This May Be The World's Oldest Restaurant

With new restaurants opening daily, "old" can take on a relative meaning when describing spots that have been around for a while. For many, the coffee shop down the street or the bar on the corner might seem old, even if they've only been around for just a couple of decades. But when we think about the world's actual oldest restaurants, we see that some spots have been around for a shockingly long time.

Condé Nast Traveler compiled a list of some of the oldest restaurants that included Boston's Union Oyster House (1826), which is now officially designated a National Historic Landmark (per Union Oyster House), Zur Letzten Instanz in Germany (which has been open since 1621 and visited by Napoleon and Beethoven), and Rules Restaurant in London, a pub that opened in 1798. However, There are also some restaurants that have been around much longer, but did not run continuously. In terms of the oldest restaurant that's been consistently open, there is one spot that many agree deserves the coveted title.

The oldest restaurant and its history

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Madrid's Restaurante Botín is the oldest restaurant. Founded by French cook Jean Botín and his wife in 1725, the eatery has been open ever since with the only exception being a short closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, per CNN. Botín's general manager Antonio González noted to CNN that the restaurant even kept its doors open through the Spanish Civil War (which lasted between 1936 and 1939). 

Now run by Antonio, his brother, José, and family member Carlos González, Botín menu includes roast suckling pig, stewed partridge, and grilled filet mignon Botín (per Botín's website). This is a far cry from what was offered when it first opened. According to CNN, it was customary in 1725 for Spanish restaurants not to actually serve food made at the restaurant as it was believed to hurt other businesses. Rather, guests brought their own items which were cooked for them.

Though its menu caters to a modern diner, Restaurante Botín retains much of its original charm with its firewood oven and its interior aesthetic which dates back to renovations made by Jean Botín at its opening.

Sometimes you need to travel to experience spots with such a history. Sure, you can hit up the "old" restaurant in your neighborhood but it may not hold the same Old World essence as Restaurante Botín.