Historic restaurants in Boston

by Alan Maltzman on March 9, 2010

Old City Hall is the home of Ruth’s Chris Steak House

Everybody loves a good meal, but sometimes that’s just not enough.  For those of you who would like a dose of history with your dinner, Boston is the ideal place to get just the right mix.  Here are some of the top choices, although there are many more as well.

Boston’s Old City Hall, built in 1865 in the French Second Empire Style, is the home of the Ruth’s Chris Steak House. On the way in, check out Ben Franklin’s Statue, which is where the first public school in America was built. Hence its address: 45 School Street.

The Old City Hall is just across the street from The Omni Parker House Hotel (60 School Street), which was where visiting dignitaries would stay. It was Boston’s first hotel and opened in 1855. No discussion of famous Boston restaurants would be complete without noting Parker’s Restaurant at The Omni Parker House, where Parker House Rolls and the Boston Creme Pie were invented.

The Chart House is housed in Boston’s oldest wharf building (circa 1760). While it is in what is now known as The Gardiner Building, it once housed the offices of John Hancock and was known as “John Hancock’s Counting House.”  It’s located at 60 Long Wharf, just behind the Marriott Boston Long Wharf Hotel.

Perhaps the most famous restaurant in town is the Union Oyster House (41 Union Street), which was established in 1826 and claims to be America’s oldest restaurant. The building itself, located a few steps from Faneuil Hall, is even more long-standing and has served as a local landmark for over 250 years.  It’s best known now for its raw oyster bar.

Just a year after The Union Oyster House opened, Durgin-Park began a dining tradition that extends to this day. Be prepared for communal tables, feisty servers, and hearty, abundant New England fare. It’s located in historic Quincy Market at 340 Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

Finally is Mama Maria’s (3 North Square), a North End jewel that occupies an 1820 red-brick townhouse. This particular building became home to Mamma Maria in 1984, and is right across the North Square from Paul Revere’s House. From the time it opened, Mama Maria’s became known as one of the North End’s best upscale restaurants.

- Alan Maltzman of BostonCityWalks.com

Photo courtesy of Flickr user wallyg

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Leslie Kerr March 11, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Nice list, enjoy many of these as do my parents when they visit town. Wondering if Locke Ober would qualify for its old world feel and its late 1800′s inception.

Alan Maltzman March 11, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Locke Ober would make a great addition! By the way. Lydia Shire, one of Boson’s top chefs, bought and revamped the restaurant a few years ago.

Timothy April 27, 2010 at 11:53 pm

I think another great restaurant to add to this list would be Clink restaurant, located inside the Liberty Hotel, once an old jail house. This restaurant has lots of appeal and even has original jail cells. Very cool place that everyone should check out.


Shannon July 11, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Also, McGreevy’s 3rd Base Saloon at 911 Boylston Street is a fun pub and an exact replica of the original 3rd Base Saloon which was run by “Nuf Ced” McGreevy and recognized as America’s first sports bar, home of the Royal Rooters and credited for the birth of Red Sox Nation.

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