It’s no surprise one of America’s oldest cities has some of its oldest restaurants
Photo (above): Parker’s Restaurant
As one of the oldest cities in America, Boston also claims some of the oldest restaurants in the country like Union Oyster House. While many have become tourist havens, where guests crave to capture photos while having lobster or chowder, many of these classic restaurants have secured a place in culinary history. Here, we highlight six of the Boston area’s oldest places to grab grub.
You don’t get much more historic than being the place dubbed the “Headquarters of the Revolution,” where Paul Revere was reportedly a regular and set off on his famous ride to warn of the British army’s arrival. These days, in a different location from the original (which allegedly didn’t open until sometime deep into the 1700s; there are conflicting records), it’s less about invading enemies as it is about gathering for lunch and dinner in the wood-lined, exposed brick space with framed vintage guns over classic Irish tavern fare and New England favorites like bubble and squeak; ale-battered fish and chips; and corned beef and cabbage.
The British burned down the original building during its invasion of Charlestown, but this Warren Tavern, named for its first owner, Dr. Joseph Warren, who instructed Paul Revere to ride off and warn the revolutionaries, has hosted George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and many others. Today, it claims some of the best clam chowder in Boston and is a frequent stop on historic walking tours of the city. That makes sense as it’s just down the hill from the Bunker Hill Monument.
This historic haunt was first owned by Jimmy Wilson, Boston’s town crier who reported good and bad news with the ring of a bell in his hand for 50 years. After retiring from that position, he opened his somewhat-eponymous tavern next to Faneuil Hall serving only pints of thick ale. The drinking tradition continues today, where you can get a Samuel Adams-produced Bell in Hand Ale as well as drinks from a full bar to go with fried calamari, lobster rolls and juicy burgers.
The upscale restaurant inside the Omni Parker House hotel that birthed Parker House rolls, Boston cream pie and Boston scrod is also the place where JFK allegedly proposed to Jackie. This elegant dining room with hand-carved woodwork and Waterford crystal chandeliers—where Malcolm X was once a busboy—now only serves breakfast and lunch. You can still get a bountiful breakfast buffet; chicken Waldorf salad; and, of course, that famous scrod, a tradition dating back to 1906.
Two of Boston’s oldest restaurants, Durgin-Park and Jacob Wirth Co., both closed recently. Durgin-Park, which was at Faneuil Hall, opened originally in 1827 and was known for having great Boston baked beans. It closed in January 2019. Jacob Wirth was one of the city’s oldest German restaurants, dating back to 1868. It was originally put up for sale in early 2018 due to financial issues and eventually closed later that year following water damage from a fire in the building.