In a city where new bars and restaurants are constantly opening, old and revered favorites take on a different meaning. Given the speed at which many New Yorkers’ favorite places are being closed – due to high rents, change of ownership, and city bureaucracy – it’s especially important to value establishments that stay afloat. Below is a list of the oldest and most iconic restaurants in New York City.
The Fraunces Tavern is a museum and restaurant that commemorates key events in American history. In a small modest house, now surrounded by skyscrapers, events took place that determined the face of the country. In the tavern and restaurant – beer is no worse than what the officers of the Continental Army drank here, seeing off their commander with tears in their eyes.
Address: 54 Pearl St, New York, NY 10004, United States
Founded in 1817, The Ear Inn began as a bar for sailors and workers who worked on the Hudson. The federal-style house of James Brown, which housed the bar of the same name, dates from the late 1700s.
As shipping increased, coastline expanded, and trade grew, The Ear Inn was a haven of lawlessness – a place where men could drink, play, and have fun while women were forbidden from entering. The Ear Inn is the oldest bar in New York – and hasn’t changed much since the first drinks were poured here.
Back in the 1990s, the area where The Ear is located was shady, even dangerous, rather than adjacent to Soho, the luxuriously furnished area it is today. The bar remained unnamed until the 1970s when its owners gave it its current name.
This bar is more likely to see models and bankers than sailors in this bar these days. Choose from a wide range of beers and cocktails and burgers, which are great here.
Address: 326 Spring St, New York, NY 10013, United States
Paradoxically, one of the oldest bars in the city, which is already 190 years old, is one of the least known, despite its colorful history. Neir’s Tavern is located in Woodhaven, Queens, about an hour subway ride from Midtown Manhattan. Perhaps this is the reason why this place is not as famous as others on this list.
The bar opened in 1829 to serve visitors to the nearby Union Course Race Track. The Neir family acquired the property around the turn of the 20th century and called it the Neir’s Social Hall. In those days, there was a ballroom, hotel rooms, and a bowling alley.
However, the institution’s fame is not limited to its longevity. The bar’s website says that a young American actress Mae West may have performed there. It was a popular location in Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed 1990 film Goodfellas.
Address: 87-48 78th St, Woodhaven, NY 11421, United States
Delmonico’s was founded by a Swiss émigré. Giovanni Del Monico was from the Italian canton of Ticino in Switzerland. As you know, the alpine republic is landlocked, but Delmonico was a captain by profession. Having saved some funds, he settled in New York, where he took up the wine trade. Meanwhile, Giovanni’s brother, Pietro, worked in Switzerland as a pastry chef.
Having moved to New York, he, in partnership with his brother, a wine merchant, opened a confectionery, which in 1830 grew into a restaurant. Delmonico’s opened its doors to the public in 1830, and, despite its Italian name, proudly posted on the sign: French Restaurant. Not only in those years but also in our time, somewhere before the seventies of the twentieth century, in America it was considered completely unthinkable to call a restaurant “Italian”. But a gourmet restaurant could have been exclusively French – and nothing else.
Address: 56 Beaver St, New York, NY 10004, United States
This iconic site was founded by Leland Chumley in 1922 as a private club for members of the socialist union. After the union collapsed, during Prohibition, Chumley’s turned into an underground bar. The bar’s management paid the local police to avoid raids, after which other establishments were usually closed.
Famous writers of the early 20th century drank in this bar, including the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, John Steinbeck, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Their portraits and portraits of Hollywood movie stars such as Humphrey Bogart hang on the walls above the glass display cases, creating a literary atmosphere for the salon. The bar, with its working fireplace and glassware, immerses you in a 1920s atmosphere.
Chumley’s restaurant closed for almost 10 years in 2007 due to an accident at a construction site, but it was cleverly renovated and refurbished by Alessandro Borgognone and Daisuke Nakazawa, who reopened the restaurant in 2016.
If you plan to visit it, keep in mind: there is no sign outside, the only number 86 on the door.
Address: Chumley’s, 86 Bedford St, New York, NY 10014, +1(212)675-2081
O. Henry loved this bar. He often visited it and wrote several of his famous stories here. In particular, here he wrote the story “The Lost Recipe”. The story takes place in this very bar, which, however, in the story has a different name – Kenealy’s. This is a well-known literary fact. In addition, here O. Henry wrote his New Year’s masterpiece – the story “Gifts of the Magi”.
Subsequently, the bar was chosen by filmmakers. Many scenes from the series Law & Order, Sex and the City, Sister Jackie, as well as the films Ragtime, directed by Milos Forman and Infinite Love, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, were filmed here. You can also visit this bar. As for the interior, of course, it has changed significantly over time. True, the entrance to the bar remained practically the same – large display windows and a double door between them. That is why the bar is recognizable.
Address: 129 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003, United States
Old Town Bar
This old bar, opened in 1892, has become a favorite meeting place for residents and visitors alike. The charm of the establishment lies in its surroundings – creaky stairs leading to the second floor, urinals in the men’s room dating from 1910, a still working dumbwaiter – envelop the establishment with a special atmosphere. Films (“The Last Days of the Disco”), music videos (Jump Around for House of Pain), and TV shows (Letterman of the 1980s) were filmed here.
For a long time, it has been an unassuming haven for artists and creatives from all over the world. The walls of the establishment are adorned with photographs of patrons such as the poet Seamus Heaney and the author of the novel “Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt.
Gerard Meager, the owner, and local historian says the bar “really thrived” during Prohibition, its most enduring attribute being the sense of belonging and camaraderie of its patrons.
Address: Old Town Bar, 45 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003, +1(212)529-6732
This establishment holds the title of the second oldest continuously operating tavern in New York, which opened in 1880. The tavern always has something to offer visitors. In winter, this is a welcoming bar where you can enjoy a game on the large TV hanging in the left corner of the bar. The atmosphere here is very calm and there are not too many people. However, the situation changes dramatically late on Friday or Saturday nights, when noisy parties take place here, and gin and tonic flow like a river. If you love beer, order a draft.
Welsh native Dylan Thomas was a regular at the bar, and Jack Kerouac patronized the bar. Now in its heyday, it is an iconic corner spot in Greenwich Village.
Address: 567 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014, United States
Passengers of Grand Central can visit one of the most beautiful bars in the city, located right inside the terminal. The Campbell Bar, formerly known as The Campbell Apartment, is one of the oldest bars in New York. It is also one of the most stunning in the city.
Among the many signs on Vanderbilt, you will find only a small flashing sign pointing the way inside to the bar terminal hidden from prying eyes. So you can feel the value of this place on the way to it, because it is not so easy to find it.
Indulge in a cocktail or order dinner at this unique establishment before your train departs from Brooklyn, or back again.
Address: The Campbell, 15 Vanderbilt Ave, New York, NY 10017, +1 (212) 297-1781
Katz’s Delicatessen is the oldest American inexpensive restaurant, founded back in 1888! Today it is an important New York City gastronomic attraction and is a Jewish example of American fast food in Manhattan with a typical New York daily menu. Hotdogs, salads, soups, bagels, and, of course, pastrami sandwiches, which are considered some of the best in the world.
Address: 205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002, United States