Museum food once meant stale sandwiches and wilted salads served in dismal settings (basement cafeteria, anyone?). But today, cultural institutions entice audiences who are just as hungry for art as they are for, well, extraordinary food. Here are our favourite museum restaurants.
- 1 / 8RAY’S AND STARK BARLACMA, Los Angeles
Behind Chris Burden's Instagram-ready Urban Light installation is this Renzo Piano-designed restaurant with an outdoor patio that’s perfect for people watching. But you're here for the Mediterranean-inspired menu of thin-crust pizzas, homemade pastas, and salads made with farm-fresh ingredients. Thirsty? The bar has more than a dozen mineral water varietals (really!) on tap. This is California, after all.
PHOTO COURTESY OF PATINA RESTAURANT GROUP
- 2 / 8M. WELLS DINETTEMoMa PS1, New York
With its communal tables and chalkboard menu, this cafeteria-style dinette may look like a classroom—the building was once a schoolhouse—though the menu is anything but elementary. The brainchild of a Quebecois husband-and-wife team, the menu features dishes that are as experimental as the art hanging in the museum’s walls (think veal cheek stroganoff and Foie Gras bread pudding).
PHOTO COURTESY OF M. WELLS DINETTE
- 3 / 8NERUAGuggenheim, Bilbao
Like an artist in the studio, Chef Josean Alija and his kitchen staff work on a spring, summer, and fall/winter menu one year before it reaches the hands of guests. They source from local producers, study ingredients and their uses throughout history, experiment with different cooking techniques, and, finally, settle on a degustation menu consisting of nine, 14, and 21 items. Reservations a must.
PHOTO COURTESY OF NERUA
- 4 / 8UNTITLED
Glass, poured concrete floors, wood furniture, and Robert Indiana's The Electric Eat sign set the scene at this restaurant designed by Renzo Piano. Inside is Gramercy Tavern’s chef Michael Anthony who presents modern American dishes (shrimp, kabocha squash, parsnip soup) like works of art.
PHOTO COURTESY OF UNTITLED
- 5 / 8RIJKSRijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Dutch masters. You see their works hanging on the walls of the museum and, if you’re smart enough to book a table at Rijks, you savour dishes prepared with local ingredients and inspired by flavors that have influenced Dutch cuisine through history. Try the salt-crusted pigeon with apple cream, parsnip and Bécasse sauce.
PHOTO COURTESY OF RIJKS
- 6 / 8PASTEL
Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv
Located in the museum’s new wing overlooking the sculpture garden, Pastel blends its angular architectural surroundings with classic brasserie décor—think wood floors, marble surfaces, Art Nouveau lighting, gilded metal, and upholstered booths. The burger, which comes with an aioli chipotle sauce, French fries, and beet mustard, is as playfully presented and mouthwatering as the whole seared sea bass with zucchini and olives.
PHOTO COURTESY OF PASTEL
- 7 / 8MONSIEUR BLEU
You’ll be hard pressed to decide what is more impressive at Monsieur Bleu: a gorgeous restaurant designed by local Joseph Dirand or the menu by Chef Benjamin Masson. There’s the dramatic dining room featuring soaring ceilings, giant geometric chandeliers, and green velvet chairs. There are the dreamy views of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower. And, of course, the Brasserie-style cuisine that takes comfort food, such as the suckling pig with mashed potatoes, to a new level.
PHOTO COURTEST OF MONSIEUR BLEU
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