Amuse Bouche: Barbara Bestor

We asked award-winning architect Barbara Bestor: what ingredients build a good wine bar, coffee shop, or pizzeria?

We don’t invent an identity for a restaurant—we try to coax it out of what the owners are trying to do. Lou was the culmination of Lou Amdur’s 20-year dream of opening a wine bar, and he had a passion for these older bars in Paris. I had no intention of making a Parisian wine bar, but I wanted it to have that atmosphere of a certain informality and intimacy.

How was Silver Lake’s Intelligentsia different? We tried to create the salon aspect of a café and reflect the old world origins of coffee. The big thing was making the outdoor covered patio—it’s like a comfortable living room but also a public space. Then Culver City’s Pitfire Pizza was a chance to redo the whole idea of the family pizza place. It’s got a busy, humming atmosphere, but there’s still plenty of room.

Any spots you’d like to rework? I’d love to get my hands on Animal. They may be trying to do a minimalist thing, but the look could be more thoughtful. They’re so incredible with their food, but with the space I’m like, “Oh, come on!” // Go to

Illustration by Jason Lee