BOSTON–Where can you find the best oysters and clam chowder in Boston? That’s easy. Union Oyster House restaurant! For those of you not familiar with Boston, Union Oyster House is located downtown in Fanuiel Hall. It is the oldest restaurant in Boston and the oldest operating restaurant in the United States, serving diners since 1892.
The street adjacent to the restaurant, Union Street, was laid down in the mid 1600s. Diana Santakas, former waitress at the Oyster House, explained how she loved walking to work and seeing all the tourists taking pictures of the restaurant and its surroundings. “People look like they should be in Disney Land the way they take pictures and smile at the restaurant,” said Santakas.
Union Oyster House has been a meeting place for some of the most influential people in our history. Daniel Webster, a frequent customer of the Union Oyster House, used to sit with his tall glass of brandy and devour dozens of oysters at a time. John F. Kennedy was a regular at the restaurant and always sat in the same booth on the second floor every time he dined. The Oyster House has since named the booth in his honor “The Kennedy Booth.”
Webster’s Den, named after Daniel Webster who repeatedly feasted at the Oyster House, is a private room set in the back of the Union Bar for special events.
The lunch menu differs from the dinner menu. At 5 p.m. the supper menu is given out to the hundreds of customers waiting to be seated. The Union Bar is located on the first level where drinks and light appetizers can be eaten. The Freedom Trail room is also located on this level where people can sit at tables to enjoy a lighter menu before proceeding to their dining experience on the second floor of the restaurant.
The delectable items on the Oyster House’s menu ranges from light appetizers such as oysters, clams, fried calamari, clam chowder and Boston baked beans, to a heavier supper of lobsters by the pound, haddock, cod, seafood fradiavlo and much more.
The Oyster House Experience
Just below the Union Bar is the Oyster Bar. Men shuck fresh oysters to a group of hungry people. This part of the restaurant is the original section that has not been touched for decades. The other divisions of the restaurant were added in the mid 1900s.
The Union Oyster House’s eclectic design is distinguished by each person who visits the eatery. As described by Katie Geyer and her boyfriend, Jim Bernazzani, “The Oyster House is something you have to see to believe. It is so rich in history you could walk around for hours reading the articles and magazine clips about the place.”
“Each time I have dinner at the Oyster House I discover something new. The pictures of oyster shuckers in the 1900s are my favorite to look at. That alone is one of the reasons we go in so often. And for the delicious clam chowder of course!” said Geyer.
Former manager of the Union Oyster House, Pat Elwood, renders the restaurant to be an experience no one can forget. “I first worked the Union Bar as a bartender and after a few years got promoted to manager,” explains Elwood. “I loved the smell of the restaurant because it’s not a fishy smell. It’s a smell of pleasure. It’s pleasure that comes from the cooks who prepare the food and from the customers who enjoy eating the great tasting dishes.”
Just imagine a crisp autumn day in November, the leaves have changed from green to a burnt orange color and you glance upon the white and brown sign that says Ye Old Union Oyster House and decide to stop in for a bite to eat. The warm scent of chowder and baked beans fills the air inside. You sit down and enjoy a nice cold beverage and a warm cup of clam chowder while gazing at the historic photos around you. That will be an experience like none other.