The Fine Art of Dining

Art in Austin Restaurants

The secret to success in the restaurant business is based on many factors; location, menu, design, atmosphere, service. With the local restaurant industry expanding at breakneck speed, restaurateurs always have an eye out for some distinctive new twist that will set their eatery apart in the minds of the public. Lately, we've observed a trend toward using the works of excellent local and Texas artisans to enhance and define the decor of Austin restaurants. We don't mean to imply that artfully decorated dining rooms are anything new to the capital city, because they're not. Appreciation of the museum-quality Mexican art collection that graces the walls at Fonda San Miguel is a big part of the dining experience there, just as Sharon Watkins' eclectic folk art collection is an integral part of the casual atmosphere at Chez Zee. Many eateries feature rotating shows by various artists as an element of their artistic design. But more and more these days, we're finding distinctive murals, collages, neon signs, sculptures, statuary, sconces, and tile mosaics everywhere from the exterior walls to the restrooms of local restaurants, with each piece contributing to the individuality of the business. We sent Chronicle photographer Kenny Braun out to capture some impressive aspects of local restaurant design to illustrate this fusion of food and art.

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