Everyone needs a go-to neighborhood bar, and if I had my pick, it would be one of these. In my opinion, the best parts of a neighborhood bar are everything but their signature beer-garita: modern barstools, great music, creative drinks, and of course, zero pressure to put on real pants. These five bars agree, and they indulge my desire for design-forward spaces packed with personality.
Here are our 5 best bar installs of all time:
Welcome to Thornbury
Maybe it’s because I grew up as a child of the 90s and the name of our first bar takes me back to a much simpler time when I could watch “The Wild Thornberrys,” on Nickelodeon for hours in my pjs, or maybe it’s just because this is just seriously good design, but Melbourne’s second largest beer garden (and food truck stop), Welcome to Thornbury, tops my list of must-see bar installs.
Aside from the fact that it is extremely dog-friendly, it also features our Hurdle barstools. At one point, this space was a prominent car manufacturing facility, and now it’s home to a rotating round-up of 80+ food trucks on a monthly basis. Sprawling indoor and outdoor spaces are peppered with plants and soaked in natural light. Designers, Therefore Studio, found a perfect balance between modern details like the furniture and aged aspects, like the worn cement floors and exposed ceiling.
If Lisa Frank designed a barstool, this would be it! Custom hot pink frames and navy laminate pop against mod art inside of Recess, at Krog Street Market in Atlanta (the only thing missing here are the flying unicorns). Kombucha Margaritas, Turmeric Spritz, and Frose are amongst the most popular (and colorful) drinks on the menu. Every inch of the tiny restaurant and bar is bursting with color: the wooden blue bar, the custom colored industrial barstools, the pink neon light, and that fantastic art on the walls cohesively make up one of the most memorable bar designs we’ve ever seen. Kudos to Square Feet Studio for going bold with color, we salute you!
Yes, you’re probably going to Nashville to visit the Ryman Auditorium, and obviously buy a new cowboy hat, but this city has so much more to offer. Trust us when we say, if you like food and good design, then the Little Octopus is a MUST-SEE. Inspired by the Caribbean, this bar serves up vegetable and seafood dishes brimming with color, texture, and flavor.
Located in East Nashville, design firm Design, Bitches took their cues from the Caribbean menu to create a modern bar design saturated with sandy neutrals, pops of soft pink, and even a giant gold octopus mural. The bar, flanked by Merano barstools, is the centerpiece of the restaurant, and we’re jazzed about it.
If I’m being honest, I’m partial to Australian design, which is probably why this next bar makes our top five list. Situated in a laid-back coastal suburb of Henley, this restaurant features stunning seaside views and a muted palette of colors and textures. Designers Studio-Gram drew inspiration from the sea and sand to create an atmosphere that invites customers to relax and enjoy, successfully achieving a contemporary, beachy interior. Perfectly placed plants, pink booths, sage green tiles, and crisp white Half Hurdle barstools offer a refreshingly modern take on coastal design.
Our last must-see bar combines two of our favorite things, wine and design. Cobalt blue, a zesty green, and a row of modern barstools are just a few details that make this installation stand out. The light-flooded dining room sings with shades of blue and green as the sun bounces off the wine bottle feature, while white oak paneling warms up the space.
For the designs alone, these five must-see bars are worth traveling to, even if it means flying halfway around the world to get there (just pack your comfy pants). If you’re looking for even more restaurant design envy, download our new Look Book.