20 of the Oldest Restaurants in the United States

by Neha Bansal2 years ago

11 Gadsby’s Tavern (Alexandria, Virginia) – 1785

The Gadsby’s Tavern is a historic building located in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. Built in 1785, this tavern further developed into a hotel and tavern in 1792 and then was again refurbished in 1878. These taverns were a hotspot for the political, economic, social, and educational life of Alexandria city. It was given a National Historic Landmark designation in 1963. 

Gadsby’s Tavern
Image credit: alexandriava.gov

Gadsby’s Tavern initially had only one building when it was built in 1785. Later, in 1792, another hotel unit was constructed next to it. It was built by John Gadsby, who then leased it from 1796 to 1808. A large enslaved labor force managed the hospitality business here. George and Martha Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Marquis de Lafayette have enjoyed the hospitality in this hotel. (source)

12 The Golden Lamb (Lebanon, Ohio) – 1803

The Golden Lamb Inn is the oldest hotel in Ohio. Built-in 1803 in Lebanon, this building oozes colonial architecture. It had a simple structure initially in 1803 but was later reconstructed into a four-storied building in 1815. 

The Golden Lamb
Image credit: R. P. Piper via Wikimedia.org

Lebanon was a newly-founded village in 1803. Jonas Seaman traveled from New Jersey to Ohio in 1803. He got the $4 license to operate a “House of Public Entertainment” on Broadway in this village. He must not have thought then that this establishment would thrive even 200 years later and offer food and lodging for travelers.

Today, it is the oldest and still-functioning operating business in Ohio. The prime location of the Golden Lamb, situated between the great river town of Cincinnati and the National Road, was the reason for the roaring success of this hotel. Robert Jones purchased this property in 1926 and transformed it into a restaurant and hotel. The Jones family has been running this one of the oldest restaurants in Ohio ever since. (source)


13 Union Oyster House (Boston, Massachusetts) – 1826

Union Oyster House opened in 1826 and is still functioning as a popular eatery in Massachusetts. It is one of the oldest operating restaurants in America, and one that has been in business continuously since its opening. It was given the designation of a National Historic Landmark in 2003

Union Oyster House
Image credit: andysartworks via Shutterstock

The building of the Union Oyster House was initially done in around 1704. It was first owned by Hopestill Capen’s dress goods business. Later, in 1826, it opened as Atwood & Bacon Oyster House. This hotel’s hospitality was enjoyed by famous celebrities including Daniel Webster and the Kennedy Family.

Webster was known to devour six plates of oysters every time here. The menu served here comprises traditional New England fare including seafood such as clams, lobsters, oysters, and meat items such as pork, chicken, lamb, and steak. (source)

14 J. Huston Tavern (Saline County, Missouri) – 1840

Huston Tavern is a historic tavern building in Missouri built in 1834 by Judge Joseph Huston. It is a typical 2-½ story building built in federal-style brick architecture. It was also known as the “Arrow Rock Tavern” or the “Old Tavern” as it is located at Arrow Rock. 

J. Huston Tavern
Image credit: Zhihan Huang/MissouriBusinessAlert.com

A second-floor ballroom was added to the structure in 1840. It is the oldest continuously run restaurant towards the western side of the Mississippi River. J. Huston Tavern was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

This establishment has withstood a great deal since its opening in 1834: major fires in 1872 and 1901, the American Civil War, dubious military executions, and economic collapse.

J. Huston Tavern Interior
Image credit: Zhihan Huang/MissouriBusinessAlert.com

Recently, in 2019, a major fire could have broken out in the establishment owing to a short circuit in the refrigerator causing irreparable damage to the historic building. But, in the nick of time, the fire was extinguished and the building was saved. (source)


15 Arnold’s Bar and Grill (Cincinnati, Ohio) – 1838

Arnold’s Bar and Grill is the oldest continuously operating bar in Cincinnati. It was built in 1838. This establishment was initially opened as “a whorehouse,” according to historian Mike Morgan. Later, in 1861, the establishment was purchased by Simon Arnold and he operated it as a bar below and lived upstairs in the building.

Arnold’s Bar and Grill
Image credit: Arnolds Bar and Grill/Facebook.com

There are two buildings that make up Arnold’s Bar and Grill. The bar room was initially a barbershop, and the other building was initially a feed store used as a stable and carriage house. Simon Arnold purchased both the buildings and opened up a tavern in one of the buildings.

Eventually, over time, a lot of changes and new rules were brought to the structure. Three generations of the Arnold family have lived in this establishment since then. The current owner, Ronda Androksi, purchased the bar and is today running the bar and grill along with her family members.

The place has earned a wonderful reputation over the years for serving good food at moderate prices. It reeks of a sense of history and cultural diversity that makes it popular even today. (source)

16 Antoine’s (New Orleans, Louisiana) – 1840

Antoine’s is one of the oldest family-run restaurants in the French Quarter of New Orleans in Louisiana. Built in 1840, this restaurant is famous today for serving Louisiana Creole cuisine. This place is famous for being the birthplace of a variety of dishes by Antoine Alciatore.

Image credit: Khairil Azhar Junos via Shutterstock

This New Orleans restaurant is the birthplace of several dishes including Oysters Rockefeller, Pompano en Papillote, Eggs Sardou, and Pigeonneaux Paradis. Later, a fifth-generation owner, Roy F. Guste, compiled a cookbook featuring hundreds of recipes from Antoine’s kitchen.

Several VIP patrons such as Pope John Paul II and U.S. presidents have enjoyed hospitality here. The place has a 25,000 bottle capacity of wine storage and 15 dining rooms of varying themes and sizes. It strictly maintains casual business attire with no t-shirts, shorts, or flip-flops allowed. (source)


17 Tadich Grill (San Francisco, California) – 1849

The Tadich Grill is a famous seafood restaurant in San Francisco. It is the oldest continuously run restaurant in the city, having been built in 1849. It initially opened as a coffee stand. Later, in 1920, this restaurant claimed to be the first American restaurant to serve grilled seafood over mesquite charcoal, a famous Croatian technique. 

Tadich Grill
Image credit: Tadich Grill/Yelp via onlyinyourstate.com

This restaurant was founded by three immigrants from Croatia, Nikola Budrovich, Frano Kosta, and Antonio Gasparich. It was initially named “Coffee Stand.” The restaurant initially served coffee and grilled fish to sailors and dock workers.

It was quite successful. Since then, it has changed several locations and owners. The restaurant recently shut down temporarily owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, Melissa Buich, with her father, Mike Buich, run the place.

The Tadich Grill is quite popular in San Francisco. They serve San Francisco staple food. Cioppino and clam chowder are their most famous dishes. (source)

18 Breitbach’s Country Dining (Balltown, Iowa) – 1852

Breitbach’s Country Dining is a casual dining restaurant bar in Balltown, Iowa. It is the oldest continuously operating restaurant and bar in the state, having been in operation since 1852. This place has been owned and operated by the Breitbach family since 1862. 

Breitbach's Country Dining
Image credit: Jsch via Wikimedia.org

This establishment was first purchased by Jacob Breitbach in 1862, the great-great-grandfather of the present owner, Mike Breitbach. It has been through six generations of the same family. Through the decades, this structure has served as a stagecoach stop, grocery store, tavern, and restaurant.

Tragically, the structure was completely destroyed by fire in 2007. Within six months, another building was erected next to the first one to serve food. But, after ten months, this structure also burnt down due to another fire.  But in spite of both the tragedies, the restaurant never ceased operation. The structure today serves as a place to serve local wines and other products. (source)


19 McSorley’s Old Ale House (New York City, New York) – 1854

McSorley’s Old Ale House, shortened to “McSorley’s,” is the oldest continuously run Irish saloon in New York City. This establishment opened in the mid-19th century as a “men-only” pub. Women were legally allowed to enter here in 1970. 

McSorley’s Old Ale House
Image credit: littlenystock via Shutterstock

McSorley’s was established by an immigrant from Ireland, John McSorley, in 1854. It initially opened as an Irish “workingman’s saloon.” It is a historic landmark for the Irish community in New York City. Former U.S. presidents including Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant have enjoyed hospitality here.

Interestingly, the floor in McSorley’s is covered in sawdust. The reason for this is that sawdust can make any kind of mess on the floor sweepable, and, it is easier to slide a beer box across the floor. This place only serves two bar options – light or dark beer. (source

20 Peking Noodle Parlor (Boute, Montana) – 1911

Pekin Noodle Parlor claims to be one of the oldest continuously operating eatery in Montana. It has been functioning for 110 years.

Peking Noodle Parlor
Image credit: Natecation via Wikimedia.org, loc.gov.in via Wikimedia.org

This oldest running Chinese restaurant in America was opened in 1911 by Hum Yow and Tam Kwong Kee, parents of Jerry Tam, the current owner. They are the third generation of the Tam family to run this restaurant. The place has iconic booths that were set up initially to offer privacy to the diners. This place had an illegal gaming section once upon a time.

The Pekin Noodle Parlor represents one of the last surviving properties from the original Chinatown neighborhood in Butte. The restaurant today serves an American Classic Chinese menu including dishes like egg foo young, chop suey, and chow mein. It is currently being featured in the new exhibit, “Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant,” of the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) in Brooklyn. (1, 2)

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