Ordinarily, librarians and booksellers would frown on eating or drinking. But several (current or former) libraries and bookstores now have restaurants attached; likewise, some restaurants are now selling books curated to complement the meal. Here are eight restaurants for literature lovers.
eBar at The Bookshelf and Miijidaa Café + Bistro, Guelph, Ontario
Miijidaa Cafe + Bistro and eBar at the Bookshelf share a building, and Miijidaa (on the first floor alongside the Bookshelf) provides Canadian cuisine with international influences for both restaurants. The second-floor eBar hosts a lively array of events; notable author readings have included Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, and Naomi Klein. “In a given week in the eBar, you could go to a burlesque or drag show, listen to some live bands, or hear a reading from a first-time or an internationally recognized author,” says co-owner Ben Minett. “We also have a monthly LGBTQ night called Fierce, weekend DJs, and a monthly Latin night.” Make a reservation at eBar at the Bookshelf. Make a reservation at Miijidaa Café + Bistro.
Oxford Exchange, Tampa, Florida
With a bookstore, gift shop, and restaurant under one roof, Oxford Exchange offers a sophisticated setting for shopping and eating that calls to mind a gentleman’s study at the turn of the century crossed with a Millennial’s Instagram account. Allison Adams, director of Oxford Exchange explains the venue’s backstory: “Oxford Exchange was founded with the spirit of cooperation and community. The space was designed to encourage conversation and bring people together. We are very proud of what we have created in Tampa and humbled each guest does their part to make Oxford Exchange their own.” Make a reservation at Oxford Exchange.
The Library at the Public, New York, New York
While no longer operating as a library, The Library at the Public has a rich literary heritage. “The Library at the Public is named for the Astor Library, New York City’s first public library and now the home to The Public Theater,” says Kevin Abbott, managing partner at The Library at the Public. “Tucked away on the mezzanine of The Public, the room has a speakeasy feel and is a place where artists, neighbors, and New Yorkers come and enjoy great conversation with incredible food and cocktails. The menus are designed by chef Andrew Carmellini to honor the historic East Village and all of the diverse cultures that define Americana.” Make a reservation at The Library at the Public.
Barnes and Noble Kitchen, Edina, Minnesota
Book lovers know that Barnes & Noble can satisfy their literary cravings but several locations of this national retailer now have restaurants, too. “Barnes & Noble Kitchen offers an all-day menu, featuring flavorful, shareable dishes with something for everyone, in a relaxing bookstore environment,” says Edina store manager Jamie Geoffroy. “The Kitchen has a large selection of premium wines by the glass or the bottle, as well as locally sourced craft beer.” Make a reservation at Barnes and Noble Kitchen – Edina.
La Table – Château, Houston, Texas
La Table is the exclusive retailer of Assouline books in Houston. “We think of La Table as a lifestyle brand and wanted to surround our guests with editorial that resonated with them: travel, food, beverage, art, luxury, and fashion,” says Alex Gaudelet, the CEO and founder of Invest Hospitality, which operates La Table. “Assouline was the perfect match as their titles are both visually stunning, and bring tremendous depth to each of their subjects.” Make a reservation at La Table – Château.
MESA, A Collaborative Kitchen, New Albany, Indiana
This kitchen-classroom hosts demonstrations and meals by Kentuckiana’s culinary stars and rising stars. “Our Pantre section of Mesa offers our guests a great opportunity to dive in to cooking at home, right after the experience they had at MESA,” says Bobby Bass, co-owner of MESA, a collaborative kitchen. “Many of the great cookbooks we offer mirror an event or specific type of food the local guest chefs are performing. In addition, they can purchase many of the tools, spices, and equipment necessary to follow most of the recipes.” Make a reservation at MESA, A Collaborative Kitchen.
Courtyard Restaurant at the Boston Public Library, Boston, Massachusetts
Afternoon tea overlooking the Boston Public Library’s Italianate courtyard is a treat that feels straight from the pages of a Jane Austen novel. Sample savory tea sandwiches like the Wild Mushroom Butter on Pain de Mie or the Lemony Shrimp Salad in Pâte à Choux along with assorted French macarons and loose leaf teas. Marianne Dashwood and Elizabeth Bennet would surely approve! Make a reservation at Courtyard Restaurant at the Boston Public Library.
Kramerbooks & Afterwards Café, Washington, D.C.
After filling your mind with new ideas during an author reading or a stroll through the bookshelves, fill your stomach with crab cake pasta or crispy duck salad. Naturally, this indie bookstore café also serves a selection of clever, literary-inspired cocktails such as The Handmaid’s Ale and a Rum of One’s Own. Make a reservation at Kramerbooks & Afterwards Café.
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Susan Johnston Taylor is an Austin-based freelance writer who’s covered food and business for publications including The Boston Globe, Civil Eats, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fresh Cup, and Pizza Today. Follow her @UrbanMuseWriter.