Since Europeans first settled in the Northeast, before the region was known as the United States, the area has been steeped in history.
It stands to reason then, that restaurants with deep and storied pasts must dot the area, including a number in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. We found a number of haunts where you can dine with the ghost of George Washington, sit in a bar that transports you right into the late 1800s and eat in the same room as Ulysses S. Grant did when he was president.
The United States wasn’t the only thing founded in 1776—the Griswold Inn shares the same birth year as our country—and it’s been open ever since.
Menu standouts include pan seared scallops, prime rib and seared Atlantic salmon as well as a Sunday Hunt Breakfast that offers items such as a Belgian waffle station, pecan and caramel French toast soufflé and freshly baked cornbread.
Conveniently located in Essex, Connecticut, approximately two hours from both New York and Boston, property is now owned and operated by Joan and Doug Paul, a husband and wife team who have helmed the property for 22-plus years. They’ve dedicated their two-plus decades to preserving the historic property
“The Gris, as it is affectionately known, has seen war, Depression, recession and even Prohibition,” says Joan. “With Yankee ingenuity, it successfully made it through all of those challenging events.”
The inn itself has three different dining options (historic, tavern and contemporary) including a taproom, which has live music every night. The inn houses the largest private collection of maritime art in the country. A separate building, the Hayden House, has two large living rooms which are often used for private events. There are 34 guest accommodations in the main building and throughout the campus. The inn can host up to 150 guests for private events.
“We are not a typical meeting facility,” says Joan. “There are so many ways to enjoy our spot outside of the meeting.”
Lambertville House Hotel
The pride and joy of the Lambertville House Hotel in Lambertville, New Jersey, is its front porch where guests can sit peacefully, sipping on award-winning cocktails and people watching as inhabitants and visitors stroll through the quaint, historic town.
Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, the 26-room boutique hotel was built in 1812 by Captain John Lambert and has changed hands a number of times. Event space ranges from 600 square feet to 1,300 with four different spaces that can host up to 100 guests. The restaurant caters to all visitors, serving dishes from French onion soup to fresh oysters and steamed mussels. Since its opening, the hotel has hosted many visitors, including famous guests such as presidents Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant. The hotel leans into its history, especially in its guest rooms. “Our hotel rooms are really beautiful and our service is amazing,” says Mike Veneziale, director of sales. “People just love it.”
Old Town Bar
Celebrating its 125th anniversary last year, Old Town Bar is located in the Flatiron District of Manhattan.
Its classic tile floors, beveled mirrors, 90-foot mahogany bar and tin ceilings are similar to those found in old taverns across the country. They even have New York’s oldest active dumbwaiters to carry food. But perhaps its most well-known historic item is its urinals, which celebrated 100 years back in 2010. When the date came, the restaurant threw a party celebrating the anniversary. Walking into the bar (and the bathroom), you get a real feel of what guests felt when visiting in 1892.
“The Old Town is one of the few remaining classic taverns in New York,” says Gerard Meagher, co-owner. “If people want a slice of old New York, they can find it at the Old Town.”
Originally opened as the Burckel Brothers’ Cafe, it served as a speakeasy during Prohibition and today has the same booths where booze was hidden. Today, the bar serves classic comfort food such as tuna melts, chicken wings, hot dogs and BLTs. It can host up to 200 people on its first and second floors.
The bar is so famous that it even holds its own in pop culture, serving as the location for a number of movies such as “Ishtar” and “Bullets Over Broadway,” and television shows such as “Billions” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
One week before their duel, Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton shared a meal at the Fraunces Tavern.
We all know how that ended, but unlike Hamilton, Fraunces Tavern (which plays host to both a museum and a restaurant) still stands much as it did since its opening in 1762. Arguably, it had a significant impact on history, serving as headquarters for American commissioners while negotiations with the British were underway and home to federal offices after the Revolutionary War. On Dec. 4, 1783, George Washington bid farewell to his officers at the end of the Revolutionary War on the second floor of the venue. According to the Sons of the Revolution, the Fraunces Tavern is the oldest surviving building in Manhattan.
“Amid the skyscrapers of Manhattan, it is rare to find early American history and the historic atmosphere preserved as well as it is at Fraunces Tavern,” says Jessica B. Phillips, executive director for the museum. “It’s not every day you can have a drink in one of Washington’s favorite restaurants.”
The nine-gallery museum can hold 100 guests cocktail-style, 60 for a lecture-style event and 50 for a sit-down meal. Specialized tours can be built into any private event. The restaurant itself has six event rooms with space for groups of 18-120. They serve hundreds of whiskeys and 130 craft beers and ciders.
“Our venue brings much more than just great food and beverage,” says Brianna McHugh, events coordinator for the restaurant. “Our history is something that is not offered anywhere else in the city.”