We New Yorkers are pretty spoiled when it comes to dining out. (We’re spoiled in other ways, too, but that’s not the point.) Not only is there a constant influx of new places to check out, our city is also home to some legendary eateries that still crank out classic fare today. Here, 12 of our favorites that are worth making a visit to, stat.
Since the 1760s: Fraunces Tavern
Back before the Revolutionary War, this tavern served as a meeting spot for locals and travelers to come together and share their ideas about liberty, good food and everything in between. (Basically, picture the early scenes of Hamilton.) Though it was originally known as Queen’s Head Tavern, when Samuel Fraunces himself opened the joint, it’s still serving customers in the very same location at Pearl and Broad.
54 Pearl St.; frauncestavern.com
Since the 1810s: Ear Inn
This old-school saloon has served many purposes in its 200-plus years of life. It opened in 1817 as a tobacco shop, became a brewery in 1890, a speakeasy during the Prohibition era and, rumor has it, at some point may have served as a brothel and smuggler’s den. Today, folks still come all over for its historic charm as well as its cheap beer and pub fare like chicken potpie and burgers.
326 Spring St.; earinn.com
Since the 1850s: McSorley’s Old Ale House
The vintage sign and awning of McSorley’s Old Ale House is not just for appeal: It’s remained relatively unchanged since it opened in 1854. Back then, McSorley’s was a men-only pub—one of the last of its kind—not allowing women through its doors until 1970. We forgive its lack of progressiveness in lieu of the fact that you can still order a pint of the house beer for $5 and enjoy a bare-bones cheese plate for $4, which comes with crackers and the bar’s infamous mustard (a homemade mix of Colman’s hot mustard powder and dark ale).
15 E. Seventh St.; mcsorleysoldalehouse.com
Since the 1860s: The Old Homestead
This classic American steakhouse originally went by the name Tidewater Trading Post thanks to the fact that the Hudson River once crept as far east as Ninth Avenue (it’s since receded). At the time, it joined a neighborhood that was home to mostly meat purveyors. (We’ll give you one guess what it’s called.) Though we’re pretty sure that back then the restaurant didn’t offer one of its biggest draws today: Direct-from-Japan Wagyu beef, available as a $175 six-ounce steak or a (slightly) more affordable $43 burger.
56 Ninth Ave.; theoldhomesteadsteakhouse.com
Since the 1880s: P.J. Clarke’s
Home to one of the city’s classic burgers, P.J. Clarke’s has now established itself as a brand, with several locations (even, oddly enough, one in Brazil). The original P.J.’s, however, found its footing on Third Avenue back in 1884, taking its name from an Irish immigrant, Patrick J. Clarke, who was hired to run the saloon (and officially named it after himself about ten years later). Don’t leave without trying the bacon cheeseburger that Nat King Cole once deemed “the Cadillac of burgers.”
915 Third Ave.; pjclarkes.com
Since the 1910s: Russ & Daughters
When this famous shop first opened its doors in 1914, it was known as an appetizing store, aka store that sells “the food one eats with bagels.” A century later, the business is still in the family. Though it’s since opened a nearby restaurant and museum café, a visit to the original storefront is still a must for a rainbow of incredible smoked fish (from pastrami salmon to whitefish), plus other Jewish specialties like matzo ball soup and chopped liver.
179 E. Houston St.; russanddaughters.com
Since the 1920s: Nom Wah Tea Parlor
This little teahouse opened in the crook of Doyers Street in Chinatown almost a full century ago but still serves up some of the best dim sum, dumplings and red bean-filled pastries the city has to offer. Of course, you can also order your fair share of teas including such hard-to-find flavors as chrysanthemum, bo-lay, oolong and shou mei.
13 Doyers St.; nomwah.com
Since the 1930s: Rainbow Room
This fine-dining restaurant and event space, located on the 65th floor of 30 Rock, was originally opened back in 1934. Upon its opening, it catered to the city’s most elite clients and was revered for being the country’s highest restaurant above ground. It originally went by the name Stratosphere, but the Rockefellers decided to change it to something a little less on the nose. These days, space is mostly used for special events, but you can still cash in on those remarkable views at the adjacent lounge, Bar SixtyFive.
30 Rockefeller Plaza, 65th floor; rainbowroom.com
Since the 1940s: Bemelmans Bar
Named in honor of Ludwig Bemelmans, the creator of the classic Madeline children’s book series, this glitzy American bar has been serving customers since it opened back in 1947. Its Art Deco design is still one to be admired, with chocolate-brown leather banquettes, nickel-trimmed glass tabletops, a black granite bar and, 24-karat-gold-leaf-covered ceiling and distinct murals on the walls painted by Bemelmans himself. Dress to the nines and drop by for a glass of Champagne and and live piano music.
35 E. 76th St.; rosewoodhotels.com
Since the 1960s: Corner Bistro
Nowadays it’s not hard to find a deluxe burger with all the fixings, but step back in time a few decades and you’ll be hard-pressed to score one as delicious as Corner Bistro’s. It's been delighting New Yorkers with the classic hamburger in its true and simplest form since 1961 and have now expanded to several locations around the city—though its very first location in the West Village is still in existence.
331 W. Fourth St.; cornerbistrony.com
Since the 1970s: Smith & Wollensky
This high-end American steakhouse is one for the books. Not only has it garnered just about every award known to the restaurant industry, but the building in which it was first established has served as a steakhouse since 1897—which is one of the reasons the restaurant is able to dry-age its steaks in-house. (Not only is this method the most time-consuming and expensive way to age beef, but most places these days just don’t have the space that was allotted to steakhouses back then.)
797 Third Ave.; smithandwollensky.com
Since the 1980s: Rosa Mexicano
Taco trucks might line nearly every block of Manhattan today, but back in 1984, when founder Josefina Howard opened the first Rosa Mexicano on the Upper East Side, it was considered novel to many East Coasters. The restaurant still offers up authentic, regional Mexican cooking—it’s the kind of place that brings over your guacamole ingredients and mashes everything right in front of you—and a damn good margarita, to boot.
1063 First Ave.; rosamexicano.com