Welcome back to “Dine by Design,” a new Untapped column about the intersection of food and design, written by Lauren Bloomberg, food blogger for  Zagat  and the  Village Voice  Fork in the Road.

When East Village hot-spot Empellon Cocina opened in February of this year, it was literally a labor of love. While some restaurants use a design group to build their space – especially when they’re also running a first wildly successful operation – Empellon’s Alex Stupak, Lauren Resler, and their two partners decided to go the personal route. Putting their hard work and personal inspiration into the project. The result: an ogle-worthy dining experience that puts the design in the details from the space behind the bar to the bathroom and in every well-thought-out corner nook.

But this wasn’t just slap-dash and thrown together. The theme of Empellon Cocina runs parallel to that of Empellon Taqueria, the West Village location. Both locations have Sylvia Ji paintings, as well as mini-shrines donated by Pastry Chef-Owner Lauren Resler’s family. Both have beautiful hand painted murals. The differences? While the West Fourth location boasts white walls and red accents, the newer First Avenue spot is done in moody black and blue. Very chic indeed.

The corner altar features the Virgin Mary balanced on some culinary tomes.

A round-table of liquor.

This blue guy keeps an eagle eye over the bartender. The right wall features a list of the restaurant’s mezcals and tequilas.

A quote by Von Goethe continues the chalkboard theme.

Mexican tchotchkes and food books line the bookshelves

Just one of the trio of custom pieces by artist Sylvia Ji.

Follow Untapped Cities on  Twitter  and  Facebook. Get in touch with the author  @lrbloomberg.