Union Oyster House

Culture / Historic Bar / Restaurant
Union Oyster House The oldest continually operating restaurant in the country, Union Oyster House has been forking up its namesake mollusk since 1826 in a building so old that nobody is quite sure when it was built. Boston United States 42.361268 -71.056889
3.38 9
Union Oyster House - Culture | Historic Bar | Restaurant in Boston.
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Ratings:
Lucas
Adriana
Jonah
Emma

Party Earth Review The oldest continually operating restaurant in the country, Union Oyster House has been forking up its namesake mollusk since 1826 in a building so old that nobody is quite sure when it was built. A major tourist hotspot... ... read full review

  • T Stop:

    Green and Blue Lines: Government Center Station; Green and Orange Lines: Haymarket Station

  • Phone:

    617-227-2750

  • Links:

  • Hours:

    M–Th, Su 11am–9:30pm, F–Sa 11am–10pm
    Union Bar open daily until midnight

  • Recommended as:

    • Day Spot
    • Night Spot

Party Earth Union Oyster House Review

The Scene

The oldest continually operating restaurant in the country, Union Oyster House has been forking up its namesake mollusk since 1826 in a building so old that nobody is quite sure when it was built.

The oldest continually operating restaurant in the country, Union Oyster House has been forking up its namesake mollusk since 1826 in a building so old that nobody is quite sure when it was built.

A major tourist hotspot, the bi-level venue’s main draw is the small ground floor oyster bar, where boisterous out-of-towners settle in along the curved counter to knock back half-shells and molasses-infused Colonial Ale, taking the time to peruse the murals of colonial Boston and clippings from The Massachusetts Spy, a newspaper published upstairs in the 1770s.

Larger parties of seafood seekers take over the narrow wooden booths or head to the adjacent Freedom Trail dining room, where history buffs gape at detailed artwork describing the American Revolution.

Patrons just looking for a pint of Sam Adams will find it in the Union Bar, a slightly more modern drinking den on the same floor, while shoppers can satiate their needs with a trip to the gift shop.

A narrow stairway leads to three equally historic dining spaces, usually filled with camera flashes as families pose by the wooden booth that was reportedly President John F. Kennedy’s favorite, and diners of all ages tear into fish, lobster, and oysters.

Although a section of the upstairs is named for Louis Philippe – the French king who lived in exile on the second floor prior to taking the throne – patrons looking for authenticity can rest assured that the food at Union Oyster House – from the signature shellfish to the clam chowder – is decidedly New England.

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Tip from Emma:

Union Oyster House validates parking in the Parcel #7 Garage, making it only $3 for three hours to park. The garage can be kind of tricky to find, though. If the restaurant is on your right, the garage is the brick building straight ahead. Make a left on Hanover Street, right on Congress Street, and then right again on Sudbury Street.

  • Crowd

    Hordes of tourists of every ilk, curious history lovers, die-hard seafood fans, families, young professionals, and a few Boston natives, mid-20s to late 40s+.

  • Entertainment / Music

    Historic paintings and furnishings including portraits of printer Isaiah Thomas and America’s “first” waitress, a fireplace by which King Louis Philippe used to sit and teach French, and John F. Kennedy’s favorite booth.

    Gift shop. Several flat-screens tuned mostly to Boston sports.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    Oysters and other New England favorites including Boston scrod, clam chowder, and lobster ravioli. A smaller menu with similar fare is available at Union Bar. Reservations strongly encouraged on weekends. Valet parking available M–Sa 5:30pm–close.

  • Prices

    Bar menu $6–$18, lunch menu $14–$20, appetizers $6.50–$15.50, ye olde entrées $20–$34, lobster market price, Oyster House specialties $22–$34, desserts $6.95–$7.95. Beer $5–$12, wine $7–$18, cocktails $8. Valet $15.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Mostly casual: jeans, t-shirts, skirts, comfortable tops.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Weekends for a packed crowd of tourists, or early afternoons midweek for the best chance of snagging the Kennedy booth.

  • Close By

    McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant (1 Faneuil Hall) doesn’t have the history of the Union Oyster House, but it does have a big patio, a fuller menu, and an extensive wine list.

Union Oyster House User Reviews

Average rating:
Stumbled Into History
Lorraine M. Oct 20, 2013
A week visiting the East Coast two years ago resulted in stumbling into the Union Oyster House. While the antiquity of Three Chimneys built in the 1600's in Durham, NH cannot compare to the newer built (1826) UOH the food is historically wonderful. A generous portion was served. Coming from California where we are used to Ciantro and Chile Peppers infusion present on almost dining establishments menu it was different to be presented with historical early American offering. The clam chowder lived up to expectations. The chips were divine. The booths were authentic because they were exactly that REALLY OLD. Artifacts abound here. The proximity of history and events are brought home when you dine down the street....along the path of the "freedom trail". All too often the thematic restaurants which attempt to bring yesterday into a calculated environment are missing one thing: age Standing outside one could see the age of the structure - it was not faux wood formulated from plaster and cinema techniques. An eating establishment cannot remain and live up to yesterday's history if the food is not priced fairly and presented well and tastes REALLY good. The Union Oyster House is memorable.
Wonderful!
Julianne W. Feb 25, 2013
I was very excited to go to the Union Oyster House for the first time, and it did not disappoint. On a chilly Saturday afternoon in January, me and my boyfriend ducked into the entrance at the Oyster House. The first thing we spotted was a tank of fresh lobsters floating around and we knew this place was for real. We had just eaten elsewhere so we sat down at the bar so I could get a dozen fresh oysters. We were greeted by the bartender with a thick british accent and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that they had Wellfleet oysters available that day- my favorite. When I got my dozen Wellfleet oysters, they were perfectly shucked, large,briny and fresh. The bartender was very personable and friendly and he provided us with some entertainment by grabbing one of the lobsters and putting a fork and napkin in his hands. Overall the experience was charming, rustic, and delicious. This place is a must for seafood and oyster lovers, and anyone looking for a great oyster experience.
union oyster!
Emilia G. Jan 13, 2013
I've been coming here since I was a kid! Unless you're going for the Oysters, the food is pretty standard pub fare. But if you're an American History buff, you should definitely make the trip. The place has been there for ages (it's a national historic landmark and the longest continuously serving restaurant in the US), and they tell you the favorite seats of famous Americans from years past. If you're looking for simple, no frills dining in an historic setting, check it out.
Union Oyster House
Kevin S. Dec 10, 2012
This place is 80% restaurant 20% bar. The sea food i pretty good, but I remember most of the food on the menu being fried. The clam chowder is really good. There is a cool bar near the front with limited seating. It is in a horse shoe shape and you can have your oysters shucked right in front of you at that bar.
Union Oyster House Bites!
Kimberly B. Aug 27, 2012
I hate to say it. I really do, but the Union Oyster House bites! I’m not sure it’s even worth the single star I gave it here; okay, maybe just the one, but only because it’s Boston’s (and thereby America’s) oldest restaurant. It’s super cute from the outside, and my first time peering in with Mamma and Mr. Mix by my side, we were compelled to go in for a taste test. Prime seating is at the original wooden bar where bowls of chowda’ and icy plates of East Coast oysters are served up from the window display. It’s picture perfect, and would make a great holiday setting, if it weren’t for the food. Once you open your mouth, I’m afraid it’s all downhill from there. The clam chowder may be the worst I’ve had. I would be shocked if it wasn’t processed gruel from Sysco or some similar industrial giant. The day we visited, they only had one type of oysters available: Blue Points…from LONG ISLAND. In a city of seafood, it made no sense to me that they would ship in oysters from New York. When Mr. Mix ordered their house made root-beer, he was dismayed to discover it was really just a generic, store-bought bottle branded with an Oyster House label. Balls. Union Oyster House is a place to see and not eat while walking the historic Freedom Trail. It might be a fine setting for a pint, but these days, their money is in the merchandise at their gift shop (!) and not on your plate.
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