Caffeinated Critics

LACMA's new coffee canteen

The essential divide between food and art is a line drawn by pleasure.

No matter how avant-garde a restaurant may be, the relationship between chef and diner dictates that the experience had by the latter is gratifying. Great art, on the other hand, often challenges the viewer in a way that can leave a bitter taste.

So despite museum-adjacent locations, the various restaurants at LACMA operate on a different plane from, say, Michael Heizer's "Levitated Mass"–even if there's a cocktail inspired by the monolith.

Still, there's no better forum for talking about art than a coffee-cup-covered café table. And with the recent opening of Coffee + Milk, patrons can discuss topics like Chris Burden's late-career populism while fueled with the caffeine rush of an Intelligentsia latte or espresso.

There's sugary brain food to be had as well, courtesy of pastry chef Josh Graves, including hand pies ($5; pictured) filled with peaches from the cult East Bay orchards of Frog Hollow.

C + M also serves milkshakes, made from "milk sorbet" spun into a thin, icy drink that bears more textural resemblance to a smoothie than to any classic malt.

Skip over coffee for a booze-spiked milkshake, and the art talk will only get more interesting.

Coffee + Milk, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-City; 323-857-6180