Founding Fathers’ Food in Philly

Tucked away under the shade of some very old, very sleepy tall trees just south of Independence Hall in Philadelphia is the City Tavern. This was the place George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and the rest of those restless revolutionaries came after a hard day trying to hammer out a brand new world. This was also the place where Paul Revere ended his famous ride. The City Tavern’s mission, as stated in its menu, is “to interpret and deliver the culinary experience inspired by the customs and foods of 18th century Colonial America.”


Twenty-first century diners can imbibe in a raspberry “shrub” (raspberries preserved in vinegar with a shot of rum), a drink only the 18th century mind could concoct. Feeling more like a cold beer? Then hoist a tankard of your favorite “Ales of the Revolution, made by Philadelphia based Yards Brewing Company exclusively for City Tavern.” The ale is “brewed with the very recipes used by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin are on tap at City Tavern, and available to take home by the six pack.”


Looking for a little nosh to get your meal started? You could choose to begin with giant cornmeal fried oysters or perhaps mallard duck sausage. Then you could move along to a variety of sumptuously prepared entrees including roast duckling, paillard of salmon, or perhaps a nice lobster pie nestled snugly in a pewter casserole dish. I chose the medallions of beef tenderloin served with mashed potatoes and asparagus with bearnaise sauce. Everything was hot and delicious and expensive, but hey, this is history! The guys who hung out here a couple hundred years ago fought, laughed, argued, reasoned, got mad, got thoughtful, stood their ground, and compromised. They had a fledgling little government to shape, and they took it seriously.

This lovely tavern, a concessionaire of the National Park Service, had temporarily been closed for business, another victim of the current government shutdown. Fortunately, th government saw their way clear to fund important things like tourist traps, so it’s back open again.

The sound you hear is that of the Founding Fathers, crying in their pewter tankards of ale.