This compact dining spot in Lima is designed by local studios Ghezzi Novak and Blanco as a snug space, decorated with natural materials that reflect the authenticity of the food.
Mérito recently opened in the Barranco district of the Peruvian capital, an area renowned for its arts scene and nightlife.
Serving local cuisine, the restaurant is squeezed into an old building, spread across two floors that each has a compact plan.
"Mérito is an intimate experience, where food and architecture understand each other to speak of the same idea," said a project description from Ghezzi Novak, a Lima-based studio run by Arturo and Gustavo Ghezzi Novak. The duo worked with designer Pamela Remy of Blanco on the project.
Tucked behind a grand wooden doorway, the small space has hosted several purposes over time, which resulted in several interventions to the layout.
Ghezzi Novak and Blanco stripped all of these away, revealed the original walls lined with bricks of adobe – a traditional construction material made from mud.
These surfaces are left exposed in some areas, while others are covered in timber planks and wood panels with narrow vertical slats.
Downstairs, a central blackened-wood island is shared by diners and kitchen staff, who face each other across the stone countertop.
Food is prepared on the surface and using equipment behind, then eaten in front by those sat on tall wooden stools.
A more traditional dining area upstairs has tables for parties of various sizes, all positioned along a wooden banquette on three sides of the room.
"The first floor is about action, a central table that is both dining and kitchen," Ghezzi Novak said. "The second floor is about calmness, a wrapping wooden baseboard and paper lamps that soften the light."
Lighting on both levels is dim and moody, creating a warm atmosphere with the beige and brown material palette.
The rustic feel at Mérito is similar to a few recently opened eateries and watering holes in Central and South America. A pizza place in Córdoba and a social space in Monterrey are among other examples.
Photography is by Renzo Rebagliati unless stated otherwise.
Architecture: Arturo Ghezzi Novak and Gustavo Ghezzi Novak
Design team: Arturo Ghezzi Novak, Gustavo Ghezzi Novak, Pamela Remy