First opened in 1673, the White Horse Tavern in Newport, RI is the oldest restaurant in the US.
New England is, of course, full of historical gems– I mean, Boston alone is home to at least a dozen them–but despite their high status as museums, monuments and battlefields, none are quite like Newport’s White Horse Tavern. Built in 1652, the historic tavern has been welcoming hungry Americans since even before the US was born. The building is considered a National Landmark and it’s even among the 10 oldest restaurants in the world!
Originally meant as a private residence for English immigrant, Francis Brinley, the White Horse was built in 1652. The two-story building complete with clapboard walls, a gambrel roof, giant wooden beams and cavernous fireplaces, was the quintessential 17th-century American residence. Just 20 years later, Brinley sold his house to William Mayes, Sr. who converted the building into a tavern in 1673.
Since then, the White horse has been through some serious history involving Criminal Courts, pirates–yes, William Mayes, Jr. who inherited the tavern from his father, was actually a notorious pirate from the Red Sea, very popular with the townspeople!–and the American Revolution.
Fast forward 350 years of history (and a house renovation involving the addition of a third floor to the old residence) and the White Horse Tavern is still doing what it does best–feeding our empty bellies. Nowadays, the tavern functions as an upscale restaurant serving excellent New American fare in the heart of historic Newport. Its contemporary menu features a rotating selection of New England classics, such as clam chowder and lobster bisque, as well as other classic dishes including steak frites and beef Wellington.
The White Horse Tavern is even working through the pandemic offering both indoor and outdoor dining at its gorgeous patio. Unfortunately for us Bostonians, we might have to wait a little while longer until we make the trip out to the White Horse Tavern since Rhode Island is currently considered a high-risk state under Massachusetts’ current travel order. But we just can’t wait to be able to head across the border just to contribute our little grain of sand in the history of the US’s longest-running restaurant!
[Featured image: Wikimedia Commons]