You already know where to beer it up like Teddy, Babe, and Abe did back in the day. Well, now it's time you learned where to steak/pizza/oyster it up like Teddy, Babe, and Abe did back in the day: here are 11 century-old NYC restaurants that, like your Grandfather at bingo night, still got it.
Tuna Eyeball with Timothy DeLaGhetto and Ben Sinclair
LES Opened: 1914 Still the standard for cured fish, spreads, and other “appetizers”, this piece of NY history (which has since opened a more formal restaurant around the corner) is still the place to grab some fish, a bagel, or one of its near-perfect deli counter sandwiches. (Get the Super Heebster. Trust.)
Midtown Opened: 1913 This spot for shucked bivalves has been around since Grand Central Station itself. It may be known for its fresh-as-can-be fish today, but it wasn’t a seafood-centric restaurant until 1974. Slurp East and West Coast oysters while taking in the décor (here’s looking at you, arched tile ceilings). And don’t miss the oyster pan roast, one of NYC’s most iconic dishes and one that made this spot a famous go-to among locals, passerby commuters, and tourists.
Columbia Street Waterfront District Opened: 1904 This family-run Sicilian restaurant (with a crazy-long history) was initially a lunch spot for longshoremen who worked close by -- you can actually still find traces of its early days there in black-and-white photos and statues of St. Francis and the Virgin Mary. A little off-the-beaten-path it may be, but the hearty Sicilian eats, like cheesy rice balls, sandwiches (get the meatball topped with ricotta), pastas, and panelle won’t disappoint.
Williamsburg Opened: 1900 For a taste of real old-school Italian Brooklyn head to this Williamsburg eatery, where the waiters still wear tuxedos, the clientele is refreshingly non-hipster, the tablecloths are white, and the food is hearty red sauce fare (check out the clams casino and the pork chop with hot and sweet peppers).
LES Opened: 1890 This LES hole-in-the-wall started selling knishes from a pushcart in 1890 before moving into a full-blown storefront in 1910. Travel back in time the moment you step in -- the knishes are still made the same way as they were during the pushcart days: chewy, potato-y, mustard-covered masterworks. You’re also gonna want to wash them down with one of the city’s last remaining spots for an authentic egg cream.
LES Opened: 1888 This Jewish deli might have swapped names three times (first as Iceland Brothers, then to Iceland & Katz when Willy Katz joined the biz, and finally to Katz’s when Willy took it over), but it has always stayed true to its roots -- its delicious, pastrami roots. Come for breakfast or late-night drunchies in the form of piled-so-high pastrami sandwiches, a great hot dog, or matzo ball soup in the same digs where Where Harry Met Sally and Donnie Brasco were filmed.
Williamsburg Opened: 1887 Originally named Carl Luger’s Café, Billiards and Bowling Alley, this iconic steakhouse opened its doors in what was then a very German part of Williamsburg. Go for lunch -- dinner reservations are hard to come by -- and the lunch-only burger is an experience unto itself. There's a reason this place has been ranked the number one steakhouse in New York City by many for almost three decades, and that reason is USDA-only prime steaks that are dry-aged on site.
Herald Square Opened: 1885 The sole survivor of the Herald Square Theatre District, this long-standing restaurant serves a mean 26oz mutton chop along with some excellent steaks, and a pretty damn good burger. There’s no doubt the meat is legendary, but the real talking point here might be its Pipe Club, which boasted members like Babe Ruth, Albert Einstein, and "Buffalo Bill". Home to the largest collection of churchwarden pipes in the world, it also honors the pipe tradition, where customers can check and store their pipe during their meal, ready at a moment’s notice.
Meatpacking District Opened: 1868 Before there was Peter Luger and Keens, there was this Meatpacking District steakhouse, which somehow outlasted all of the actual meatpacking done there. Don’t let the cheesy cow sculpture out front turn you away from the insanely flavorful prime rib. Beware: portions are large -- legend has it that doggie bags were invented here because of the generous plates/dogs requesting bags.
Financial District Opened: 1837 If it weren’t for this Financial District restaurant -- which started as a small shop doling out coffee, chocolates, liquor, and cigars -- you may have never found your all-time favorite brunch food. It was the first to offer eggs Benedict and the first to have a printed a la carte menu. Plus, it has attracted diners like Teddy Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and Napoleon III. These days, you can house steaks with bankers. I think the word you’re looking for is: bawse.
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Alisha Prakash is a contributing writer at Thrillist NYC. Her mission: make Sriracha a food group. You can find more of her musings on her website or follow her on Twitter.