Project Summary

Rubio’s management team asked Vertetude to create an interior remodeling strategy that visually expresses the essence of the brand. The team created four different color and material palettes along with a library of original art to support the brand story and enrich the guest experience. To build the art collection, we collaborated with acclaimed local artists.

Todd Connor of Yellow Plum Design illustrated our concept of the Giant Blue Fish and the Taco Pattern. Anita Lehmann illustrated the “Day in the Life of San Diego” artist sketch books and the watercolor beach scene. John Granen worked with us to create photographs of tortillas, flat and folded, salsa ingredients and fish net that we sculpted and edited to create a dynamic and unique wallpaper. And we even brought in talent from Milan: Alessandra Bisi created the colorful paper collage of two fish.

Del Mar Heights

In this location, bright orange and various shades of blue add to a maritime theme. We created custom wallpapers plus artist notebooks to tell the story of Rubio’s connection to the sea by way of fresh fish tacos.

Rubio’s Del Mar Heights restaurant photo with ocean inspired colors and original artwork
Ocean inspired paint swatches and material samples for Del Mar Heights restaurant
Rubio’s Del Mar restaurant layout
Original artwork using photos of a fish net to create a giant fish printed on custom wallpaper
Sketchbooks artwork of San Diego local attractions
Store photo of sketchbooks framed and mounted on wall
Abalone shell tiles


Spicy salsa red was the foundation of this color palette, balanced with sea blues. Using sustainable materials like bamboo countertops and tabletops and light shades made of recycled cardboard added natural, grounding elements to the color scheme.

Rubio’s Carlsbad restaurant photo showing recycled cardboard lighting and School of Fish mural
Rubio’s Carlsbad store photo of San Diego Vibe watercolor painting of beach scene on custom wallpaper
Ocean inspired paint swatches and material swatches for Carlsbad Rubio’s restaurant
Rubio’s Carlsbad restaurant floor plan
Original artwork based on water photography and illustration
Photography of tortillas laid out to spell “Fish”
Photography of tortillas laid out to spell “Taco”
Original artwork of abstract Giant school of fish printed custom wallpaper mural
San Diego Vibe watercolor painting of beach scene on custom wallpaper

La Jolla

Glass light fixtures, strand bamboo countertops and original photography printed on metal panels provided a textural backdrop to a sea-friendly color palette and original paintings of ocean life.

Beach inspired paint swatches and finish material swatches for La Jolla Rubio’s restaurant
Rubio’s La Jolla restaurant layout
Restaurant photo showing tortilla pattern artwork and ocean inspired furniture and lighting
Photography of water and unique texture on sandy beach printed on metal triptych
Five Fish printed on Wood original woodblock illustration and Pile of Shrimp original digital illustration, vibrant colors inspired by the beach and sea


Natural greens and sunny yellows warm a comfortable dining room. In this art collection, we interpreted the spicy vivaciousness of freshly made salsa by editing together slivers of original photographs of salsa ingredients plus blue sky to create a uniquely vibrant and luminescent stripe.

California inspired paint swatches and material finishes for Oceanside Rubio’s restaurant
Rubio’s Oceanside restaurant floor plan and customer journey
Restaurant photo of Striped Salsa Pattern original artwork, upholstered booths, and tortilla pattern photography
Tortilla pattern artwork and paper collage original art of fish
Stripe pattern artwork using strips of photography of salsa ingredients printed on custom wallpaper

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