It’s hard to keep a restaurant open even in the best of times. The year 2020, to put it mildly, is not the best of times — especially for those who work in the restaurant business. By some expert estimates, only one in four restaurants in the United States will reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of how many plexiglass booth shields are erected between tables.
Yet there are some restaurants around the world that have survived past pandemics, world wars, civil wars, authoritarian regimes, economic depressions, and, in some cases, all of the above.
NetCredit, a financial services provider, dug through media reports, records, and claims to find the oldest restaurant in more than 115 countries on every continent except Antarctica. The oldest of the old have been around longer than you probably realize restaurants existed.
There’s always some disagreement about what qualifies as the “oldest” whenever these lists circle around. One publication may have one standard because a restaurant’s original name and business is the same, while another discounts the same restaurant because it switched buildings in the 1600s. Yet another may not even consider the business because it’s technically a “tavern” and not a restaurant. But finding the most long-lived establishments on the planet has been a favorite internet pastime for pretty much as long as the internet has existed — there’s even a blog dedicated solely to researching the oldest of everything.
NetCredit’s team went with the relatively broad qualification of the oldest restaurants “still serving today.” They started with basic searches and then combed through trustworthy sources and travel sites, and called a few business owners to double check when necessary. This worked for most of the 190-plus countries in the world. To prove their veracity, they even documented their sources and put the research online for people to see for themselves.
From an overall perspective, these are the 10 oldest restaurants in the world, according to NetCredit’s research:
- Gostilna Gastuž in Slovenia, 1467. Famous for mushroom soup with buckwheat porridge.
- Honke Owariya in Japan, 1465. Famous for soba made with mushrooms, egg, shrimp tempura, nori, leeks, daikon, and other ingredients.
- Hotel Gasthof Löwen in Liechtenstein, 1380. Famous for veal with rösti and vegetables.
- The Sheep Heid Inn in Scotland, 1360. Famous for its steak with roasted mushroom.
- La Couronne in France, 1345. Famous for duck, roasts, and escargot.
- The Brazen Head in Ireland, 1198. Famous for classic bangers and mash.
- Ma Yu Ching’s Bucket Chicken House in China, 1153. Famous for buckets of chicken.
- The Old House in Wales, 1147. Famous for individual pies with chips and peas.
- Wurstkuchl in Germany, 1146. Famous for sausages and sauerkraut.
- St. Peter Stifts Kulinarium in Austria, 803. Famous for tafelspitz.