Boston is filled with things that were done first in the U.S. and in some cases, the world. It is impossible not to become a bit of a history buff as you take your time to explore this waterfront city.
Since unique restaurants are something that I crave, I knew I couldn’t miss out on the chance to eat at the Union Oyster House with my family. This is the oldest restaurant in North America – since1826.
Where is Union Oyster House in Boston?
You will find it on 41 Union St. The street — and apparently the building where the restaurant is — were first laid out on 1636.
The experience starts even before you arrive to the restaurant. You can choose between taking the metro, which was also the first in the United States, and a taxi. You can also walk — Boston is known as the ‘Walking City’ for a reason.
As if that wasn’t enough the restaurant is located in North End or better know as ‘the first neighborhood of the country’. It is really easy to find and you will love the cobblestone and brick structures around it. We spent almost 30 minutes just enjoying the surroundings of the restaurant.
Why Union Oyster House Needs to Be Part of Your Boston Itinerary
The first reason and the main one for me is because it is so incredibly unique that it is more of an attraction than just another place to have lunch at. We even got the pleasant surprise of getting a tour of the restaurant from the manager.
Note: The staff members are so knowledgeable and extremely friendly. If you have the time, ask them to show you around or to give you a few historic facts. It gives you the real feel of the place.
1. The entire restaurant is like a museum – We started our tour after getting seated and ordering our food. You will see pictures of all the high profiled people that have eaten at the restaurant. A number of former Presidents made this their regular eatery whenever they were in town.
2. The Kennedy Booth – This was also the number one restaurant for the Kennedy Clan. The booth where he used to eat, write, talk or simply hang out is upstairs, in a more private area. After his death the booth was dedicated to him. We were lucky enough to have it reserved for us.
3. The Raw Bar – It was the original restaurant. They placed it in 1830 and quickly became a fun hang out for Bostonians.
Fun fact – the toothpick was first used at the Oyster Bar.
4. Rooms galore – Because of how long it has been opened for the public, it has gone under a few changes. Some of them were done due to the need to expand. They kept adding rooms and now it’s literally like a maze in there. They have a Freedom Trail room, Daniel Webster room, Colonial Room, the main room where the Oyster bar is and the Pine room where we dined and a few others.
5. Menu – As can be expected, the menu is filled with seafood, oysters and lobster. But they also offer a variety of dishes for all tastes, even for vegetarians and picky eaters.
6. Staff and entertainment – One of the fist things you see when you walk into the restaurant is a huge tank of lobsters. The staff of the Oyster bar allow kids to interact with lobsters and to hold them.
9 Facts About the Union Oyster House
1. Union Street was first laid out in 1636. There are no municipal records documenting when the building was built on it.
2. The building stood as a local landmark for over 250 years
3. 1742 – The building was used for Hopestill Capen’s fancy dress goods business known as “At the Sign of the Cornfields.”
4. In 1771 the upper floor saw the first stirrings of the American Revolution war and printer Isaiah Thomas published his newspaper “The Massachusetts Spy” in it. It is also the oldest Newspaper in the US.
5. The store became headquarters for Ebenezer Hancock in 1775; he was paymaster of the Colonial Army. This is where the Federal troops received their “war wages” and a place that George Washington frequented.
6. Louis Phillippe, future king of France, was exiled by his country in 1796, so he moved to the second floor where he also gave French lessons to Boston’s upper class ladies.
7. The building was sold and became Atwood and Bacon’s establishment in 1826
8. The installation of the fabled Oyster bar in 1830 marked the beginning of a new era. It was also the place where Daniel Webster drank a tall tumble of brandy and water with at least half a dozen oysters on each plate – over six plates – every single day!
9. By 2003 – The building was designated as a National Historic Landmark
Aside from being the oldest continually operating restaurant in the U.S. it is the earliest standing brick building in Boston’s Georgian architecture.
I bet you can’t say this about any other restaurant you’ve visited!
Information for your visit to Union Oyster House
Hours: Sunday – Thursday – 11am-9:30pm; Friday & Saturday – 11am-10pm
Address: 41 Union Street
Phone: (617) 227-2750
You can also reserve directly from their site.
Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau helped me in planning parts of my Boston visit and with their great help I was able to really enjoy and experience the Union Oyster House.