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Espita is a self-described art-focused restaurant because they believe "believe that you eat with your eyes first, and the art on the walls should be as engaging as the food on the plate." (Image: Courtesy Aparna Krisnamoorthy)

Art a la carte: 6 trendy restaurants with fantastic art

Many local restaurants support local artists by displaying their art on the restaurant walls, as a sign of commitment or “putting roots down”, but they also add to the cool vibe of the space itself. Plus, they make for fantastic Instagram photos! If you want to enjoy your food with a side of art, this is the list of the places you need to visit.

This hopping Shaw spot for Mexican food and mezcal is fantastic all around, but grab a prime spot at the bar to catch the action from beverage director Megan Barnes. Sitting there also provides a great view of the murals near the entryway. The backdrop for the modern restaurant offers a collection of murals by Yescka, an internationally renowned Oaxacan street artist and founder of the political art collection ASARO (Assembly of Revolutionary Artists of Oaxaca). Don’t miss the two murals in the bathrooms either -- the rabbits are images of the Centzon Totochtin, the children of the Aztec Goddess Mayahuel and her god-husband Petecatl; as she is the goddess of agave and fertility, and he is the god of the fermented agave beverage, pulque, her 400 mischievous rabbit children are the result of a drunken good time.

Columbia Room
The mural in the tasting room is comprised of tiles, each of which was hand cut in Italy and configured to represent the bar’s founders and bartenders. The Tiger represents the astrological sign of founder Derek Brown, and the year Columbia Room originally opened, as 2010 was the year of the tiger. The names running along the bottom include alchemists (Aristotle!) and 19th-century Washington bartenders, such as George Williamson (the creator of the Rickey) and Dick Francis (an African American man who became the head bartender at the U.S. Senate after the Civil War). How’s that for some trivia to impress your date?

The original artwork at Policy, which opened eight years ago, included the very popular President Obama mural. Local artist Andrew Funk, who did the original, redid all the artwork in the lounge two years ago. The colorful lounge mural is an instant attention grabber!

District Distilling
This new U Street distillery and restaurant is a stunning space where you can learn all about the distillation process from the mural at the center of the distillery. Head to the tasting room and dining room to check out the barreling process, in art form. These murals are all based on original sketches from District Distilling's head distiller Matt Strickland and were brought to life by a collaboration between local designer Cory Bernat and local artist Neevy Hadar.

Wicked Bloom
Visual artist Mensa did the artwork for this neighborhood tavern and hip bar. Enjoy a handcrafted cocktail or a beer as you explore “The Twisted Rose” art mural. Next up for this crew is the new DCity Smokehouse location at 2nd and Florida, opening soon, complete with more artwork inside!

The Bird
This new restaurant in the Logan Circle area showcases poultry dishes inspired by global flavors, with a focus on local farmers for meat and produce. But they also feature artwork by a local artist in each space of the restaurant.