Museum Dining Is On Exhibit

Faith Hope Consolo
Faith Hope Consolo

Our famed New York City museums have always been an essential part of our culture, and their restaurants have become serious destinations of their own—even earning Michelin stars. Check out my exhibit of the best with foodie trends for good measure.

Here are some of the latest and greatest of museum dining in New York City:

Museum Mangia

Flora Bar & Flora Coffee
The Met Breuer
945 Madison Avenue

Floral arrangements dress up the concrete, bunker-like environs of Flora Bar, the Met Breuer’s exceptional restaurant. Chef Ignacio Mattos and business partner Thomas Carter (Estela, Café Altro Paradiso) were chosen to create the museum’s underground dining area. During the day, Flora Coffee features expert baristas, pastries and sandwiches. The adjacent Flora Bar is a full-fledged restaurant serving a New American menu.  Guests can access the restaurant, which is below street level, through the museum’s main entrance at 945 Madison Avenue. 

The Modern
The Museum of Modern Art
9 W. 53rd Street

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The Modern, a Danny Meyer French-American restaurant received two Michelin stars in 2016—the highest rating for any of his establishments. The formal, white-tablecloth dining room overlooks MoMA’s sculpture garden and offers a prix-fixe menu, service included. Walk-ins are welcome in the more casual Bar Room.  

Russ & Daughters
The Jewish Museum
1109 Fifth Avenue

The Jewish Museum’s spin-off of Russ & Daughters, found on the lower level, is the first certified kosher location of the century-old bagels-and-lox landmark. Also offers divine takeout. 

Robert
The Museum of Arts and Design
2 Columbus Circle 

Reserve far in advance for a table along the bank of windows looking down on Columbus Circle and Central Park. Robert, named for the late party planner and New York personality Robert Isabell, is on the ninth floor of the Museum of Arts and Design and shows off its design flair with video and light installations.  Offers Contemporary American with Mediterranean influences. 

Cafe Sabarsky
Neue Galerie
1048 Fifth Avenue

Cafe Sabarsky is an authentic recreation of an old-world Viennese coffeehouse. Neue Galerie, across the street from the Met Fifth Avenue, is a superb place to appreciate Klimt’s and Schiele’s works, but remember the line stretching onto the sidewalk is for a table in the 60-seat café; well worth the wait. Offers authentic Viennese specialties and pastries. 

Café Serai
The Rubin Museum of Art
150 W. 17th Street

Chelsea’s Rubin Museum brings together 1,500 years of Himalayan art, with scroll paintings, sculptures, masks and textiles from the Tibetan plateau and surrounding regions. To really taste the culture, stop in the lobby level Café Serai. During the day, the lounge is a peaceful place for tea and pastries. On Friday nights, when the museum offers free admission from 6 to 10 pm, Café Serai morphs into K2 Lounge, offering a special pan-Asian tapas menu to accompany the evening’s DJ and programs. Happy Hour runs from 6:00–7:00 pm with a 2-for-1 special on all beer, wine, and well drinks.  

Storico
New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West at Richard Gilder Way 

At lunch, Storico’s picture windows face the tree-shrouded American Museum of Natural History across the street. An international crowd of museum-goers blends with Upper West Side locals in this beautiful restaurant that features a seasonal Italian menu from chef Tim Kensett. 

Untitled
The Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort Street

Untitled is a contemporary American restaurant from Chef Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern, located in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s new Renzo Piano-designed building in the Meatpacking District. Light-filled and airy, adjacent to the High Line park and the Hudson River, Untitled is inspired by the seasons and the creative environment of the world-class museum that it calls home. Along the bustling and sunny patio of the museum’s ground floor entrance on Gansevoort Street, Untitled is a treat for lunch, brunch, or dinner. 

Tasty Trends

Here are some of the trends influencing our food and beverage mecca…. 

Street food aka casual local food aka food truck’s finest will have a luxury makeover — think hot dogs by star chefs. Chefs will be committed to addressing and promoting social issues including food waste, sharing food with those in need and focus on sustainability. Dine it forward; it is now more than just status, dining is a lifestyle and we look to save the planet. Thank you Instagram, with more people traveling, tasting and sharing different foods, chefs are including a variety of ingredients and produce in their mix. We have all expanded our palate…at least visually. Hospitality is king and we want to have the experience, not just the taste. We are on a whole other culinary level and restaurateurs are following suit.

All About the Bowl

Acai bowls came first, followed by poke and now eating from bowls will be taking over further as restaurants are seeing many benefits to this trend. Nevermind takeaway bowls getting spilled any longer — as the e-delivery services have that finally figured out now — it’s also easier and faster for the kitchen to assemble a bowl than plated foods. Holding a bowl makes you feel full a lot faster, and you’re able to savor all the flavors and textures with every spoonful.

Vegetarian Comfort Food 

Vegetables will continue its rise on the dinner plate; look for animal proteins and heavy side dishes making way for many more vegetarian options. Diners are also more likely to order mashed cauliflower instead of rice and pasta. 

Artisan Butcher Shops Within Restaurants

Given the rise of vegetarian options, also expect push back from the opposite direction! This comes in the form of artisanal butcher shops in restaurants enticing the diner’s love of meat. This “butcher-to-table” trend lets customers be in on the experience and you’re able to eat fresh. Think Le Districts Food Hall’s butcher shop.


Food boundaries are always in flux and good taste is at the tip of the tongue, but restaurants are so much more. Enjoy savoring this museum dining roundup and watch for my next edition of Faithful FoodHappy Dining!

Faith Hope Consolo, Chairman of Douglas Elliman’s Retail Group, writes the "Faithful Food" column for Total Food Service. Ms. Consolo is a leading retail broker and advisor who covers the national market. She is a specialist ranging from fine restaurants to fashionable fast foods. "To find the best retail space, You Need Faith." Email her at fconsolo@elliman.com