Michael Hsu Office of Architecture recently added the design of da Gama Canteen—an Indian-Portuguese restaurant in Houston’s M-K-T Heights area—to its list of beautifully completed projects. The restaurant’s chef-owners, husband and wife Rick and Shiva Di Virgilio, tasked the firm with creating an indoor-outdoor space to complement the park-like surroundings while using organic elements and tropical accents to create a Euro-Indian all-day café or canteen. The firm’s managing partner, architect Maija Kreishman, describes how they turned that dream into a reality.
What were your goals? We wanted to offer a variety of distinct dining opportunities and to represent a blend of cultures and cuisines through a layered space.
Describe the interior. Charming elements of Colonial-era cafés are balanced with moments of simplicity to express this cross-cultural journey. Guests are greeted with a carved antique door imported from India. The bar is anchored prominently in the space and showcases brass wine taps and travel souvenirs. The owners’ own artwork and mementos are featured throughout to offer a truly personal touch. The restaurant is fun and inviting and layers an energetic atmosphere with a lived-in familiarity found in vintage cafés.
Tell us about the furnishings. The dining space features fig wallpaper, flagstone flooring, white oak walls and millwork, ornate textiles and bold color blocking. Varied textures, handmade details and cultural motifs can be found underneath the yellow ceiling oculus, inspired by a museum in Lisbon, Portugal.
What was your inspiration? The owners wanted to create a lively space with a strong sense of community and an organic atmosphere.