Traditionally, having a bite to eat in a London museum never meant anything more sophisticated than an expensive cheese sandwich or a wedge of sponge cake.

However, the restaurants in the city’s cultural storehouses are now becoming dining destinations in themselves, some with tremendous views of city landmarks.

The newly-refurbished Portrait Restaurant, at the top of the National Portrait Gallery on Trafalgar Square, has amazing views over the city, taking in Nelson’s column, the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. It’s a romantic place for a dinner date, with lights twinkling from London’s most famous sights.

The food is pretty impressive too, with a fine dining menu of dishes that use local, seasonal and organic ingredients. Starters include Monmouthshire air-dried ham with a fried duck egg; mains including plaice with brown shrimp and lemon and horseradish butter.

During the daytime you can feast on a traditional afternoon tea with sandwiches, hom made cakes, biscuits and scones with jam and clotted cream (from about $30 for two courses, npg.org.uk/live/portrest).

The neighbouring National Gallery is home to 2,300 of the most famous works of Western European art including Van Gogh’s Sunflowers — as well as a great restaurant, the National Dining rooms.

This is a relaxed but sophisticated dining experience, with fun twists on typical British dishes using local, seasonal ingredients.

There’s a choice of fine dining or the brasserie-style menu in the Bakery with comfort food including beef and ale stew, shepherd’s pie, quiches, hot pies, and homemade cakes.

Exotic dishes on the à la carte menu include crab, pea and samphire salad; Newlyn lemon sole with mussels, leeks, sorrel and wild nettles; and Eton mess or Elderflower posset for desert.

Each month, the chef celebrates a different British county, bringing you fresh produce and classic modern dishes from the region. (from $9, thenationaldiningrooms.co.uk).

For views of a different London icon, dine at the Blueprint Café, the restaurant at the Design Museum where you can watch boats cruise down the Thames and under the majestic Tower Bridge. Follow your visit to an exhibition at the museum about a key design movement, architect or fashion designer with a dinner that celebrates the best of British dining.

You know it’s an exciting dining experience when there are ingredients on the menu that are so recherché that you won’t recognize them — the chef here is inspired by historic English and Scottish dishes.

There are also plenty of more straightforward options, from chicken and rabbit pie to grilled loin of Middle White pork, all to be enjoyed as you watch the Docklands and the City of London using the binoculars that you’ll find on your dining table (from about $27 for two courses, blueprintcafe.co.uk).

Another romantic option the restaurant at the Wallace Collection is a good bet.

The museum based in a historic London town house has a wonderful collection of French 18th century Old Masters, furniture and porcelain featuring cherubs and elegant ladies in billowing satin frocks.

You’ll find the brasserie-style restaurant in the grand, glass-covered courtyard at the heart of the building, where you can have a very affordable salad or terrine for lunch, or splash out on oysters and caviar (from $12, wallacecollection.org)

And if you’re looking for something more informal, visit the Upper Deck at London Transport Museum in Covent Garden.

After learning how the London Underground was used as a bomb shelter during the Second World War, you can snack on high-quality, typically British bites for lunch including cheese on toast, fish-finger sandwiches with organic ketchup or Cumberland sausage sandwiches, followed by brownies or treacle tart or an Underground-themed smoothie.

Decide to go for dinner in the evening after a hard day of cultural appreciation and you’ll be able to chill out on the benches upholstered in a “moquette” fabric design based on the pattern used on the Northern line in the 1930s. Wash down your dinner with an underground-inspired cocktail including the Routemaster, Anorak or Metropolitan Mixture. (from $5.50, ltmuseum.co.uk).