Appleton’s Dictionary Of New York And Its Vicinity. Published from 1879 to 1906.
A mini-encyclopedia of all aspects of New York, from quotidian facts to unusual entries. One can learn what was on the menu at Astor House in 1895—“a chop, a baked potato and English pickles for 30 to 40 cts.,”—what to wear to restaurants, where to take “slumming” tours of perilous neighborhoods and other surprising tidbits.
Ashley, Diana. Where To Dine In Thirty-Nine. New York: Crown, 1939.
A boosterish, fascinating guide to restaurants in each borough and the suburbs, prompted by the 1939 New York World’s Fair.
Batterberry, Michael and Ariane Batterberry. On The Town In New York. A History of Eating, Drinking and Entertainment from 1776 to the Present. Illustrated. New York: Scribner’s, 1973. Reprinted as Batterberry, Ariane and Michael. On the Town in New York: The Landmark History of Eating, Drinking, and Entertainments from the American Revolution to the Food Revolution. New York: Routledge, 1998.
A lively history of eating and drinking in high and low society, with an extensive bibliography.
Brown, Henry Collins. Delmonico’s: A Story of Old New York. New York: Valentine Manuals, 1928.
The ascension of Delmonicos to a first class restaurant as it moved northwards is paralleled with the growth of wealth in the upper classes of New York.
Case, Frank. Tales of a Wayward Inn. New York: Stokes, 1938.
The proprietor of the Algonquin Hotel shares his recollections of lunches with the legendary “Algonquin Wits.”
Chappell, George S. The Restaurants of New York. New York: Greenberg, 1925.
Chappell, the “T-Square” architect for the New Yorker offers a literate and serious guide.
Churchill, Allen. The Upper Crust. An Informal History of New York’s Highest Society. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Prentice Hall: 1970. Folio-size.
A heavily illustrated, anecdotal and sweeping account of the rise of high society in New York, from the rudimentary Dutch settlement to the multi-layered city that had developed by the mid-to late 1800s.
De Voe, Thomas. The Market Book: A History of the Public Markets of the City of New York. New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1867. Vol I. Note: Only one volume was published because of the Civil War. (Facsimile ed. Kelley 1970)
De Voe, a butcher in the Jefferson Market and Superintendent of Public Markets researched old records to compile this comprehensive history of the city’s food markets.
De Voe, Thomas. The Market Assistant: Containing a Brief Description of Every Article of Human Food Sold in the Public Markets of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn. New York: Hurd & Houghton,1867. (Facsimile ed. Gale Research, 1975)
One of the best resources on food indigenous to New York and sold in its markets. Includes anecdotes, arcane historical facts of Old New York, cooking tips such as “koshering meats,” and advice to housekeepers.
Diehl, Lorraine. The Automat: The History, Recipes, and Allure of Horn & Hardart’s Masterpiece. New York: Clarkson Potter, 2002.
A lively account of the legendary Automat—a familiar backdrop in old 1930’s movies—that opened in 1912 (the last one closed in the early 1980’s).
Grimes, William. Appetite City. A Culinary History of New York. New York: North Point Press, 2009.
An up-to-date, “elegantly written and meticulously researched” social history of restaurants, food trends, local delicacies, and more.
Gunn, Thomas Butler. The Physiology of New-York Boarding-Houses. Illustrations on Wood Designed and Drawn by the “Triangle,” A. R. Waud and the Author. New York: Mason Bros.,1857.
A delicious satire, with caricatures of various types of boarding houses available for any purse. “Yankee boarding-house cookery: Meat Pie-when meat is ‘a little gone,’ or for other reasons unfit for baking, it can always be rendered available in a pie—the never-failing resource of good housekeepers. N.B.- Use plenty of pepper.” Comic illustrations throughout the 34 chapters.
Hughes, Rupert. The Real New York. 100 Drawings by Hy. Mayer. New York: The Smart Set, 1904.
Breezy picture of life in the city with a chapter on places to eat, from street food to the kitchen at the Waldorf.
James, Rian. Dining In New York. New York: John Day, 1930.
Witty, urbane guide to restaurants and bars, ending with a chapter on how to tip. Of Longchamps: “a back to nature adventure that a city-dweller, who has never seen a stalk of asparagus, except one that comes out of a can, will hardly appreciate.” [The repeal edition opens with numerous recipes for cocktails.]
James, Rian. All About New York. An Intimate Guide. With a foreword by Ogden Nash and decorations by Jay. New York: The John Day Company, 1931.
Lists a good range of places to eat with a great overview of the types of cuisine in New York City.
Kurlansky, Mark. The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell. Illustrated. New York: Ballantine Books, 2006.
From Native-American days through the nineteenth century, oysters were omnipresent from oyster stands in the food markets and streets to lavish platefuls at Delmonico’s and other fine restaurants.
Ross, George. Tips On Tables: Being a Guide to Dining and Wining in New York at 365 Restaurants Suitable to Every Mood and Purse. New York: Covici and Friede, 1934.
Written in the last days of Prohibition and the first weeks of Repeal. Cocktails started at 35 cents, a quart of champagne was $9.00 at the Central Park Casino.
Sante, Luc. Low Life: Lures and Snares. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1991.
A lively, intelligent, and extensive account of entertainment and eating and drinking places for the lower millions, with a thoughtful bibliographic essay.
Shaw, Charles C. Night Life: Vanity Fair’s Intimate Guide to New York After Dark. Illustrations by Raymond Bret-Koch. New York: John Day Co, 1931,1932.
A sophisticated, charming guide with a great period dust jacket.