Best museum food in NYC...

We will be catching up on our cultural attractions around NYC and were wondering which of these institutions serves the best food or supports a decent restaurant these days, just in case we want to eat in. Like the Met, MOMA, Whitney, etc. Any thoughts would be welcome. Thanks…

MOMA has The Modern and The Modern Bar Room. The Whitney has Untitled. The Jewish Museum has a brand new branch of Russ & Daughters Cafe. The Neue Gallerie has Cafe Sabarsky. All are well-regarded.


The only one of these I’ve been to is Cafe Fledermaus/Sabarsky (same food, different levels in the Neue Gallerie). I find it just OK to mildly good and a little overpriced. It pales compared to any good place offering similar food in Central Europe.

Noted. It’s not the type of food I’d go out of my way for, but I think it’s probably above average for museum food. The Met is particularly tragic, unless you’re a big fan of dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets (that might be AMNH, actually), or paying $30 for a shrimp salad.

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Lincoln Ristorante at Lincoln Center. Chef Benno is a Beard Semifinalist this year. A friend’s son is workin his way up there under Benno.

Last week I ate lunch at the cafe inside MOMA (the one on the second floor) and was quite pleased with my meal. It looks like a cafeteria, but there is table service, and a nice wine list. The food is very nice–not as lovely as The Modern or the Bar Room, but miles better than regular museum food. Menu here:

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Food concessions at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, which is now holding their beautiful Orchid Show, have improved since their catering was taken over by Stephen Starr Events out of Philly…

Do not eat anything at the Met! Over the years i have tried their various horrible terrible overpriced cafes and just…don’t. Even just their basic coffee is yucky! The closest best spot for a reasonably priced good lunch is the le pan quotidian on 88th st, but generally that immediate area is lacking

As an aside, note that admission to the met is a “suggested” donation. Their signs are deliberately misleading. You can pay 50 cents or $500. Just tell them how much you want to pay and how many admission buttons you need.

The 2nd floor cafe inside of MOMA is excellent, and not painfully expensive either. Fresh farm to table kind of dishes. Avoid the so called cocktails served on their roof (which probably isn’t open yet, but not sure when your trip is)

Untitled inside of the whitney is amazing, but not especially casual or budget friendly. I’ve only had the cookies at their cafe (amazing!). Nearby Santina is very good, or chelsea market isn’t far (although it is insane busy on weekends), inside there are some great vendors for tacos or the lobster place (avoid the thai place), and i really like friedman’s. Note that cull and pistol (restaurant for the lobster place) has great happy hour deals on weekdays.

The pastries and coffee inside of Neue gallerie are quite good, i’ve have disappointing experience with their savory options.

Absolutely, on skipping eating at the Met!

I do agree that the sweet items at the Cafe Sabarsky/Fledermaus are better and a fairer value for the food quality than the savory items, but I was in no way blown away by them after having visited Budapest a bunch of years ago. For my money, the best bakery in walking distance from the Met is Two Little Red Hens, though it’s a ways to its east.

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Our family ate lunch at Untitled at the Whitney last summer and I was underwhelmed. Sorry! Was I missing something? It was relatively expensive but the view of the High Line was great.

We also ate at the members only dining room at the Met. Ugh. Wait staff kind of sort of made fun of my niece who ‘stupidly’ asked for more bread. We ate there for the view. Unfortunately it was raining and the windows were fogged. I honestly don’t remember the food, I was so anxious about my poor young people feeling out of place and unloved.

Thanks for your responses so far. Very informative. We will be going to a preview of the new Met Breuer on Friday. Any food thoughts?

For those who may not know, the new Met Breuer is housed in what used to be the Whitney, on Madison and 75th.

We are long-time fans of Café Boulud, on 76th, just off Madison. Superb cuisine, polished service, and very pleasant ambiance.

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The restaurant at the Met is incredibly overpriced and nothing special but I think you’re paying more for the setting and convenience than anything else. Five years later it’s the only New York meal my wife really remembers.

After a nice run thru the Met Breuer, took in some live jazz on the main level, then met friends further uptown at Ancho Cantina at 89th & 2nd for dinner . Most enjoyable…

Sorry, I meant Mole Cantina…

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Well, allow me to differ with some of those who have already posted. First of all, museum food is generally overpriced; so take that for granted. I’m limiting myself here to what you’d grab for lunch if you happen to be in the museum and expect to stay a while. I’ve eaten at Cafe Sabarsky in the Neue Galerie several times and have always been disappointed. You’d expect that at least their pastries would be great. They’re not. It’s one of the few museums where I really don’t want to eat. The Modern in MOMA is excellent, but after all that is a very expensive restaurant. It isn’t overpriced for what it is, but for me it’s culinary destination, not a place I’d drop into for lunch while visiting MOMA. The cafeteria has good food but is usually unpleasantly crowded. In fact, that’s true of MOMA in general and I rarely go anymore. I disagree with the view that the food at the Met is bad. The cafe in the American Wing is moderately priced and is just fine. The problem is finding a seat after you get off the cafeteria line. The large Cafeteria in the basement is fine, if generic. The Members’ dining room (fka the Trustees’ Dining Room) is expensive (but not at the level of The Modern – nor does it have equal pretensions) and good. Balcony dining during Friday evening musical performances is distinguished by terrible service and dirty tables. The Petrie Hall has a formal atmosphere and tuxedoed waiters but disappointing food. Bottom line: I go to the Cafe in the American wing for a soup and sandwich or pastry most of the time; the Cafeteria in the basement if I’m hungry; and the Members’ Dining Room if I’m feeling flush. I avoid the Petrie and the Balcony. Oh – the Roof Garden is fun in season and is fine also. The Whitney has a fancy restaurant on the 1st floor (comparable to The Modern; I’ve not been) and a more reasonable restaurant on the 8th (I think) floor that I have been to. Service was excellent and food not as good for the money as you might get outside, but as implied, that’s typical of museum restaurants. I’d go back. The Cooper-Hewitt has a small cafe that just serves pastries and sandwiches and maybe soup. It’s OK. My recollection is that the Morgan Library has a good cafe, but usually I look forward to lunch at The Ginger Man or Rattle and Hum (two nearby beer pubs) when I visit. Finally, if you make it out to the Museum of the Moving Image, they have a pretty good cafe.

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While doing The MET with my family we stopped for a birthday lunch at The Petrie Court Café. It was a lovely setting on a most beautiful day. The food turned out to be mostly ‘good’. We all shared a mezze plate with pita for starters. It was ok, kind of skimpy though. My granddaughter had chicken noodle broth with hardly any chicken or noodle; ok filet of salmon for grandma; and fine Croque Monsieur for me. Good rolls were served. Service at the start was a bit rushed until I gently told our waiter to give us some extra time. He was most attentive after that. For my birthday, the staff brought over a platter saying ‘Happy Birthday’ in chocolate along with ice cream and a sliver of chocolate cake…and, yes it was a bit pricey.

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For the next visitors reading this…
Recently opened the russ and daughters location inside of the Jewish museum is without a doubt the best food at any museum ! (PS Saturdays are pay what you wish admission…)
On a recent visit i had the lovely chilled borscht and a toasted bialy. (I don’t eat fish). My mom loved her board with their whitefish salad and a bialy. Side of the great pickles, and a thick slice of babka to go for later.
It’s busy, and no reservations but we were seated within a half hour. Also a take away counter.
Note that they don’t have latkes or matzo ball soup at this location.
(FYI current issac mizrahi show is great!)


I have heard about this and I am planning to revisit the Jewish Museum after a long hiatus. Thanks for posting…

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Hudson Garden Grill is a new dining possibility at the lovely New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. Visited the other day and was pleased with the contemporary American offerings served from an open kitchen in a dramatically enhanced dining room. Al fresco seating, too. It is operated by the Starr Catering Group, which has created other worthwhile culinary stops at the Garden…

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