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Oct 10, 2009 08:14 AM

What old fine restaurants left in the USA?

I wonder which of the old, "legendary" restaurants in the US are left and still following their original "mission"?

In New York, there is La Grenouille, more than 40 years in business in the same location and by now the last of the old guard of fine French places with La Cote Basque, Le Pavillon, etc. gone....

Then there is Le Cirque, also rather long in business, but in changing locations.

Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia comes to mind, but I read, that the restaurant will be redone and reopen on a much more casual level, so the original mission of fine food in an exquisite ambiance with fine service seems over....

I do not know, if the Russian Tea Room would qualify?

What other dining establishments in the US are since a long time in business without a major interruption and can be called legendary?

New Orleans has possibly several and Boston as well, but I wonder which of these are actually very upscale as opposed to "just" good restaurants?

Of course this is not limited to French cooking,there must be some Italians, etc...

Visiting these places is a trip back in time for me, and I want to see them before they are gone...

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  1. Most diners do not appreciate a legendary restaurant continuing to do what made them famous. The decor and menu become "tired." They need to "innovate" and change with the times. Well, that is not what made them a legend. Try Peter Luger's for sticking with their game plan. Bern's in Tampa. Both happen to be steakhouses by the way (and Bern's now sells a lot of fish)

    2 Replies
    1. re: steakman55

      Yes, I am aware of that conundrum. Oftentimes there is no evolution in the restaurant and eventually the clients are getting tired of it or dying off and finally the restaurant closes... But iI am certain, that there are many places which evolved yet kept their standards and some of their classic dishes.

      1. re: steakman55

        but times and tastes DO change! you cannot berate people for having the tastes of their time and not the taste of another era. there was a time when these venerable old places were something fresh and new.

      2. The Original Pantry Cafe in Los Angeles since 1924 (85 years) and they've never closed their doors, open 24/7 and there are no locks on the door.
        "Never closed. Never without a customer."

        3 Replies
        1. re: monku

          If we're talking LA let's not forget Philippe's, home of the original French Dip (and that awesome mustard). Since 1908. Was there a couple of weeks ago after more than 10 years. Same as it ever was. Musso & Frank qualifies as well.

          1. re: monku

            The Pantry
            Musso & Frank

            sheesh ~~

            1. re: laliz

              Does El Tepeyac count?? Been open since the 50s? Manny must be pushin' 70 or 80 by now.....

          2. Brennan's in New Orleans comes to mind. Also the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station, New York City.

            Rao's - the best Italian place you'll never eat at - has been around for a million years. After a fire, they hired set designers to re-decorate the place *exactly* as it looked before.

            I'm delighted to see steakman55 mention Bern's in Tampa, Florida. I got ahold of a copy of their wine list from 1984 -- it's nearly 2,000 pages! Bern's is an institution with a rich history.

            Durgin Park in Boston is another institution that comes to mind. It's been reviewed poorly here on chowhound, however. I still like it.

            Finally, The Four Seasons in New York is still fresh and delightful after 50 great years - and going strong!

            5 Replies
            1. re: shaogo

              Uion Oyster House in Boston is the oldest, continuous operating restaurant in the US


              1. re: Sean

                The William Penn Inn in Gwynedd, PA has been in continuous operation since 1714 - if we are including inns as restaurants.

                1. re: Chefpaulo

                  The Griswold Inn in Essex CT has been a stagecoach stop / restaurant since revolutionary times -- that's 18th century, baby!!

                  1. re: Phurstluv

                    Long life, yes. Retained quality? Not so much.

                    1. re: feelinpeckish

                      Hey, it's not that bad, at least when I was there quite a few years back!!! But, again, IT"S AN OLD INN. I wasn't expecting the French Laundry or anything! Seemed to have decent food. And a long list of waiting people to get in.

                      And I don't think the rest of the replies are strictly "FINE' dining either. Take the Original Pantry in LA - it's old and a DUMP. But it's still there, serving up decent food to willing customers. I believe that's the point here.

            2. Antoine's ~~ New Orleans ~~ Since 1840

              Tujague's ~~ New Orleans ~~ Since 1856

              1. Three come to mind in Colorado:
                Buckhorn Exchange - since 1893, Colorado liquor license #1
                Palace Arms at the Brown Palace Hotel
                The Penrose Room at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs
                and a few others:
                The Cloisters, Sea Island, GA
                River Oaks C.C., Houston
                The Forge, Miami (some would disagree)