Extraordinary Museum Restaurants

Once considered more of a refueling pit stop between exhibits than an actual culinary destination, museum restaurants have finally arrived. With more establishments utilizing fresh local ingredients and offering housemade and innovative menu items, it should come as no surprise that foodies are flocking to savor something other than art or history.

At Nerua, inside the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, chef Josean Alija is snapping up awards with culinary creations like roast-duck foie gras with candied carrots and whipped casein with strawberry-and-violet ice cream. In New York, the New-York Historical Society's Caffè Storico prides itself on house-made Italian delicacies such as arancini risotto and garganelli and pappardelle pastas, as well as views of Central Park through its floor-to-ceiling windows. And locavores should seek out the Art Institute of Chicago's Mediterranean-inspired Terzo Piano, where ingredients are sourced from farms and distilleries within 150 miles of the restaurant.

Each of the restaurants on our list is a powerhouse--avant-garde menus, star chefs and world-class views are par for the course--but most important, the balance has shifted. They give the fine art in the hallowed halls that surround them a bit of healthy--and delicious--competition for attention.

--Erin Schumaker

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Extraordinary Museum Restaurants