What’s the first thing you do when a seriously awesome plate of food arrives at your table? Instagram it. Like it or not, the documentation of the restaurant experience has become an integral part of eating out. And now savvy eateries have caught on, designing spaces and food to encourage social sharing.
Instagram has been an enormous part of the runaway success of New York City’s Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer, a luncheonette owned by Chef Joe Isidori. Their signature “Crazy Shakes,” outrageously elaborate sculptural milkshakes, have taken Instagram by storm, resulting in thousands of tagged images.
“Instagram has made Black Tap into one of the biggest food trends of this year,” says Isidori. “Every time we post a new collaboration or milkshake, the photos seem to go viral and lines at the restaurant continue to build—the momentum never stops.”
Named the “Cronut of 2016” by Vogue, Black Tap’s success is largely due to its social media exposure, with its visually striking food set against the well-designed interiors. Lined with black-and-white geometric tiling and natural plywood surfaces, it’s an updated nod to the chrome countertops and checkered floors of a traditional diner.
On a black brick wall—one of the restaurant’s most ‘grammed spots—hangs the iconic Michael Halsband image of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat wearing boxing gloves. Another wall is adorned with a series of Warhol-esque images of condiments. “The artwork was definitely thought of as social media friendly. People love taking pictures of food in the air, and the walls of condiment-themed art make the perfect backdrop,” Isidori explains.
Lots of restaurants are following suit, taking into account popular Instagram angles—overhead shots of dishes on interesting surfaces, food held up against patterned walls—in designing their spaces. Materials like whitewashed wood, zinc, slate, and concrete are often used to provide a neutral backdrop for meals. One restaurant that has mastered the minimalist backdrop is LA’s Sqirl. Its marble tabletops, white tile walls and mismatched china dishware provide the perfect backdrop for its colorful, vegetable-centric dishes, making it one of the most Instagrammed restaurants in the country.
Casual, vegan hotspot, By Chloe in Manhattan is a magnet for Instagram posts thanks to its playful branding, which appears everywhere from the coloring book-style placemats to the coconuts that they serve drinks in. They also provide great spots for portraits, from the hanging rattan chairs to sidewalk tables beneath striped awnings.
Our other favorite ‘gramming spot? The Butcher’s Daughter, which first opened in New York and has since expanded to Venice, CA.
Hanging planters weave their way around the bar and succulents sit on shelves. Copper décor, rattan chairs, and a cozy patio with an outdoor fireplace make the space feel like a home away from home. It all adds up to the living embodiment of the SoCal lifestyle, a lifestyle that always scores the likes on Instagram.
These savvy restaurants use design to both enhance and highlight their food, communicating a lifestyle and feeling that extends beyond the restaurant experience.