When I think about the marriage of food and art, I tend to think of those fabulous dinners at Triniti where Mercury plays period music to accompany each course. Or I think of the swell little cafes nestled inside so many museums — the ones where you can pause to sip a cappuccino before more art gazing.
All very European and chic.
But the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston takes eats to the streets with its Fine Art + Food Trucks.
“The Museum of Fine Arts has the best food truck program in the city, hands down,” says Adrian de la Cerda of Ladybird food truck. “It's the perfect location with lots of shade trees, ample parking and comfortable seating in the Cullen Sculpture Garden.”
“The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, launched Fine Art + Food Trucks just in time for spring break 2012, to provide an additional on-campus dining option for museum visitors and employees, as well as the surrounding community,” says Linda Kuykendall, the museum’s special events director. “It’s an ongoing, curated selection of Houston’s finest mobile food sources present daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the parking lot adjacent to the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden.”
With the cooler temps, dining in the sculpture garden amid Rodins is a perfect lunchtime experience.
Besides Ladybird’s upscale comfort food, you can find everything from Filipino street food to gourmet grilled cheese, waffle sandwiches, smoothies, pita pockets and pastries.
You can find a full list of current trucks here, with links to their menus.
“We were the first truck to be included in the program,” de la Cerda says. “It’s been fun seeing it grow over the last year and a half. We attribute much of our early success to the exposure afforded to us by the museum. We have many regular customers who come by every Friday for lunch, even in the heat of August.”
De la Cerda adds that many museum visitors stop by, curious to see what’s on the menu and are pleasantly surprised to learn that they can get in for free that day by purchasing lunch from one of the food trucks.
A Free Bonus
The Lunch + Look program offers free same-day general admission, between noon and 2 p.m., if you show a receipt from one of the food trucks from the parking lot. The trucks operate seven days a week. It’s a win-win situation for the truck operators and museum goers.
And with cooler temperatures, dining in the sculpture garden amid the Rodins and Matisses is a perfect lunchtime experience. Then getting to linger all afternoon in the MFAH is just icing on the cake.
"We attribute much of our early success to the exposure afforded to us by the museum. We have many regular customers who come by every Friday."
You’ll also find the trucks parked nearby for Happy Hour Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
But getting back to the Lunch + Look program, you probably don’t want to totally pig out at the food trucks before touring the museum. One of the exhibits you will see right now is the fascinating Calaveras Mexicanas: The Art and Influence of José Guadalupe Posada. It celebrates the 100th anniversary of the death of José Guadalupe Posada (1852–1913), considered the father of Mexican printmaking. A great deal of his work involves prints of calaveras (skulls), or prints depicting skeletons of famous heroes, politicians and revolutionary leaders.
Looking at a bunch of bones may totally make you regret that second croissant burger you ate at Yummy’s Kitchen or having engulfed Ladybird’s Tokyo Dog — a devilish bacon-wrapped frank with smoked goat cheese, cucumber, jalapenos and unagi sauce.
On the other hand, lunching via food truck might just call for strolling through the halls of the MFAH for a couple of hours so you can work off all those yummy calories.