Arts & Culture

Green Day

Area restaurants are going au naturel.

Whether it’s shelves of succulents at Forno or a living wall at Gunther & Co., plants have taken root as a prominent design detail in many area restaurants. Beyond prettying up a place, however, experts say that going green is good for your well-being. In many cases, plants act as renewable air sources that reduce pollutants while expelling clean oxygen.

“Having plants around us is healthy,” says Kate Blom, conservatory supervisor at the Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens in Baltimore. “They smile back at you and make you feel good.” Here are some of our favorite spots that are tapping into the horticulture trend.

Alma Cocina Latina: Tall palms and tropical plants contribute to the Venezuelan vibe of this Canton Can Company restaurant, which is meant to evoke the spirit of Caracas-born owner Irena Stein’s home country. “Since Venezuela is near the equator, we always have pleasant temperatures that allow homes to be partly open to the outdoors year-round,” Stein explains. “The décor in the restaurant is meant to feel like our homes there and serves as an introduction to the food.”

Bar Vasquez: Designer Katie Destefano showcases small succulents, tropical plants, and 18-foot palm trees at this South American spot. “I wanted to incorporate the lushness of the rainforests,” she says. “Organic elements bring in whimsy and break up hard lines in a space.”

Encantada: The interior of this whimsical spot inside AVAM is supplemented by potted centerpieces, which range from ivy to ferns. “I’m a firm believer in having plants in restaurants,” says owner Robbin Haas. “They make the space feel more lively and real.”

Forno: Potted plants and three-tiered shelving units full of succulents add to the rusticity of this downtown cocina. “The plants complement the earthy tones and give the space an organic feel,” says general manager Ricky Johnson.

Gunther & Co.: In addition to herb gardens, this Brewers Hill spot boasts a 16-foot living green wall, which works as an air-filtration system and improves acoustics. Says co-owner Nancy Hart Mola, “There’s something about being around living things. It’s good for the soul.”

R. House: Retractable doors will soon open up to a wall of wisteria and a canopy cascading with flowers and vines. “Plants add to the feel that you’re coming into someone’s house,” says Seawall Development’s Jon Constable.