5 Reasons Visitors Can't Stay Away From the Museum Café

  • October 14, 2021 13:26

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At Crystal Bridges, Eleven Restaurant serves coffee, lunch, evening bar and bite service, and the chef can also create a custom meal for private dining at Frank Lloyd Wright's Bachman-Wilson House on the museum grounds (shown here).
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Sachertorte from Café Sabarsky at Neue Galerie, New York.
Neue Galerie, New York

After some 18 months of pandemic-related closures, many museum cafés are back to serving meals and sweet treats, in-house or grab-and-go. For visitors trudging through art galleries, the end game can be a rewarding slice of cake or relaxing lunch. Here are five museum café items that visitors map out their visits to culminate in.

When in Vienna, a great day would include Sachertorte, while in New York head to Café Sabarsky at Neue Galerie for this beloved chocolate cake speciality. A Viennese-style café experience for breakfast, lunch, dinner or to-go items, this museum destination is clad in period objects, including lighting fixtures by Josef Hoffmann, furniture by Adolf Loos, and banquettes that are upholstered with a 1912 Otto Wagner fabric. The German-born chef Christopher Engel earned coveted Michelin-star ratings for his work at the restaurants Wallsé and Aureole.

Modern American comfort food is fittingly featured at Eleven Restaurant inside Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. North Forest Flatbread, named for the surrounding 120 acres of Ozark forest, temptingly combines herbed ricotta with farmer’s cheese, onion jam, oyster mushroom, and arugula. The museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, celebrates its tenth anniversary this November, cementing it as a destination for American art...and food, or even a fall coffee run for a locally-crafted Pumpkin Spice Latte. Create a memorable evening with a customized, five-course meal from Eleven hosted privately at Frank Lloyd Wright's Bachman-Wilson House on the Crystal Bridges grounds.


The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens could also add Cafés to its long name. The sprawling 207-acre grounds in San Marino, California, offers a few casual dining options including the new Jade Court Cafe, 1919 Cafe and Red Car coffee shop which are all now open with some outdoor seating. (The Rose Garden Tea Room is currently closed for renovations, reopening winter 2022.) At the Jade Court Cafe, visitors' emerging favorites include Dan Dan Noodles deliciously tossed with ground pork, chili, sesame, peanut and cucumber.

Dan Dan Noodles from the new Jade Court Cafe at the Huntington in San Marino, Calif.

The new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles has partially opened Fanny's (named for comedienne and actress Fanny Brice, the "Funny Girl" inspiration). The café is an all-day space, currently serving natural wine, cocktails, and espresso drinks as well as light fare such as sandwiches on Tartine bread, pastries and salads, notably a Sweet Potato Caesar. Certain to become L.A.'s place to meet, Fanny's dinner service will debut in November across 10,000 square feet of dining space and two floors. The Old Hollywood-meets-contemporary restaurant space is designed by LA-based Commune Design with an art deco-styled bar and will feature local artists.

Opening for dinner in November 2021, with a now-open daytime café, Fanny's at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in L.A. will include a specially commissioned wraparound mural by local artist and illustrator Konstantin Kakanias.
Konstantin Kakanias

Check museums' websites for restaurant opening hours and guidelines.

Share a photo of your favorite museum cafe food via Instagram @artfixdaily #museumcafe

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