Mexican Restaurant Décor Ideas

Sally Painter
Man eating in Mexican restaurant

Designing a Mexican restaurant requires a focus on the theme that includes colors and iconic motifs and décor as well as the right type of commercial furnishing and fixtures. Make sure that together, they create the cohesive restaurant look you want for diners at your Mexican restaurant.

Color Use in Mexican Restaurants

A Mexican restaurant color scheme should be set before you begin searching for the perfect décor and furnishings. Restaurant designs rely upon the psychology of color. It's a scientifically proven method that's used by designers and the restaurant industry.

Psychological Responses to Colors Related to Food
Colors Psychological Response
Red, red-orange, orange and green Appetite increase
Yellow, yellow-orange Pleasure
Purples, yellow-greens, mustard colors, gray Little appetite appeal
Blue Tranquility; used for background color
Brown Warmth and safety

Color Scheme

Perhaps one of the reasons that Mexican restaurant do so well is the colors associated with the traditional décor are appetite stimulating, create feelings of pleasure, convey warmth and safety as well as provide a tranquil and comfortable setting. These are all the positive emotions most people wish to feel when partaking in a meal, especially when enjoying a night out.

Best color choices include:

  • Red: Red chili peppers are synonymous with Mexican food and can range of muted red to brilliant red.
  • Orange: The setting sun, oranges, and colorful tiles are just some of the images this color conjures.
  • Orange-yellow: The color of nacho cheese is one that most people associate with Mexican cuisine and is a favorite choice for an adobe wall color.
  • Yellow: The color of the sun, as well as different hues, such as gold for sunflowers, are popular color choices.
  • Green: The color of peppers, cacti, and yucca plants are prominent hues of green used in Mexican interiors.
  • Blue: Medium blue hues are ideal colors to use to offset some of the psychological intensity of the warm colors that stimulate appetites. Blue is a prominent color found in Mexican tiles and pottery designs.
  • Brown: Chocolate is a common image and emotional response to the color brown.

Sample Color Schemes

Select three colors for the main color palette. For example, orange, yellow, and green with red accent colors work well together. If you prefer blue, then go with yellow and red with orange accent colors. Add one or more colors can be used for other accent color(s). These colors will follow you through the rest of the décor scheme. Be sure that any paints you select qualify for commercial use.

Ceiling Designs

According to the book Designing Commercial Interiors, most restaurant designs focus on the entrance area with lower ceiling heights than the main dining area. This allows for a psychology transition from being outdoors to coming into a smaller space then transitioning again into a larger space.

There are several choices for this type of ceiling that would work well in a Mexican restaurant.

Walls and Architectural Features

Depending on the wall location, the wall finish will need to meet the required local standards. Once the wall is finished, focus on eye-catching architectural features that add to your Mexican restaurant décor scheme.

Stucco Adobe Walls

Yellow walls in Mexican restaurant

A stucco adobe wall finish is the ideal choice for a Mexican restaurant. Paint it one of the yellow or orange-yellow or orange colors. Tile trim and moldings can be used on the walls. Wallpaper isn't a popular choice for this type of restaurant. Some local and state building codes prohibit the use of any wallcoverings, so be sure you understand what limitations will drive your choices.

Architectural Features

Architectural features can be used to enhance the wall design.

  • Archways are an authentic Mexican design feature that can be used over doorways and windows.
  • If your restaurant has a bar area, you can set it apart with an archway.
  • Use real wood corbels to hold up display shelves.

Ironwork can extend to various architectural features as well as door. Ironwork doors leading into the wine and beverage area, cellar, or front entrance add ambience to your design. You may prefer a solid wooden door with rustic metal hinges and door knobs. Don't forget the bathroom doors for continuity in your design.

Flooring Choices

Flooring for a Mexican restaurant must be flooring created specifically for commercial use. Options might include:

There are advantages and disadvantages to each choice. Aesthetics, maintenance and safety are some determining factors for which type of material you select. For example, if acoustics or non-slip flooring is your prime concern, then carpeting is a great choice when staying within your color palette. If an authentic look is more important than acoustics, then the terra cotta decorative tile is a better choice.

Mexican Restaurant Furniture Choices

Most restaurants have more than one style of seating. The booth is typically placed along the outer walls with table and chairs arranged in the center part of the room.

Booths

Red, orange, gold, or green are all good colors for Mexican décor seating. Vinyl is the most commonly used fabric for booth seats since it aids sliding in and out and is very easy to clean and maintain. Alternatively, choose a solid colored vinyl for the seat and a pattern upholstery back. If using a pattern for booths or chairs, go for a pattern such as Mexican Chile or a colorful stripe.

There are many options when it comes to booth table tops (round, square, or rectangle) and table bases. Opt for a black metal base either pedestal or butterfly design. Be sure that the table top and base you select go with your overall room design whether your choose a dark top or an orange color or even a variegated top that imitates stone.

Authentic Looking Tables and Chairs

Rustic wooden furniture

Rustic wood tables and chairs can create the look you want for an authentic Mexican furniture style. Accommodating all shapes and sizes of customers is an imperative consideration. Most solid wood furniture can support a wide range of customers. Other options include:

  • Copper table tops will give your restaurant an upscale look while offering easy maintenance for heat and spills.
  • Hacienda style tables with Jordan chairs also make excellent choices for ambient dining.
  • Colorful chairs with unique designs may fit well in your restaurant or you may want to group different colors of chairs together.

Table Linens and Centerpieces

If table linens are important to your overall design, then consider using ones that can be layered with a solid color on the bottom and a colorful one on top. Be sure that you capture the main colors of your color palette in the pattern. Use colorful traditional oilcloth tablecloths, iconic vinyl tablecloths, or a zarape striped tablecloth paired with solid colored napkins.

Add fun centerpieces and table decorations.

Table linen and chairs for Mexican restaurant
  • Sugar skulls are synonymous with Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) but you may wish to use them as special accents.
  • Brown luster hurricane lamps are ideal for tables, especially when lit at night.
  • Chili canisters can be used as centerpieces.
  • Lumiere illuminated succulent lamps can be used on tables or along ledges for soft subtle lighting.

Including candles or lamps on the tables helps add to the ambiance, but you'll also need to use the appropriate lighting fixtures as well.

Lighting Fixtures

Lighting plays an intricate role in making sure that customers are comfortable. Wrought iron styles are ideal throughout the Mexican restaurant, utilizing various lighting styles that include wall sconces, iron scrolled chandeliers, and smaller down lighting for tables and booths. Then, add your accent lighting. These options include:

  • Mexican punched luminaries with LED candles or real candles (depending on fire code) can be placed on tables, ledges or shelves.
  • Metal punched wall sconces are great choices for diffused lighting.
  • Metal tin star lights can be suspended from the ceiling in a cluster in hostess areas or cash register areas high enough not to pose harm with sharp points.
  • Chili pepper string lights can be strung along the walls, archways, cash register stations, and windows.
  • Ceiling medallions hung above large chandeliers can add greater depth to ceiling designs.
  • Decorative or rustic switch plates are a must for attention to details.
  • Wall metal candle holders (with pillars or LEDs) can be placed along booth walls and on either side of doorways.

Once the lighting has been hung, add various wall decorations throughout the space.

Wall Decorations

Framed paintings of Mexican landscapes and Mexican oil paintings are good choices for artwork on the walls. Lighted niches can be used to display colorful ceramics, such as hand-crafted Mata Ortiz and the famous Talavera potteries. If niches aren't feasible, then individual corbel-styled wall shelves can be added and painted or stained.

Other types of wall decorations include:

Wall mural in restaurant
  • Sombreros can be arranged on the walls throughout the restaurant.
  • A hanging bunch of chili peppers can be placed on the walls of booths for a special touch.
  • Add a hand-painted ornate leafy door ornament to the wall.
  • Ironwork art and iron accents can be hung on the walls to continue with the iron look in the lighting.
  • Photo wall murals of various Mexican landscapes can add depth to your design. You can use one at the entrance and possible on a wall in the seating area.
  • Talavera tile murals can be hung on booth walls and in the entrance area and cash register/hostess podium area.
  • Talavera plates are great wall decorations that can be grouped together to create collages.
  • Mexican blankets can be displayed on walls in groupings or individually, or draped over half or three-quarter walls.
  • Wall signs and posters come a wide variety of designs, from maps and flags to reproductions of Mexican travel advertising.
  • Banners, such as Papel Picado ones, are very popular Mexican restaurant decorations.
  • Reproduction Mexican film posters are a fun addition to poster art for walls.
  • Mirrors can be used to reflect light in various areas; just be sure they don't interfere with dining.

Using Window Treatments

The type of treatment selected for windows is an important decision for your Mexican restaurant. No window treatment is often the most popular choice for restaurants so they are inviting and draw in potential customers.

Blinds Are a Simple Solution

If there is an issue with too much sun glare for customers sitting at window-side tables, then simple solutions, such as commercial blinds should be selected that can be adjusted and lowered/raised as needed. Go with a wood slat look for continuity in your design.

The Drapery Decision

If you opt for draperies, go with a solid color or multi-colored stripe that repeats the three main colors in your Mexican restaurant's color scheme. Draperies aren't usually desired in restaurant due to being a fire hazard, but you can find fabrics that are fade-resistant and fire retardant.

By not using draperies, you can maintain a very open and clean look to your design, especially if using arched window or wood trimmed window designs. Leaving the windows undraped will also play up stucco walls and provide more natural light for diners.

Select Items for Commercial Use

When selecting products for a restaurant business, you must select products designated specifically for commercial use. For example, commercial tile and carpeting are required to meet specific fire code and other standards. Furniture upholstery must meet fire resistant and other codes. Some codes differ from state to state and city to city. You can access building code information through your local building inspector's office or website.

Making Decisions for Mexican Restaurant Décor

Finding lots of wonderful furnishings and accessories for a Mexican restaurant décor is easy. There is an abundance of commercial grade items to fill any size restaurant for an authentic and exciting design that customers will enjoy as regular diners.

Mexican Restaurant Décor Ideas