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San Francisco Museum Cafes are Masterpieces in Themselves

Museum cafes and restaurants have created fine dining masterpieces to complement seasonal and permanent exhibits.

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In San Francisco, food is an art form – so much so that some visit the city’s many museums just for the food. Museum cafes and restaurants have created fine dining masterpieces to complement seasonal and permanent exhibits. In keeping with San Francisco food culture, the museum chefs use local, seasonal and sustainable produce and ingredients. Exhibits often inspire the menus, serving as a muse to create edible works of art. Most museum cafes are available to the public without paying an entrance fee – making them both a culinary destination and attraction.

Arguello in the Presidio Officers’ Club
50 Moraga Ave., Presidio Main Post, San Francisco 94129
415-561-4400
www.presidioofficersclub.com/dining
Arguello is located in the historic Presidio Officers’ Club, which was reopened in October 2014 as a multifaceted cultural destination. It features Chef Traci Des Jardins’s authentic Mexican cuisine that captures the cultural heritage of the Presidio while offering modern touches and a contemporary bar with craft cocktails. The bar was milled by Studio Terpeluk from 125-year-old Douglas fir salvaged from a historic Presidio building demolished to make way for the new Presidio Parkway. Behind the bar, an impressive 34-foot mural of an old map by Sausalito-based artist Julie Coyle flawlessly weaves it all together. A heated patio provides a comfortable way to enjoy outdoor dining and features an outdoor comal (griddle) for tortilla making. 

Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
200 Larkin St. San Francisco 94102
415-581-3630

www.asianart.org/cafe   
Featuring daily specials to take advantage of fresh, seasonal ingredients, Café Asia offers a range of dishes from a variety of Asian traditions. Executive Chef Melinda Quirino has an extensive background in Asian food creations and has developed the entire Asian menu that features daily specials made with fresh, seasonal ingredients. The menu includes bento boxes, rice bowls, hot noodles, hot pots, sushi, salads, snacks and sweets, as well as full beverage service, including wine and beer. Sandwiches, snacks, and desserts provide perfect alternatives for families or folks on the go. Guests may sit in the cafe, or enjoy a view of the Beaux Art architecture of City Hall on the outdoor patio. Entry to the café does not require paid museum admission. 

Boudin Sourdough Museum
Boudin at the Wharf 
160 Jefferson St., San Francisco, 94133
415-928-1849 
www.boudinbakery.com  
Boudin’s Museum and Bakery Tour allows visitors to witness history in the baking as they stroll through a collection of historic and interactive exhibits and observe the bakery in action from the museum’s floor-to-ceiling window walls and glass-walled catwalk. Boudin at the Wharf is the flagship location of 14 neighborhood bakery-cafés in California, each offering Boudin classics like their signature clam chowder in a bread bowl.  Boudin also sells an assortment of fresh baked breads crafted in the Boudin tradition: the iconic San Francisco sourdough French bread, European hearth breads, harvest breads, and sweet (non-sourdough) breads.

California Academy of Sciences
Golden Gate Park 
55 Music Concourse Dr., San Francisco, 94118
415-876-6128
www.calacademy.org  
The California Academy of Sciences has two dining areas within the museum:

  • The Academy Café is a celebration of the different food cultures of California regions and San Francisco. The café serves international/ethnic cuisine such as tuna poke, Vietnamese shrimp rolls, falafel and chicken tacos. Executive chef John Bogarin makes sure to include local, sustainable, and seasonal ingredients in his dishes at both dining areas. He has strong Bay Area culinary ties, cooking in award-winning restaurants such as French Laundry and Charles Nob Hill.   
  • Located in the Academy’s West Garden, The Terrace is perfect for a light lunch or afternoon meal. Choose from a menu of upscale and innovative cuisine and enjoy sculptures by Maya Lin. Reservations are not needed. 

Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission St., San Francisco, 94103
415-655-7800 
www.thecjm.org   
Once a Jewish deli pop-up, “Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen” has now opened a new location in the Contemporary Jewish Museum. The delicatessen is dedicated to building community through traditional Jewish comfort food and offering their customers new evolving recipes. Wise Sons takes great pride in making just about everything in-house, entwining classic Jewish recipes with the best Californian ingredients to make delicious deli fare that would make their bubbies proud.  

de Young Café 
Golden Gate Park 
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr., San Francisco, 94118
415-750-2613
www.deyoung.famsf.org/deyoung 
Take a break from viewing the exhibitions with a meal or a snack at the deYoung Cafés, which feature a variety of dining options. Under the direction of Lucas Schoemaker, president and executive chef of McCalls Catering & Events, the cafes offer a fresh interpretation of American and European classic cuisine and feature menu items crafted with seasonal ingredients from local purveyors. The museums’ special exhibitions are enhanced through unique menu items themed to the shows.

Exploratorium 
Pier 15 (Embarcadero at Green St.), San Francisco, 94111
415-528-4444
www.exploratorium.edu 
Seaglass Restaurant is a casual, waterside venue with stunning views located at the east end of the museum. Chef Loretta Keller has created family-friendly, multicultural, locally sourced menus that showcase small producers. The menus change seasonally but often include tacos and quesadillas, pizzas, salads and sandwiches. There’s also fresh seafood and sushi that meets Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch guidelines.  Seaglass offers natural soft drinks, organic and fair trade coffees and teas, and sparkling house-made drinking vinegar beverages. It also features a bar that showcases artisanal distillers, many organic, and a thoughtfully curated wine and beer list. The bar itself incorporates Icy Bodies, an exhibit by Exploratorium Senior Artist Shawn Lani, into its design.

Legion of Honor Café 
100 34th Ave., San Francisco, 94121
415-750-3595 
www.legionofhonor.org 
The Legion of Honor Café presents a serene environment for dining on soups, salads, sandwiches and hot entrees with a view of Lincoln Park and the Marin Headlands. To relax and recharge after being inspired by great art, visitors can enjoy a traditional European Weinpause at the de Young or an Entre Repas at the Legion of Honor with a selection of small, savory nibbles accompanied by selected wines. Outdoor dining is available seasonally.

Walt Disney Family Museum: The Museum Café 
The Presidio 
104 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94129
415-345-6800 
www.waltdisney.org/dining
As the museum’s culinary partner, Taste Catering & Event Planning operates the Museum Café, offering light seasonal fare inspired by the local market, growers, and purveyors. The Café is open to museum visitors and the public during museum hours.  Guests can enjoy seating indoors or outdoors, overlooking the lawn on the Presidio’s main parade grounds.   Taste Catering also has the exclusive responsibility for producing special events at the museum. The venue offers a unique blend of the best in American animation, history, technology, and culture.  For both corporate and private groups, The Walt Disney Family Museum offers a comfortable environment for memorable events.

BEYOND SAN FRANCISCO

Monterey Bay Aquarium 
886 Cannery Row, Monterey, 93940 
831-648-4800
www.montereybayaquarium.org 
Relax and dine with spectacular ocean views. Cindy’s Waterfront is the perfect spot to sip a glass of wine and savor Cindy Pawlcyn’s inspired seasonal dishes with selections such as Monterey Bay Calamari and Cindy’s Curried Chicken Salad. 

Head over to the Café and enjoy food that’s perfect for the whole family, including brick-oven pizzas, made-to-order burgers, fresh-tossed salads, and mouthwatering desserts. All ingredients feature the freshest, local ingredients sourced from Monterey Bay and the Central Valley. The Coffee Bar also offers an assortment of refreshing beverages, organic coffee drinks, pastries and desserts. 

The San Francisco Travel Association is the official destination marketing organization for the City and County of San Francisco. For information on reservations, activities and more, visit www.sftravel.com, read the Visitors Planning Guide or call 415-391-2000.  The Visitor Information Center is located at 900 Market St. in Hallidie Plaza, lower level, near the Powell Street cable car turnaround. 

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