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Dining out is a holistic experience -- a commune between taste, aroma, sight, surroundings, and whether or not you can find parking (damn it what the hell is happening to this city!). The surroundings can be especially important. What kind of monster would eat sushi in a Western-themed saloon, or drop $$$ on a steak while sitting on a plastic chair? People who separate sandwiches into their constituent parts, that’s who. To the rest of us, restaurant design matters.

Because naming the best-designed restaurants, period, would be an exercise in apples vs. Boston's Union Oyster House (opened 1826), we decided to highlight our favorites built or remodeled within the past few years (the oldest/most recently redone is 8 years). From re-imagined warehouses to a fresh take on Charlie Chaplin’s former digs, here they are.

20. Fulton Market Kitchen

Chicago, IL (address and info)

Daniel Alonso/Alex Morales

You might be tempted to ask the staff of the art gallery you mistakenly entered where the restaurant is – and how you ended up on the East coast. The unique setting, a self-described “portal of creativity,” is inspired by the 1980s New York art scene and Miami’s famed graffiti installation, Wynwood Walls. Fulton’s rotating collaborations with local artists ensure that there is always something new to see, and the weekly series, “5x5,” offers customers a behind-the-scenes look at live art creation.

Highlight: Depends on the rotation, but the bar back made of stacked chairs is a constant curiosity.

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