Museums all over the country appear to be competing to see who can have the best and most glamorous restaurant with the most famous chef, much to the benefit of museum patrons. With the art from the surrounding galleries spilling onto their walls, museum restaurants are exceptionally beautiful venues for a light meal or a celebratory dinner. Most are accessible without entering the museum, although the hope is that people will come not only to eat, but also to enjoy a portion of art appreciation. Scroll to see the full list with photos or jump to the table of contents.


Gertrude's

Gertrude's

© Gertrude's

Gertrude's is an iconic destination on the Baltimore culinary scene, acclaimed by international publications such as Food and Wine, Travel + Leisure, and The Washington Post as one of the city's best restaurants. The restaurant, which was founded in 1998 by John Gilligan and John Shields, is located within the beautiful Baltimore Museum of Art and is considered to be one of the pioneers on the nation's farm-to-table dining scene. Excellent Chesapeake Bay culinary traditions are showcased throughout the week as part of dishes crafted by Shields, a renowned PBS culinary star and cookbook author. Diners can enjoy excellent fare such as all-lump Baltimore-style crab cakes, Chincoteague single-fry cornmeal-encrusted oysters, and Chesapeake rockfish Imperial with toasted pecan butter. The restaurant's main dining room overlooks a gorgeous sculpture garden at the museum, which showcases works by Auguste Rdin, Isamu Noguchi, and Alexander Calder.

Gertrude's, 10 Art Museum Dr, Baltimore, MD 21218, Phone: 410-889-3399


Provenance, Cleveland Museum of Art

Provenance, Cleveland Museum of Art

© Provenance

With its permanent collection of over 45,000 works of art from all over the world and free admittance, the Cleveland Museum of Art is one of the most visited art museums in the world. With Provenance, the museum's elegant and serene restaurant overlooking the bright, light atrium and featuring an international delectable menu, people have even more reason to frequent this exceptional museum.

Provenance is organized around stations: The Garden Station offers fresh seasonal salads and hot soups; the Heart Oven produces pastas, pizzas, and hot sandwiches; the Tandoor Oven and Grill offers international dishes, burgers, grains, legumes, and claybread; and Fresh Baked Pastries Station has a range of delicious sweets. There is something for everyone, whether you come for a quick meal after exploring the museum or are attending a lavish wedding on the restaurant's premises.

The Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44106, Phone: 216-707-2600


Cafe Phipps, Phipps Conservatory and Gardens, Pittsburgh

Cafe Phipps, Phipps Conservatory and Gardens, Pittsburgh

For more than 120 years, the Phipps Conservatory and Gardens has been the city's most beloved green oasis, a place where Pittsburgh residents and visitors come to connect with nature and remind themselves of her timeless beauty and importance.

One of the newer additions is the neo-Victorian visitors' center, where visitors can take a break in Cafe Phipps, a comfortable and bright place with light yet imaginative dishes such as salads, panini, pizzas, sandwiches, and soups. The conservatory's strong environmental stewardship philosophy spills into the menu - the focus is on local and organic produce and during the season many veggies and herbs come from their own green rooftop.

Cafe Phipps, 1 Schenley Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, Phone: 412-622-6914


Academy Cafe, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco

Academy Cafe, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco

Academy Cafe, located in the California Academy of Sciences in the heart of Golden Gate Park, is sleek and contemporary, offering a buffet-style international menu with delectable goodies prepared by renowned chef Dani Volpi.

Depending on your fancy, you can stand in line at the sushi station From the Pacific, mix your own rice bowl at Street Foods, or choose one of the many fresh, delicious sandwiches or salads at The Deli. You can also get something hot at The Pizza Oven or The Grill. Chef Volpi uses local ingredients and follows sustainability guidelines according to the mission of the Academy of Sciences, so his meals are sustainable, locally sourced, and seasonal, taking advantage of California's rich regional bounty.

Academy Cafe, 55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, Phone: 415-876-6121


Cafe a la C'Art, Tucson Museum of Art

Cafe a la C'Art, Tucson Museum of Art

If you're in Tucson, you cannot miss visiting its historic Presidio District with its magnificent Tucson Museum of Art. Located in the beautiful 1865 Stevens House, the museum has more than 8,000 objects in its permanent collection, and some of them are hanging in the museum's celebrated Cafe à la C'Art.

After you stroll through the eight or nine exhibitions normally showing at the museum, treat yourself to a gourmet meal at this beautiful, serene place, whether you sit inside in the warm-colored dining room or in the magical courtyard Monet would be proud of. The menu at Cafe a la C'Art has been created by Executive Chef Miciah Beard and one of the examples of his artistry is the pan-seared red drum bass with garlic sautéed spinach, exotic mushroom risotto, beurre rouge, crispy prosciutto, and balsamic reduction. Their mixed berry cake is legendary, so don't miss it.

Cafe a la C'Art, 150 N Main Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701, Phone: 520-628-8533


Cafe Modern, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

Cafe Modern, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

© Cafe Modern

Everything about the Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth is a celebration of modern art, from the spectacular Tadao Ando architecture to the more than 3,000 art pieces in the permanent collection to the superb seasonal meals in their classy Café Modern.

Overlooking the museum's pond and courtyard and enclosed in walls of glass, this beautiful restaurant will surprise you with seasonal, inventive meals made with fresh, local ingredients. Lunch is served at Cafe Modern on weekdays and if you try their venison pierogies, filled with ground venison, rutabagas, parsnips, pickled mustard seeds, and sour cream, you will get an idea of the artistry that Executive Chef Denise Shavandy and her team put into every meal. Dinner is only available on Fridays.

Cafe Modern, 3200 Darnell St, Modern Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX 76107-2872(University), Phone: 817-840-2157


Collections Cafe, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle

Collections Cafe, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle

Chihuly Garden and Glass, located in Seattle's cultural center and mere steps away from the Space Needle and the EMP Museum, is a magical place. Chihuly translates his dreams into spectacular glass objects that are exploding with colors and light. The art on display in the museum does not stop there but continues in the Collections Café, a quirky eatery with glass walls that open onto the greenhouse terrace.

The food at Collections Cafe is surprisingly good, with delights such as pork belly char siu with fried polenta, apple jam, hazelnuts, butternut purée, and aged balsamic, and there are some really inventive and original burgers. With a glass of local wine, coming for lunch is worthwhile even if you have been to the museum before and don't want to splash out on another ticket - the café's entrance is just next to the entrance to the museum.

Collections Cafe, Chihuly Garden and Glass, 305 Harrison St, Seattle, WA 98109, Phone: 206-753-4935


Mitsitam Cafe, Museum of the American Indian; Washington, DC

Mitsitam Cafe, Museum of the American Indian; Washington, DC

© Mitsitam Cafe

After you have spent some time learning more about the life, literature, languages, history, and arts of the Native Americans in the fascinating Museum of the American Indian, stop by the Mitsitam Cafe and learn about gourmet Native American food. This very pleasant cafeteria-style restaurant overlooking the waterfalls and the gardens offers foods eaten in Northern Woodlands, the Northwest Coast, South America, Mesoamerica, and the Great Plains.

Each area has its own food stations where you can taste regional food and learn about cooking techniques, flavors, and ingredients. Chef Freddie J. Bitsoie (Diné [Navajo]) from New Mexico serves traditional as well as contemporary dishes, so you will be able to taste both fry bread and corn totopos and buffalo burgers.

Mitsitam Cafe, National Museum of the American Indian, 4th St NW & Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560, Phone: 866-868-7774


Nasher Museum Cafe

Nasher Museum Cafe

© Nasher Museum Cafe

The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in Durham is focused on the world's contemporary art from artists who have been unrepresented. You will certainly enjoy the museum's 13,000 works of art, but you do not have to visit the museum to enjoy the Nasher Museum Café, a sleek, modern café very popular with students for its superbly prepared food. The menu relies on local, seasonal, and organic produce and is light and healthy, with great sandwiches and salads. The best deal at the Nasher Museum Cafe are the platters, such as the Southern Accent Platter with Mississippi remoulade, pickled okra, celery sticks, spicy tomato jam and three of fried green tomatoes, deviled egg, local corn succotash, smoked Gouda macaroni bites, or NC pimento cheese toasts. The café also has a respectable wine list.

Nasher Museum Cafe, 2001 Campus Dr, Durham, NC 27701, Phone: 919-684-6032


New American Cafe, Museum of Fine Arts

New American Cafe, Museum of Fine Arts

© New American Café, Museum of Fine Arts

Enclosed in a magnificent, bright glass atrium filled with light, the New American Cafe is as outstanding as the grand art masterpieces in the surrounding European art galleries on one side and America's art on the other in Boston's renowned Museum of Fine Arts.

Comfortable chairs, glass walls, and cathedral ceilings create a pleasant venue for a great meal prepared from locally sourced, fresh ingredients. The menu is North and South American, as are the well-selected wines and craft beers. The selection of hot and cold small plates is delightful and so are the imaginative entrées and fresh salads. Try some of the New England favorites, such as seared cod cakes or Angus burgers with Grafton cheese.

New American Cafe, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 465 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115, Phone: 617-267-9300


Ray's and Stark Bar, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Ray's and Stark Bar, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

© Ray's and Stark Bar

Ray's and Stark Bar is located just off the main entrance to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, close to many other museums, in the heart of the artistic and social hub of the city.

It is the place for art patrons who also enjoy first-class seasonal and locally sourced cuisine, before or after checking out the latest exhibition in the museum. Surrounded by some of the world's most celebrated artwork, you can enjoy fresh, seasonal fare, everyone's favorites pizzas from the wood-burning oven, house-made pastas, fresh, mixed salads from the restaurant's own garden, and delicious shareable small plates. You will love their pork cheeks with spaghetti squash, pumpkin seeds, and caramelized apples, especially with one of the fine wines from the California-centric wine list, a good beer, or a fun cocktail.

Ray's and Stark Bar, 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036, Phone: 323-857-6180


Robert, Museum of Arts and Design, New York City

Robert, Museum of Arts and Design, New York City

© Courtesy of Maksim Shebeko - Fotolia.com

The Museum of Art and Design on Columbus Circle in New York City celebrates the link between art, crafts, and industry, starting with the interesting architecture of its home, continuing with its permanent collection of fascinating and often participative exhibits, and ending on top of the building, at Robert.

This elegant oasis under the Manhattan sky is a classy spot for lunch, sunset cocktails, or dinner with jazz on weekends. Chef Luisa Fernandes at Robert offers contemporary American cuisine with international touches on a small but superb menu - try her Moqueca with shrimps, sea bass, scallop, and coconut milk white rice.

Robert, 2 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019, Phone: 212-299-7730


The Buffet Restaurant, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth

The Buffet Restaurant, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth

© Courtesy of mizina - Fotolia.com

Whether you love Monet's exquisite colors or the timeless beauty of pre-Angkor bronze Bodhisattva Maitreya, you will enjoy a visit to Kimbell Art Museum, where every one of the 350 art pieces is a masterpiece. Your taste for beautiful things will also be satisfied in the museum's lovely, bright buffet restaurant.

The exquisite covered courtyard at The Buffet Restaurant is filled with light and you might spend a lot of time in this serene space over one of Chef Shelby Schaefer's delicious soups or quiches. Everything is made from scratch using fresh, seasonal ingredients, and while the seating is cafeteria-style, the food is first class. Dinner is offered on Fridays, with a similar, slightly expanded, menu that is equally fresh and healthy.

The Buffet Restaurant, 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76107, Phone: 817-332-8451


The Modern, The Museum of Modern Art, New York City

The Modern, The Museum of Modern Art, New York City

© The Modern

A world-class museum like MOMA requires a world-class restaurant, and The Modern fully qualifies. With its spectacular setting, featuring a wall of glass overlooking the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, and Chef Abram Bissell's superb, innovative menu that is constantly changing, it is no wonder that the restaurant holds two Michelin stars, four James Beard Awards, and the Wine Spectator's Grand Award.

The Modern offers a fixed price menu for lunch and dinner that changes according to the availability of fresh, seasonal ingredients. The wine list is exceptional, let the sommelier suggest a wine pairing. If you are interested, you had better plan ahead and make a reservation at least a month in advance. The lounge and bar room offer an a la carte menu so you can have a chance to explore Chef Bissel's seasonal menu and superb cocktails and wines. For a true foodie experience, book a private tasting at the chef's table in the heart of the kitchen.

The Modern, The Museum of Modern Art, 11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019, Phone: 212-333-1220


The Soda Shop, National WWII Museum, New Orleans

The Soda Shop, National WWII Museum, New Orleans

© The Soda Shop

Located on a 6-acre campus in downtown New Orleans, the National WWII Museum describes the American Experience in the Second World War, the war that changed the world. The exhibits and stories explain why it was fought and what we can learn from it today.

The museum is large and you will need to boost your energy, so stop by the delightful Soda Shop. This counter-serve eatery has the quaint décor of a ‘40s diner, with murals and several exhibits that describe scenes from WWII. The menu at The Soda Shop leans toward comfort food - mac and cheese, hot hearty soups, hot dogs, massive sandwiches and, of course, sodas; the root beer float is one of the most popular.

The Soda Shop, 945 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130, Phone: 504-527-6012


Untitled, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Untitled, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

© Untitled

The Whitney is one of those museums New Yorkers like to visit often - it features modern, often still living, artists and their works and it always has something new going on. On top of that, the Whitney has the Untitled, a modern and sophisticated restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Meatpacking District.

Minimalist décor with super-comfortable, colorful chairs provide the right setting for the treats Chef Michael Anthony offer his patrons: Art on a plate; and not only in presentation, but also in the flavor of each piece of super-fresh, seasonal vegetable, spice, or piece of meat. There is nothing pretentious in the fried fish lettuce wrap with radishes and tartar sauce or the goat cheese fritters with beet tahini and carrot slaw, but it is new and the flavors are exquisite. The beer and wine lists at Untitled are small but perfect.

Untitled, Whitney Museum, 99 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014, Phone: 212-570-3670


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Cafe NOMA, New Orleans Museum of Art

When you decide to take a break from looking at masterpieces by Degas, Monet, Renoir, Picasso, Matisse, and so many other art greats at the New Orleans Museum of Art, take a break at Cafe NOMA . This lovely modern place overlooks verdant City Park with its lagoons and lush greenery.

Executive Chef Chris Montero offers a light yet imaginative menu of artisanal cheeses, delicious salads and paninis, and great pastries. You might want to try the bruschetta with house-cured salmon, cream cheese, cucumber, capers, and green onions. The outdoor patio is great for a quick bite and a glass of wine with friends.

New Orleans Museum of Art, Collins Diboll Cir, New Orleans, LA 70124, Phone: 504-482-1264

16 Must-Try Museum Restaurants in the United States :