Food & Drink

The Best Thing to Eat Near Every Major NYC Museum

Published On 04/21/2016 Published On 04/21/2016
met museum
Nick Krueck & Jennifer Bui/Thrillist
Flickr/Shinya Suzuki

American Museum of Natural History 

Shake Shack

Address and Info

Upper West Side
Just steps from all the dinosaurs is this ultimate win-win: an “NYC spot” for tourists that locals actually love, too. Word to the wise: order a double ShackBurger, a Smoke Shack, and the slightly newer Chick’n Shack to try a little of everything. And don’t you dare not get one of the concretes. 

Brooklyn Museum


Address and Info

Crown Heights
Warning: it’ll be hard to concentrate on the third largest museum in New York when you know crispy, thin slices covered with stuff like sopressata picante, pancetta, and honey are in arm's reach. Remember, we did tell you it’s one of the best pizza spots in Brooklyn

Flickr/Shinya Suzuki

Cooper Hewitt


Address and Info

Upper East Side
The move here is to hit this spot up for breakfast/brunch to ensure you score the buttermilk pancakes and short rib hash. It’s just the fuel you’ll need to stroll a few more blocks to the museum itself to look at some cool design. And then take a nice nap afterwards. 

The Frick Collection 

J.G. Melon

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Upper East Side
Just a couple avenues down from this fancy old mansion-turned-museum full of sculptures, porcelain, and paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries, is J.G. Melon -- a classic UES pub that's been offering one of the city's best (and most classic) cheeseburgers and cottage fries (basically Ruffles, but fries!) for over 30 years. 

Flickr/Jocelyn & Cathy .

Metropolitan Museum of Art 

Cafe Sabarsky

Address and Info

Upper East Side
You won’t want to walk too far after going to the MET, given that just looking around that humongous space takes years off your life, so luckily, this Vienna-inspired cafe is only two blocks away. Discuss the antiquities wing over authentic goulash, Bavarian sausages, German lagers, and a slice of Sachertorte (that’s Viennese dark chocolate cake). 

Lukus Hasenstab/Penelope

Morgan Library and Museum


Address and Info

Midtown East
Head here for one of the New York’s most essential breakfasts (Punkin’ Waffles!) or for a post-Medieval manuscript snack of polenta fries. It’s worth the five blocks down and one avenue over for both.

Museum of the City of New York

Earl’s Beer and Cheese

Address and Info

East Harlem
Everything on the menu at this comfort food spot has either beer or cheese in it. Or beer cheese. Sure, learning the history of this city is incredibly cool, but it maaay be outshined by beer cheese.

Museum of Modern Art 

The Monkey Bar

Address and Info

Midtown East
No matter how many times you say you're going to visit the MOMA, you probably only actually go when a friend or a relative's in town, so why not go the full touristy route and hit this swanky eatery for a smoked scallop spaghetti, a Moscow Mule, and if you’re smart, the cookie plate.  

Courtesy of The Astor Room

Museum of the Moving Image

The Astor Room

Address and Info

This is as about as close to eating in the museum as you can get without actually eating in the museum. (Plus, museums typically frown on that.) Just cross the street from the museum dedicated to all things media is this famed restaurant with a rich history (it was a movie studio commissary in the 1920s). Be sure to start with the grilled oysters. 

New Museum of Contemporary Art  

Cafe Habana 

Address and Info

True story: I once literally ran into Alexander Skarsgård at this museum while taking in a contemporary exhibit that featured ‘90s troll dolls. Afterwards I took in quite possibly the best Cuban sandwich (and I’m from Florida!) at Cafe Habana. The second part could totally happen to you. 

Flickr/Edsel Little

New York Public Library 

Keens Steakhouse

Address and Info

Midtown West
After you take your parents to see some very famous books, cruise a couple blocks over to one of the classiest steak joints in the city. Dad will like the classic NY Strip. Mom will like worldly ambiance achieved via antique pipes dangling from the ceiling. You will like the free meal.

Flickr/Premshree Pillai

New York Transit Museum

Pok Pok Ny

Address and Info

Columbia Street Waterfront
Whether you down authentic Thai fare at this waterfront eatery before or after the museum (located just a five minute cab ride away), it’s possible you forget to go/forget what you even saw there (and you’re going to see some pretty cool old trains). That’s how good the fish sauce-coated chicken wings at Pok Pok are. 

Caffe Storico

New York Historical Society

Caffè Storico

Address and Info

Upper West Side
This restaurant is actually inside the museum, but somehow that doesn’t equal terrible or over-priced. Plus, the “late-afternoon menu” coincides perfectly with the exact time you’re undoubtedly going to want burrata and Bolognese in lieu of more historical culture. 

Queens Museum

White Bear

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You’re going to need to get over to Flushing, otherwise your closest option is pretty much the concession stands in the neighboring CitiField. But after just a short train ride, the world will literally be your dumpling -- and the chili oil-covered spicy wontons from White Bear just happen be some of the best ones in the city.  

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 

Via Quadronno

Address and Info

Upper East Side
Just a few steps from the museum entrance, you'll find this charming Italian panini spot offering traditional Milanese sandwiches in a variety of options (get the open-faced salmon tartine) in addition to other classic Italian antipasti, pastas, and larger fish and meat dishes.

Sarah Anderson/Thrillist

Tenement Museum


Address and Info

Lower East Side
After visiting a museum so rich in New York City history, it only makes sense to eat somewhere that is as well, especially when it’s just a few blocks away. Plus, whether or not you’ve got visitors with you, it’s never a bad time to indulge in the city’s best pastrami

Whitney Museum of American Art 

Untitled at the Whitney

Address and Info

Meatpacking District
Another exception to the rule of never dining inside a museum, Danny Meyer's modern American restaurant inside the new Whitney offers a high-quality (but moderately priced) seasonally-driven menu with a focus on vegetables and seafood. It's on the lower level, so you'll have to head into the actual museum for those sweeping city views, but the modern decor and beautifully plated food are sights in their own right.