Pete's Tavern


By Dane Feldman

Photo by Dane Feldman.

Pete’s Tavern, located on East 18th Street near Union Square in Manhattan, is the city’s “oldest continuously operating restaurant and bar.” It opened in 1864 and serves lunch, brunch, and dinner. I was fortunate enough to dine here for brunch on a Sunday just before Christmas.

The food
The brunch menu isn’t big, but it needn’t be. All the essentials are offered here for an insanely low price and for just $14.95, patrons can dine on any of the entrees, coffee or tea, and a drink.

After deciding between several more interesting options (a barbeque turkey burger or scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, caramelized onions, and sausage or home fries), I settled for my most favorite brunch option: plain old eggs benedict.

At many restaurants throughout New York, eggs benedict these days is served almost automatically with smoked salmon instead of Canadian bacon or ham, but it should come as no surprise that at an establishment as old as Pete’s Tavern, the eggs benedict come classic: Canadian bacon all the way with a side of home fries. The eggs were poached almost to perfection and the potatoes were deliciously seasoned. That’s the best I can ask for when it comes to eggs benedict.

The drinks
Pete’s Tavern operates as a full bar, but remember earlier when I said a drink is part of the $14.95 deal? Well, that includes a choice of juice, iced tea, soda, or if you’re really a true brunch-goer, a Bloody Mary, screwdriver, or a mimosa. If you want something stronger, but don’t want a brunch cocktail, fear not. The “complete brunch” deal also includes a 10oz draft beer, or a glass of wine or champagne. Way to go, Pete’s.

I went for the screwdriver and was surely not disappointed.

The service/ambience
The wait staff at Pete’s Tavern is extremely friendly, attentive, and knowledgeable. But the staff isn’t what draws patrons to this historic space. In fact, it’s the space itself.

The whole restaurant is dimly lit, but it’s clear even in the darkness that the bar area is vintage, albeit well kept. The ceiling is wonderful with its intricate design, the brick walls are decorated with old photos of the tavern’s storied past, and the tiled floor is simply one of a kind.

Dining at Pete’s Tavern is also one of a kind and truly feels like a window to the past. It’s a great brunch spot, but as I can imagine, it’s also a great spot to hang out, drink, and take it all in.