For design lovers, a restaurant’s aesthetic is nearly as important as its menu. Sure, there are times when an eatery’s interiors are the least of your concerns—like when you need to snag a lunchtime tamale between back-to-back meetings, cure a sudden bout of hanger with a quick slice, or soak up the previous night’s tequila shots with the warm hug of a breakfast burrito. But for the evenings when you want to impress a date, savor precious kid-free time, or celebrate a milestone, a restaurant’s atmosphere can make or break a meal. Luckily, several of Denver’s newest restaurants deliver serious style alongside flavorful bites and sips.

Here, three of our favorite design schemes from hot spots that opened this winter.

Golden Hour

There’s a reason photographers love golden hour: The window of time right before the sun sets offers soft lighting that’s as ethereal as it is flattering. This concept was the design inspiration for Denver’s own Golden Hour, a wine bar that opened in LoHi last December. “We drew inspiration from the elegance of the French Riviera and the liveliness of Palm Beach, then meticulously crafted Golden Hour’s design to emulate these locations at their most beautiful—their golden hours,” says Margarita Bravo, founder of her eponymous, Denver-based interior design firm.

Bravo and her team outfitted the newly built space with velvet-upholstered seating, gold accents, and a teal-and-pink color palette to create an “ultra-feminine and eclectic look,” she says. A variety of plush lounge seating invites patrons to get comfortable, while animal prints and graphic patterns found in the throw pillows, rugs, floor tile, and wallcoverings create a lively atmosphere. Palm-leaf pendant lights in the bar area nod to the space’s Californian influence, and tasseled fixtures in the lounge space add a French touch. The eye candy even extends to the bathrooms, where bold wallpapers make the perfect backdrop for unabashed mirror selfies. 3282 Tejon St.

Traveling Mercies

The second concept from James Beard Award–winning chef Caroline Glover, Traveling Mercies is an intimate cocktail and oyster bar that opened inside Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace last December. FAM Design—the firm behind the design of other local bars and eateries including Oliver’s Italian and the (recently shuttered) Three Saints Revival—was tasked with revamping the tiny space that briefly housed Sky Bar, a retro-aviation-themed watering hole that closed last August.

By outfitting the space with new furnishings and bathing the curvy, slatted-metal ceiling in a fresh coat of paint, the design team made simple moves with a lot of impact. The revived space’s ochre and terra-cotta hues provide a warm, welcoming vibe that’s only enhanced by the natural light that pours in through the west-facing windows. To add a touch of contrasting color, FAM chose deep-blue mats to frame artworks created by Glover’s grandfather. The bar’s existing globe-light pendants were updated with decals of the signature sketches found on the restaurant’s menu. The light-and-airy space is a quiet escape from the bustle of Stanley Marketplace’s main floor below—the perfect perch for sidling up to sip a happy-hour cocktail and watch the sunset. 2501 Dallas St., #311, Aurora

Alma Fonda Fina

Imagined by local designer Agatha Strompolos of Agatha Jane Interior Design, the interiors concept for Alma Fonda Fina is rooted in history and a sense of place. The upscale Mexican restaurant—which opened in the former Truffle Table space in LoHi—features layers of textural materials, soft lighting, and warm tones. Strompolos sourced the reclaimed wood wall behind the bar from the oldest surviving building in Denver (the Kettle Building on Larimer Street), while details including the clay barro cups and the draped fabric came straight from Mexico. From the terra-cotta-tile bar facade to the jute pendant lights to the woven-leather seats, the restaurant brims with textures that nod to its Mexican design. And thanks to a variety of lighting sourced from artisans around the world, an inviting warm glow pours from the corner restaurant onto 15th Street at night. 2556 15th St.