The Best Museum Cafes in the World

Any proper exploration of a museum should include a stop in the cafe. A good museum watering hole can let the visitor experience everything from Queen Victoria's traditional high tea to Southern comfort, all in unparalleled settings.

We're not saying the following restaurants are more exciting destinations than their museum hosts themselves, but trust us: after hours spent wandering galleries and halls, these cafes are just the reward you deserve.

01 of 10

Otium: The Broad, Los Angeles

An escalator inside the Broad museum

Courtesy of The Broad

The food truck scene at The Broad makes it one of the most Instagrammable museums, but Otium is driven solely by the vision of Chef Timothy Hollingsworth, formerly of The French Laundry in Napa Valley. It's fine dining without any of the formalities, putting the focus squarely on the food. The menu is eclectic (funnel cake with foie gras, pig's tail crepinette) and always changing with the seasons.

02 of 10

Café Jacquemart-André: Jacquemart-André Museum, Paris

Musée Jacquemart André with lights on at sunset

Courtesy of Musée Jacquemart André

In the former dining room of the mansion that's home to the oft-overlooked Jacquemart-André Museum, Café Jacquemart-André is often called the most beautiful tea room in Paris. 

The Café is independent of the museum, so you can easily stop in after a day of shopping on the Champs-Elysées to have a pastry made by Pâtisserie Stohrer and Michel Fenet’s Petite Marquise.

Light meals are available at lunchtime, but crowds reliably show up on Sundays at 11 a.m. for a very fashionable brunch. Menus change to complement the museum's current exhibitions.

03 of 10

Mitsitam Cafe: National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C.

National Museum of the American Indian

Raymond Boyd / Getty Images 

Visitors rave about the restaurant at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., which serves dishes from the indigenous cuisines of the Americas. "Mitsitam" means "let's eat" in the native language of Delaware and Piscataway people, but the menu covers foods from peoples from the Northern Woodlands to Meso America.

Culture and history come together at the five food stations where guests can find everything from the famous fry bread to a very memorable chili and cornbread. Chef Freddie Bitsoie uses both his culinary training and background in cultural anthropology and art history to create dishes that illuminate Native American foods and traditions. A renowned expert, he uses food as a medium to teach people about American Indian cultures.

04 of 10

The Morris Room: Victoria & Albert Museum, London

A large chandelier in tea room at Victoria and Albert Museum

John Harper / Getty Images

The most quintessentially British experience to be had in London is High Tea in the Morris Room at the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A). The V&A worked with food historian Natasha Marks to recreate the traditional experience of Queen Victoria's afternoon tea, which includes Mrs. Beeton's cucumber sandwiches, iced orange cake, and fruit sconelets.

High tea is served every Sunday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Morris Room, which is decorated from designs by the leader of the Arts & Crafts movement, William Morris. Reservations are required.

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05 of 10

The Modern: MoMA, New York City

Person pushing dining card in dining room at MoMA's sculpture garden

Courtesy of MoMA

Pair a world-class museum with a Michelin-starred restaurant, and you've got the Modern at the Museum of Modern of Art (MoMA) in New York City. Overlooking the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, the restaurant is filled with bright light during the day. At night, it becomes a Modernist statement piece.

The menu features Chef Abram Bissell's contemporary American cuisine with presentations that will remind you of Minimalist and Constructivist paintings in the galleries upstairs. Run by Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group, the service is impeccable and abides by the recently adopted no-tipping policy.

The most luxe experience you can have here is the "Kitchen Table," a four-person tasting table that serves as a front-row seat as you watch chefs prepare a meal customized to your tastes.

Reservations can be difficult to get and are available up to 28 days in advance. If you're unable to get a reservation, stop in for a drink at the bar where you will also be able to order lunch or dinner.

06 of 10

Museum Café: Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice

Peggy Guggenheim at night

Courtesy of Guggenheim Venice

Imagine yourself nibbling on Italian pastries and sipping an Aperol spritz while overlooking a modern sculpture garden on Venice's Grand Canal. The Café at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is a favorite spot for tourists to take in the sights of Venice, while also imagining what it must have been like when Peggy Guggenheim first established Palazzo Venier dei Leoni as a home for herself, and her peerless collection of 20th-century art.

The Museum Café serves lunch and snacks and is always highly recommended as a place of respite amidst the heavy tourist foot traffic in Venice.

07 of 10

Eleven: Crystal Bridges, Bentonville

Crystal Bridges on water against blue sky

Courtesy of Crystal Bridges

Eleven, the restaurant at Crystal Bridges, celebrates comfort food from the High South (Ozarks) with a very modern touch. Dishes like "Sweden Creek Mushroom Lasagna" with locally grown shiitake mushrooms layered with truffled béchamel, smoked Gouda, ​pine nuts, and spinach served with marinated tomato confit and cabernet reduction, are worth the trip to Bentonville alone. "Strawberry Shortcake Tres Leches" is another standout.

Crystal Bridges has also introduced a new food truck called "High South on a Roll" to showcase the cuisine of the Ozarks in a more casual and easily accessible way, literally putting many of Eleven's signature dishes on a sandwich roll.

08 of 10

Café Sabarsky: Neue Galerie, New York City

Coffee, bread, and meat entree on table

Courtesy of Cafe Sabarsky

In keeping with the museum's exhibitions of German and Austrian art, the popular Café Sabarsky serves elegant pastries in an environment where you could easily imagine running into Adele Bloch-Bauer.

Designed to look like a Viennese coffee house where intellectuals would meet, Café Sabarsky is decorated with lighting fixtures by Josef Hoffmann and furniture by Adolf Loos. A Bösendorfer grand piano sits in the corner of the Café and is used for a popular cabaret series at the museum.

The Sabarsky's food is notable, too: the cafe's menu is created by Michelin-starred chef Kurt Guttenbruner, one of NYC's foremost experts on Austrian cuisine.

Lunch reservations are for Neue Galerie members at the Sustaining level and above only. Dinner reservations are available to the public. New Yorkers often make a Friday night date here just for the strudel. 

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09 of 10

Klint Café: Design Museum Denmark

Design Museum Denmark

Courtesy of Design Museum Denmark

Nordic cuisine continues to inspire chefs and foodies alike at the Klint Café at the Design Museum Denmark. It's casual, family-friendly and affordable, which is helpful in Copenhagen where food can be pricey. You won't even need to pay museum admission to dine there.

The lunchtime menu is inspired by the big, traditional Danish lunch table full of hearty, filling but fresh foods. The menu is seasonal and constantly changing. Guests will always find open-faced sandwiches that appear like well-designed works of art, signature Nordic desserts and a kids menu including meatballs with seasonal vegetables served inside a container that looks like a giant Lego.​

10 of 10

Russ & Daughters: The Jewish Museum, New York City

Bagels display at Russ & Daughters

Courtesy of The Jewish Museum

New York's iconic Russ & Daughters has long been a point of pilgrimage for New Yorkers and tourists. Known for exquisite smoked fish and bagels, it is firmly a piece of the Lower East Side's Jewish history. After creating an online business and a sit-down-cafe to keep loyal fans happy, the deli has also opened inside the Jewish Museum. Unlike the original shop downtown, which has been open since 1914, the outpost at the Jewish Museum location is Kosher. 

Devotees will be happy to know there is both a restaurant and an "appetizing" counter where their famous smoked fish can be purchased to-go and museum admission is not required.

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