Food & Drink

The 11 Best 100-Year-Old Restaurants in New York City

Published On 01/08/2015 Published On 01/08/2015

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.

Flickr/Jeffrey Bary

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.)

Flickr/Aaron Landry

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Lombardi’s

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3930082

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.

Flickr/Alibee

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.

Flickr/Jeff McC

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).

Flickr/Brenden

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.

Ben Jay

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.

Flickr/Mith Huang

Williamsburg
Opened: 1887
Originally named Carl Luger’s CafĂ©, 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.

Thrillist

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.

Old Homestead

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.

Flickr/Joshua Ken

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.

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1. Russ & Daughters 179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002 (Lower East Side)

Open since 1914, Russ & Daughters is the NYC standard for cured fish, spreads, and other “appetizers,” which are the traditional Jewish food eaten with bagels. This piece of New York history (which, in 2014, opened a more formal cafe that is also located in the Lower East Side) is still the place to grab a bagel and schmear or one of its near-perfect deli counter sandwiches, like the Super Heebster, a mammoth bagel sandwich with Whitefish & baked salmon salad, horseradish-dill cream cheese, and wasabi flying fish roe.

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2. Lombardi's Pizza 32 Spring St, New York, NY 10012 (Nolita)

Although it closed for 10 years and then reopened a block away from the original, this place is considered the first pizza joint in America, and thus basically the birthplace of every other old-school pizza place in the city -- Patsy’s, John’s, and Totonno’s were all started by former employees here. While it’s pretty much a place tourists go now, the pies are still on point and the clam pie in particular always delivers.

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3. Grand Central Oyster Bar 89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017 (Midtown East)

Grand Central's landmark Oyster Bar has been around since 1913 and, despite losing business due to the decline of long-haul train travel, its reinvention around the mid-'70s revived it into what's now an award-winning American restaurant serving super-fresh, top-quality seafood. It also has an extensive wine list.

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4. Ferdinando's Focacceria 151 Union St, Brooklyn, NY 11231 (Carroll Gardens)

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. It may be a little off-the-beaten-path, but the hearty Sicilian eats, like cheesy rice balls, sandwiches (get the meatball topped with ricotta), pastas, and panelle won’t disappoint.

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5. Bamonte's 32 Withers St, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Forgo the hipster stigma of Williamsburg eateries by heading to Bamonte's, a classic red sauce joint that serves as a time capsule in both product and presentation. The waiters are tuxedoed, the dining room tables are draped in white cloth, and the menu features every item you'd expect an Italian grandmother to make. The price point is reasonable, so stock your table with the classics in a space that's been around longer than most in this city.

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6. Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery 137 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002 (Lower East Side)

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.

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7. Katz's Delicatessen 205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002 (Lower East Side)

Open since 1888 on the corner of East Houston and Ludlow Street, Katz's is synonymous with iconic New York City food, specifically, slow-cured pastrami and corned beef. There's usually a line filled with a mix of tourists, die-hard New Yorkers, and everyone in between, and the wait is nothing but proof of the stacked sandwiches' pure goodness. You receive a paper ticket when you walk in, order at the counter (be ready!), and wait while the servers sling layers of pink meat onto cafeteria trays. If pastrami on rye (or better yet, a hot reuben) is your kind of late-night food, then you're in luck -- Katz's is open all night on Fridays and Saturdays. Words to the wise: stock up on napkins, order a generous side of pickles, and whatever you do, don't lose your ticket.

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8. Peter Luger 178 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211

This New York institution (opened in 1887) is specifically known for its old-school, impeccable waitstaff and its sizzling, perfectly cooked, buttery porterhouse. The wine list sticks to a strict but to-the-point number of options that pair perfectly with the dishes, and the lunchtime hamburger -- a mix of ground chuck and trimmings from the aged steaks -- is simply something you can't get anywhere else.

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9. Keens Steakhouse 72 W 36th St, New York, NY 10018 (Midtown West)

Keens was the gentlemen-only meeting place for all sorts of playwrights, publishers, producers, and newsmen of the Herald Square Theatre District back in the day... which was 1885, by the way. Today, the legendary steakhouse maintains its reputation and continues to deliver quality eats in an old-timey atmosphere, and women are now allowed in (!!). Wondering what to order? Try the mutton chops, word is you won't regret it.

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10. Old Homestead Steakhouse 56 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011 (Meatpacking)

A classic, multi-level spot, Old Homestead in the Meatpacking District offers hip takes on old-school steakhouse fare. Originally opened in 1868, OH was one of the first in the States to serve Japanese Kobe beef. It's kept up with the times, adding shareable apps like yellow fin tuna tartare and kobe beef meatballs, as well as premium craft cocktails to its extensive menu of dry-aged prime cuts.

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11. Delmonico's Bar & Grill 56 Beaver St, New York, NY 10004 (Financial District)

This Financial District steakhouse is straight-up historic. Open in one form or another since 1837, Delmonico's was the first fine-dining restaurant to open in New York -- and reputably the first restaurant to serve dishes like eggs Benedict, baked Alaska, and lobster Newburg. Today, you'll still have a plush experience filled with old-school grandeur, thanks to white tablecloths, an attentive staff, and massive murals that depict turn-of-the-century New York. The signature Delmonico steak is excellent, as is the filet mignon and 40-day dry-aged bone-in ribeye.

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