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The 10 Best Historical Restaurants In New York

The 10 Best Historical Restaurants In New York

Picture of Henry Lilly
Updated: 9 February 2017
New York, a city full of history, has plenty of historically interesting places to grab a bite to eat. While the allure of chain restaurants is always there, it’s nice to eat somewhere that has served clientele for decades. We profile New York’s food sector, giving you the inside scoop on all the best old-fashioned dining establishments. Here is our guide to New York’s top 10 historical restaurants.
The Palm | Courtesy of The Palm
The Palm | Courtesy of The Palm

The Palm

Established in 1926, The Palm has served midtown Manhattan for almost 90 years. Its philosophy is quite simple; treat guests like family, serve great food, and always exceed expectations. Known for its quality steaks and family style dishes, The Palm evolved into a nation-wide chain, but it all began in New York courtesy of Italian immigrants Pio Bozzi and John Ganzi. The atmosphere here is unlike any other, with the expertise of the chefs and old-fashioned sketches on the walls. The motto has been and always will be “the place to see and be seen.”

Palm Too, 840 2nd Ave New York, NY, USA +1 212 697 5198

Delmonico's | © NYC The Official Guide
Delmonico’s | © NYC The Official Guide


Known as the first restaurant to serve items off the menu à la carte, Delmonico’s first opened in 1837. Let that soak in for a little bit. Labeled as “America’s First Restaurant,” Delmonico’s is located in a beautifully designed building similar in nature to the famous Flatiron building. The Delmonico brothers started the shop selling chocolates and pastries, as well as wine and liquor. It is the first fine dining restaurant in the country, with true private dining rooms (on the third floor) and an impressive wine cellar in the basement. Eggs Benedict, baked Alaska and other special dishes were first created here. If you are looking for high class fine dining, this is your best bet.

Delmonico’s, 56 Beaver St, New York, NY, USA +1 212 509 1144

Lamb's Room | Courtesy of Keens Steakhouse
Lamb’s Room | Courtesy of Keens Steakhouse

Keens Steakhouse

Know what a churchwarden pipe is? If you don’t, go to Keens Steakhouse and find out, home of the largest collection in the world. This tradition of pipe smoking began long before Elizabethan times, but Keen’s pipe tradition commenced early in the 20th century. Established in 1885, Keens has long been one of New York’s best steakhouses, known for its luxurious banquet rooms, famous receptions and high quality food. While the food may be high priced, the cultural experience is one of a kind, as the walls are decorated with famous paintings and portraits of people such as Abraham Lincoln. The experience is well worth the price.

Keens Steakhouse, 72 West 36 Street New York, NY, USA +1 212 947 3636

Grand Oyster Bar & Restaurant

Opened in 1913 during Woodrow Wilson’s term as president, Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant is nothing short of a cultural experience. After going bankrupt and staying empty for two years in the 1970s, Jerome Brody and his wife purchased the restaurant located under the famous Grand Central Terminal. Despite not starting out as a seafood restaurant, the ambiance and environment here is truly unmatched in any other restaurant due to the high vaulted ceilings and structure. Come to enjoy seafood from all around the world before you hop on a Metro North train.

Grand Oyster Bar & Restaurant, Grand Central Terminal, 89 East 42nd Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 490 6650

Peter Luger Steak House

Anyone who knows steak knows the name Peter Luger. Located just east of the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn, Peter Luger Steak House opened in 1887. This world-renowned steak house has a storied tradition of meat selection, preparation, as well as a sauce available for purchase. The atmosphere is old fashioned with vintage chandeliers and classic wooden chairs and tables. As one of the top steakhouses in New York, it can take weeks to get a reservation, so call well in advance.

Peter Luger Steak House, 178 Broadway Brooklyn, NY, USA +1 718 387 7400

Lombardi's Pizza | Leonard  J. DeFrancisco/WikiCommons
Lombardi’s Pizza | Leonard J. DeFrancisco/WikiCommons

Lombardi’s Pizza

Considered the first pizza joint in America, Lombardi’s first opened in 1905. After closing for 10 years, Lombardi’s reopened just a block down from its original location. What is so special about this place is that all of the other famous New York pizzerias such as Totonno’s and Patsy’s were started by former employees at Lombardi’s. That truly makes Lombardi’s the birthplace of pizza in New York and America. The history adds some meaning to the pizza, which is always delicious.

Lombardi’s Pizza, 32 Spring St New York, NY, USA +1 212 941 7994

Russ & Daughters

Since 1914, Russ & Daughters has been making the best appetizers in New York. Family run, this shop experienced much success and opened up a formal restaurant around the corner. Russ & Daughters specializes in specialty smoked fish and other dishes that can be delivered or picked up in the store. If you need a delicious sandwich, or need an event to be catered, this is your place to call.

Russ & Daughters, 179 East Houston Street New York, NY +1 212 475 4880

Fraunces Tavern | Arun De Joe/WikiCommons
Fraunces Tavern | Arun De Joe/WikiCommons

Fraunces Tavern

By far the oldest restaurant on this list, Fraunces Tavern opened in 1762. This historic tavern and colonial-era museum is a New York City landmark. The Sons of Liberty used to visit the tavern to meet when it first opened, and George Washington made his final remarks to the Continental Army here. History is not all this restaurant has to offer, though. They have seven “party rooms,” and offer brunch, lunch and dinner. The menu is well priced, and has evolved over the years. Each option contains a plethora of fresh ingredients and unique tastes.

Fraunces Tavern, 54 Pearl Street, New York, USA +1 212 968 1776

PJ Clarke’s

Since 1884, P.J Clarke’s has been serving some of the best burgers in New York. A popular destination for businessmen on any weeknight, this midtown tavern never disappoints. Surviving the Great Depression, both world wars and five owner swaps, and not undergoing any change should tell you all. P.J Clarke’s original location is on third avenue, but the tavern has other addresses in New York, along with venues in Sao Paulo and Washington, DC. A well priced restaurant with delicious daily specials, P.J Clarke’s checks all the boxes in the book.

P.J Clarke’s, 915 3rd Ave New York, NY, USA +1 212 317 1616

21 Club

Not your stereotypical New York club, the ’21 Club was established in 1930 and is a series of three restaurants; Bar Room, Bar ‘21 & Lounge, and Upstairs at ’21. Whether coming for lunch or dinner, the 21 Club has been a staple for classic American dishes, such as steak tartare and filet mignon. The extensive drinks list is unmatched, and the atmosphere at each of the restaurants is truly exceptional. The prices may be steep, but plan to spend a lot of time here because you won’t want to leave after dinner is finished.

21 Club, 21 West 52nd Street, New York, New York, USA +1 212 582 7200