What can you expect from one of America’s longest-running restaurants? A timeless design and a menu concept that’s build to last, a roster of famous clientele (often including former presidents), and sometimes even a history that includes a disaster or two, such as a devastating fire or flood.
But more than these quantitative characteristics, the oldest restaurants in the country have lasted this long due to unique qualities that are much harder to define.
For instance, Breitbach’s Country Dining opened in Balltown, Iowa, in 1852 and is one of the oldest family-run restaurants in the nation. Breitbach’s suffered a fire in 2007 that destroyed the building, and immediately, the community rallied to help rebuild the structure. Exactly 10 months later the restaurant burned down again, and again the community rebuilt Breitbach’s. Clearly, the livelihood of this restaurant is extremely important to the people of Balltown.
While not a definitive list, the following restaurants are some of nation’s oldest. From White Horse Tavern in Newport, R.I., to The Buckhorn Exchange in Denver, consider this a checklist for dining in some of America’s most time-honored spots.