If you google “oldest restaurant in the world", the result is Sobrino de Botin in Madrid, Spain, founded in 1725. The problem with this record is that it’s the oldest—due to a technicality.
If you ask me, the oldest restaurant in the world is actually in Austria, established in 803.
So, come with me. We’re going to Salzburg.
*Pushes buttons on time machine*
Not far from the city’s fortified castle is St. Peter’s abbey. Diners have been welcome here at St. Peter’s Stiftskeller (St. Peter’s Cellar) by Benedictine monks since the ninth century.
If you’ve been following along with these blog stories of mine, you might remember the legend about the Aachen Cathedral. In the year 796, Charlemagne left the city to fight the Saxons. Before leaving he told the town council he wanted a cathedral built by the time he returned. Against all odds, they did it. A huge cathedral was built in a record nine years— after the city-folk made a deal with the Devil.
Well, Charlemagne may have been off at war, but a man still needs to eat. So, he made his way to St. Peter’s Stiftskeller after hearing about its beer, which had been praised in a poem.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus dined here before he set sail, and it goes without saying that Mozart was a frequent patron as well.
I know what you’re saying...
“Oh my gosh, Tammy…why on earth isn’t THIS the oldest restaurant in the world? It’s more than a thousand years old!”
Well, the only reason the title went to the Madrid eatery is because St. Peter’s Stiftskeller had to close several times in history—like during the Napoleonic Wars— while the Spanish one has been in continuous operation since the 1700’s.
So, why did I set my time machine to the year 1507?
Johann Georg Faust.
Although the legend and history of the man have blended over time, it is said that Faust was an old German alchemist; a magician and astrologer, physician and philosopher.
In reality, he was most likely a con-man.
The story starts like this:
Faust is old, near the end of his days. He’s preparing a poison to end his life, feeling like he’s missed out on everything—mainly women. Before he can drink it, he hears a choir singing outside.
It inspires him—to call upon the Devil.
The Devil shows up.
He’s a funny, good-looking charmer named Mephistopheles. “What can I do for you?”
Faust asks to be turned back into a young man so he might find love.
“Yeah. I can do that. No big deal,” Mephistopheles says.
“What’s the catch?”
“No catch.” To entice him, the devil shows Faust an image of a beautiful young woman named Marguerite. “But you’re mine in the afterlife.”
Faust agrees and Mephistopheles pricks the old man’s finger with a quill, making a blood binding contract.
The poison turns into an elixir of youth and the legend begins.
Now, according to locals, this infamous meeting between Faust and Mephistopheles took place in none other than—
St. Peter’s Stiftskeller.
The restaurant right there in Salzburg, Austria.
So there you have it. Your interesting fact of the day: the oldest restaurant in the world vs. the REAL oldest restaurant in the world.