November 2017 Culinary Depot Blog Posts

    6 of the Oldest Restaurants in America

    Written by: J. Vigotsky


    Dining out at local eating establishments is a time-honored tradition that nearly everyone can appreciate. The food, the ambiance, and the people are just a few reasons why going to a restaurant is so special. And while America has been around for nearly 250 years, some of its restaurants date back even further than that. The following list includes 6 of the oldest restaurants in the United States. Take a trip back in time by visiting any one of them.


    Griswold Inn – Essex, CT


    6 of the oldest restaurants in america - the griswold inn


    This classy establishment has run continuously since its inception all the way back in 1776. Providing shelter and sustenance to shipyard workers who built vessels during the Revolutionary War, the Griswold Inn successfully stood the test of time. The tavern was captured by British troops during the war of 1812 and briefly turned into a base of operations. Playing host to a long list of historical figures like Mark Twain, Katherine Hepburn, Albert Einstein, and even George Washington, the Griswold Inn gives patrons the chance to dine with the ghosts of legends.

    For visitors who want the deluxe experience, the Griswold Inn has 33 rooms for overnight stays. Antiques populate rooms, and there are no televisions. Instead, classical music sets an elegant ambiance that transports to diners to a different time and place. To this day, many of the restaurants original decorations are still place. Despite this throwback atmosphere, the Griswold Inn thankfully features modern bathrooms.


    White Horse Tavern – Newport, RI


    white horse tavern


    Founded in 1673, the White Horse Tavern is the oldest and certainly one of the most unique restaurants in America. In nearly 350 years since it was founded, this Rhode Island bar has sheltered pirates and also briefly became a boardinghouse. The restaurant fell into disarray before being restored in the 1950s. Delicious drinks like the Darn and Stormy, a classic cocktail that combines rum and ginger beer, keep local patrons coming back for more—even after all these years.


    Fraunces Tavern – New York, NY


    fraunces tavern


    Located in NYC’s Financial District, the building that eventually became Fraunces Tavern was built in 1686. Initially home to NYC mayor Stephanus Van Cortlandt, the building was eventually sold to Samuel Frances—who renovated the building and transformed it into a successful tavern in 1762.

    The Sons of Liberty—a secret society formed by John Hancock and Samuel Adams to protect the rights of America’s colonists—regularly met at Fraunces Tavern prior to the American Revolution. The tavern was also the site of a dinner held in 1783 for George Washington and his troops.  The gathering was in celebration of Washington pushing the British army out of New York.

    Today, the Fraunces Tavern has expanded to occupy an entire block and include five separate buildings. The traditional restaurant includes 8 separate dining spaces, and a museum commemorating the tavern’s history features 9 distinct galleries.  


    Union Oyster House – Boston, MA


    union oyster house


    This Union Oyster House building was erected in the early 1700s and originally served as a formal dress store. Expansion in 1771 welcomed the “The Massachusetts Spy” newspaper to the building’s second floor, but it wasn’t until 1826 when the Atwood & Bacon Oyster house was born. That same year, the restaurant changed its name to the Union Oyster House and hasn’t looked back since. Today, the restaurant is a National Historic Landmark and holds the title of longest continuously operated restaurant in America.

    With an elegant, New England-themed interior, the Union Oyster House features paintings, framed newspapers, an even beautiful dioramas. Its menu consists of traditional New England seafood like oysters, clams, and lobsters. A favorite establishment of famous diners like the Kennedy family and Daniel Webster, who was well-known for devouring several plates of oysters at a time, the classic restaurant is also rumored to be where the toothpick was popularized.


    Antoine’s Restaurant – New Orleans, LA


    6 of the oldest restaurants in America - Antoine's restaurant


    The oldest family-run restaurant in the United States, Antoine’s Restaurant boasts sophisticated décor and has been serving delicious Louisiana Creole cuisine since 1840. It’s located in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter and is known for being the birthplace of oysters Rockefeller.

    Steeped in rich history, Antoine’s Restaurant features private rooms named after Carnival krewes like Rex, Proteus, and the 12th Night Revelers. During Carnival season, these krewes are the organizations that put on Bourbon Street’s famous Mardi Gras parade.

    Perhaps the most interesting part of Antoine’s Restaurant is the Mystery Room, which earned its name during the prohibition era. While alcohol was outlawed, patrons would go through a door in the ladies room that led to a secret room, which served coffee spiked with booze. When drinkers returned to their tables and were asked where they’d gotten the coffee, they’d simply respond, “It’s a mystery to me.” There are several other rooms throughout the restaurant, each of which has its own interesting story.


    Tadich Grill – San Francisco, CA


    tadich grill


    When thousands of ambitious prospectors headed west in search of gold in 1849, they needed something to help keep them going. Capitalizing on the opportunity, a small coffee stand opened to give prospectors much-needed energy boosts. The coffee stand was bought out by John Tadich in 1887 and quickly became a full-fledge restaurant. That restaurant was named the Tadich Grill and lays claim to being the first in the U.S. to cook seafood on a mesquite charcoal grill.

    Today, the Tadich Grill still specializes in serving fresh seafood. Refusing to take reservations, the restaurant is usually packed with diners during lunch and dinner. So if you plan to go, it’s best to arrive on the early side.



    5 of the Best Food Destinations in the World

    Written by: J. Vigotsky


    While the United States has no shortage of outstanding food cities, there are 194 other countries in the world that feature their own delicious meals. International food cities offer diners unique experiences that are truly one of a kind, and the following list contains 5 of the best food destinations in the world.


    Florence, Italy


    florence italy


    A number of Italian cities could have made this list. But for brevity’s sake, we’re listing only Florence. The capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, Florence benefits from its proximity to wine country and local farms. Easy access to maremma cows and olive farms enables restaurants to serve some of the freshest cheeses, T-bone steaks, and olive oil in all of Italy. Although most bread in Florence is still made without salt, a lingering effect of Florentines refusing to pay a salt tax in the 12th century, the city’s delicious schiacciata is an exception to the rule and warrants at least a taste.

    And of course—no visit to Italy is complete without some pizza and gelato. Florence has no shortage of either. For more adventurous diners, a lampredotto is worth a taste. Often served in a sandwich, the meal features the fourth stomach of a cow and is a common street dish in Florence.


    Lyon, France


    lyon france dining


    Beating out cities like Paris and Bordeaux for French supremacy, Lyon is the ultimate location for a classic French meal. Featuring world-famous 91-year old French chef Paul Bocuse and his renowned restaurant Bocuse d’Or, the city is home to several Michelin-Star restaurants. In addition to its myriad of gourmet restaurants that serve traditional haute cuisine and are flush with artwork, decorations, and chandeliers, Lyon also has a wide range of smaller, more affordable bouchons that serve traditional foods like sausage, duck pate, and roast pork. The city’s easy access to vineyards ensures its dining establishments are always well-stocked with an impressive selection of varying wines.


    San Sebastian, Spain


    san sebastian dining


    Also known as Donastia, San Sebastian is located on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and is almost right on the French border. The city is a popular tourist destination and is well-known for its Basque cuisine. With the second most Michelin stars per square feet in the world, San Sebastian features a large assortment of elegant restaurants as well as more casual pintxos bars.

    Perhaps the crown jewel of the San Sebastian dining experience is the Murgaritz restaurant. One of the top dining establishments in the world according to Restaurant Magazine, Murgaritz chef Andoni Aduriz uses fresh herbs and produce that are grown in a garden behind the restaurant. For a spectacular San Sebastian culinary experience that doesn’t take place in a restaurant, check out the local La Brecha market. Offering a wide variety of fresh fish, the market is perfect for seafood lovers.


    Tokyo, Japan


    tokyo japan dining


    With more than 220 Michelin-starred restaurants, Tokyo has more Michelin stars than any other city in the world. Perhaps even more impressive, the city has more Michelin stars than Paris and New York combined! Whether you’re looking for a high-end dining experience that includes some of the best sushi in the world or you prefer a simple yet delicious soba dish from a noodle shop, this Japanese metropolis has you covered. The city’s chefs strive to approach traditional Japanese with a modern mindset, and the results speak for themselves.

    Tokyo is also home to the famous Tsukiji fish market—where over 5 million pounds of fish are sold almost every day. Much of this fish is used to make sushi in the city’s best restaurants. In addition to outstanding seafood, Tokyo is also known for using only the freshest, seasonal vegetables. This is a direct result of farmland being located in nearby Western Tokyo. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be conveniently sent throughout the city, ensuring diners receive restaurant meals that are second to none.


    Bangkok, Thailand


    bangkok thailand food


    Famously affordable, Bangkok offers street meals for as little as $1 USD. Flavor-filled Thai food ranges from sweet to spicy to salty to sour. And the remarkable thing is—you can experience that whole scope of flavors in just one meal!

    Thai food is inspired by a blend of Chinese, Malysian, Indonesian, and Myanmarese cuisine. Popular dishes include pad thai, som tum, cashew chicken, and beef massaman. The delicious scents of sautéed chilies and galangal overtake entire streets at a time in Bangkok, imploring citizens to stop and eat even when they’re not hungry.



    Indulging in the delicious food of foreign countries is a great reason to travel internationally. So make sure your passport is up to date and book your flight today! 

    Planning a Thanksgiving Feast

    Written by: J. Vigotsky


    planning a thanksgiving feast


    As the calendar flips to November, everyone’s attention turns to Thanksgiving. A holiday that features perhaps the most festive meal of the year for Americans, Thanksgiving is best-known for its large dinners and extensive family gatherings. Although November 23 is still a few weeks away, it’s never too early to start planning your feast. Whether you’re a restaurant, caterer, or just an ambitious cook preparing dinner in his own home kitchen, this post will help you plan your Thanksgiving Day feast.


    Side Dishes


    thanksgiving side dishes


    While the Thanksgiving turkey is the day’s main attraction, it’s the side dishes that enable chefs to really flex their culinary muscles. When deciding on what side dishes to offer, make a conceited effort to vary ingredients. Some dishes should be sweet, others spicy, and others sour. Variety is key to providing guest with a balanced and fulfilling Thanksgiving meal.

    It’s also important not to serve too many variations of one food. For example, no Thanksgiving dinner is complete without a potato-based side dish. But at the same time, nobody wants to chow down on sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and fingerling potatoes. So rather than overwhelm diners with starch, offer another dish that’ll broaden the scope of your food items.

    Food at a Thanksgiving table should look as good as it tastes. Decorate your table with aesthetically pleasing dishes like deep-red cranberry sauce, golden cornbread, and leafy-green broccoli. All the colors will work together to make your Thanksgiving a beautiful kaleidoscope of mouth-watering food.


    New Spins on Old Classics


    curry carrots


    Thanksgiving honors tradition that dates back hundreds of years. But that doesn’t mean our forefathers would be averse to a bit of experimentation in the kitchen. For stuffing, try a cheesy spinach dish or maybe even a quinoa-based option. You can give your carrots an extra kick with by infusing them with honey, curry, and olive oil then roasting to perfection. No matter what classic dish you want to give a modern makeover, there’ll be plenty of unique recipe available for free online. Simply Google what you’re looking for and browse the results until you find the perfect recipe.


    The Turkey


    thanksgiving turkey


    Undoubtedly the crown jewel of any Thanksgiving dinner, the turkey is one thing chefs can’t mess up come supper time. It’s okay to take a few chances with side dishes and give diners something they might not have had before. But being bold with the turkey is a good way to make some new enemies. It’s one thing if you’re a seasoned chef who has made plenty of turduckens and deep fried turkeys in his day. But for novices and those who aren’t so experienced, it’s best to do things by the book and make a basic turkey that everyone will enjoy.           




    thanksgiving dessert


    By the end of an enormous Thanksgiving dinner, there’s a good chance that no one will have any desire to eat dessert. But as always, diners will conjure the appetite to scarf down at least a few sugary treats. Pies are always popular choices on Thanksgiving. Apples and pumpkins are both in season come late November, and baking pies in the crisp, autumn weather just seems right. Sweet potato pie and pecan pie are also great choices, especially for a sweet tooth.

    Keep in mind what dishes you served earlier when deciding what sort of pie(s) you want to feature for dessert. If you served apples in some capacity as an appetizer or in stuffing, it’s to best to make a different type of pie. The same ideas applies if you made a pumpkin pot pie or served pecans as appetizers. And of course—a little whipped cream or old fashioned vanilla ice cream will help your pie taste delicious as possible.

    Some coffee—decaf and caffeinated—should also be in order. This is especially important for diners who have long rides home. They’ll understandably be feeling a bit sluggish by this point in the evening, and a hot cup of Joe is the perfect remedy.


    Special Considerations


    thanksgiving veggie burger


    While turkey is certainly festive and delicious, not every attendee will be so anxious to indulge in the traditional Thanksgiving entrée. That’s why it’s important to have an alternative plan that’ll keep vegans and vegetarians both satisfied and well-fed. One option is to offer protein-dense tofu in lieu of turkey. Another idea is to offer veggie burgers. Even though there’s already likely plenty of side dishes to eat, catering to the specific needs of all diners is a nice gesture that will let your guests know you care.