Today, there are new and exciting restaurants opening their doors every week, eager to serve their dishes to guests. But what about the establishments that have been standing for decades? After all, with many restaurants closing just as quickly as they opened, there’s certainly something to be said for these restaurants’ impressive longevity.
The majority of the oldest restaurants in the nation were established sometime in the 19th and 20th centuries, and sometimes before their home states even joined the union. Others, like Rhode Island’s The White Horse Tavern and Virginia’s Red Fox Inn predate the United States itself and have an ambiance to prove it. Given their historic nature, many of the venues below have retained their original names, declaring themselves taverns, saloons, or inns.
While many states proudly tout their oldest restaurant, other states have much murkier histories, leading to some conflict over who actually claims the title. In order to determine the oldest restaurant, we narrowed down the first year food was served in the establishment as well as whether or not the restaurant was closed for a substantial period of time. Curious to know what the oldest restaurant is in the state you call home? Keep reading to find out.
Bessemer’s The Bright Star first opened its doors just a few blocks away from where the restaurant is currently located. The original family-owned Greek establishment was able to seat just 25 guests, but has since upped that number to about 330 guests across five dining rooms and a bar. The restaurant is still part-owned by the founding Koikos family.
Originally constructed in 1897 during the Alaskan gold rush, the Historic Skagway Inn has served a handful of purposes over the years, including a brothel, a family home, and a bed-and-breakfast. The Skagway Inn is still an operational inn during the summer, and guests are welcome to eat at Olivia’s Alaskan Bistro, which opened on the first floor of the establishment in 1950. At Olivia’s, fresh-caught Pacific seafood is served alongside Alaskan delicacies like elk chili and wild game, along with vegetables and herbs harvested from the inn’s own garden.
The Palace Restaurant & Saloon is both Arizona’s oldest restaurant and its oldest bar. Known to be frequented by outlaws like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, the original Palace Restaurant & Saloon burned down in 1900. Not letting a night go to waste, patrons carried the magnificent mahogany bar out of the flame-engulfed building and brought it outside to continue the party. The Palace Restaurant & Saloon reopened a year later and is where that mahogany bar still lives today.
White House Cafe was founded by Greek immigrant Hristos Hodjopulas in 1907. Open 24 hours a day and located just off the railroad tracks, the cafe was a popular stopping point for travelers passing through Camden and seeking a hot meal. While the restaurant is no longer open around the clock, guests can still enjoy lunch and dinner five nights a week.
Opened by Croatian immigrants, San Francisco’s Tadich Grill actually predates California’s statehood. Originally a small coffee stand on the Long Wharf pier that also sold grilled fish, the restaurant claims to be the first in America to serve seafood grilled over mesquite charcoal — the traditional method of cooking fish in the founders’ home country. Though it’s since relocated to the city’s Financial District, Tadich Grill is California’s longest continuously operating restaurant and now serves a classic steak and seafood menu.
Downtown Denver’s Buckhorn Exchange once attracted countless miners, railroad workers, and cattle ranchers responsible for building up the Old West. As the city’s oldest steakhouse, Buckhorn Exchange has served five seated presidents in its 130 year run: Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Dwight Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan. Politicians or not, guests are welcome to try the restaurant’s classic offerings as well as more unexpected options like rattlesnake, fried alligator, and buffalo sausage.
While The Griswold Inn itself dates all the way back to 1776, it didn’t start serving its weekly Sunday Hunt Breakfast until 1812. Still, The Griswold Inn remains the oldest restaurant in Connecticut. It was even attacked during the War of 1812 when British soldiers ransacked the establishment, demanding breakfast before stealing the bar’s rum stocks. Today, the restaurant within The Griswold Inn still serves its famous Sunday breakfast every week alongside daily lunch and dinner.
As the nation’s first state in the union, Delaware has no shortage of historic bars, though Kelly’s Logan House in Wilmington takes the crown for the eldest of them all. The building itself was constructed in1864 as a residential home, and was named the Logan House for Civil War general John A. Logan. The Kelly family purchased the building in 1889 and transformed it into an Irish tavern. Generations later, the restaurant is still owned by the Kellys, and operates as the oldest family-owned Irish pub in the U.S.
Not only is Columbia Restaurant the oldest restaurant in Florida, but it’s also the largest Spanish restaurant in the world, occupying an entire city block in Tampa. Founded in 1903 by Spanish-Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hernandez Sr., Columbia Restaurant started as a small, 60-seat cafe and expanded to a full-fledged restaurant two years later. Dishing out traditional Spanish and Cuban fare, there are currently five Columbia Restaurants and two Columbia Cafes across the state of Florida, though the Tampa location remains one of the most popular.
When The Plaza Restaurant & Oyster Bar opened, the small Greek restaurant could only serve 26 people at once. The restaurant has expanded rapidly in its century of existence, currently able to accommodate up to 500 guests at once. The restaurant was purchased by restaurateur Michael Regina in 2007 and has since revamped its menu to include steakhouse classics and a few Greek-inspired dishes.
Located in Captain Cook on the Island of Hawai’i, The Manago Hotel and Restaurant was opened by Japanese immigrants Kinzo and Osame Manago. Prior to becoming an official hotel, the couple sold easy-to-make foods out of their own home and, once the hotel was operational, they offered beds and a warm meal to travelers passing through. In World War II, the hotel and restaurant was even contracted by the U.S. military to feed soldiers stationed at the Konawaena School just a five-minute drive away. Today, the restaurant serves up classic Hawaiian dishes and was even awarded the James Beard American Classics award in 2023.
Nestled deep in the Silver Valley in Kingston, The Snake Pit was once a booming watering hole for loggers and miners. In addition to its 100-plus- year history as a restaurant, The Snake Pit has also served as a railroad layover spot, a hotel, and something of a brothel. Now, it serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner on a daily basis alongside a healthy serving of live music.
Originally called Zimmer Tavern, Long Grove’s The Village Tavern still serves drinks on its original mahogany bar. When it comes to the food menu, the tavern is known for its half- pound burgers and lengthy assortment of sandwiches.
Not many restaurants in America can say that they served Abraham Lincoln, but The Log Inn, opened in Haubstadt, can. The Inn is one of the oldest stagecoach stops in the U.S. and was visited by Lincoln in 1844, 16 years before he became the 16th President of the United States. In the present day, the restaurant is known for its family-style dinner service that includes a protein, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, slaw, hot rolls, and butter.
Opened in Sherrill with a federal permit issued by President Millard Fillmore, Breitbach’s Country Dining was purchased by Jacob Breitbach in 1862 and has remained family-owned ever since. Since its birth, a number of accidents have threatened the restaurant’s longevity: A gas explosion destroyed the building in 2007, and after rebuilding was complete, the restaurant burned down once more just 10 months later. Reconstruction was completed for the second time in 2009, and Breitbach’s Country Dining was able to resume operations that year.
Not only does Hays House claim to be the oldest restaurant in Kansas, but according to the National Parks Service, it also lays claim to being the oldest continuously operating restaurant west of the Mississippi River. Founded in Council Grove by Seth Kays, great-grandson of Revolutionary War officer Daniel Boone, Hays House dishes out classic Southern comfort food like deep-fried beef tips, fried mushrooms, burgers, and sandwiches.
Referred to as the oldest stagecoach stop in America, Talbott Tavern was established to house and feed travelers passing through Bardstown. The restaurant has gone by several names in its 245-year history including the Hynes, the Bardstown Hotel, and Chapman’s House. Just like The Log Inn, it’s had the privilege of serving Abraham Lincoln, though the future president was only 5 years old at the time. Still operating in the bourbon capital of the world, the Talbott Tavern serves lunch and dinner and has a bourbon bar with over 200 whiskeys to choose from.
Famous for inventing Oysters Rockefeller, New Orleans’ Antoine’s has been serving French-Creole fare to the French Quarter since 1840. Currently operated by Rick Blount, great-great-grandson of founder Antoine Alciatore, the NOLA hotspot has served countless celebrities, along with George Bush, Bill Clinton, FDR, and even Pope John Paul II.
Not only is Palace Diner Maine’s oldest restaurant, but it’s also one of the most interesting in the Northeastern state. The small diner operates inside an old Pollard Company train dining car, one of just two that remain in existence. Though it was once open 24/7, the Biddeford diner now serves up classics for breakfast and lunch from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Located in Annapolis, the building that now houses the Middleton Tavern was constructed sometime in the 1700s and was sold to Horatio Middleton in 1750. Middleton operated the establishment as an “Inn for Seafaring Men” and was a crucial stopping point for those looking for a meal and lodging (including George Washington), as they traveled along the Chesapeake Bay. The restaurant was remodeled and expanded in 1983, putting forth a brand new Tavern and Oyster Bar.
The Union Oyster House is not only Massachusetts’ oldest restaurant, located in downtown Boston, but it’s also the oldest restaurant in America that has offered continuous service, according to the National Parks Service. Originating as a small, subterranean oyster cellar, the oyster merchant flourished into a hotbed for politicians and the town’s social elite. The restaurant was renamed The Union Oyster House in 1916 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2003.
While the original New Hudson Inn may have been established in 1831, it was originally operated as a bar only. The White Horse was founded in 1850 as a stagecoach stop and once held the record for Michigan’s longest-operating restaurant, though lost it in 2012 when it closed temporarily for remodels. Today, the restaurant serves classic tavern fare daily.
Established in Mantorville two years before Minnesota was granted statehood, The Hubbell House originally operated as a saloon and was once visited by Ulysess S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The restaurant fully transformed into a fine-dining establishment in the 1930s, though still retains a Civil War-like atmosphere for diners to immerse themselves in.
While Weidmanns’s Restaurant is now able to serve dozens of customers, it was just a counter and four stools when it was founded. The Meridian restaurant moved to its current location in 1923 and focuses on serving classic Southern comfort food like shrimp and grits and fried green tomatoes.
When Arrow Rock, Mo., was founded in 1829, the town quickly grew into a popular rest stop for settlers traveling along the Santa Fe Trail. Opened in 1834 by Joseph Huston Sr., an early citizen of Arrow Rock, the J. Huston Tavern housed thousands of immigrants traveling to New Mexico, and as they passed through town offered meals to travelers and locals alike. Now listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the J. Huston Tavern still provides hungry guests with homestyle cooking.
The oldest restaurant in Montana also happens to be the oldest Chinese restaurant in the U.S. Butte was once home to a booming Chinese population, and Pekin Noodle Parlor reflects the cuisine’s roots in the state. Opened by Hum Yow and his wife Bessie Yong, Pekin Noodle Bar remains family-owned and operated to this day.
Opened in Columbus in 1876, Glur’s Tavern was originally named Bucher’s Tavern after the original owners, William and Joseph Bucher. The establishment was purchased in 1914 by Louis Glur and renamed, and is now known for its straightforward burger-and-beer offerings and laid-back dining experience.
As the name suggests, Winnemucca’s Martin Hotel was originally operated as a place to buy a room, though the Basque restaurant inside opened its doors in 1898. The first-floor, Basque-style dinner house was originally intended to serve the Basque sheepherders working in northern Nevada. While the hotel no longer accommodates overnight stays, the restaurant remains, churning out traditional dishes alongside sandwiches and pastas.
The Fox Tavern at the Hancock Inn was founded when the town of Hancock was becoming an integral part of the trade route connecting Boston and Vermont. It quickly became a go-to dining establishment famous for its raucous music and delicious food and drink. In the present day, it’s a fine-dining restaurant, with dinner served nightly beginning at 5:30. While the Inn is currently closed for renovations, it plans to reopen its doors this year.
Predating the United States of America itself by 34 years is Mendham’s Black Horse Tavern & Pub. While the area that now houses the Tavern has always dished out food and drink, what now serves as the Pub section of The Black Horse was once, as the name alludes to, horse stables. Today, the restaurant attracts guests with classic comfort food like burgers, fried chicken, pot pie, and baked macaroni and cheese.
Located in Santa Fe, El Farol (which translates from Spanish to “the lantern)” has been lighting up the lives of the state’s residents since 1835. While the Spanish tapas restaurant is widely recognized as the oldest restaurant in the state, the eatery is much more famous for its fiery flamenco shows put on by the National Institute of Flamenco every Friday and Saturday night.
Built in 1668, its building was a critical meeting place for patriots in the Revolutionary War, and even served as the prison for British spy John André during the war, earning it the nickname “André’s Prison.” The establishment became a tavern in 1755, and today, The Old ‘76 House serves up lunch and dinner daily and a weekly Sunday brunch.
Located just off the University of North Carolina’s campus, Carolina Coffee Shop has been dishing out breakfast, lunch, dinner, and, of course, coffee, to stressed-out students and professors alike for over 100 years. The beloved community staple, which got its start as the UNC student post office, even turns into a lively bar in the evening.
Peacock Alley was originally opened on the base floor of the Patterson Hotel in Bismarck, N.D., following the repeal of Prohibition. The Patterson Hotel was an ideal place for Peacock Alley to establish itself, considering the hotel’s reputation for serving illegal booze while the 18th Amendment was in effect. The hotel and restaurant was often frequented by the elite, including Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. While guests are no longer able to stay at the hotel overnight, Peacock Alley still offers lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday.
Golden Lamb was originally operated as a “house of public entertainment,” and was considered an important stopping point between Cincinnati and the National Road. In 1929, the property was purchased by Robert Jones, who redesigned the hotel and restaurant into what it is today. Still operated by the Jones family, Golden Lamb has been visited by a whopping 12 U.S. presidents, from John Quincy Adams to George W. Bush.
Oklahoma City’s Cattlemen’s Steakhouse is known today for hearty breakfasts and, of course, steaks. But in its 114-year history, the restaurant has switched hands numerous times, most notably in 1945 when then owner Hank Frey lost the establishment in a game of dice. Gene Wade became the new owner after rolling a winning hard six, or two threes. This ownership change is forever commemorated in the building’s Hereford Room, with the number 33 branded on the wall.
Founded in Portland, Huber’s Cafe was originally known as the Bureau Saloon, though it was renamed in 1895 a few years after Frank Huber became the restaurant’s sole proprietor. The restaurant relocated to its present location in the Oregon Pioneer Building in 1910 and was able to stay operational during Prohibition by selling illicit alcohol in coffee cups. Today, Huber’s Cafe is known for its flaming Spanish coffee and roast turkey.
While the Stockyard Inn was Pennsylvania’s oldest restaurant for a long time, it sadly closed its doors in 2021. But McGillin’s Olde Ale House, located in Philadelphia, is equally historic. It was founded in 1860 by Irish immigrants Catherine and William McGillian, who raised their 13 children in the upstairs area of the bar. Today, McGillin’s still offers traditional pub food and beer and is a hotspot for sports fans on game days.
Founded in 1673, Newport’s The White Horse Tavern is both Rhode Island’s oldest restaurant and the nation’s oldest bar. Moreover, the National Historic Landmark, which was originally constructed in 1652 as a private residence, is considered to be one of the 10 oldest restaurants in the entire world. In the present day, the harbor town eatery is beloved for its New England classics like clam chowder, lobster bisque, and raw bar selections.
Opened in 1940 by Sadie and James Tronco, Villa Tronco (originally called Iodine Grill) is widely credited with introducing pizza to South Carolina. Prior to operating a full-fledged restaurant, Sadie cooked family-style meals for the soldiers stationed at Fort Jackson. Eventually, the Troncos opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant. It got off to a shaky start as not many were interested in their pizzas other than Italians. But it wasn’t long before their pies took off, and today, the restaurant is in its fourth generation of family ownership and continues to dish out Italian classics.
The historic steakhouse is located in the Franklin Hotel, which was built at the height of the state’s gold rush. The restaurant, which currently serves breakfast and dinner daily, has been visited by several historical icons including Babe Ruth, Buffalo Bill, and Teddy Roosevelt.
Nestled just a few blocks away from the Capitol building in Nashville is Varallo’s, a casual chili parlor opened by an Italian immigrant at the start of the 20th century. While the small eatery is no longer family-owned, Varallo’s continues to serve up classic family recipes for breakfast and lunch, and chili remains the main focus.
Founded by German immigrant and Civil War veteran August Scholz in 1866, Austin’s Scholz Garten was originally intended to serve as a place for Germans in the city to meet up with one another, though it transformed into an eatery rapidly thereafter. The German-Texan fusion restaurant was operated by Scholz until 1891 when it was passed on to his son, and later the Lemp Brewery Company. The restaurant is also an important meeting point for the University of Texas football team. In 1893, the team celebrated their first undefeated season there, a tradition that has continued to this day. The restaurant, which earned a spot on the Texas Historic Landmarks list in 1967, still whips up German classics like Bavarian pretzels, sauerkraut balls, and sausage sandwiches.
While Utah’s Bluebird restaurant may predate the Idle Isle Cafe by seven years, the restaurant has been closed for several years for renovations. That means Brigham City’s quaint cafe takes the crown as the state’s longest continuously operating restaurant. The cafe offers classic American comfort food and over-the-top milkshakes.
Originally an inn for travelers passing between Boston and Albany, The Dorset Inn was established in 1796 and has been continuously operating ever since. Both the inn and the restaurant inside have been completely renovated over the building’s 228-year history, and the site now serves as a popular wedding venue.
Middleburg’s Red Fox Inn has served numerous purposes over the years, including an inn for travelers and even a medical facility for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. The historic tavern now serves as a fine-dining establishment offering caviar and Champagne pairings. Despite its renovations, the inn has retained its rustic charm, and has even revamped an old surgeon’s table from the Civil War era to use as the dining room’s bar.
Located in Bellingham, The Horseshoe Cafe claims to be not only Washington’s oldest restaurant, but the oldest 24-hour eatery in America. The restaurant was founded in 1886 when Bellingham was a frontier town, and has operated out of its current location since 1958. While the restaurant is no longer open 24 hours a day, it remains a popular late-night spot, offering classic diner food to hungry guests from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Nicknamed “The Net,” Parkersburg’s North End Tavern & Brewery was founded by professional wrestler Bradford “Zip” Torn. Approximately 100 years after its founding, a microbrewery was added to the restaurant, which was thought to be a poor investment at the time. But it proved to be worthwhile, especially given the craft beer boom just a few years later. Today, one can expect to find a fairly straightforward menu at North End Tavern & Brewery consisting mainly of burgers and beer.
Founded by Bavarian immigrant Francis Schraudenbach, Nashotah’s Red Circle Inn is just as old as its home state. Originally called The Nashotah Inn, the restaurant was sold to Captain Fred Pabst in 1889 and renamed the Red Circle Inn after Pabst Brewing Co., which he also owned. Today, the restaurant offers its guests a selection of small plates and comfort food.
Opened in Hartville in the early 1860s when the town was experiencing a mining boom, Miners and Stockmen’s Steakhouse & Spirits operates out of one of the last remaining Old Fort Laramie trading posts. Once a hideout for bank robbers, outlaws, and cattle rustlers, the bar inside was hand-carved in Germany, shipped to New York, and then transported via train to Cheyenne before it was delivered to the establishment via horse and buggy. Today, the restaurant is open Thursday through Sunday, and is known for its classic steakhouse fare.
*Image retrieved from Kenneth C. Zirkel via commons.wikimedia.org