Food & Drink

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

Published On 01/09/2015 Published On 01/09/2015
Flickr/Jeffrey Bary

Flickr/Aaron Landry


Flickr/Jeff McC


Ben Jay

Flickr/Mith Huang


Old Homestead

Flickr/Joshua Ken

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1. Russ & Daughters 179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

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

If pizza is an essential fixture in New York's culinary history, then Lombardi's is an essential fixture in the grander history of pizza as a whole. Established in 1905, the place is cited as the first American Pizzeria, aptly stationed for the past full century on Manhattan soil (or pavement, I should say). Still located in Little Italy, the iconic red-brick pizza joint has checkered plastic tablecloths, a smoking coal oven, and a white-tiled open kitchen. The menu offers a handful of traditional sides -- meatballs, calzones, Caesar salad -- but you'd be remiss to walk away from Lombardi's sans pizza-related food coma. The pies are smoky-crusted and coal fired, topped with house-made san Marzano tomato sauce, basil and fresh mozzarella, and served on rotating, silver pizza platters with toppings like ricotta, black-pepper garlic sauce, pancetta, and sweet Italian sausage (we recommend you go half and half on the toppings). And while nowadays, the place certainly caters to its fair share of tourists, it has yet to lose its sense of old-school New York character.

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

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

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

This hole-in-the-wall Jewish bakery has been serving authentic, quality knishes on the Lower East Side since 1910. Once a downtown pushcart, the spot is unwavering when it comes to age-old un-adulterated recipes. The doughy dumplings are served hot, stuffed with stone-ground mustard, potato, and onion, while various meat, cheese, and veggie add-ons can be tucked inside, as well. Something of a New York landmark, the walls at Yonah's are lined with photographs of celebrities and New York politicians enjoying the iconic knishes by the store front (apparently The Beastie Boys were big fans), and the counter-service joint has made a handful of cameos in Woody Allen's filmography. And while the unpretentious eatery has already outlived many a downtown restaurant, the streams of city folk, hungry for classic gnosh and egg creams, show no signs of slowing down.

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7. Katz's Delicatessen 205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

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

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

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

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.