Food could be had in many places, including bakeries, ice cream parlors, taverns and saloons, and in every neighborhood.
This sampling of the cost of eating out is from Restaurant-ing Through History:
1876 Shorey’s, Haymarket Square, Boston: “Famous Boiled Dinner” (25¢), Soups (10¢), Chowders (10¢), Stews with Dumplings (15¢), Roast Beef (25¢), Sirloin Steak (35¢), Chicken Pie (25¢).
1877 “Cook’s Substantial Dinner,” Boston: 40¢ for a meal including Soups, Chowders, Fish, Meats, Poultry, Sauce, Vegetables, Puddings, Pies, Tea, Coffee, and Dessert. “No extra charges for second orders.”
1885 A cheap French restaurant in New Orleans: Soup (10¢), “Gombo” (15¢), four “Croakers” (20¢), Broiled Sheep Head (35¢), Roast Mutton (15¢), Stew (15¢), Custard or Pudding (10¢).
1885 Brooklyn: “In most restaurants the charge for a dinner of roast meat, with bread and vegetables, is 15 cents … Two eggs, fried or boiled, accompanied by the invariable boiled potato, fetch from 10 to 15 cents; steak 15 cents; sirloin, 25 cents; plain omelet, 25 cents; tea or coffee, 5 cents; pies and puddings from 5 to 10 cents.”
1888 Rock-bottom prices at the New York Kitchen in Chicago: Small Beefsteak, Pork Chop, Ham, Liver & Bacon, Oatmeal & Milk, One-third of a Pie, Large Wheat Cakes with butter and syrup, Ham & Beans – each 5¢.
1893 French table d’hôte dinners in NYC “cost usually 50 cents and consist of relishes, soup, fish with potatoes, something like chicken fricassee, vegetables, a roast dish, lettuce salad, French pancakes, fruit and cheese, and coffee, along with a pint of California claret.”
The original Delmonico’s was opened by the brothers John and Peter Delmonico, from Ticino, Switzerland.
Beginning in the 1850s, the restaurant hosted the annual gathering of the New England Society of New York which featured many important speakers of the day. In 1860, Delmonico’s provided the supper at the Grand Ball welcoming the Prince of Wales at the Academy of Music on East 14th Street. Supper was set out in a specially constructed room; the menu was French, and the pièces montées represented Queen Victoria and Prince Albert…. The New York Times reported, “We may frankly say that we have never seen a public supper served in a more inapproachable fashion, with greater discretion, or upon a more luxurious scale”.1
The business was so successful that from 1865 to 1888 it expanded to four restaurants of the same name. At various times, there were Delmonico’s at ten locations.
Delmonico’s was the kind of place where the wealthy held their parties and balls, gave dinners and announced engagements. Lüchow’s was a far more democratic place, and situated perfectly just off Union Square.
…located at 110 East 14th Street at Irving Place … the property running clear through the block to 13th Street. It was established in 1882– at a time when the surrounding neighborhood was primarily residential – when a German immigrant, August Lüchow, purchased the cafe where he worked as a bartender and waiter. Lüchow’s remained in operation at this place for a full century, becoming a favorite establishment for people in the entertainment world, helped by its proximity to the Academy of Music, the city’s opera house, as well as Steinway Hall and Tammany Hall, Tony Pastor’s, numerous theaters and other entertainments (adapted from Wikipedia).
- Susan Bindig (1989), “New York Welcomes the Prince of Wales (1860)”, Dance Chronicle 12 (.2): 234. ↩