Restaurants, like most things in life, come and go. Even the very best restaurants in America can end up shutting down after just a few years in operation for a wide variety of reasons. Which is why it’s nice to see that some restaurants have stood the test of time and have lived to be very, very old; some even date to the 1600s.
In order to track down the oldest restaurant in every state, we took a deep dive state-by-state, as most of the oldest restaurants in America proudly boast of their storied histories on their websites. We backed up those assertions by cross-checking across existing listings both in print and online. Not all of these restaurants have been continuously operating since the day their doors first opened, and some have moved locations or been rebuilt over the years, but they can all stake a claim to call themselves the very oldest restaurant in their state.
Established in 1907, The Bright Star has served fantastic Greek cuisine since the days when it was just a hole-in-the-wall counter. People come from all over the southeastern United States to have a taste of the restaurant’s famous seafood gumbo, as well as some Greek-style beef tenderloin and snapper.
The Skagway Inn was built in 1897 in order to serve Gold Rush prospectors and their family members decades before Alaska was even granted statehood. Make sure you try their king crab legs or Alaskan halibut cakes if you ever stop by for a visit.
The Palace Restaurant and Saloon opened its doors in 1877 and it’s been serving drinks and meals ever since. Tragedy struck in 1900, when the saloon was devastated by a fire. Luckily, loyal customers carried the establishment’s Brunswick bar to safety, which helped the restaurant get back on its feet by the next year. The 19th-century bar is still in use today, and The Palace has been meticulously restored to its former grandeur, making it one of the best bars in America.
The Tadich Grill also opened to serve prospectors, established in 1849 right at the height of the California Gold Rush. It was originally a coffee stand, but soon became a full-service restaurant in 1887 when employee John Tadich bought it. The restaurant claims to be the first in the U.S. to grill seafood over mesquite charcoal, a cooking method Tadich used growing up in his native Croatia. Its cioppino is one of the 101 most iconic restaurant dishes in America.
The Buckhorn Exchange hasn’t changed much since the restaurant was established in 1893, when it was also the first in the state to receive a liquor license. In November of that year, the restaurant was founded by Henry H. Zietz, also known as “Shorty Scout,” a nickname given to him by William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, whom Zietz met at the age of 10. Today, it's one of the best steakhouses in America. The early days of Colorado history are chronicled here, where businessmen, cattlemen, gamblers, miners, Native American chiefs, railroad builders and silver barons, among others, frequented to eat and drink together. Famous patrons have included five presidents — Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan — as well as Bob Hope, Charlton Heston, Jimmy Cagney and Princess Anne of Great Britain.
The Griswold Inn is one of the oldest continuously run restaurants in the United States, as well as the oldest bar in Connecticut. Founded in the same year as the nation itself, the restaurant and inn provided food and shelter to shipyard workers building war vessels for the fight against the British. Stop by for an art tour or to enjoy one of its many historic rooms, taproom or its Sunday brunch, dubbed the “hunt breakfast,” inspired by what the British ate during their occupation during the War of 1812.
Kelly’s Logan House has been the best place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Wilmington for 150 years. This Irish pub and restaurant was built in 1864 as a resort hotel, but in 1889, it was bought by the Kelly family, who used the first floor as a tavern, the second floor as their home and the third floor as a hotel. The Kellys still own it today, making it the country’s oldest continuously run bar owned by the same family. Come here for comfort food, such as pork nachos and grilled cheese sandwiches.
The fourth and fifth generations of the founding family currently operate Columbia Restaurant, a Cuban eatery with traditional Spanish food located in Tampa since 1905. Founded by Casimiro Hernandez Sr., a Cuban immigrant, the restaurant has since expanded to seven locations within Florida, but the original is still going strong. Serving coffee and Cuban sandwiches since its early days, Columbia Restaurant also offers deviled crab croquettes, paella and a flan with a recipe dating back to 1935.
The Plaza Restaurant & Oyster Bar has been serving the small city of Thomasville since 1916. The menu has a strong Greek influence, but Italian specialties, steaks and burgers are also popular, and the pie recipes haven’t changed in more than 50 years.
My Two Cent S./Yelp
The Manago Hotel Restaurant was founded by Kinzo and Osame Minago in 1917, and it serves a simple menu of traditional Hawaiian fare like fresh local fish, pork chops and chicken teriyaki. Long before Hawaii gained statehood, the Manago Hotel restaurant was a local favorite. In recent decades, its popularity has increased with tourists both from the mainland and from other countries, and the hotel itself has expanded to 64 rooms and a new three-story wing.
Having gone through different names and owners since its establishment in 1879, The Snake Pit has had a long and rocky history. It nearly closed down in the 1970s when alcohol control officials cited the then-owner for illegal liquor sales, forcing temporary shutdowns and causing her to skip town to Mexico for months at a time. The Snake Pit also almost shut its doors in 2012, but managed to survive by staying open for just one day every week in order to keep its liquor license. A New Year’s Eve fire of “suspicious nature” in 1911 and a murder-suicide are just two of many colorful events in the restaurant’s history, but today the Snake Pit is best known for its collection of rustic art and memorabilia as well as its menu full of barbecue, local beer and Rocky Mountain oysters.
Just north of Chicago, you will find the oldest bar in Illinois, which is also its oldest restaurant. The Village Tavern opened in 1847, and it’s a great place to enjoy comfort food during the long and freezing Illinois winters, with steaks, stews and plenty of warm meals such as corned beef sandwiches and baked French onion soup.
Mary Kate A./Yelp
Honest Abe Lincoln himself reportedly visited The Log Inn in 1844, and you can dine on comfort food and homemade pies in the same room in which the 16th president sat. Established in 1825 as a stagecoach stop between Evansville and Vincennes, The Log Inn is today best known for its family-style meals of fried chicken, roast beef, mashed potatoes and sides.
Established in 1852 and owned by the same family for six generations, Breitbach’s Country Dining is Iowa’s oldest bar as well as it’s oldest dining establishment. The venue is featured on the Iowa Park Association’s Pork Tenderloin Trail due to its deep-fried pork tenderloin (a regional specialty you need to try) and is so beloved that the surrounding community came together to help rebuild it — twice — after fires burned it to the ground in 2007 and 2008.
Established as a restaurant and a local trading post in 1857, Hays House sits on the Santa Fe Trail and started out as a log cabin. It was built by Seth Hays, great-grandson of legendary explorer Daniel Boone, and over the years this gathering place was used as a government courthouse, theater, mail distribution center and even a location for Sunday church services (during which, the liquor bottles would be covered up). An 1886 fire burned the roof, and it’s said that many locals rushed to save Hays House before any other building on Main Street. The restaurant closed in 2019 “due to unforeseen circumstances,” but it’s expected to reopen in early 2020. Until then, you can visit Kansas’ second oldest restaurant inside the Brookville Hotel, which was established in 1870 and is beloved for its fried chicken dinners.
Talbott Tavern was built in 1779 as a stagecoach stop. Today, the bed and breakfast, which closely resembles an old Warwickshire inn in England, is among the haunted hotels you can spend the night in. Many famous names have passed through here, including Presidents Andrew Jackson and William Henry Harrison and even a 5-year-old Abraham Lincoln along with his parents. It is said that King Louis Philippe I of France came here during his exile and that the infamous American robber Jesse James left some bullet holes in the walls. A visit here is sure to fill you with awe at both the menu and the history.
In 1840, Antoine Alciatore opened up a boarding house and restaurant at the ripe old age of 18, and thus Antoine’s Restaurant was born. Passed down to his descendants in the years since it moved into its current location in 1868, this lavish, sprawling restaurant claims to be the oldest family-operated restaurant in the country. Many of the world’s most famous have come to enjoy New Orleans’ oldest French-Creole fine-dining restaurant, including Pope John Paul II, Franklin Roosevelt, George Bush, Bill Clinton, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis, Bing Crosby, Kate Hudson and more. It’s best known for its Oysters Rockefeller, which was reportedly invented there.
The old Pollard train car that’s today home to the Palace Diner was built in Lowell, Massachusetts, and it’s been operating as a diner in Biddeford since 1927. Run by Greg Mitchell and Chad Conley since 2014, the five-stool diner also happens to be an absolutely fantastic restaurant, serving top-notch diner fare like corned beef hash, buttermilk pancakes, tuna melts and fried chicken with an expert touch. It's up there with the best diners in America.
Old South Mountain Inn/Yelp
The Old South Mountain Inn was founded in 1732 and was a favorite spot for famed politicians Daniel Webster and Henry Clay. Its long history includes a role in the American Civil War, during which the inn was captured and held overnight in 1859 as part of John Brown’s Raid and then later served as headquarters for a Confederate general during the Antietam campaign. Enjoy the Maryland crab cakes and other local seafood here while visiting spots every history buff needs to see, such as the Antietam Battlefield, Harpers Ferry and Washington Monument State Park.
The Union Oyster House was established as the Atwood and Bacon Oyster House in 1826, but the restaurant soon changed its name to its current iteration. Daniel Webster dined here, coming daily for a tall tumbler of brandy and water with every plate of a half-dozen oysters he ordered (at least six). The Kennedys also came here for years, and President John F. Kennedy’s favorite booth is dedicated to his memory as “the Kennedy Booth.” Don’t miss the clam chowder — it’s among the absolute best things to eat in America.
Built in 1848, the White Horse Inn was established as an inn and stagecoach stop in 1850, receiving its current name during the Prohibition Era. Warm up during the freezing Michigan winters with specialties such as chicken pot pie, venison chili and cowboy mac and cheese. You can also enjoy a walking tour of the establishment to learn more about its history.
Minnesota’s oldest restaurant is located on Minneapolis’s oldest street, and it has a great view of the city skyline. Pracna opened in 1890 but fell victim to Prohibition and closed in 1919; it was revived in 1973 in the original location. Locals love Pracna on Main for its happy hour, waffle fries and great sandwiches.
A Swiss transatlantic steamship chef by the name of Felix Weidmann founded Weidmann’s as a four-stool counter at a hotel in 1870. Under his grandson, Henry, Weidmann’s moved to its current location in 1923. It’s perhaps best-known for the crock of peanut butter and crackers at each table; these have been provided since the 1940s, when Henry Weidmann found peanut butter to be a good replacement during the butter shortage of World War II.
J. Huston Tavern/Yelp
J. Huston Tavern began offering meals and lodging to travelers in 1834, and today there are three dining rooms, a taproom and a museum. Located right in the middle of the Arrow Rock State Historic Site, it is the oldest continuously run restaurant west of the Mississippi, and the award-winning fried chicken is some of the best in America.
You may be surprised to learn that one of the oldest still-running Chinese-American restaurants, established in 1911, is located in Montana. During the late 19th century, the town of Butte had a large Chinese population, and immigrants founded Pekin Noodle Parlor to serve those seeking labor during the mining rush. It hasn’t changed much in over a century, retaining its old neon “CHOP SUEY” sign, tables, chairs and dishes. It may not be one of America's best Chinese restaurants, but the menu, full of old-school fare like chop suey, chow mein and egg foo young, hasn’t changed much, either.
A favorite of Buffalo Bill’s, Glur’s Tavern was established in 1876 and is the oldest continuously operating tavern west of the Mississippi. Known for its burgers and cheap beer, the white clapboard structure doesn’t have quite the same Wild West vibes of its early days, but with its wood-paneled walls, it hasn’t changed much since the 1960s.
This Basque-American restaurant was established in 1898 to serve travelers brought to the area by the adjacent Southern Pacific Railroad. The Martin Hotel’s bar, dining room and meeting rooms continue to serve travelers, locals and area ranchers a menu that includes Basque sweet bread, pork loin, lamb chops and hand-cut fries.
Accommodating guests since 1789, The Hancock Inn is the oldest-operating inn in New Hampshire, and it’s also home to the oldest bar and restaurant in the state as well. In addition to a beloved breakfast (don’t miss the bacon from nearby North Country Smokehouse), The Fox Tavern also serves classic New England fare like Yankee pot roast, a lobster roll and fish and chips.
Two taverns were built side-by-side in 1750 and 1765, and eventually the taverns were combined and expanded to include a barn, a telegraph office, a justice of the peace office, an innkeeper’s house, a dance pavilion and a main dining room. Today, The Cranbury Inn has multiple dining rooms, a banquet hall, a bar and a liquor store, but its old bones are still there. Believed to have possibly been a stop on the underground railroad, the inn is steeped in history, particularly since it’s located in the historic town of Cranbury, where Revolutionary War heroes Alexander Hamilton and the Marquis de Lafayette were visited by General George Washington at their war headquarters.
Established in 1835, El Farol was serving small plates long before tapas became one of the biggest dining trends of the past decade. In addition to tapas, this Santa Fe eatery is known for its paella and steaks and its lively entertainment. Year-round, guests can enjoy dinner with a live Flamenco show on Saturday nights. The bar inside El Farol is also known for its signature cocktails and classic margaritas.
The ’76 House was supposedly built in 1668, and like many taverns throughout the colonies, it was a popular meeting spot for local patriots during the war. In 1780, it was also where British spy Major John André, co-conspirator with Benedict Arnold to give up West Point to the British, was held prior to his execution. It also served as headquarters for war hero General Nathanael Greene and the Continental Army while they were in Tappan.
Open continuously since 1922, Carolina Coffee Shop has served breakfast, lunch and dinner to locals, out-of-towners and UNC students and faculty for nearly 100 years. In addition to coffee, the restaurant also serves a stellar lineup of comfort foods, traditional Southern fare and a burger that’s up there with America’s best burgers.
A restaurant and bar by the name of Peacock Alley opened inside Bismarck’s Patterson Hotel (then the tallest building in the city) in 1933. The hotel has since closed down and been turned into an apartment building (its lobby is now the bar), but Peacock Alley continues to thrive.
The Golden Lamb/Yelp
New Jersey native Jonas Seaman founded the Golden Lamb (after spending $4 on a license) in 1803, and it quickly caught on as a gathering place for locals and those traveling between Cincinnati and what’s now Route 40. Also Ohio’s oldest hotel, the Golden Lamb is known for its turkey dinner and hickory-roasted prime rib, but patrons also love the sauerkraut balls and Amish free-range fried chicken. Twelve U.S. presidents have dined here — the earliest being John Quincy Adams and the most recent being George W. Bush.
Cattlemen’s Steakhouse is not only one of the best steakhouses in America, but it’s also Oklahoma’s oldest restaurant. Established in 1910 as a small café, the restaurant has changed ownership many times, most notably in 1945 when local rancher Gene Wade won it from the owner by rolling a “hard six,” or two threes, in a game of dice. As a result, you’ll see the number 33 branded on the wall of the restaurant’s Hereford Room today.
In 1860, the year that Abraham Lincoln was elected president, Irish immigrants Catherine and William McGillin opened the Bell in Hand Tavern in Philadelphia. Bar patrons nicknamed it “McGillin’s,” and that was the name that eventually stuck, with the tavern switching to its name officially in 1910. The history of this place is extremely apparent; the walls are decorated with the signs of iconic Philadelphia stores that have come and gone from the area and the tavern’s liquor licenses dating back to 1871.
The oldest bar and restaurant in America can be found in the town of Newport, Rhode Island, and opened way back in 1673. White Horse Tavern was a popular meeting place in the Colonial era, frequented by our nation’s Founding Fathers, members of the Rhode Island General Assembly, British soldiers, Hessian missionaries, sailors and pirates alike. (In fact, William Mayes Sr. — the man who established the tavern — passed it down to his son, William Mayes Jr., who was a known pirate.) With so much history and so many people coming through, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the tavern is said to be haunted. Don’t miss the Sunday brunch, raw bar or beef Wellington.
Best-known today for its nightlife, Henry’s House has been around since 1932, making it Charleston’s oldest continually operating restaurant. Today, the menu is full of authentic Lowcountry cuisine, with modern twists to Southern classics such as jambalaya, fried catfish and shrimp and grits that complement its whiskey lounge, rooftop lounge and night club.
Stop by the historic Silverado Franklin Hotel for a legendary meal at Legends Steakhouse. Both the hotel and restaurant were established in 1903 and have seen famous visitors such as Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, as well as legends such as Babe Ruth, Kevin Costner and John Wayne. Play some slots and try the prime rib or lobster tail.
This classic, old-school chili parlor is one of the last of its kind in America. Established in 1907 by an Italian immigrant named Frank Varallo, Varallo’s specializes in chili “three ways” (over spaghetti and tamales) as well as traditional Southern fare. To this day, Varallo’s Chili Parlor, still family-owned, continues to serve some of the best chili in America.
Staci Kae A./Yelp
Also known as Scholz Beer Garden, Scholz Garten is the oldest operating business (not just restaurant) in the state of Texas and the oldest beer garden in America. German immigrant August Scholz founded this beer garden and restaurant in 1866, and it soon became an important spot for German immigrants and German culture in Austin. Today, it continues to be a popular meeting spot for those interested in politics or University of Texas sports, and remains one of America's best beer gardens. Menu favorites include the giant pretzel and Wiener schnitzel.
Founded as an ice cream shopand soda fountain in 1914 and in its current location since 1923, Bluebird is a multi-floor restaurant with a banquet hall, dubbed the Florentine Room, on the top floor. There’s an old-school counter on the ground level, and menu items include burgers, salads, steaks, prime rib and pasta dishes. Since 1994, it’s been run by the Xu family.
Ye Olde Tavern/Yelp
As its name may suggest, Ye Olde Tavern is a trip through history, complete with a Colonial-era vibe. Established in 1790, the year before Vermont joined the union, it was first called the Stagecoach Inn. It went through various names and owners through the years until it received its current name (as well as a thorough restoration) in time for the United States’ bicentennial. Today, it’s a great place for classic New England fare like pot roast, lobster bisque, lobster mac and cheese, cranberry fritters and maple butter. It also happens to be one of the best bars in the country.
The Red Fox Inn & Tavern was established in 1728 at the midpoint between Alexandria and Winchester, Virginia, and quickly became a popular colonial-era rest stop — George Washington is even rumored to have visited during his surveying days. Its long history has been marked by visits from many famous patrons including President John F. Kennedy, who held a press conference here once, and his wife Jackie, who often stayed here on foxhunting trips. Elizabeth Taylor often came here to eat with U.S. Senator John Warner, and other Hollywood notables who have stopped by include Tom Cruise, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.
Horseshoe Café is the oldest continually operating cafe and cocktail lounge in Washington, going strong since 1886. Today, it’s a popular spot for burgers and creative all-day breakfasts like stuffed hash browns and churro waffles, and its bar is always hopping.
Washington, D.C.’s oldest restaurant is also one of its most famous. Established in 1856 as a saloon, the Old Ebbitt Grill has changed locations multiple times over the years (most recently in 1983) and is currently located less than a block from the White House. Having served most presidents since Ulysses S. Grant, this was a favorite haunt of Teddy Roosevelt and Grover Cleveland. The deep mahogany bar is a sight to behold: A beautiful antique stein collection runs along the top, punctuated by animal head trophies purportedly bagged by Teddy Roosevelt.
Open since 1899, the North End Tavern got in on the microbrewery trend early when it added its own brewery in 1997. The menu includes classic German-American fare, and local favorites include the 5-way IPA and the popular NET Burger.
Established in 1848, the Red Circle Inn & Bistro is, believe it or not, named after the old logo of Pabst Blue Ribbon, the famous Wisconsin-based beer company. German-American brewer Frederick Pabst owned the inn in the late 1880s, and today it’s known for its high-end steaks, pork and lamb.
As its name would have you believe, Miners and Stockmen’s Steakhouse & Spirits has served local laborers from the time it opened in 1862. Today, it serves USDA Prime Black Angus rib-eyes, filets, New York strips and 24-ounce porterhouses in a town of just over 60 people. Leave it to Wyoming to be able to visit a tiny town and find what might be one of the best steakhouses in America.
More From The Daily Meal: