In the colonial and early Federal periods, Americans rarely ate away from home. Meals served in taverns, inns, hotels, and a few restaurants were mainly for travelers. Boarding house dining rooms primarily fed their guests. Eating out become more popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Before Prohibition many saloons offered free food with beverages. Early restaurants and dining rooms did not have menus, but sometimes posted food offerings at the entrance. By the mid 19th century menus started to appear.
1850s and 1860s Hotel and Restaurant Menus. These mid
nineteenth century menus located in the Hospitality Industry
Archives, at the Hilton College of the University of Houston
reveal a treasure trove of historical information. The menus
relate not only the regional cuisine of the particular
restaurant but also show some of the cultural and social norms
of society. The menus are from hotel restaurants, stand alone
restaurants and steamships. The selections cover not only Texas,
but have menus from fine hotels and restaurants in New York,
Washington, and other cities.
- The Food Timeline.
Ever wonder how the ancient Romans fed their armies? What the
pioneers cooked along the Oregon Trail? Who invented the potato
chip...and why? So do we!!! Food history presents a fascinating
buffet of popular lore and contradictory facts. Some experts say
it's impossible to express this topic in exact timeline format.
They are correct. Most foods are not invented; they evolve.
International Guild of Hospitality & Restaurant Managers. The
History of Food and ..?
Los Angeles Public Library Menu Collection. A database of
menus from Los Angeles, other cities, steamships, airlines and
banquets. Images of the actual menus are being added. The
address and telephone number of the restaurant is given, plus
the menu date, cuisine type, meal, and price range.
The Menu Collection of The New York Public Library. The
database contains 26,000 records describing individual menus.
Menus are available in the Rare Book Division.
University of Washington Libraries. Historical Menu
Collections, 1884-2003. Most of the restaurants are located
in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest region of the United
States. Also included in the collection are travel-related menus
from ships, railroads, and airplanes. Restaurants in all styles
and classes of trade are represented, from lunch counters to
first-class gourmet establishments. Menus, placemats, and other
graphic materials from many of the Puget Sound area's most
famous restaurants are in the collection. Some are illustrated
with drawings and photographs.