gallery that showcases a rotation of art from local creators, this cafe's minimalist design lets both the coffee drinks and pastries shine. Choose from a curated list of artisan teas and single-origin espresso drinks, with upscale additions like stone-ground cacao, goat milk caramel, and Maldon sea salt.
6015 North 16th Street
602-633-1187 No view at The Genuine, a stylish hangout in the former Vig Uptown space on 16th Street, is quite the same. The fireplace area is surrounded by low-slung seating, leafy oversized plants, and sheer drapes. The lounge features angular furniture, arc lamps, and gray-green walls. Plus, there are exposed beams, block walls, and Haver blocks – no surprise since architect Ralph Haver originally designed the building as a bank back in the '60s. The cast concrete block structure behind the bar was originally the vault. A wood-fired oven is also on display, firing roasted mussels, charred octopus, pizzas, and more.
3000 East Ray Road, Gilbert
480-988-1238 Barnone in Gilbert is a one-of-a-kind design and dining experience. Housed in a converted 1950s Quonset hut built with steel reclaimed from WWII planes, the 12,000-square-foot cathedral-like structure is as impressive from the outside as the inside. Renovated to include reclaimed wood paneling, glass walls, and subway tiles while keeping the hanger-like feel, the half-dome space is a creative hub for local merchants and makers, including an ice cream counter, a brewery, a wood-fired pizza kitchen, and a vegan restaurant that uses produce grown just outside in the certified organic farm.
4130 North Seventh Avenue
602-612-2961 Valentine is a restaurant that perfectly marries mid-century modern design with desert chic for a vibe that’s all its own. It's fittingly found in the Melrose District in front of the Modern Manor furniture store. The cafe's floor-to-ceiling windows open up to a terra cotta and turquoise triumph of upholstered chairs and clay-colored design accents that feels both open and intimate. The menu’s aesthetic matches, an all-day affair that spans cajeta lattes and squash sticky buns with rose caramel glaze to mezcal-spiked hatch chili margaritas and elote pasta with house-made tagliarini.
17797 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
480-573-0001 If James Bond were a restaurant, The Americano would be it. Punctuated with slate gray walls, tasteful art, sleek leather banquette seating, and sculptural golden-hued light fixtures, the whole place oozes panache and swagger. Helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef and Food Network star Scott Conant, The Americano's Italian-inspired menu follows suit with fine steaks, freshly made pasta, Italian crudo, and artisan cocktails. Even Bond himself might skip the martini for the popular “Versace on the Floor,” a cocktail made with chili-infused vodka, mesquite honey, and basil-olive oil foam.
6939 East First Avenue, Scottsdale
480-970-7682 Café Monarch has a reputation as the most romantic restaurant in Arizona. A stunner both inside and out, from the fountain entrance and white-table-cloth tables on the patio to the chandeliered dining room graced with Corinthian columns and coved ceilings, it’s nothing short of spectacular. The equally impressive food is designed by chef and owner Gustavo Lewkowicz who offers a unique four-course prix-fixe fine dining menu with options like Wagyu New York striploin and duck breast with seared foie gras. Expect next-level food and service, where every server is a Level 1 sommelier or above, in a dreamy ambiance.