Best Décor - 2007
Wapango - CLOSED
Even before you step inside the front door, you know Wapango won't be anything like the shopping mall that surrounds it: Spheres streaked with glowing light sit outside the restaurant's patio. Inside, a strange picket fence-like structure cuts a large swath across the massive space. Behind the picket fence is a row of invitingly cushy booths, behind those a dining area with a soaring ceiling. Whatever you notice first, the dim light and autumnal colors, warm reds and golds, will soothe you. The bar is a graceful curve; its shelving has an open-backed design that lets in light from outside. (Sadly, the view is of the mall parking lot.) The main dining room is smartly divided into two smaller areas through the positioning of large booths. Just past this area, hidden behind a scrim, is another dining room. Tao+Lee Associates' design is meant to wow you, but it also pulls off an impressive trick: As soon as you sit down, you feel as though you're in a much more intimate restaurant.