Some restaurants are so iconic that they not only stand the test of time but also become the shining stars of their cities. Trends come and go, but nothing hits quite like these classics.
Consider including some of these signature dining experiences on your group travel itineraries in 2024.
A fixture in the Big Easy since 1840, Antoine’s is the oldest family-run restaurant in the U.S.
“We’re big at continuing the legacy,” said Lisa Blount, project manager at Antoine’s. “Not only of Antoine’s, but of the city of New Orleans culinary scene.”
Don’t leave Antoine’s without trying its famous oysters Rockefeller. The restaurant has 14 dining rooms and space for large groups, but be sure to book in advance.
St. Elmo Steak House
In Indianapolis, St. Elmo is known for steak, but there’s also another celebrity on the menu: shrimp.
“We are world famous for our very spicy shrimp cocktail,” said Bryn Jones, vice president of marketing at Huse Culinary, St. Elmo’s parent company. Jones said the dish’s fresh-ground horseradish “punches you in the sinuses, yet somehow leaves you wanting another bite.”
St. Elmo has private dining spaces for large groups.
New York City
A Manhattan institution, Delmonico’s has been around since 1827.
“It’s a restaurant of many firsts,” said Dennis Turcinovic, owner and operator of Delmonico’s Restaurant Group. It was America’s first fine-dining establishment. “It was also the first to use the term ‘restaurant,’ the first to have a cookbook and the first to serve women sitting at their own table,” Turcinovic said.
Its best-known dish is the signature Delmonico steak, but other classics include lobster Newberg and baked Alaska. Delmonico’s has lots of space for groups, but Turcinovic recommends booking early.
The Varsity’s burgers and hot dogs are a warm slice of Americana. The restaurant’s original location in Atlanta is known as world’s largest drive-in.
“[The Varsity] has set records for its vast quantities of hot dogs, hamburgers, onion rings and fried pies served daily,” said Robert Barrett, director of operations at The Varsity.
The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, but it welcomes large groups.
McGillin’s Olde Ale House
In Philadelphia, McGillin’s Olde Ale House brings the past to the plate.
“McGillin’s is the oldest continually operating tavern in Philadelphia and one of the oldest in the country,” said Irene Levy Baker, who does public relations work for McGillin’s and has written two books about eats and activities in Philadelphia. McGillin’s has been around since 1860, and Baker compares its vibe to that of the show “Cheers.”
Pair a McGillin’s house beer with the shepherd’s pie or Mile High Meatloaf for the full experience. McGillin’s offers groups special meal packages at lunch, as well as a private room for group dinner reservations. The staff can set up beer tastings, karaoke and other experiences.
Paschal’s, an Atlanta soul-food paradise, has been serving unforgettable meals ever since 1947.
“You must have the 1947 fried chicken,” said Chiquita Gaye, events and catering sales manager at Paschal’s. “We are known for the special secret seasoning that we use on our fried chicken.”
Paschal’s offers private and semi-private dining space for groups of more than 12 guests, including the historic La Carousel Lounge, which features high-tech robot servers.
The Olde Pink House
In Savannah, Georgia, The Olde Pink House charms with its “warm Southern hospitality, indigenous ingredients and crisp white linen,” said Pamela Crenshaw, the restaurant’s event planner. The eatery is located in a historic, pastel-colored house. “The home — built in 1771 — is an exciting reason to stop in,” Crenshaw said.
It’s a great place to order classics like shrimp and grits, and fried green tomatoes. Smaller groups of 14 or fewer can be seated in the house’s private 19th century Conference Room. Groups of 15 or more should book a private event at least 60 days in advance and are advised to begin the booking process several months ahead.
Joe’s Stone Crab
Miami Beach, Florida
A century ago, Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami became the first restaurant to serve stone crab claws. Today, the restaurant is the industry’s largest buyer of Florida stone crab. And while there’s a variety of crab dishes available, crab claws remain the favorite. Joe’s offers private dining rooms for large groups, as well as nonprivate dining options with preset menus.
New York City
Katz’s Delicatessen in New York may be known for its legendary scene in “When Harry Met Sally” (and of course, its pastrami sandwiches), but this beloved deli has been around since 1888.
“Katz’s has been family owned for the past five generations,” says Peter Carter, Katz’s director of marketing and communications. “[There’s] a lot of cultural significance and history that other brands these days don’t have.”
Katz’s takes reservations for groups of 10 or more and can provide special menus for groups.
Mary Mac’s Tea Room
Atlanta icon Mary MacKenzie opened Mary Mac’s back in 1945, and today it is one of the city’s largest restaurants. Mary Mac’s is known for its soul food, so groups won’t want to miss its fried chicken, pot roast, or shrimp and grits. The eatery offers a selection of private dining rooms for groups of 20 or more.
Bern’s Steak House
Groups that have had their fill of Florida seafood can look forward to a delicious change of pace in Tampa.
“[Bern’s] is world renowned for its in-house dry-aged steaks, one of the world’s largest private wine collections and the upstairs dessert room,” said Jennifer Koenigsberg, a member of the Bern’s team.
The dessert room has more than 20 treats on its menu. Groups of 12 guests or more can book through Bern’s group dining department and can make reservations up to 90 days in advance.
Dobbin House Tavern
Each meal at the Dobbin House Tavern in historic Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is like a trip back in time.
“Guests love the Dobbin House’s ambiance and history,” said assistant manager Linda Sheffield. “The house was built in 1776, and the servers wear Colonial outfits.”
The tavern house is famous for its Baked King’s Onion Soup. Dobbin House can take group reservations up to a year in advance.
The Red Fox Inn and Tavern
A fixture since 1728, the Red Fox Inn and Tavern is in the historic town of Middleburg, Virginia, surrounded by the Bull Run and Blue Ridge mountains. The tavern offers a seasonal four-course dinner experience that incorporates local flavors, and the Night Fox Pub serves up unforgettable cocktails and bar eats. Private dining spaces and event options are available for large groups.
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
Founded by a father-and-son team, Hattie B’s serves up hot chicken with a side of joy. Co-founder Nick Bishop Sr. loves that his restaurant brings people together.
“You’ll see a diverse cross section of folks in our restaurants,” Bishop said. “Business professionals, construction workers, law enforcement personnel, community leaders and families.”
Be sure to order the hot chicken tenders. The restaurant’s midtown Nashville location offers a private dining room for groups.
New York City
From the building’s bright marquee to the positivity of every server, Sylvia’s is a true oasis. Since its opening in 1962, it’s become a Harlem legend. The restaurant’s late founder, Sylvia Woods, was known as the queen of soul food. Load up on chicken and waffles, barbecue ribs, and catfish here. Sylvia’s offers a private event space for large groups.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Cattlemen’s Steakhouse has been an Oklahoma City fixture since 1910.
“If you want a true classic, old American Western experience, you’re going to get it at Cattleman’s,” said David Egan, the restaurant’s director of operations. “We’re established. We know meat because we’ve been doing it for 100 years.”
The restaurant does not take reservations for its main dining room but can book groups of 20 or more in its private dining space.