17 Oldest Restaurants In The World
The restaurant business can be rough, with many establishments not making it past their first year. Some statistics even put the failure rate for restaurants at 70% before they make it to five years (via Perry Group.) Those are not particularly uplifting statistics. However, not all restaurants are doomed to fail, and if you make it past that initial half decade, restaurants are more likely to become treasured parts of the community. Some will last 10 years or more. Even fewer, though, will be carried on for generations. Those select few can become pillars of their cities and important pieces of world history.
If you have ever wondered what the oldest restaurants in the world are, the answer may surprise you: The oldest date back over 1,000 years. Amazingly, many restaurants founded centuries ago are still around today and are located all over the world. Eating at one of these restaurants is like eating a piece of history. Some have moved from their original locations, while others have adapted or changed over time, but they remained in business through good and bad to serve generations of customers.
St. Peter Stiftskulinarium, 803
The first and oldest restaurant on this list is St. Peter’s Stiftskulinarium. It is located in St. Peter’s Abbey in Salzburg, Austria. The official opening date is 803 CE, making this joint over one thousand years old — the oldest restaurant in Europe (via St. Peter). St. Peter’s Stiftskulinarium is able to claim its age based on historic documentation from Charlemagne’s reign that mentions the restaurant.
Entering this establishment is as dramatic and awe-inspiring as one could possibly hope. The building itself is built into the rock and is located next to St. Peter’s Cathedral. There are eleven different rooms featuring unique designs, including the antique stone of what used to be a wine cellar, ornate detail fit for royalty, hand-carved wood, and rustic decor. You could eat here over and over again and always feel like you are in a new dining experience.
Of course, a restaurant doesn’t last this long without offering top-notch quality food. St. Peter’s Stiftskulinarium prides itself on using only the best ingredients to create gourmet food experiences. Because of this, the restaurant has earned a shoutout from a number of culinary organizations, including Michelin recognition in 2022.
While the second oldest restaurant did not come around until several hundred years later, it is nonetheless impressive. What started as a humble food stand in Regensburg, Germany, has survived and evolved for hundreds of years, remaining one of the oldest restaurants in the world.
It all started with the construction of the stone bridge. The workers on the bridge needed an office, so they put it in a building leaning on a nearby wall. When construction finished in 1146, the office moved out, and the building became a food stall serving boiled meat popular with the many construction workers still working on other projects and those coming into port (via Wurstkuchl).
The restaurant had its first dramatic shift in 1806. The city treasury, which owned the restaurant, sold it to Wolfgang Schricker. It is thought this was the catalyst for the food upgrade to more refined sausages. Wurstkuchl is still standing today, making its own sausages, mustard, and other German foods for hungry guests. If you can not make it to Germany, you can even now order some of their products online.
The Old House, 1147
Just one year after the opening of Wurstkuchl, the aptly named The Old House was founded. The restaurant is located near Maesteg, in the village of Llangynwyd, Wales. It is considered the oldest pub in Wales and one of the world’s oldest restaurants (via The Old House). Once again, as the name so helpfully shows, the establishment dates back to 1147, when it was created as a public house (via History Hit). However, the credibility of the age was established through the building’s storage area known as a "cwtch," which is from the 12th century.
The Old House has been through multiple owners and various architectural changes over the years. In 2017 it was reimagined once again and restored, with the Cwtch becoming a cozy dining area. Now, you can book a picturesque room in The Old House inn and eat from a delightful menu that does not stray too far from its pub origins. They provide interesting gastropub-style fare, including their take on classic Welsh dishes such as Welsh Rarebit Mac n’ Cheese (via The Old House 1147).
Ma Yu Ching’s Bucket Chicken House, 1153
Ma Yu Ching Bucket Chicken House is one of the oldest restaurants in the world, dating back to 1153. The restaurant has undergone many location changes during its operation and has managed to survive through many turbulent eras of Chinese history. It has also remained a family-run operation for most of its long and impressive history.
The first Ma Yu Ching Bucket house opened in 1153 (via The Economist). It is unclear if the restaurant originated in Nanjing or Kaifeng, but we do know that the Ma family opened their restaurant in Nanjing after fleeing Kaifeng due to an invasion (via Rad II). Over 500 years later, in 1855, Ma Youren, a descendant of the original owner, moved and soon reopened a restaurant stall back in Kaifeng (via The Chinese Quest). Yet another branch of Ma Yu Ching’s opened in 1954 in Zhengzhou.
The restaurant specializes in "bucket chicken," a style of cooking chicken where it is cut open, and poached in broth, creating a "bucket" of flavor before being sliced and prepared for customers to take. Ma Yu Ching has very little online presence, helping it to retain that local, family-style feel.
Piwnica Świdnicka, 1273
Coming in as our only 13th-century restaurant is Poland’s Piwnica Świdnicka, founded in 1273 and located in Wroclaw (via Piwnica Świdnicka). It is rare to find solid documentation to prove the age of a business this old, but Piwnica Świdnicka has succeeded. Checks for beer sold at Piwnica Świdnicka have been found, confirming the operating years of the restaurant (via 3Seas Europe).
The restaurant closed for a few years starting in 2017, but thankfully it is now back and serving up cuisine to patrons. Piwnica Świdnicka looks like something out of a movie, with its impressive ornate entrance that leads into the stunning medieval cellar where the restaurant is housed. The restaurant offers a wide array of refined foods and drinks that will take you back to its 13th-century origins (via WMenu). After the brief hiatus, we are happy to see this restaurant open for business once again.
The Sheep Heid Inn, 1360
The Sheep Heid Inn is one of Scotland’s oldest restaurants, established in 1360 as a public meeting house and residing in the beautiful, cozy city of Edinburgh (via Scotlands Pubs and Bars). It is said to have played host to a large variety of historical figures, including writers Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Burns, as well as singer Kelly Clarkson (via Insider). It has even hosted local royalty, including Bonnie Prince Charlie and Queen Elizabeth II.
Despite playing host to such stardom, the restaurant does not present itself in a pretentious or upscale manner, instead holding on to its charming pub roots. The interior is quaint and clean, having been lovingly restored and maintained (via The Sheep Heid Inn). The menu is likely not what it was in the 14th century, but that’s fine by us. Today they offer a wide-ranging menu that includes plenty of vegan options and fusion dishes, as well as a simple steak. They seem to be maintaining the ability to please their contemporary patrons and continue operating as a lovely, historical pub.
Bianyifang Roast Duck, 1416
Bianyifang Roast Duck restaurant was established in 1461 in Beijing (via My Beijing China), though some sources do not cite its opening until the 1500s (via Visit Beijing). Regardless of which date is most accurate, Bianyfang is still one of the oldest restaurants in the world — and likely the oldest roast duck restaurant.
Roast duck is an important food in Beijing. Its history is traced back to the Yuan Dynasty of 1206-1368, with documentation showing it listed as one of the imperial dishes. There are two methods of making roast duck, one which uses direct heat from a fire and one which uses radiant heat. Bianyifang uses the latter. Before roasting, the duck is filled with a broth which keeps the inside soft and juicy while the outside gets crispy. Along with more classic roast duck dishes, Bianyifang’s menu also features duck feet, tongue, and heart.
Since the restaurant’s establishment, additional locations have opened. The oldest is Hademen Bianyifang in Chongwenmen.
Honke Owariya, 1465
The next oldest restaurant can be found in Kyoto, Japan. Honke Owariya started as a humble confectionery shop in 1465 (via Honke Owariya). The shop lasted hundreds of years, with each generation expanding and innovating new recipes for the restaurant. In the late 1860s, a dish called soba mochi was created and became one of their signatures. Soba mochi is made with cooked red beans wrapped in a soba-flavored crust and topped with black sesame seeds. The shop has also become known for soba-ita, a sweet buckwheat cracker, as well as many other delicious treats.
Now in its 16th generation, this is still a family-run business. The shop continues to offer many of these treats but has also become a full restaurant with much more fare, including classic soba noodles.
There are now two locations. The original shop and confection store near Old Imperial Palace sit next to each other. The second location is in Takashimaya Department Store.
La Campana, 1518
It is hard to think of Italy without thinking of its cuisine. That is why our next restaurant comes as no surprise. In 1518, La Campana, now the oldest restaurant in Italy’s capital city Rome, opened its doors (via All About Italy). The establishment actually takes its name from the nearby alley. La Campana is owned by the Trancassini family, who have owned the restaurant for over 100 years. The family has stated that they have "archival documents" that prove the age of the restaurant (via Wanted in Rome).
The entrance is tucked into the side of a stone building (via Yelp). The restaurant is located in the city’s historic portion near Palazzo Montecitorio. La Campana serves classic Roman meals such as coda alla vaccinara, artichoke alla giudia, and cacio e pepe. The restaurant has played host to numerous impressive guests, such as the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards and French president Emmanuel Macron. If you find yourself in Rome, check out this piece of Italian culinary history.
La Tour d’Argent, 1582
Next to Italy, it is impossible to think of food capitals without thinking of France, and in particular, Paris. La Tour d’Argent was founded in 1582 as a hostel known as L’Hôstellerie de La Tour d’Argent (via Tour d’Argent). The restaurant is so old they even predate forks in France and claim to be the first place they were introduced to King Henry IV of France, who became a regular of the joint.
La Tour d’Argent has managed to withstand multiple political upheavals throughout French history and continues to adapt and provide quality meals. During the French Revolution, the restaurant was closed for a time but was rebuilt in 1830 and took off once more. The restaurant continued to play host to an impressive array of guests. In 1911, André Terrail bought the restaurant and began the process of upgrading the decor, which included adding two levels to the building and new dishes to the menu. Today the restaurant is still owned by the Terrail family and is run by Terrail’s grandson, also named André Terrail.
Zur Letzten Instanz, 1621
The official opening of Zur Letzten Instanz was in 1621 in Berlin, Germany (via Letzten Instanz). That said, the company notes their building dates back to 1561. According to Walled in Berlin, the building started as a family house before being converted into a bar. The bar then turned into a restaurant. The restaurant has changed over the years, with the building being sold and renamed.
The current iteration was named in 1924. World War Two almost spelled the end for this historic restaurant, as it was severely damaged. Luckily though, in 1961 Zur Letzten Instanz was revamped and reopened. However, the remodel involved tearing down the original building as well as the two adjoining buildings for new construction. While this made for a spacious restaurant, it means that there are little to no historical pieces of the building left to enjoy. That said, despite the changes made over time, the spirit of the original restaurant remains intact, earning it a space on this list.
White horse Tavern, 1673
Many of the restaurants on this list are older than the United States — a reminder of how young the nation truly is. Still, the White Horse Tavern gets to claim the title of the oldest restaurant in the U.S. The tavern was established in 1673 in Newport, Rhode Island, over a hundred years before the United States gained its independence from British rule (via White Horse Newport).
The building was originally made as a two-room house for Francis Brinley in 1652. In 1673 the building was purchased by William Mayes, Sr. and turned into a tavern. The location was passed down through generations until 1730, when Jonathan Nichols bought it and gave it the name White Horse Tavern.
In 1954 the White Horse Tavern was saved from potential demolition by the Preservation Society of Newport County. Today the building still stands, now including an additional third floor with a gabled roof. The inside still features a large fireplace that gives a homey historical feel that will take you back in time to colonial America.
A La Petite Chaise, 1680
La Petite Chaise opened its doors for the first time in Paris in 1680 in a 1610 building that had previously been a wine shop (via La Petite Chaise). The restaurant has played host to a number of famous guests, including writers François-René de Chateaubriand, George Sand, and Alfred de Musset, as well as the daughter of Jules Hardouin-Mansart, the architect who designed the Versailles Hall of Mirrors (via Château de Versailles).
The inside of the restaurant gives a historical feel with exposed stone walls, wooden rafters, beautiful chandeliers, and ornately decorated walls (via La Petite Chaise). The walls are adorned in reds and oranges, giving the restaurant a warm touch. The menu is everything you can hope for from a French establishment, offering delicate appetizers and expertly crafted entries featuring foods such as foie gras and Camembert cheese. This really is an experience no history or food fan will want to miss out on during their next trip to Paris.
Restaurante Sobrino de Botín, 1725
Restaurante Sobrino de Botín is recognized as the oldest continuously operated restaurant by the Guinness Book of World Records (via Insider). It was opened in 1725 in Madrid, Spain. The original name of the restaurant was Casa Botín. The building dates back to at least 1590 (via Botín).
The González family purchased the restaurant during the 20th century and continues to own and operate it to this day. They even kept Botín open during the Spanish Civil War by repurposing it as a dining place for military personnel. It is said that during this time, Ernest Hemingway, then working as a reporter covering the Civil War, became a regular. His novel "The Sun Also Rises" ends with a scene in the restaurant.
The restaurant now occupies four floors, which have been preserved to provide a historical and "charming" atmosphere. The menu has several Spanish favorites on it, including chipirones, garlic shrimp, Madrid-style tripe, and morcilla. Much of the food is cooked on the wood-fired oven that has been in the restaurant since 1725 and has reportedly never been put out during its life. If that doesn’t taste of history, we don’t know what does.
Fraunces Tavern, 1762
Located in one of the world’s most popular destinations — New York City, New York — is Fraunces Tavern, which was founded during the American Revolutionary War in 1762. The building is now a designated national landmark (via Fraunces Tavern). The building also played a notable role in American History. After the last British troops left American soil on December 4th, 1783, George Washington gathered his army to the Tavern to thank them for their service. This is recollected in "The Memoirs of Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge," which is displayed in the tavern.
The outside of the building presents a beautiful red brick colonial facade, and the inside features rusting design elements, such as exposed beams and wooden tables and benches. In addition, there are more refined rooms with ornate detail and plush seating. The building currently has two bars, the Independence and the Hideout, a dining room, a piano bar, and private dining options. They still offer an extensive bar selection as well as a full tavern menu.
Rules Restaurant, 1798
Rules restaurant was established in London, England, in 1798 by Thomas Rule (via Rules). Since then, the restaurant has had two additional family ownerships. Just before World War I, Charles Rule, a descendant of Thomas, swapped restaurants with Tom Bell. Bell owned a restaurant in Paris called Alhambra. Bell’s daughter sold the restaurant to John Mayhew in 1984, who owns it today. As with many of the prestigious historic restaurants, many important figures throughout history have dined there. Rules boasts visits by authors Charles Dickens and H.G. Wells, as well as actor Laurence Olivier, among other notables.
The inside of the restaurant speaks of old-world elegance. Red velvet adorns the benches and booths, and wood paneling, murals, and art can be found on the walls. The exterior, too, has a classy entrance with Rules written in gold on the red awning. The restaurant today hosts a pleasant bar with a range of cocktails. In addition, they offer a large selection of meat dishes such as breast of pheasant, roasted crown of mallard, and, when in seas, Rules’ famous grouse (via Rules).
Union Oyster House, 1826
Finally, the baby of the list and the only restaurant founded in the past two hundred years, is Union Oyster House, located in Boston, Massachusetts (via Union Oyster House). Union Oyster House is a designated National Historic Landmark as of 2003. The building was constructed between 1716 and 1717. Prior to being a restaurant, the building was home to a dry goods store (via Union Oyster House). It is considered the oldest continually operated restaurant and oyster bar in the United States (via Union Oyster House).
After it became a restaurant, a semi-circle oyster bar was installed, a bar that still stands today. The Union Oyster House has also not passed through hands many times, having been owned by just three families in nearly two hundred years, and has been owned by the Milano family since 1970.
The Oyster House has a large menu that unsurprisingly focuses on seafood — specifically, you guessed it, oysters. As the National Historic Landmark designation notes, it is a rare remaining example of brick Georgian architecture in Boston. The outside offers a notable red brick facade. The inside, too, has touches of colonial charm through exposed bricks and beams. Even more modern additions, such as the oyster bar, retain a classic heritage that makes this restaurant fun to dine at.