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
41 Union Street
Boston, MA 02108
Green and Blue Lines: Government Center Station; Green and Orange Lines: Haymarket Station
M–Th, Su 11am–9:30pm, F–Sa 11am–10pm
Union Bar open daily until midnight
Downtown / Financial District, Boston –
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.
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.
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+.
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.
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.
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.
Mostly casual: jeans, t-shirts, skirts, comfortable tops.
Weekends for a packed crowd of tourists, or early afternoons midweek for the best chance of snagging the Kennedy booth.
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.