An afternoon at a museum filled with art, learning, reading, and watching can really work up an appetite. While a lot of museums have a small cafe or food cart nestled inside to relieve hungry visitors with coffee or quick snacks they can munch on outside of the galleries, some places take it to the next level.
Some people may think that food and museum’s don’t usually mix, besides the occasional signs at the entrance of exhibits that read “NO FOOD OR DRINK ALLOWED,” but these museums below will challenge those ideas. Around Seattle, you’ll find museums that combine beautiful art and history with unique dining experiences, specially crafted drinks, and culturally significant dishes.
With just one visit, you’ll be crossing off two things from the “must-do” list in Seattle: great art and delicious seafood. The Seattle Art Museum boasts three floors and 16 exhibits that feature world class visual arts. Collections include Asian, African, Ancient American, Ancient Mediterranean, Islamic, European, Oceanic, American, modern and contemporary art, and decorative arts and design. You can clearly spend the whole day here, but when you’re ready for a food break, there’s no better or more convenient option than MARKET Eatery, located right on the ground floor of the museum building. MARKET Eatery dishes up many seafood specialties but is known for their lobster and crab rolls. Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of seafood, you can find some chicken sandwiches and burgers on the menu too.
Immerse yourself in the Ballard neighborhood’s Scandinavian roots by spending a day at the National Nordic Museum and having a fika (a coffee and cake break that is an important part of Swedish culture). The museum presents the history, culture, life, and art of the entire Nordic region (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the regions of the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Åland, and the cultural region of Sápmi) and the legacy of Nordic immigrants to the United States. The building, which also embodies Nordic design, also houses Cardoon Eats, a cozy cafe and bar that serves specialty coffee, tea, and Chinese and German influenced snacks. For a truly immersive experience- try the seaweed latte, which ties into their new Flód exhibit inspired by the ocean and climate change.
The Wing Luke Museum is unique on this list since it does not actually have a cafe or restaurant located in the building, which was an intentional choice. The museum highlights Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian history and is located in the heart of the Chinatown International District, a cultural food hub that stems from early Asian immigrants finding success in the American food industry. Today, you can’t walk down a block without having a restaurant or Asian dessert shop on either side of you. The museum encourages museum visitors to support the local mom and pop shops nearby during their visit to the museum. For people who are intimidated by the vast number of options, the museum offers food tours that dine in at several restaurants in the neighborhood. Food tours highlight the best dumplings, noodles, barbecue dishes, and desserts that the neighborhood has to offer.
This is going to be a treat for both your eyes and taste buds. Chihuly Garden and Glass features the dynamic, vibrant, and innovative glass works of Dale Chihuly. After strolling through the Garden, Glasshouse, and interior exhibits, grab a drink at their newly opened bar, aptly named The Bar. Here, you can find some equally beautiful and creative art in the crafted cocktails. The eccentric decor comes from Chihuly himself, who has a diverse collection of things displayed inside. Treat yourself here for a truly art-centric experience.
Engage in the local history and culture of the Pacific Northwest with a trip to the Burke Museum and Off the Rez Cafe. The Burke holds a large and diverse collection of Northwest and Alaska Native art and has artists and Indigenous researchers studying the collections from around the world. Nestled inside the museum is the Off the Rez Cafe, a spinoff from Seattle’s first Native food truck. The menu features the popular truck’s frybread tacos. The frybreads are made in traditional fashion, learned from owner Mark MocConnell’s mother, who grew up on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana. Along with their signature frybreads, the cafe includes other Native American cuisine, like wild rice bowls with braised bison.