Monday, May 28, 2012

Top 5: Oldest U.S. Restaurants

If you're in New England, you have a chance to dine or drink at some really old places.  In fact, 4 of the 5 oldest restaurants/taverns in the U.S. are in new England (and the other isn't far from there in in NYC).  Next time you're in the area, find one of these places:

5: Durgin-Park Cafe (1827) Boston, MA - Specializing in "typical Yankee recipes," the history of Durgin-Park actually dates back to a market established in 1742.  Two notable things--first, you can download recipes for Boston Baked Beans and Baked Indian Pudding on their website, and second, not the sign on the building: "Established Before You Were Born."  Pretty cool that they can say that about any person alive in the world, and they are the youngest on our list.

4: Union Oyster House (1826) - Boston, MA - The oldest newspaper in the U.S. (The Massachusetts Spy) used to be housed on the upper floor (before the restaurant was established) in 1771.  Here's an original menu from when the joint was called "Atwood & Bacon."  A great thing about the restaurants on this list is that they are so steeped in the history of the United States and its foundation.

3: Griswold Inn (1776) Essex, CT - Established due to an economic boom in the small town of Essex, Connecticut, after Connecticut Colony was charged with building warships for the American Revolution.  A sign was put up in the Gris's lobby in 1800's which states: "Rules of This Tavern: Four pence a night for Bed.  Six pence with Supper.  No more than five to sleep in one Bed.  Organ Ginders to sleep in the Wash house.  No dogs allowed Upstairs.  No Beer allowed in the Kitchen."  By then, the restaurant was over a quarter century old.

2: Fraunces Tavern (1762) New York, NY - Some claim it to be New York City's oldest surviving building; in fact, George Washington ate here--for real, unlike most places making that claim.  In 1975, someone detonated a bomb in the building.  Two unrelated and random, but interesting, facts.

1: White Horse Tavern (1673) Newport, RI - The original building was built in 1652, and the tavern license was obtained in 1687.  For the early part of the next century, the tavern was operated by pirate William Mayes, Jr.  It got its current name in 1730, was a quarterhouse for British soldiers in the British occupation of Rhode Island during the American Revolution, and eventually became a boarding house.  In 1952, the building was restored and again operated as a tavern and restaurant, as it currently remains.

Remember what they say--if we forget our history, we're doomed to repeat it.  So, visit these places, or we'll be doomed to... make... a new... bar?  I don't know.  Happy Memorial day, Americans!  (Happy just-another-Monday, rest of the world!)  And if you like the KT5, please like us here and share us on your favorite social website.


  1. This is my kind of a post!  Food aside, I love finding old places to go to and I love New England history.  Thanks for this one--looks like I have some new additions to ye olde bucket list!

  2. Thanks Kooz!  This is a great post as I LOVE history!  I know it's not old enough, but I was sad that McSorley's was not on the list.  Damn I love that place!

  3. Awesome--let me know if you want some company!

  4. Yeah, McSorley's (one of my favorites as well) missed the cut by 27 years!

  5. mintmochaformimiMay 29, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    I love old restaurants! Maybe the next time i travel to the US i'll check out at least 1 :) And i love your idea of top 5 things as a format of your posts. Keep it up! This is amazing :)

  6. Absolutely!  But no beer pong--I wouldn't be able to stand the humiliation of losing in a spot that GW once hung out. 

  7. I've eaten in the Union Oyster house.
    Good beer and food.

  8. Thanks so much!  Hope you visit again--the blog and the U.S.!

  9. Awesome--I've gotta try it--most of these places are only a couple hours away or less...