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Feb 24, 2009 06:31 AM

Best Lunch in New Haven?

Somewhat frequently I come into NH and want to have lunch. Some nicer places are not open for lunch.
I personally, am not trying to limit this discussion, but I am not talking a cheap or fast meal. I have specific ideas when I am not doing the cooking. When I take the time and effort to have lunch downtown, or near downtown, I want warm and not too hectic, with a wine choice or two. I don't consider buffets. Again, I am not trying to paint this discussion into too small a box. I would even consider just outside downtown if it doesn't take more than 15 minutes to get there (from The Green, let's say).
To start this off, I/we have enjoyed lunch recently at Thali (Lunch and Sunday Brunch 12-2:30PM, [brunch is supposed to be great], and dinner hours??), and just had a so-so lunch at Scoozzi (which we usually enjoy). Scoozzi: Open 12-9 or 9:30PM, Jazz Brunch on Sunday 12-3, closed Mondays.
Bentara (7 days:11:30-3PM/Sun-Thur: 5-10PM/Fri-Sat: 5-11PM), is usually good and we like Pacifico (Tue-Fri:12:00-3:00 pm/Sun-Thurs: 5:00-10:00 pm/Fri&Sat: 5-11:00 pm/closed Mondays.
Slightly farther is Christopher Martin's (Pub Menu is available 11:30 am till midnight - 7 Days/Week Dining Room: 11:30 am - 2 pm & 5-10(ish) PM).
L'Orcio (Tues- Fri:11:30-2:00/Tues-Thurs: 5:30-9:30/ Fri- Sat: 5:30-10:30/Sun: 5:00-9:00/Closed Mondays).
Possibly often forgotten (you have to bring your own wine; they open it and they have glasses), is Guadalupe La Poblanita. Open Mondays & Wed-Thu. 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Fri.-Sun. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Closed Tue.
Even farther, but still easily accessible, is Leon's, for my favorite setting or view. Never closed, Leon's only has a bar menu for lunch Sundays.

What do you like? What is open on a Saturday or Sunday? Please note if they are closed Mondays.
Has anything changed recently? I thought there was a chance that Geronimo (open 7 days a week for dinner), was going to open for lunch. This does not seem to have happened yet.

PS: I almost forgot Heirloom at "The Study at Yale" Hotel. Great food, so far!
Breakfast: Monday to Saturday from 7 am to 10 am
Lunch: Monday to Saturday from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm
Dinner: Sunday to Thursday from 5:30 pm to 10 pm; Friday and Saturday from 5:30 pm to 11:30 pm
Sunday Brunch: Sunday from 11 am to 3 pm
Heirloom Lounge: Sunday to Thursday open until 11 pm; Friday and Saturday open until midnight

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  1. I hate to tell you this, but that post sounds like you work for the Chamber of Commerce! ;)

    2 Replies
    1. re: joan mar

      Hah! That's good... Think I could get on their payroll?
      I am trying to spread the word and I want some good ones to survive. However, it is mostly self-serving. I did spend well over an hour doing research and making the post.

      Today we had lunch at Bentara. I would recommend it. Did not care for the Mee Bandung. Tasted too much like a good soup ruined with Catsup. Yes, they put catsup in it. I liked my Roti Chanai (stir-fried squid). The flatbread, Sotong Goreng Pedas, was really good but the accompanying ghee sauce was somewhat flat and weak. It didn't ghee to me. Service was good.
      SO and I disagreed about all the wine bottles on display. I think it cheapens the place and is a poor substitute for interior decoration.

      1. re: Scargod

        One of my favorite lunches is a big bowl of Mee Curry Soup @ Bentara. Very satisfying. Mmmm

    2. It has been many many years since I had lunch in New Haven, but I did go to school there and these classics never date. Both have worldwide reputations.

      Sally's Apizza -- the only place west of Naples, Italy to which New Yorkers travel to go for pizza.

      Louis Lunch -- they have a fairly good documented claim to have invented the hamburger and an even better claim to serve one of the best burgers.

      1. Some additions I would make to your list, in no particular order:

        Prime 16 opens for lunch at noon every day except Sunday, and doesn't close between lunch and dinner. This maybe counts as cheap, but, unfortunately, is one of the only places in town to get a decent beer with lunch.

        Caseus serves lunch from eleven thirty to four, and is fast becoming my favorite place for lunch.

        BAR is open for lunch every day but Monday and Tuesday. No hours on the website, but I think lunch starts at eleven. Service can be a bit on the slow side before twelve thirty or one, but there is rarely a wait for a small table at lunch (unlike dinner, for which the wait at BAR is always the longest in town, no contest).

        Foster's serves lunch from eleven thirty to two thirty, Monday through Friday, and has been my favorite place for lunch for the last couple of years.

        Ibiza serves lunch on Friday only, from noon to two thirty. I've only been for dinner, but I would imagine lunch is spectacular.

        Istanbul Cafe serves lunch, I believe daily, but I'm not positive of days and hours as their website doesn't provide this information. People talk up Mamoun's and other Near Eastern places in the area a lot, but Istanbul Cafe has them all beat. Also, though I've seen them listed as halal, they do serve wine.

        Whether or not you like sushi, Miso serves a great lunch, Monday through Saturday, eleven thirty to three.

        Skappo only has lunch on Fridays, noon to two, and brunch on Sundays, one to three. Of anywhere on my list, Skappo is the one I would most recommend trying for lunch if you have not already.

        Soul de Cuba has lunch every day but Monday, starting at eleven thirty on weekdays, and noon on weekends, and doesn't close between lunch and dinner. This takes second place in the "if you haven't already been for lunch, try it" category.

        I'm not fond of Zinc, but I'll include it simply because a lot of people love it. Lunch is Tuesday through Friday, noon to two thirty.

        Though it's not my favorite, Union League's is probably, speaking objectively, the best lunch in town. It's served Monday through Friday, eleven thirty to two thirty.

        2 Replies
        1. re: danieljdwyer

          These are great and I may not respond to each individually, but agree, for the most-part. We almost went back to Caseus for the third time, and intend to... Soul de Cuba is so small. I need to go back.
          Forgot Skappo is open for lunch on Fridays; good suggestion.
          Ditto for Union League. I blank it out, except for dinner!
          Again, did not know Foster's was open for lunch. Must try! Ditto Ibiza!
          Bar: wouldn't go there unless invited and dragged. I guess I've been there so many times when it was crowded and noisy that I don't consider it a restaurant.
          Zinc: no opinion/interest?
          Miso: I would love it, SO would not.
          Prime 16: I like it, but it was noisy, and I am seldom into just a burger or sandwich and beer.
          I might try Istanbul, as long as it is a far cry from Mamoun's.
          Thanks a lot!

          1. re: danieljdwyer

            Big +1 on Foster's. Went about a month ago based on recommendations here on CH (probably even one of your other reviews, djd, so thanks!) and it was terrific! Still can't get those braised short ribs out of my head. Mmmmmmmmm.

          2. Route 10 north - Whitney Avenue- to Aunt Chilada's

            2 Replies
            1. re: Veggo

              You got a really good laugh out of me!
              Sorry, it is beyond my fifteen minute rule. I'd have to drive doggedly slowly to get there... :)
              For you, I'd make an exception.

              1. re: Veggo

                "Oh NO Mr. Bill!!" Aunt Chiladas is like openning up a box of frozen Stouffers. I agree re: Bentara, Caseus and others Scargod posted PLUS the wonderful food carts in front of the Yale School of Managemetn at Sachem/Prospect Streets and in front of Yale New Haven hospital

              2. I've got to say that we had one fine lunch at Heirloom! The place is picking up steam; there were quite a few occupied tables at almost 1:30PM.
                We were served delicious bread and olive oil right away and they gave us a taste of the "by the glass" wine rather than the typical custom of just plunking down a glass of wine. You are shown the bottle and allowed to taste it before you buy it. Every time, not just the first time! And the pours were very fair.
                I had clam chowder. There was virtually a whole clam in it, and I love the bacon chunks.
                SO had the salmon. It was cooked plainly and perfectly. It was succulent and delicious. It came with almost soupy, creamy mashed potatoes and sautéed oyster mushrooms. We thought the mushrooms were a little overcooked but some might like them that well cooked. SO's also came with two fancy onions poached in red wine. Can't remember the name of those small, squat onions...
                I had a lobster roll which came with, made in-house, potato chips. The lobster filling had a hint of tarragon and its anise flavor.
                Service was spot-on and they had some low key jazz playing that was not intrusive at all.
                This was a great lunch that was just flawless!

                3 Replies
                1. re: Scargod

                  Seconds on Heirloom, it's the most interesting place to open here in a long time and gets better every time I go. I'll bet the NYT visits before long...

                  1. re: Scargod

                    To your list I would add Ahimsa, for their very interesting and well-prepared lunch buffet. Nice atmosphere, too. Zinc does make a great lunch and it's very well run and efficient in service, so you can get out there with a full meal in under an hour.