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The Best Restaurant Architects in Washington, DC

5 Min Read

Washington, D.C., a city full of history and iconic landmarks, is a testament to the fusion of tradition and modernity. As the capital of the United States, it boasts a rich cultural tapestry, a dynamic culinary scene, and a vibrant atmosphere that draws both residents and visitors alike. Amidst the backdrop of political powerhouses and historic monuments, the city is also home to a culinary landscape that reflects diversity and innovation.

For those seeking to create or revitalize dining spaces in this dynamic city, our curated list below unveils the premier restaurant architects in Washington, D.C. These architects have been meticulously selected based on their exemplary portfolios, specialized expertise, client reviews, and industry accolades. Renowned for their ability to seamlessly blend functionality with aesthetic brilliance, these architects are dedicated to crafting restaurant spaces that transcend expectations. Whether you envision a chic bistro, a cozy cafe, or a cutting-edge dining experience, trust the expertise of these architects to transform your culinary vision into a tangible and extraordinary reality.


1322 14th St. NW., Washington, D.C. 20005

Established in 2002 by José Tohá and Jim Cronenberg, Grupo-7 is a comprehensive architecture and interior design firm specializing in contemporary commercial and residential projects. The firm’s portfolio encompasses a diverse range of undertakings on both national and international scales, including base building projects, condominiums, lofts, home renovations, restaurants, lounges, and hotel lobbies. From conceptualization to occupancy, Grupo7 supports its clients through every phase.

The firm’s leadership includes James Cronenberg, a registered architect and member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and José Toha, a Santiago-born architect whose formative years in Mexico City shaped his architectural perspective. Together, they bring a rich blend of expertise and international influence to Grupo7’s innovative designs. This has led the firm to earn extensive recognition, including the 2019 Eater DC Design of the Year Award for its work on Punjab Grill DC. Media features in Architectural Digest and The Washington Post further attest to Grupo-7’s impactful presence, as does its affiliation with the AIA.

CORE architecture + design

1010 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Suite #405, Washington, D.C. 20007

CORE architecture + design, led by Principals Dale Stewart, Allison Cooke, and David Cheney, approaches design with a passion for complexity and innovation. The firm, which has been operating in Washington, DC for over 30 years, specializes in creating transformative architectural spaces across diverse projects. From mixed-use developments to chef-driven restaurants, it sees each endeavor as an opportunity to craft something unique and innovative. Its co-creative process involves clients at every step and prioritizes open communication. 

As founding principal, Stewart brings 38 years of expertise, focusing on master planning and historic preservation. Cooke, director of hospitality design, seamlessly navigates diverse projects, leading her to earn praise for her creativity and technical acumen. Lastly, David Cheney, director of operations, drives the firm’s technical excellence and process-oriented design, overseeing cultural, mixed-use, and historic projects. Under their leadership, the firm is affiliated with the American Institute of Architects and the International Interior Design Association, and has earned accolades such as the 2022 Award for Special Merit for The Silva.

Bell Architects

1228 9th St. NW., Washington, D.C. 20001

Bell Architects, distinguished for excellence in design and collaboration, prioritizes a client-centric project approach. Operating as an agile and interactive office, this team of seasoned professionals ensures consistent involvement throughout planning, design, and development. Unlike larger firms, it seamlessly adapts to emerging markets, evolving technology, and client needs. Meanwhile, its commitment to sustainable design employs a measurable, performance-based approach, in which it continually adjusts to guarantee optimal property performance. Spaces crafted for occupant delight and health emphasize access to daylight, fresh air, and thermal comfort, and many projects surpass modeled energy efficiency standards.

The firm is led by founder T. David Bell, a Fellow of the AIA and a LEED Accredited Professional (AP). He brings passion and expertise to integrating history, culture, and sustainable design into his projects. His award-winning portfolio spans educational facilities, museums, parks, and more, and all showcase a dedication to conserving environmental, financial, and historic resources. The firm’s commitment to excellence and sustainability is further reflected in its affiliations with the American Institute of Architects and the US Green Building Council, and in its reception of awards such as the 2023 North American Copper in Architecture Award—an award that the firm received for its work on the US Naval Academy Chapel Dome Rehabilitation.

David M. Schwarz Architecture

1707 L St. NW., Suite #400, Washington, D.C. 20036

David M. Schwarz Architects (DMSAS) approaches architecture as both a service and an art, seeing it as a means to craft sustainable, human-centered spaces within the public realm. Since its establishment in 1978 in Washington, DC, it has grown into a design firm with a singular studio that houses a dedicated team of 35 architects. The studio’s roots in the historic districts of D.C. have profoundly influenced its philosophy, emphasizing how buildings contribute positively to their surroundings. Specifically, DMSAS’ work focuses on creating memorable institutions and sustainable neighborhoods that foster genuine humanity, community, and common purpose. Affiliated with the American Institute of Architects, its commitment to excellence is recognized through accolades such as the 2022 SARA National Design Award for its work on the Nicholas S. Zeppos College.

Highlighted in Arch Daily and Architect Magazine, Founder and Chairman David M. Schwarz brings a wealth of experience to the firm, having garnered prestigious awards and directed architectural studios at Yale University and the University of Notre Dame. Schwarz’s influence extends to various boards, underscoring his commitment to design and the broader architectural community.