We visit museums to view that new exhibit everyone’s been talking about, to avoid a rainy day at home, or to see our favorite artists’ work up close. Strolling through the halls of a museum can work up an appetite, yet we often overlook the culinary works of art being plated at museum restaurants all across the country. Whether you’re grabbing a bite before or after your visit, stop by any one of these exceptional museum restaurants.
The American Sector, National WWII Museum, New Orleans, Louisiana
This very newly renovated restaurant opened with a large, breezy terrace overlooking Magazine Street and a renovated bar mixing up G.I. Punch and Bloody Mary’s. The American Sector also debuted with a new themed menu matching the museum’s patriotic mission. The chefs are cooking up American dishes like “On the Home Front Meatloaf,” as well as Southern food classics like a fried chicken biscuit and Frito pie.
chez louie, Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, Nevada
This insanely cool Reno museum is located in the city’s funky downtown center, and is home to a French-inspired restaurant serving fresh salads and healthy options like veggie tacos, smoked turkey sandwiches, and omelettes au fromage. The seating is modern and vibrant and the food tasty yet affordable. On Sundays, they host a Music Brunch with crème brûlée French toast and brisket Benedict.
SO, Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, Colorado
With drop dead gorgeous views of Aspen Mountain and Independence Pass, you could spend hours looking out over the mountaintops, sipping wine, and eating an artisanal cheese board. The menu at SO changes weekly and often includes a creative salad and sandwich option built with local ingredients.
M. Wells Dinette, MoMA PS1, Long Island City, New York
Step into this classroom-style setting to be schooled on some seriously good Quebecoise food at M. Wells Dinette. Choose between steak tartare, croque monsieur, or an uber trendy kale salad in this quirky, yet chic atmosphere.
Café NOMA, New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans Louisiana
Owned by the famous Brennan culinary family of NOLA, Cafe NOMA has an outdoor patio where you can breathe in the smell of the oak trees and take in the views of City Park. It’s safe to say New Orleans has the best food in the country, so go wild and order a cheese board, a panini, or a flatbread and watch the bikers roll on by with a glass of red in hand.
Sweet Home Café, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington D.C.
Photo: artdrops SweetHome, credit Sweet Home Café
This expansive space with African American art on the walls serves traditional foods and new takes on the classics. There are four different stations to choose from including The Agricultural South, The Creole Coast, The North States, and The Western Range. Each region cooks up different soul foods from gumbo to fried chicken. Of course, Sweet Home Café also makes homemade sweets like praline bread pudding and key lime cupcakes.
Otium, The Broad, Los Angeles, California
This restaurant is as contemporary as its museum host. Otium’s warm space has an elegant indoor and outdoor design that is definitely Instagram-worthy. Timothy Hollingsworth, a James Beard award-winning chef, creates a wide variety of food served throughout the day including falafel, Ora king salmon, and rigatoni, plus a killer cocktail list.
Untitled at the Whitney, New York, New York
This modern industrial space has pops of color and truly beautiful plating. Choose from a burger, roasted blackfish, or grilled shrimp from a simple yet classic menu. Untitled is adjacent to the High Line, so you don’t have to go through the museum to enter – but the Whitney has been newly renovated and is worth the price of admission.
Esker Grove, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Their fresh seasonal ingredients are just one of the reasons Esker Grove was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2017. The relaxed environment lends itself well to a bar menu offering oysters, elevated chicken wings, and local beers on tap. Their brunch, lunch, and dinner options aren’t too shabby either, with local lamb, avocado toast, gnocchi, and more in an unpretentious setting.