6. Pete’s Tavern (1864)
While Pete’s may not be the absolutely oldest on this list, it is, for good reason, the oldest continually operating restaurant in New York. The atmosphere is nostalgia at its core, with black and white snapshots of the tavern through the years lining the walls. Besides serving delicious “saloon style” eats, its claim to fame is that O. Henry was once a regular.
Pete’s was a favorite spot of the short story writer between the years of 1903 and 1907, when he lived nearby, and one table on the dining floor is still marked as the place that he wrote his masterpiece of misbegotten generosity The Gift of the Magi. Perhaps hoping to tap into O. Henry’s energy, Ludwig Bemelmans also wrote the well loved children’s book Madeline while sitting in Pete’s. If you’re not inspired by the literary history, you will be by the classic dishes and lengthy cocktail list.