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Eight of the Most Historic and Bizarre Restaurants in America

For a unique dining atmosphere, plan a trip to these one-of-a-kind foodie destinations.

Food and Drink By

1. The Catacombs Restaurant at Bube’s Brewery in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania

A picture of the Catacombs restaurant dining room. (Photo courtesy Bube’s Brewery)

You’ll descend 43 feet beneath the surface of the earth for dinner in the aging cellars that make up the Catacombs Restaurant at Bube’s Brewery in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania. Boasting an upscale menu that features premium cuts of steak and assorted gourmet offerings, patrons who stay until 10 p.m. have the option to order an additional ask from the staff: The history of hauntings at Bube’s, which was purchased in 1876. 

SyFy’s Ghosthunters have scoured the premises and found evidence of paranormal activity at the brewery, prompting the hiring of a resident paranormal investigation team that leads guests through the unsettling interactions previous patrons and staff have encountered there.  There are also purely historic tours of the brewery and tavern, in case you spook easily.

2. The Tadich Grill in San Francisco, California

Staff on break at the Tadich Grill in San Francisco, California (Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images)

If you’re craving last night’s catch in the oldest restaurant in California, the Tadich Grill is where you want to go. Launched as a coffee stand in 1849 by Croatian immigrants, this essential seafood spot is perfect for when you’re in a boisterous mood and don’t mind waiting too long for a table—the Tadich takes no reservations and the joint’s website warns that it’s “usually packed at lunchtime and dinnertime, Monday through Saturday,” though you won’t wait more than two hours, tops.

Is the food worth all that hassle? Tony Bennet, Cary Grant, Jack Nicholson and Stevie Wonder have all made appearances at the grill over the years, though it’s unlikely they had to wait long for a table, so if you (or your client) warrant special treatment, make sure to give the restaurant a call so they can avoid having to linger at the bar.

3. The Rattlesnake Saloon in Tuscumbia, Alabama

The Rattlesnake Saloon. (Courtesy of restaurant)

Perched beneath a stunning outcrop of rock in Tuscumbia, Alabama, this land has been in the Foster family since 1916. It earned its name from the rattlesnake den (complete with mom and twelve wriggling babies) found during construction, visitors come here to get their fill of unpretentious food, delicious beer, and live local music. If you’re looking for an extra personal touch, it isn’t hard to find the founder, William Foster, close by.  Order a tombstone platter with fried apple fritters alongside your $10 pitcher of something cold.

Oh, and if you ride, don’t hesitate to bring your horse along. Seriously, it’s a real saloon—they have hitching posts outside.

4. Linger Eatuary in Denver, Colorado

View of the dining room at Linger. (Photo By Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

We’re going to wager you’ve never eaten a meal inside of a mortuary before.

Linger can change that. This famous morgue once processed half of Denver’s dead, even serving as the 6-month resting place for William “Buffalo Bill” Cody in 1917 while Wyoming and Colorado fought over where he’d be permanently put to rest (Colorado won). The new owners embraced the building’s dark past, turning glass-topped metal conveyer belts into tables, using a church pew as the hostess stand, and opening large garage doors to the summer breeze rather than incoming and outgoing hearses.

If you just want to grab a quick cocktail, the roof of the “eatuary” offers that, too—complete with a glimpse of the city’s skyline.

5. Fife & Drum in Concord, Massachusetts 

Menu item at the ‘Fife and Drum’ restaurant, which is housed in the Northeastern Correctional Center in Concord, Mass and run by inmates. (Photo by Tom Landers/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

You’re going to have to pass through Massachusetts Department of Correction security to get to this restaurant. That’s because it’s run by inmates—inside of a jail.

Fife & Drum is part of the culinary program at the Northeastern Correctional Center, which houses minimum and pre-release inmates, Thrillist reports. Knives are chained to prep stations, the outlet notes, but otherwise, the kitchen is run like a regular restaurant’s. A team of 11-13 prep a meal that runs around $3 a plate, and in the past has included braised, boneless short-ribs, mashed potatoes, string beans, butter brownies, and clam chowder.

6. Union Oyster House in Boston, Massachusetts 

Famous Union Oyster House, Boston, Massachusetts (Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images)

This famous Oyster house is the oldest restaurant still operating in Boston, having first opened its doors in 1826. Its longevity is a testament to its quality, something former President Kennedy took notice of. JFK used to dine upstairs in private, and has since had his favorite booth, dubbed “The Kennedy Booth,” dedicated to him.

As for what to order? It’s all in the name, and you’ll have plenty of bivalves to choose from. See for yourself.

7. Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut

Louis’ Lunch restaurant, in New Haven, Conn. claims to be the site where the first hamburger was served in 1895. (Photo by Christopher Capozziello/Getty Images)

This is the actual birthplace of the hamburger sandwich, according to the Library of Congress, and its menu is simple, yet mouth-watering. Patrons order one thing, and one thing only: the classic hamburger, hand-rolled from five cuts of meat that’s ground fresh on a daily basis. Then, your burger is cooked to order in original cast-iron grills that date back to 1898. There’s one option for bread—just white toast—and available toppings are limited to cheese, onion, and tomato, so you can appreciate the full flavor of the meat.

Established in 1895, this restaurant is still owned and operated by the same family that founded it.

8. Antoine’s Restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana

A view of Antoine’s Restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana. Circa 1900. (Photo by Herbert/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

This is the place to go in New Orleans for French-Creole fine dining. With a legacy stretching back to 1840, you can dine in any one of Antoine’s gorgeous 14 dining rooms, each of which has a unique history: The Proteus Room, The Dungeon, and The Maison Verte are just a few to choose from.

Like Louis’ Lunch, this restaurant is still owned and operated by the descendants of the founder.