Artifact is not your average museum restaurant serving dry turkey sandwiches and bland fruit cups. It opened in 2021 in the lobby of Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park, and is a prime place to stop for lunch and try foods from historic cultures. You’ll find dishes from Siam and the Fertile Crescent, which encompasses areas of the Middle East including present-day Lebanon, Israel, and Turkey. Expect items like shrimp gyoza in delicate yuzu dashi broth and lots of plant-forward options—the veggie samosa topped with a bright mango chutney and the crispy tofu with mushrooms and black vinegar dish are both excellent. 

If you want to try a little bit of everything, get the snack tray: it’s a shareable starter that comes with curried vegetables with labneh, lemony chicken satay skewers, and muhammara. You’ll sit among other park-goers at bistro tables or at the wood-topped bar where you can admire the swirly gold beer taps that double as an art piece, like the light installation overhead.

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photo credit: Deanna Sandoval

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