If you know anything about me, you know that one of my greatest pleasures of going on a trip is dining out and trying new cuisines. If I can combine my love of food with my passion for history…I’m in heaven. Boston provides several opportunities to dine in historic digs while eating tasty treats—some of which were created in the city.
If you’re like me and like to integrate your love of history into your dining adventures, here are some of the oldest restaurants in Boston:
Union Oyster House—Built in the early 1700s, the structure originally housed an importer’s shop that sold silks. During the American Revolution, patriot Isaiah Thomas printed the radical newspaper the Massachusetts Spy from this building before he was forced to flee Boston, crossing the Charles with his printing press in a row boat. In 1826, the Union Oyster House was established on the spot and is now the oldest restaurant in America to run continuously. It’s also the oldest oyster bar in Boston. The eatery has great atmosphere. The exterior boasts old menus and newspapers in its windows. Inside, booths are designed with tidbits of history telling about either American revolutionaries or famous people who had dined there. The food is good, too! I enjoyed an amazing crab-filled cake there. The Boston Union Oyster House is one of the few places in town (if not the only one?) where you can get Boston Baked Beans, so I highly recommend a visit.
Location: 41 Union Street
Parker’s Restaurant at Parker House Hotel—Famous writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadwsorth Longfellow, and Henry David Thoreau all have dined there. Emeril Lagasse worked there, as did Malcolm X and Vietnamese revolutionary Ho Chi Minh. The Boston Cream Pie was created there in 1856. Now the official state dessert of Massachusetts, the spongy, golden cake filled with pastry cream covered with chocolate icing and decorated with white icing and toasted almonds is a sweet treat not to be missed. The Parker House isn’t just known for its elegant décor and tasty dessert…there are also the Parker House Rolls! For lunch when I visited, I dined on award-winning clam chowder so thick that my spoon could almost stand up in it. Served with it were the fluffiest, most buttery rolls I have ever tasted. I’ve eaten many “Parker House” rolls (note the quotation marks because none can will ever live up to the name again) in my life but having the original at the place they were created in the 1870s was close to a religious experience. The great food and atmosphere is what has kept people—famous, infamous, and common—coming to Parker’s Restaurant for well over a century and a half.
Location: 60 School Street
Pizzeria Regina—If Italian food, especially pizza, is your favorite then Pizzeria Regina should likely be on your list. The restaurant has been operating in the North End since 1926 making them the oldest Italian restaurant—at least pizzeria—in Boston. Their brick-oven baked, thin-crust pizza comes in numerous combinations that will undoubtedly delight every palate. I was unable to taste a slice of the pie myself, but thousands of reviews indicate that it’s delicious!
Location: 11 ½ Thatcher St.
Bell in Hand Tavern—This bar has been serving the public since around since 1795 making it America’s oldest continuously operating tavern. A true researcher, I decided to imbibe and do a little quality control. I can attest that the Bell in Hand Tavern can serve a good hard cider (and the atmosphere is quite lively, too). The menu looked appealing and since I was in Boston, which is known for its seafood, I tried a classic lobster roll stuffed with big chunks of claw and tail meat and drizzled with butter. I was glad I did! When in Boston, connect with the early years of our nation by drinking in the same tavern our founding fathers might have.
Location: 45 Union St.
Warren Tavern—Established in 1780, this historic eatery in Charlestown is where George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Paul Revere enjoyed cold brews and hearty meals while discussing the future of America. It was one of the first buildings raised after Charlestown was sacked by the British. Today, one can stop by for a drink and a meal…perhaps after visiting Bunker Hill and the USS Constitution? Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it here for a meal on my last trip, but I definitely think that if you’re on this side of the Charles River that you may want to stop by.
Location: 2 Pleasant St., Charlestown
Taking in the history of Boston is sure to work up an appetite, but your historical adventures don’t have to stop while you’re dining. Visit the oldest restaurants in Boston and take in the past while enjoying tasty food in the present. Huzzah!
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