Top Museum Restaurants: Where the Fine Arts Meet the Finest Food
Photo By: SCOTT SUCHMAN ©Photo by Scott Suchman
Photo By: Sara Ketterer ©Sara Ketterer
Photo By: Piper Warlick ©©2013 Piper Warlick Photography
Photo By: Alice Gao ©Alice Gao Photography
Photo By: Stephanie Breijo
©Todd Porter & Diane Cu-Porter
Photo By: Jeff Kauck for Terzo Piano
Photo By: Jacob Hartung
Photo By: Renée Comet ©© Renée Comet 2009
Sweet Home Cafe at National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington D.C.
Go to: Sweet Home Cafe
In Situ at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco
Go to: In Situ
The Modern at The Museum of Modern Art, New York City
Set in one of the most-beloved museums in the city — which is certainly a statement in a city known for its cultural institutions — The Modern’s setting is nearly as impressive, with a prime view of The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. The interior blends harmoniously with the rest of the emblematic, contemporary-design institution. With Danny Meyer running the show, the food is just as striking, and has earned multiple James Beard Foundation Awards and two Michelin stars. Executive Chef Abram Bissell offers visually appealing a la carte dishes with clean flavors, such as marinated hamachi with green apple relish and sorrel, olive oil-poached black bass, and chicken glazed in foie gras. End with a visually striking dessert by Pastry Chef Jiho Kim, like truffle-corn bread pudding or green apple vacherin.
Photography courtesy of Nathan Rawlinson
Go to: The Modern
Bixby's in the Missouri History Museum, St. Louis
Go to: Bixby's
Le Beaux Eats
Museums may be lovely places to view art, but traditionally most hadn’t mastered the art of good food. But across the country, cultural institutions are upping their dining game. Museums in cities of all sizes are bringing in local favorites and national celebrity chefs and restaurateurs to overhaul and enrich their culinary offerings, sometimes matching cuisines to the works on display. Looking to take in both culture and quality food? Here are a few top museum restaurants around the country.
Photography courtesy of Piper Warlick Photography
Untitled at the Whitney, New York City
Danny Meyer’s latest art-centered establishment is housed in the relocated Whitney Museum of American Art in New York’s Meatpacking District. Encased in floor-to-ceiling glass windows with light-wood accents and minimalist dining tables and chairs, the space feels like a gallery, blending seamlessly with the Renzo Piano-designed museum. The fare echoes the modern feel with beautifully plated, seasonal, vegetablecentric dishes prepared by James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef Michael Anthony. Anticipate items like grilled white shrimp with green beans and cornbread, a lunchtime burger with pimento cheese, and Arctic char with cabbage, anchovy and trout roe. End a meal with one of the desserts by Pastry Chef Miro Uskokovic, which include matcha cake with strawberries and almond sesame brittle, and triple chocolate chunk cookies with milk. It’s all paired with an extensive selection of wines sourced from around the globe.
Photography courtesy of Alice Gao
Go to: Untitled at the Whitney
The Source by Wolfgang Puck at The Newseum, Washington, D.C.
Go to: The Source
The Norm at the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn
Verde at Pérez Art Museum Miami, Miami
Go to: Verde
Ray’s and Stark Bar at LACMA, Los Angeles
Go to: Ray's and Stark Bar
Cafe Noma at New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans
Go to: Cafe Noma
Terzo Piano at the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
The bright dining room of James Beard Foundation Award winner Tony Mantuano’s upscale restaurant inside the Art Institute of Chicago feels like a gallery itself, with beautiful monochromatic decor and plenty of natural light. Chef Carolina Diaz prepares simple yet inventive lunch and brunch dishes, such as bourbon-espresso French toast and charred octopus salad with eggplant, chickpeas, arugula and carrot-ginger puree. Make sure to plan an evening visit on a Thursday, when Terzo Piano is open late for dinner. The views are even more brilliant when the sun sets, and the extensive wine and cocktail list goes well beyond what is required of a museum restaurant, with Italian aperitivi and new inventions like the Fashioned Pumpkin, a seasonal riff on the old fashioned.
Photography courtesy of Jeff Kauck
Go to: Terzo Piano
Palettes Contemporary Cuisine at the Denver Art Museum, Denver
Eleven at Crystal Bridges, Bentonville, Ark.
Go to: Eleven at Crystal Bridges
Bravo at Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
A welcome break from the 500,000 pieces at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Bravo sits on the second floor of the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art. The seasonally rotating menu features skillfully prepared local ingredients for lunch, dinner and brunch. Dishes incorporate beloved Boston ingredients, like corn veloute with a New England-approved lobster beignet. Brunch tends toward crowd-pleasers, including Nutella French toast and a vegetablecentric plate of eggs and hash. Linger over a well-curated wine list that’s earned accolades on its own.
Photography courtesy of Chuck Choi
Go to: Bravo
Halcyon, Flavors From the Earth at the Mint Museum Uptown, Charlotte, N.C.
Complementing the contemporary craft and design collection of the Mint Museum Uptown, Halcyon displays its own visual feast inside the dining room, with a stone fountain, a chandelier of branches and stunning tables made from the cross-sections of giant trees. Chef James Stouffer’s fare nods at nature with rustic fare, including housemade charcuterie (think cured duck, wild boar, saucisson sec), braised bison and fried oysters.
Photography courtesy of Piper Warlick Photography
Mitsitam Cafe at Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C.
Long considered one of the best restaurants on the National Mall, this cafeteria-style restaurant within the Smithsonian’s American Indian museum specializes in Native American cuisine from various locations in the Western Hemisphere. Mitsitam means "Let’s eat!" (a fitting sentiment) in the Native language of the Piscataway and Delaware peoples, but the cafe offers a large variety of foods from many places. Each of the five stations represents a geographic region’s culinary heritage, and all change with the seasons. From the Northern Woodlands — spanning much of the East Coast — try crawfish cakes and autumnal maple-brined turkey with cranberry relish. The Great Plains station serves excellent buffalo chili fry-bread tacos. Mesoamerican slowly braised beef tongue tacos and tamales with chorizo await in South America, and there’s cedar-roasted salmon and a live-action poke station representing the Northwest Coast.
Photography courtesy of Renée Comet Photography, Inc., Restaurant Associates and Smithsonian Institution
Go to: Mitsitam Cafe
Bajo Sexto Taco at Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville
Go to: Bajo Sexto Taco