Insider Keen’s Steakhouse, one of the oldest restaurants in New York City
Looking to experience the culinary side of New York’s history? Look no further than these 15 classic restaurants that have been cherished by local New Yorker’s for generations, all which were founded before the turn of the 20th century. From former pipe clubs to knish bakeries, these spots offer delicious menus served with a journey into the past. So take a tour of the dishes that made the city’s food scene internationally known, and treat yourself to the delectable dishes of New York’s oldest restaurants:
1. Fraunces Tavern (1762)
Fraunces Tavern, dating back to 1762, is considered to be the oldest restaurant in the city. There is some debate as to the actual age of the building itself. While the brick house in the Financial District that would become home to the restaurant dates back to sometime between 1719 and 1722, it’s been rebuilt and renovated countless times, causing many to wonder whether it can claim to be as old and authentic as it does.
Nonetheless, what it known is that before Samuel Fraunces opened it for tavern service as the “Sign of Queen Charlotte,” it was used as a dance school and trading firm. Even General John Lamb sending a cannonball through the tavern’s wall during a scuffle with the British in 1775 did not deter the popular establishment’s business. The year after, the British captured the restaurant and forced the staff to feed their soldiers. When they were finally driven out on November 25th of 1783, General George Clinton held an honorary banquet there for George Washington, whose tooth is now on display in the upstairs museum.
The restaurant’s history from then on is incredibly varied. It housed several government offices at times, as well as a boarding house in which a famous ballerina was stabbed to death. But its significance to American independence and history never wavered. The Sons of the American Revolution was founded inside in 1883, and the building was also narrowly saved from destruction by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1900.
Truly, the fact that Fraunces Tavern still stands is a miracle of endurance. Besides the wayward cannonball, it has survived three different fires and a bombing in 1975 by a Puerto Rican paramilitary group, which killed four people inside. Today, its incredible story is documented in the museum that stands just above the restaurant. Next to the numerous landmarks of American history that occurred inside, the fact that the restaurant also serves a great brunch and specializes in fine beer and whiskey is just a bonus.