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Looking to experience the culinary side of New York’s history?
Look no further than these five classic restaurants that have been cherished by local New Yorkers for generations, all of which were founded before the turn of the 19th century.
1. Fraunces Tavern (1762)
Fraunces Tavern is the city’s oldest restaurant, with a history reaching back to 1762. The history of the building itself is a point of discussion. While the brick structure that would become the restaurant’s home dates from between 1719 and 1722, it has been rebuilt and modified numerous times, leading some to question whether it can truly claim to be as old and authentic as it claims.
Fraunces Tavern’s continued existence is truly a miracle of perseverance. Aside from the errant cannonball, the building has survived three fires and a bombing by a Puerto Rican paramilitary organization in 1975, which killed four persons inside. The museum that lies directly above the restaurant today tells the fascinating narrative of the eatery.
George Washington and the Sons of Liberty met here.
Type of Food: American (Traditional,) Bars, Breakfast and Lunch
2. Ear Inn (1817)
You’d never guess the story of the Ear Inn, which is tucked away on the far west side of Soho. Despite its long history, this quaint beer and burger business went by the name of “B” until the 1970s, when the owners covered the circular parts of the “B” with an illuminated “Bar” sign outside and the catchy name appeared.
In the early twentieth century, food and restaurant service became popular. The tavern was turned into a speakeasy during Prohibition and reopened to the public after the adoption of the 21st Amendment. The Ear Inn is a popular venue for a drink or a bite to eat, with nautical-themed decor and flowering flowerpots hanging outside. They’ve also established a “farm to table” philosophy, which means that even bar snacks are made using locally sourced ingredients.
3. Delmonico’s (1837)
New York’s first steackhouse. Delmonico’s is the name of various New York City restaurants of varying duration, quality, and fame.
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Delmonico family managed one of the first and most famous iterations at 56 Beaver Street in Lower Manhattan, earning a reputation as one of the country’s finest fine dining establishments.
The restaurant is noted as being one of the first in the United States to enable customers to order from a menu à la carte rather than table d’hôte. It is also the birthplace of the widely imitated Delmonico steak. It is also considered to be the first restaurant to have its own wine selection.
Their 56 Beaver location is unfortunately temporarily closed, but you may order pickup or delivery from their location at 375 Lexington Avenue.
4. Old Homestead Steakhouse (1868)
The Old Homestead Steakhouse, founded in 1868, is a steakhouse with a flagship location in Manhattan, New York City. The restaurant is the country’s oldest continuously functioning steakhouse.
The restaurant is senior to Keens and Peter Luger Steak House.
Food type: Steaks, Meat.
5. PJ Clarke’s (1884)
A favorite of Frank Sinatra and JFK, amongst others.
P. J. Clarke’s is a saloon that has been in business since 1884. It is located at 915 Third Avenue in Manhattan, on the northeast corner of East 55th Street. It also has a second site on the southeast corner of Columbus Avenue at 44 West 63rd Street.
Food type: Hamburgers, Pub Food
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