Brad and Angie are fans. So is Tom Jones. Even Abraham Lincoln may have swung by for a bite – the place would have been new when he did. Pete’s Tavern on the corner of East 18th and Irving Place opened as a grog and grocery over 150 years ago, and is now arguably the oldest continuously operating bar in NYC. While McSorleys makes the same claim, only Pete’s could include the proviso while also pretending to be a flower shop. New York must have been quite the garden center during prohibition.
The polished timber bar at Pete’s is original, and the booths make for classic American diner ambience. Not to mention inspiration. The establishment makes claim of it’s first celebrity with O. Henry having written his story “Gift of the Magi” in the booth by the door – with a little help from the house ale. His literary success was overtaken by his cirrhotic indulgences but the former rather than the latter has become a claim to fame for the tavern.
Strangely and despite all the trappings, Pete’s seems more of a local spot than a tourist destination. Mature staff wear black shirts instead of black t-shirts and while there are many, many places to have a burger downtown, it was fun to imagine the company I could have encountered. Not just Abe, but Mr Booth, who lived around the corner. If their paths had crossed earlier and they had shared the chips, history may have been different…
Sounds great! Will give Pete’s Tavern a visit later this year when in NYC.