Union Oyster House: America’s Oldest Restaurant
41 Union St, Boston, MA
Union Oyster House is an institution in Boston. Right outside historic Quincy Market, the restaurant is America’s oldest restaurant. First opened in the 19th century, Union Oyster House is located in its original location; starting off as an oyster stand, the restaurant now has multiple dining rooms in addition to an oyster bar and gift shop.
They truly do ham up the historical aspect for us, tourists as there are many cute knick knacks to buy in the gift shop. The waiting area for the restaurant is outfitted with original seats from Fenway Park and original bases from the baseball field are mounted on display on the walls alongside lots of articles and photographs documenting Union Oyster House’s long history in Boston.
Since we were in an oyster house, of course we opted to order a round of oysters. Our servers let us know that the oysters available that evening were from Connecticut. We found them juicy, briny and flavourful. These oysters were definitely meatier than the dinky and delicate Pacific oysters we were used to eating in Vancouver. It almost took two slurps to down each one of these giant oysters. We loved them.
The next Boston staple we had to try was the clam chowder or as the locals called it “chowda.” The difference between New England clam chowder and New York clam chowder is that New England clam chowder is made of cream and New York clam chowder uses tomato soup as a base. I prefer the creamy New England clam chowder. And the chowder at Union Oyster House totally hit the spot. New England clams are gigantic and it makes all the difference, making the chowder heartier and more of a meal than an appetizer.
We only ordered cups of the chowder to save room for the lobsters. We ordered both boiled lobsters and broiled. Both were delicious!
New England lobsters are much larger than Pacific lobsters and much meatier. We were excited when our lobsters were finally brought to our table, our bibs were on, our utensils ready, we were set to dig in. Not only are New England lobsters meatier, their shells are thicker and it took more effort to crack and peel off the shells before we could feast on these giant lobsters. That’s the thing about lobsters, you really have to work for it.
It’s had to imagine that only a few decades ago, lobsters were considered garbage and chefs just threw these red shellfish away in the back alley of their restaurants. Now lobsters are a delicacy.
I love the lobster claws, and luckily, it’s the easiest piece to break free and I like to think it’s the most rewarding since often times you can easily wiggle out the claw so the entire thing is still intact. The tender texture of the claw is different from the rest of the fish, softer and finer. I think it soaks up butter better since the meat is softer like a sponge.
My brother loves the head, sucking all the brains and juices from it. My husband loves the body and the tail, he was by far the most skilled in cracking and picking lobster meat from the shells; and much more resourceful than either of us at getting all the little bits of meat from all the lobster’s nooks and crannies. My husband was the one who taught me to suck the tender, sweet slivers of meat from the tail flaps of lobsters.
The meat from the lobster body and tail was definitely tougher and chewier than Pacific lobsters no wonder these lobsters are heavier.
The broiled lobster had a slightly different texture in that the meat seemed to be a little more tender. And the crust baked on top of the lobster was very tasty as well.
We had a great time at Union Oyster House. This place is totally worth a visit if you’re in Boston.