Museum dining used to mean dull cafeteria-style fare served up in a dingy atmosphere. Today’s museums keep the foodie-oriented visitor in mind by offering locally-inspired cuisine in stunning settings. Here are five U.S. museum restaurants that go above and beyond to offer both remarkable food in memorable settings.
Mitsitam Native Foods Café
National Museum of the American Indian; Washington, D.C.
Mitsitam means “let’s eat” in the Piscataway and Delaware languages, and the cuisine at this impressive café features ingredients prized by the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere. These include the Mesoamerican, Northern Woodlands, South American, Great Plains, and Northwest Coast indigenous cultures. Don’t let the cafeteria-like backdrop fool you: the food in this award-winning café is sublime!
Bill Gray’s Restaurant
Strong National Museum of Play; Rochester, NY
Play is always on the menu at Bill Gray’s Restaurant, located in the one-of-a-kind Strong National Museum of Play, the only museum in the world dedicated to the art of play. Located in a vintage Skyliner Diner in the museum’s atrium overlooking the carousel, this in-museum diner serves up all your faves, including burgers, hot dogs, and frozen custard.
Modern Museum; Fort Worth, TX
The contemporary Café Modern, located in the Modern Museum in Fort Worth was recently voted one of the Top 100 Brunches across the US by Open Table. Executive Chef and Texas native Denise Shavandy’s eclectic menu was inspired by the museum’s contemporary art collection. Don’t forget to order a handcrafted, art-inspired cocktail, and save room for the sublime desserts.
Chihuly Garden and Glass; Seattle, WA
The stunning Collections Café is a museum in and of itself: artist Dale Chihuly’s beautiful glass masterpieces are on display throughout, making for a dazzling dining experience. The cuisine here highlights the Pacific Northwests bounty. Give the grilled wild salmon or crab cakes a try, and ask your server to suggest local craft beer and regional wine pairings.
Terzo Piano and Piano Terra
Art Institute of Chicago; Chicago, IL
With the Chicago skyline to one side and Lake Michigan on the other, Terzo Piano offers a stunning view of Chicago from its perch on the third floor of the world-class Art Institute of Chicago. Chef Tony Mantuano, whose other restaurant, Spiaggia, was honored as one of the best Italian restaurants in the U.S., serves up bold, seasonal dishes with an emphasis on locally-sourced, organic ingredients. The wine and cocktail list is the perfect excuse to indulge after an afternoon museum visit.
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