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[Boston] Union Oyster House

The Union Oyster House is the oldest restaurant in Boston and also the America’s oldest continuously operating restauran since 1826. The building of the Union Oyster House has been a major local landmark on Union Street for more than 250 years.

Now with the constructions of new buildings in the surrounding areas, the Union Oyster House is tucked in between bigger buildings like Faneuil Hall. It is still hard to miss, because it is right across the street from the New England Holocaust Memorial.

We stopped by at the Union Oyster House for a quick lunch. It is conveniently located along the Freedom Trail and it is difficult to resist a historic landmark when exploring the history of Boston!

As soon as we walked in, we could smell the seafood. There is a big lobster tank right in the front of the restaurant and an oyster bar filled with fresh oysters.

We were seated upstairs in the dining area. The decor is quite old-school and it sure felt like we stepped back in time. The Union Oyster House is filled with history:

  • The toothpick was first used in the U.S. at the Union Oyster House. It was imported by Charles Forster of Maine from South American. He hired Harvard boys to dine at the restaurant and ask for toothpicks in order to promote his new business.
  • J.F.K has patronized the Union Oyster House for years. His favourite booth is in the upstairs dining room and has been designated as “The Kennedy Booth” in his memory.
  • And more….

Our meal came with warm corn bread. The corn bread was sweet but I found it to be too dry and crumbly.

In our attempt to find the best chowder in Boston, we had to order a bowl of their award winning chowder. The chowder was very creamy and thick. It was full of flavour and we certainly enjoyed it. Sadly, there were very few pieces of clams in it. It was wonderful but still not our favourite.

We ordered some Cherry Stones. They were huge! They also tasted very fresh with a sweet finish. The texture is a lot chewier and meatier compare to oysters, which I really enjoyed.

We also order half a dozen of oysters. I have to say that ironically, the Union Oyster House somehow had the WORST presentation for oysters. The oysters were basically thrown onto a plate with no crushed ice. One of the oysters was actually partially facing down. The shells seemed dirty. There was also lots of oyster liquid and debris on the plate. I was a little intimated to try the oysters because they just seemed so “unsanitary” due to poor plating.

The oysters, thankfully, tasted fresh, sweet, and with a briny finish. The size of the oysters were also bigger than anything else we’ve had in Boston. Totally forgot to ask what kind of oysters they were…

I also ordered a 1 lb. lobster for myself. The lobster was very fresh and steamed perfectly. I have the tendency to overcook lobsters when I make them at home. It is nice to have a prefectly cooked lobster. However, it is difficult to screw up seafood when it is fresh!

The lobster also came with a side of fries. The fries were cold and soggy…

Overall, our meal at the Union Oyster House was enjoyable. The ambiance was really nice and I loved how much history this place has. However, the food was nothing exceptional and slightly overpriced. There are far better seafood restuarants in Boston. I would recommend the Union Oyster House solely on its historical value but not its food.

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