Classic New York: Old Venues, New Thrills

As indicated by its name, "New" York is definitely not "Old" York.

This constantly shifting city is often focused on the here-and-now, the spots that have opened most recently and are getting the loudest buzz. But there are plenty of NYC hotspots that date not from the 21st century but from the early 20th or even the 19th century – and that are still going strong.

Here's a look at a select group of places to eat, drink and shop that have lasted for around 100 years, give or take a decade or two.

Classic Food: A Century of Good Eats

From fine dining to casual delis, New Yorkers have been eating well for several generations. We start with more formal options below before looking at some everyday mealtime choices.

Oak Room and Oak Bar at the Plaza

The Edwardian-style Plaza Hotel, built in 1907 at the intersection of Central Park South and the shopping mecca of Fifth Avenue, is one of New York City's most recognizable landmarks. The soaring cathedral ceilings and abundant wood in the Plaza's elegant Oak Room (768 Fifth Ave.; 212-758-7777), which just reopened to the public after an extensive renovation, also lend the restaurant a landmark-in-the-making feel, but one that's not at all stuffy. Atlanta star chef Joel Antunes serves up eclectic French-influenced food with a slant toward fish and meat dishes, and though the prices are aggressively modern (appetizers range from $18 for a beetroot gazpacho with horseradish ravioli to $38 for Jerusalem artichoke lasagna with fresh truffle, and entrees from $32 for roasted winter vegetables to $74 for a charred grilled ribeye), the service is old-fashioned friendly. After dinner, join the lively crowd for a classic cocktail at the neighboring Oak Bar, where you can step back in time with drinks such as Carrols Cocktail, a tasty pre-Prohibition-style concoction of calvados, Benedictine liqueur, sweet vermouth and aromatics ($18).

21 Club

For one of the most atmospheric dining experiences in the city, you can't do much better than the former speakeasy and celebrity magnet the 21 Club (21 West 52nd St.; 212-582-7200;, opened on the sly during Prohibition in 1929. As you enter down the stairs along with the longtime regulars, tourists and power lunchers, you'll pass brightly colored models of jockeys, many donated by horse breeders and owners starting in the 1930s. You'll end up in the Bar Room, a surreal dining space under a ceiling hung with footballs, model planes, trucks and other toys, all given to the restaurant by its storied clientele. But the 21 Club's real claim to fame is its secret wine cellar, hidden behind a door that looks like a brick wall; it can only be opened by a meat skewer inserted into a tiny crack in the door. Though police raided the club during Prohibition, the cellar was never found – but you can see it for yourself by asking for a private tour after dinner. As for the food, the menu is divided into modern vs. classic dishes. For a taste of the traditional, start with the iconic Pommes Soufflées, puffy hollow fried potatoes served with a spicy 21 cocktail sauce ($14), followed by the tangy Cold Senegalese Soup, thick with curry, chicken chunks and apples ($14); the Creamy Chicken Hash, with baby spinach ($36); or the famous 21 Burger ($30). Note that the 21 Club has a dress code, so jackets and ties are required for men and no jeans and sneakers are allowed for either gender.

Russian Tea Room

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