Who doesn't love food? And when you're served delicious plates in a restaurant as old as the country you're in, well that just makes it magical. It also makes you think, if they've stayed open this long they must be doing something right. So hit the road, going from coast to coast, and sample these amazing restaurants that rank among the oldest in the nation.
White Horse Tavern - (1673) Newport, RI
Let's start with the oldest, shall we? Newport's historic past sheds light on the White Horse Tavern, apparently a favorite spot for British soldiers, Hessian fighters, and all kinds of unruly, unsavory sorts alongside the founding fathers and upstanding colonists. Treaties and peacekeeping was done over a pint of ale at the White Horse, acting as a gathering place for both friends and enemies. After a restoration in 1957, the tavern became good as new and remains open today as both a dining establishment and a historic landmark.
Old 76 House - (1686) Tappan, NY
While the date states that the restaurant opened in 1686, the house in which it's situated was built a full 20 years prior. But even while it was a restaurant, the Old 76 House was a site of significance. It served as a safe spot for seekers of independence and was even utilized as the prison for Major John Andre, one of the most infamous spies of the Revolution. Sometimes referred to as "Andre's prison," the Old 76 House once served the likes of General George Washington and his most trusted men. Today, it can serve you with full menus of history-worthy meals in an upscale atmosphere the likes of which the founding fathers would applaud.
Fraunces Tavern - (1762) New York City
All at once the city's oldest building, a museum, and working restaurant, Fraunces Tavern pays homage to more than just food. As the story goes, the restaurant was established on the site of the 1686 home of New York major Stephanus Van Cortlandt, inherited and sold by his son-in-law to Samuel Fraunces. A frequent meeting place for the Sons of Liberty, the tavern even held a congratulatory dinner for Washington in December 1783 after his army drove the British out of New York. With excellently preserved dining rooms, decor, and history, you can dine much as General Washington did all those years ago.
Griswold Inn - (1776) Essex, CT
Unlike the previous restaurants, the Griswold Inn is also a working lodge and remains one of the oldest in the country to operate continuously since its establishment in 1776. Built to accommodate the sailors, shipbuilders, and seafarers who moved through Griswold, drawn to Essex by the building of the first Revolution warship, the Oliver Cromwell. Since that time, the Griswold Inn has seen regular business brought in by both sea and river, keeping her prosperous and in plenty. Stop by to stay, to taste their delectable plates, and see the fantastic array of marine artifacts they've collected through the years including prints by Currier & Ives and illustrations by Norman Rockwell.
Union Oyster House - (1826) Boston, MA
Established to satisfy the public's growing fascination with oysters, Boston's Union Oyster House has continued to be a trendsetter, a sea-foodie's paradise, and an all around delicious joint. Historically the oldest continuously operating oyster bar in the U.S., you might not know that the restaurant is also the site of the first American use of toothpicks. At the turn of the century, Charles Forster, an importer/exporter, discovered the picks in South America and brought them back, asking a few Harvard students at the Oyster House to try them out and the rest is history.
Tadich Grill - (1849) San Francisco
California's oldest restaurant takes you back to the Gold Rush, when the American Dream was as close as the Golden State's ore filled mines and San Francisco shined like a beacon of hope and promise. The city became increasingly populous due to the influx of hopefuls and restaurants like the Tadich Grill were created to suit their needs. Over the years, it was not uncommon to see dignitaries like the Emperor of Ethiopia or the President of the U.S. dining in tables next to Joe DiMaggio, Bob Hope, Cary Grant, and more. Originally a coffee shop, the Tadich Grill evolved into a prominent seafood restaurant serving freshly caught prawns, fish, and crab.
McGillin's Olde Ale House - (1860) Philadelphia, PA
Opened the year President Lincoln was elected, McGillin's is the oldest continuously operating ale house in the City of Brotherly Love, surviving even Prohibition. Remaining in the McGillin family until it was sold in 1958 to the Spaniak/Shepaniak family (brothers who intentionally spelled their names differently), the Ale House has been a family run operation from the beginning. Celebrities such as the Marx Brothers, Tennessee Williams, sports players and Broadway actors have sat at McGillin's tables, drinking their ale and applauding their food. Though they are an ale house, they have full menus for everything from crab cakes to meatloaf to, of course, cheese steak sandwiches.
Longhorn Restaurant - (1881) Tombstone, AZ
No this isn't the steakhouse franchise where it's cool to throw peanuts on the floor. This Longhorn Restaurant was the original cowboy hangout that has fueled the Wild West tropes of Hollywood films and old Western novels. Located in what used to be the Bucket of Blood Saloon (no joke, that was its name), many historic events have taken place at the restaurant. Virgil Earp was even shot from the second floor so you can be sure you're in a truly, remarkably Wild West saloon. In the ghost town atmosphere, living history district of Tombstone, Longhorn Restaurant prides itself on its southwestern cuisine and hearty cowboy fare including steaks and barbecue.