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Soak Up Boston's History at These 25 Classic Restaurants and Bars

In honor of Classics Week, these are 25 of Boston's most classic restaurants, including some truly old specimens.

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In honor of Classics Week, these are 25 of Boston's most classic restaurants, including some truly old specimens.

In a city like Boston, there are so many restaurants and pubs that can boast standing the test of time — but "classic" can mean many things. On one hand, it can be a historic spot, frequented by the likes of Paul Revere, and on the other hand, it can just be a restaurant that has been around seemingly forever, and Bostonians can't imagine life or a certain neighborhood without it.

Laid out in this map, there are restaurants and pubs from the whole range of "classics." Some are so historically rich that it'd be hard to compile a list of these proportions without including them. Others have more quietly stood the test of time, occupying a soft spot in many a Bostonian's heart.

Note: Map points are not ranked; they are in alphabetical order.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Marliave

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10 Bosworth St
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 422-0004
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Named from its original owner, Henry Marliave, a French immigrant from Paris, this restaurant opened its doors in 1885. The building still maintains that old French feel, and there are pictures from the restaurant's history proudly hanging on the wall. [Photo: Rachel Leah Blumenthal]

2. Green Dragon Tavern

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11 Marshall St
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 367-0055
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While this bar, which first opened its doors all the way back in 1654, tends to attract the younger residents of the city, it's hard to pass up a pint at the bar that was frequented by John Hancock and Paul Revere, where it's said that his plans for his infamous ride were overheard. [Photo: Facebook]

3. Caffe Vittoria

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296 Hanover St
Boston, MA 02113
(617) 227-7606
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This North End cafe and bar opened in 1929 as the first Italian cafe in Boston. Still a popular destination, the space maintains that vintage, old-world charm with lots of elaborate, vintage cappuccino and espresso makers on display. [Photo: Facebook]

4. Amrheins Restaurant

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80 W Broadway
Boston, MA 02127-1018
(617) 268-6189
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Located in South Boston, where it has been for over a century, Amrheins boasts the oldest hand-carved bar in America as well as the first draft beer pump in Boston. [Photo: Facebook]

5. Bova's Bakery

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134 Salem St
Boston, MA 02113
(617) 523-5601
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A bakery that, in addition to sweet treats and breads, also sells Italian pastas, sauces, and pizzas. Bova's is a Boston rarity in that it is open 24 hours, making it a beloved spot to satisfy a craving anytime it strikes. It's been that way since 1932, and it's been family owned and operated ever since. [Photo: Yelp]

6. Cabot's Ice Cream & Restaurant

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743 Washington St
Newton, MA 02460
(617) 964-9200
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Since 1969, Cabot's has been a beloved Newton icon. Especially known for its ice cream sundaes and classic diner fare, the space itself hasn't changed much since it opened — and the hope is that it never will. [Photo: Facebook]

7. China Pearl Restaurant

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9 Tyler St
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 426-4338
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One of the oldest restaurants in Boston's Chinatown, this gigantic spot is known for dim sum. [Photo: Facebook]

8. Doyle's Cafe

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3484 Washington St
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
(617) 524-2345
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Dating back to 1882, Doyle's is an Irish bar in Jamaica Plain that has an impressive collection of artifacts on display. There's a whole room dedicated to John Fitzgerald, JFK's grandfather. Doyle's is also the first bar to serve Sam Adams beer. [Photo: Facebook]

9. East Coast Grill & Raw Bar

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1271 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 491-6568
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One of the younger entries on the list, East Coast Grill opened in Inman Square in 1985 and is known for its seafood — not to mention its fiery fare, especially on its popular "Hell Nights." It was sold a couple years back to longtime employees, but has, thankfully, changed little. [Photo: Facebook]

10. Harvest

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44 Brattle St
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 868-2255
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A Harvard Square classic since the 1970s, Harvest has had a slew of top culinary talent pass through the kitchen. Spotlighting New England cuisine in a modern way, Harvest has been the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions. Just a few days ago, Harvest reopened after several weeks of major renovations. [Photo: Official Source]

11. J.J. Foley's Cafe

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117 E Berkeley St
Boston, MA 02118
(617) 728-9101
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A South End institution, JJ Foley's has been around since 1909. It is the oldest continuously family-owned pub in the city. Legend has it that during the Prohibition, the pub fronted as a shoe store. [Photo: Facebook]

12. James Hook & Company

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15 Northern Ave
Boston, MA 02210
(617) 423-5500
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Family-owned since 1929, James Hook & Company has become a giant and well-loved lobster purveyor. The business experienced a major fire back in 2008 but has since rebuilt. The family is now looking to expand their business in the Waterfront by adding a residential tower and restaurant. [Photo: Facebook]

13. Jeveli's Restaurant

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(617) 567-9539
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When Jeveli's opened in East Boston in 1924, the restaurant had only 30 seats. In the late 1960s, it expanded to 120 seats. In 1997, President Clinton and over 70 people from his staff rented out the restaurant, and then Jeveli's remodeled the room and named it The Presidential Room" to commemorate that night. Jeveli's describes itself as Boston's oldest Italian restaurant. [Photo: Facebook]

14. L Street Tavern

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658 E 8th St
Boston, MA 02127
(617) 268-4335
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Made famous by scenes in Good Will Hunting, the Tavern has been around since the 1930s and is visited by tourists, politicians, celebrities, and locals alike. [Photo: Facebook]

15. Bond Bar at the Langham

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250 Franklin St
Boston, MA 2110
In a space that originally housed the Federal Reserve, Bond is now a cocktail bar that nods back to its history with original doors and a pastry kitchen that is located in the bank's old vault. [Photo: Facebook]

16. Parker's Restaurant at the Omni Parker House

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60 School St
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 227-8600
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It's hard to have a list like this and not mention the Omni Parker House. Built in 1855, the hotel saw a slew of famous visitors, like Dickens, Emerson, and Kennedy — and people who later became famous also worked there, like Ho Chi Minh, who was a baker, and Malcolm X, who was a busboy. Also, it gave the world Boston cream pie and Parker House rolls. You're welcome, world. [Photo: Rachel Leah Blumenthal]

17. Regina Pizzeria

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11 Thacher St
Boston, MA 02113
(617) 227-0765
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A North End classic for tourists, locals, and celebrities, Pizzeria Regina opened its doors in 1926 and has since expanded to numerous locations throughout the state, from stand-alones to mall food court outposts. [Photo: Facebook]

18. Sam LaGrassa's

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44 Province St
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 357-6861
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Family-owned and operated since 1968, this self-proclaimed "number one sandwich shop in the world" prides itself on its piled-high pastrami sandwiches. Sam LaGrassa's does brisk weekday lunch business for the Downtown Crossing crowd. Late mayor Tom Menino had been known to say that it serves "the best deli sandwiches in town." [Photo: Rachel Leah Blumenthal]

19. Santarpio's Pizza

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111 Chelsea St
Boston, MA 02128
(617) 567-9871
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1903 marks the start of this popular restaurant. Family-owned since its inception, Santarpio's features a menu consisting of pizza and barbecued meats, all served with a side of classic Boston attitude. [Photo: Cal Bingham]

20. South Street Diner

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178 Kneeland St
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 350-0028
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Built in 1947, South Street Diner is the city's only full-service restaurant open all night, seven days a week. It was built by two brothers that had just returned home from war, and it was originally called the Blue Diner. [Photo: Nick DiNatale]

21. Sullivan's

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2080 Day Blvd
Boston, MA 02127
(617) 268-5685
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Dating back to 1951, this small and seasonally open take-out-only restaurant is situated on Castle Island. It's known for its classically-prepared burgers, hot dogs, and fries, among other plates, like fried seafood. The restaurant finds unique ways to celebrate customer appreciation weeks and, in the early days, they were known to quietly hand out cocktails during the last couple of weeks in November to celebrate the end of the season. (This, unfortunately, is no longer true, and diners will have to settle for things like half-priced hotdogs instead.) [Photo: Facebook]

22. The Tam

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222 Tremont St
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 482-9182
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Almost seeming out of place amongst all of the bright lights of the Theatre District, this bar seems to define the term "hole in the wall," and you'd be hard-pressed to find a Bostonian who doesn't have at least one memory here (or lack thereof...) Don't come hungry though; beer, cocktails, and attitude are the only things on the menu. [Photo: Facebook]

23. Top of the Hub

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800 Boylston St
Boston, MA 02199
(617) 536-1775
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Celebrating its 50th year, this fine-dining restaurant, situated on top of the Prudential tower, offers stunning views of the city. [Photo: Facebook]

24. Union Oyster House

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41 Union St
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 227-2750
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The oldest continuously operating restaurant in the entire country, Union Oyster House opened its doors in 1826. The building itself had been built before then, in the early 1700s, and it served as a dress goods business. The Kennedy family were Union Oyster House regulars (and have a dedicated booth), among other well-known diners, and the future king of France lived on the second floor in exile in 1796. Another fun fact: the toothpick's first use in restaurants was also here. [Photo: Yelp]

25. Warren Tavern

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2 Pleasant St
Boston, MA 02129
(617) 241-8142
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The Warren Tavern, opened in 1780, is said to be the oldest watering hole in the state. Famous regulars included George Washington and Paul Revere, and it is one of the first buildings constructed after the British burned down Charlestown. It's nice to know that our forefathers had priorities. [Photo: Facebook]

1. Marliave

10 Bosworth St, Boston, MA 02108
Named from its original owner, Henry Marliave, a French immigrant from Paris, this restaurant opened its doors in 1885. The building still maintains that old French feel, and there are pictures from the restaurant's history proudly hanging on the wall. [Photo: Rachel Leah Blumenthal]
10 Bosworth St
Boston, MA 02108

2. Green Dragon Tavern

11 Marshall St, Boston, MA 02108
While this bar, which first opened its doors all the way back in 1654, tends to attract the younger residents of the city, it's hard to pass up a pint at the bar that was frequented by John Hancock and Paul Revere, where it's said that his plans for his infamous ride were overheard. [Photo: Facebook]
11 Marshall St
Boston, MA 02108

3. Caffe Vittoria

296 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113
This North End cafe and bar opened in 1929 as the first Italian cafe in Boston. Still a popular destination, the space maintains that vintage, old-world charm with lots of elaborate, vintage cappuccino and espresso makers on display. [Photo: Facebook]
296 Hanover St
Boston, MA 02113

4. Amrheins Restaurant

80 W Broadway, Boston, MA 02127-1018
Located in South Boston, where it has been for over a century, Amrheins boasts the oldest hand-carved bar in America as well as the first draft beer pump in Boston. [Photo: Facebook]
80 W Broadway
Boston, MA 02127-1018

5. Bova's Bakery

134 Salem St, Boston, MA 02113
A bakery that, in addition to sweet treats and breads, also sells Italian pastas, sauces, and pizzas. Bova's is a Boston rarity in that it is open 24 hours, making it a beloved spot to satisfy a craving anytime it strikes. It's been that way since 1932, and it's been family owned and operated ever since. [Photo: Yelp]
134 Salem St
Boston, MA 02113

6. Cabot's Ice Cream & Restaurant

743 Washington St, Newton, MA 02460
Since 1969, Cabot's has been a beloved Newton icon. Especially known for its ice cream sundaes and classic diner fare, the space itself hasn't changed much since it opened — and the hope is that it never will. [Photo: Facebook]
743 Washington St
Newton, MA 02460

7. China Pearl Restaurant

9 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111
One of the oldest restaurants in Boston's Chinatown, this gigantic spot is known for dim sum. [Photo: Facebook]
9 Tyler St
Boston, MA 02111

8. Doyle's Cafe

3484 Washington St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
Dating back to 1882, Doyle's is an Irish bar in Jamaica Plain that has an impressive collection of artifacts on display. There's a whole room dedicated to John Fitzgerald, JFK's grandfather. Doyle's is also the first bar to serve Sam Adams beer. [Photo: Facebook]
3484 Washington St
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

9. East Coast Grill & Raw Bar

1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139
One of the younger entries on the list, East Coast Grill opened in Inman Square in 1985 and is known for its seafood — not to mention its fiery fare, especially on its popular "Hell Nights." It was sold a couple years back to longtime employees, but has, thankfully, changed little. [Photo: Facebook]
1271 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA 02139

10. Harvest

44 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138
A Harvard Square classic since the 1970s, Harvest has had a slew of top culinary talent pass through the kitchen. Spotlighting New England cuisine in a modern way, Harvest has been the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions. Just a few days ago, Harvest reopened after several weeks of major renovations. [Photo: Official Source]
44 Brattle St
Cambridge, MA 02138

11. J.J. Foley's Cafe

117 E Berkeley St, Boston, MA 02118
A South End institution, JJ Foley's has been around since 1909. It is the oldest continuously family-owned pub in the city. Legend has it that during the Prohibition, the pub fronted as a shoe store. [Photo: Facebook]
117 E Berkeley St
Boston, MA 02118

12. James Hook & Company

15 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02210
Family-owned since 1929, James Hook & Company has become a giant and well-loved lobster purveyor. The business experienced a major fire back in 2008 but has since rebuilt. The family is now looking to expand their business in the Waterfront by adding a residential tower and restaurant. [Photo: Facebook]
15 Northern Ave
Boston, MA 02210

13. Jeveli's Restaurant

Boston, MA
When Jeveli's opened in East Boston in 1924, the restaurant had only 30 seats. In the late 1960s, it expanded to 120 seats. In 1997, President Clinton and over 70 people from his staff rented out the restaurant, and then Jeveli's remodeled the room and named it The Presidential Room" to commemorate that night. Jeveli's describes itself as Boston's oldest Italian restaurant. [Photo: Facebook]

14. L Street Tavern

658 E 8th St, Boston, MA 02127
Made famous by scenes in Good Will Hunting, the Tavern has been around since the 1930s and is visited by tourists, politicians, celebrities, and locals alike. [Photo: Facebook]
658 E 8th St
Boston, MA 02127

15. Bond Bar at the Langham

250 Franklin St, Boston, MA 2110
In a space that originally housed the Federal Reserve, Bond is now a cocktail bar that nods back to its history with original doors and a pastry kitchen that is located in the bank's old vault. [Photo: Facebook]
250 Franklin St
Boston, MA 2110

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16. Parker's Restaurant at the Omni Parker House

60 School St, Boston, MA 02108
It's hard to have a list like this and not mention the Omni Parker House. Built in 1855, the hotel saw a slew of famous visitors, like Dickens, Emerson, and Kennedy — and people who later became famous also worked there, like Ho Chi Minh, who was a baker, and Malcolm X, who was a busboy. Also, it gave the world Boston cream pie and Parker House rolls. You're welcome, world. [Photo: Rachel Leah Blumenthal]
60 School St
Boston, MA 02108

17. Regina Pizzeria

11 Thacher St, Boston, MA 02113
A North End classic for tourists, locals, and celebrities, Pizzeria Regina opened its doors in 1926 and has since expanded to numerous locations throughout the state, from stand-alones to mall food court outposts. [Photo: Facebook]
11 Thacher St
Boston, MA 02113

18. Sam LaGrassa's

44 Province St, Boston, MA 02108
Family-owned and operated since 1968, this self-proclaimed "number one sandwich shop in the world" prides itself on its piled-high pastrami sandwiches. Sam LaGrassa's does brisk weekday lunch business for the Downtown Crossing crowd. Late mayor Tom Menino had been known to say that it serves "the best deli sandwiches in town." [Photo: Rachel Leah Blumenthal]
44 Province St
Boston, MA 02108

19. Santarpio's Pizza

111 Chelsea St, Boston, MA 02128
1903 marks the start of this popular restaurant. Family-owned since its inception, Santarpio's features a menu consisting of pizza and barbecued meats, all served with a side of classic Boston attitude. [Photo: Cal Bingham]
111 Chelsea St
Boston, MA 02128

20. South Street Diner

178 Kneeland St, Boston, MA 02111