COURTESY PHOTOVisitors to The Exploratorium can enjoy wine

Get your tipple on in S.F. cultural institutions

There’s only so much art you can process without taking a break. These days, many local museums are making it easy to grab a bite and giving patrons an excuse to add some culture — with a cocktail — to their Thursday nights.

The multilevel Asian Art Museum in the Civic Center area has a great outdoor deck with Pan Asian-influenced food — such as dim sum and soups — and a handful of sake and wine choices.

The Exploratorium, now on The Embarcadero on the waterfront, has a restaurant, SeaGlass, that serves a handful of local beers and wine, and features an assortment of California- and Asian-inspired dishes. The museum also has, like many other local temples to culture, special programming on Thursdays with a bar open until 10 p.m.

Across town in Golden Gate Park, the California Academy Sciences has long been known for its Thursday night cocktail party, which generally lasts until 9 p.m. It also has a zen, plant-filled dinning room and offers a two-for-one drink happy hour on the terrace from 2 to 4 p.m. daily.

Beyond offering Friday evening soirees, which run through Nov. 27, the de Young Museum occupies a luxurious space in Golden Gate Park and features a great little restaurant that serves nice wine by the carafe and Asian-influenced food.

SFJAZZ, situated in a dynamic space near the Civic Center, has multiple performing spaces featuring jazz greats from all over the country. I recently saw a great show by Jason Marsalis, Wynton’s brother, there. You can also get wine and beer before a show and at intermission. And the restaurant South serves Mexican food and spicy cocktails such as the Oaxacan Firing Squad (tequila, mezcal and Angostura bitters).

The Contemporary Jewish Museum on Mission Street across from Yerba Buena Gardens serves up classic Jewish deli food, such as pastrami and corned beef, and drinks are featured at special programming such as the upcoming Thursday Night at the Jewseum on May 21.

And back in Golden Gate Park, the Japanese Tea Garden also has a limited menu of tea, miso soup and ice cream, served in beautiful surroundings. After that, head out to numerous great bars in the nearby Sunset and Richmond.

Liza B. Zimmerman is the principal of the Liza the Wine Chick writing and consulting business. She has been writing, educating and consulting about wine, cocktails and food for two decades. She has also worked almost every angle of the wine and food business: from server and consultant to positions in distribution, education and sales.

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