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New Haven Restaurants

a
atl7285 Aug 7, 2009 09:41 AM

I'm going to be in New Haven for a few years for grad school and am looking for some high-quality restaurants worth trying in the city. I heard there's a bunch of new places that utilize local farm produce - does anyone know what these are? Also, is there a good ramen place? Any advice would be verry helpful - I'm looking for places for all budgets and moods!

  1. p
    preacher Aug 7, 2009 09:49 AM

    if looking for breakfast try Me N U on state street , jerry is the owner very funny man enjoy

    1. j
      justme123 Aug 7, 2009 10:48 AM

      Oh my, you are in for a fun time in New Haven if you like great food. Many of us on the boards are new haven born and raised, and can rember when the only food destination was Wooster St. Now, however we can recommend many high quality restaurants of all shapes and sizes.

      A walk in the 'Upper' Chapel St area (near Yale main campus) alone will reveal French(Union League) ,Thai (too many to mention), contemporary American (heirloom), pub grub (too many to mention), bakeries (Atticus), vegetarian (Claire's), Italian (Scozzi), Nuevo Latino (Bespoke, Ibiza, Pacifico), Turkish, etc......

      Related to your question, I can recommend Zinc for their market menu (www.zincfood.com), which seems to fit the bill for local farm fresh food. The menu changes weekly, based on what is available. Nini's bistro (www.ninisbistro.com) also has a menu that changes frequently (every two weeks), based on what is fresh and in season. Both of these are fairly expensive--in the $25-$40 per person range.

      I would highly recommend Scargod's map of foodie destinations in New Haven and surrounds ( http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF... ) as a great place to start.

      Enjoy!

      19 Replies
      1. re: justme123
        Amuse Bouches Aug 7, 2009 11:07 AM

        I went to college in New Haven more than 10 years ago and I still get a craving for the black bean soup and rosemary bread from Atticus whenever it's cold out. Zinc was pretty wonderful in my day, but Claire's never lived up to the hype.

        1. re: justme123
          m
          MAER Aug 20, 2009 10:03 AM

          Thanks for the link to Scargod's map - it's amazing!!

          1. re: MAER
            Scargod Aug 20, 2009 10:12 AM

            Thanks to all about the map.
            I too would like to know who is making an effort to use local farm produce (and meats!).
            I believe Foster's is doing so.

            1. re: Scargod
              d
              danieljdwyer Aug 20, 2009 10:58 AM

              Zinc does, but they ruin it.
              In general, New Haven doesn't have many of the right kinds of places for local produce. People here all seem to be looking for either something "ethnic" or else Italian. You could pull off Italian with local produce, but it would be very expensive, and would not consist of the dishes most people are looking for. Union League and Caseus could both use local produce, but I don't think either does. Ibiza could do a lot of their menu with local produce, but many people already complain about the prices there.
              The local food movement does better to the north and east. Those areas have retained more of the old Connecticut character, and restaurants can do more New England style cuisine. There is also a lot more farming going on. Most worth noting is Still River Cafe.
              The local food movement also does well in Fairfield County, because it's trendy. Yuppies love trendy.
              This was a bad year for most summer produce in the Northeast. On the bright side, that usually means great fall and winter produce are on their way.

              1. re: danieljdwyer
                n
                newhavener07 Aug 20, 2009 12:28 PM

                Caseus and Union League both use local produce and Caseus has several local farmers growing for them. We're not in the most rural part of the state, however, so to get stuff like cheese you need to expand your definition of local by 50 miles or so. We've had very bad year for organic tomatoes but lots of other things are doing well and the farmer's markets are full of great stuff.

                1. re: newhavener07
                  d
                  danieljdwyer Aug 20, 2009 01:04 PM

                  My definition of local usually extends well past 50 miles. I've actually been disappointed in Caseus from the beginning for not using Maine potatoes, since close to half the menu items come with fries. But it's good to know they are using some local produce.
                  It's been a bad year for a lot besides tomatoes. There has still been a lot of good produce at the farmer's markets, but yields have dropped sharply. Every time I've gotten talking to growers this summer the conversation has inevitably turned to all the extra hours they've had to put in to save crops, how they've never seen the strawberries turn red so late, and so on, but on the plus side the greens that they saved from being swamped were great, the cucumbers have grown very quickly, and so on.
                  I just can't wait to see what the winter squashes and apples are like this year. They love this weather.

                  1. re: danieljdwyer
                    zoe p. Aug 20, 2009 01:20 PM

                    Firebox in Hartford makes a good local effort.

                    And what is wrong with Zinc? Some people seem so anti-Zinc, but some people are huge fans? Why all the strong feelings? Every time I decide to spend the money and see for myself, I read or hear something very negative . . .

                    But NH restaurants don't do local because they are serving ethnic food? Or Italian? Please, that's no excuse. My farm box is overflowing with zukes, eggplant and herbs. And potatoes.

                    On my last trip to Mezcal, they put zukes in the fajitas. I didn't ask if they were local, but I bet they were a bargain! On the Scoozi menu I saw some local produce, and some California peaches. Go figure.

                    But in response to the original post, New Haven's "best" noodle shop has closed - East Melange. Leaving us with Ivy Noodle and York St Noodle, both of which are cheap, casual and have passionate fans and detractors.

                    Check out the New Haven "Top 5" lists . . . Lots of range there.
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/391374

                2. re: danieljdwyer
                  linguist Aug 20, 2009 02:38 PM

                  Definitely agree on Still River, one of the finest restaurants I've been to (here or elsewhere). But I'd like to hear more about why you're down on Zinc. I admit I haven't actually been to one of the their "local products menu" events, but I generally like what they do in the kitchen (and worship the desserts).

                  1. re: linguist
                    d
                    danieljdwyer Aug 20, 2009 06:37 PM

                    They do clearly have a very talented pastry chef. I'll give them that. One of the best dessert menus in town, if not the whole state.
                    Other than that, I find Zinc to have a very outdated cuisine, which overuses ideas of luxury. It's one of those places that can put $30 worth of ingredients into a dish and still have it come out bland, or use several fine ingredients but drown them out with one dominant, overpowering flavor. It never tastes bad, but it's unoriginal, and its kind of a culinary shame. If I'm eating premium produce, I want to be able to taste the produce, not just the heavy handed application of some fusiony sauce.

                    1. re: danieljdwyer
                      Scargod Aug 21, 2009 07:00 AM

                      As Jim Leff would say, "That's what a restaurant does." They have to overdo things and do strange things that you don't do at home. Otherwise it would be ho-hum. I can do steamed, fresh veggies from my garden anytime. That would not sell well at Zinc.
                      I need to go back since I've only been twice, but my memory is that it is not a warm, intimate place and that the food is fancy, artistically presented, expensive, but no big deal.

                      1. re: Scargod
                        d
                        danieljdwyer Aug 21, 2009 07:15 AM

                        But there is such a thing as balance. They tend towards the opposite end of unbalanced from steamed veggies, but I've had a number of bland lunches there too. I don't mean that I want to taste only the produce. I mean that if you're going to completely drown out the flavor of the produce, why not use the cheap stuff? Their excess doesn't pay dividends. Vegetables and meat are not just sponges.

            2. re: justme123
              Emmmily Aug 21, 2009 04:34 PM

              Hey, me too! Just moved in on Wednesday. That map looks fantastic - thanks Scargod!

              1. re: Emmmily
                kattyeyes Aug 21, 2009 04:58 PM

                Welcome to the hood, Emmmily! There are SO MANY really good (and current!) threads on New Haven food finds, you will find lots of reading material. ;) I hope you brought your rollerblades or bike so you can get out on the rails-to-trails path and maybe try some ice cream at Ashley's in Hamden. That's the Farmington Canal Linear State Park, officially.

                Ashley's Ice Cream Cafe
                2100 Dixwell Ave
                Hamden, CT 06514-2406
                (203) 287-7566‎

                1. re: kattyeyes
                  Emmmily Aug 24, 2009 02:46 PM

                  I just had a godawful lunch at Noodle House on York. I got the "stew noodles" (rad na) - the noodles themselves had a really odd taste to them, so much so that I couldn't bring myself to eat them, so I picked out the (less bad, but still not good) veggies & chicken and left most of the dish. Is it usually like this, or did I just order the wrong thing?

                  1. re: Emmmily
                    zoe p. Aug 25, 2009 07:58 AM

                    I'm actually one of the passionate detractors (see above) of York St Noodle, but some people swear by it - http://www.yelp.com/biz/york-street-n.... Maybe it depends on what you order . . .

                    Also, I love the Linear State Park (hee hee) and wouldn't want to discourage anyone from exploring it but there is a perfectly fine Ashley's in New Haven!! Maybe you could justify stopping at both if you jogged from one the other!!

                    1. re: zoe p.
                      kattyeyes Aug 25, 2009 09:42 AM

                      I've never been to York St. Noodle...I think Emmmily meant to ask Good Foodie. I was trying to be a helpful CT guide by mentioning the out-of-town Ashley's. ;) People who love food often need outlets to bike or skate it off (I do!!!).

                      1. re: kattyeyes
                        Emmmily Aug 25, 2009 02:12 PM

                        I was asking anybody who might know. Another incoming grad student I met today said she had some very good udon there, so maybe I'll give it a second chance. And my bike is being stored by relatives in Pennsylvania right now, but I'm trying to work out how to get in up here, so any suggestions of good reason to use the thing are absolutely appreciated :-)

                        1. re: Emmmily
                          g
                          GoodFoodie Aug 27, 2009 12:53 PM

                          Re: York Street Noodle House

                          "Rad Na" is a dish of stir fried large noodles with meat, gravy and Chinese Broccoli so I'm not what you actually ordered Emmmily. The "Stew Noodles" should be a soup dish with stewed/braised beef. They might make some dishes better than others at York Street. I've always had good luck there there - we usually order the Curry Noodles, Tom Yum Noodles and the Beef Ball Noodles (similiar to Pho). I would suggest, when ordering any of the soups to try it with Thai Rice Noodles which are thin or Udon. Good luck!

                          1. re: GoodFoodie
                            Emmmily Aug 28, 2009 08:37 PM

                            The dish was labeled "stew noodles" in big letters ad then "rad na" in smaller type and in parentheses, though it was like no rad na I've had before. It looked like the noodles had been cooked in brown sauce, set in a bowl, with chicken, broccoli, and some other veggies set on top, then with a thick, pale sauce ladled over all, served with a soup spoon. Given that I've got about six years ahead of me of cheap downtown lunches, I'm sure I'll end up there again, and when I do I'll take your advice and order the curry noodles. Thanks for the tip!

            3. g
              GoodFoodie Aug 20, 2009 05:11 PM

              You are in for a treat. New Haven has become a destination for wonderful restaurants. When you arrive, just start sampling! Most of the 'usual go-to places' have been mentioned and I am sure more choices will be added to the list but I would like to put a good word in about Gastronomique on High Street (near Crown)- it is a tiny take-away only place. No frills, just a great chef. The food is simply delightful, some unique offerings- a real gem.

              I enjoy Zinc's but am disappointed they re-did Chow's and replaced it with Zinc Kitchen which serves pizza of all things! As if we needed more pizza places in NH. I do enjoy good fries and think the Pomme Frites at Caseus are just right- Maine potatoes or not.

              The closest to a Ramen place would be York Street Noodles at the corner of York Street and Chapel (across from the Yale Rep).

              1. b
                baires2 Aug 25, 2009 04:36 PM

                If you are going to be in the area for some time, I suggest you try "Pepe's", the best pizza in the area.Is on Wooster Street, next to "The Spot" another great pizza place, also owned by Pepe's. Both are next to "Consiglio" great food, great service. And do not forget to stop at Lebbes next to Pepe's for the best espresso and best italian pastry. New Haven is the Haven of great food. Enjoy your stay. baires2

                9 Replies
                1. re: baires2
                  linguist Aug 25, 2009 06:19 PM

                  No disrespect, but, sigh. Everyone always talks as if New Haven were only good for pizza. Yes, Pepe's and Sally's make good pizza, but is it really worth the lines (more than once anyway, just to say you've been there and done that)? Not only is there other pizza that is about as good but less stressful to obtain (although I've seen pretty long lines at Modern this summer, and Bar is often hard to get into too), but there's so much other good food of all sorts in New Haven. Pity that when someone says "food - New Haven" the Pavlovian response is all too often "pizza! go to Pepe's!"

                  1. re: linguist
                    d
                    danieljdwyer Aug 25, 2009 06:46 PM

                    Bar can definitely have the longest waits of the four. I've waited for two hours for a table. The difference there is that they have a good bar. They brew good beer, a pitcher of which is relatively cheap. Waiting for two hours there is hardly a chore.
                    Sally's isn't worth the wait. Pepe's is worth the wait if and only if you want a clam pie. I've never had to wait at Modern for long, but I don't go for dinner Friday or Saturday.

                    1. re: danieljdwyer
                      linguist Aug 25, 2009 07:30 PM

                      Yes, the beer at Bar makes the wait well worthwhile. I've gone past Modern on week nights a couple of times lately, and been surprised to see a line snaking along the block. And OK, go to Pepe's once for a clam pie. With your diploma in hand, you can pass the next time. But my point was: why does everyone act as if pizza were the only thing to eat in New Haven? The OP asked for fresh produce, ramen, .... how does pizza qualify?

                      1. re: linguist
                        Scargod Aug 25, 2009 07:53 PM

                        I've been beating this drum for a while and it has little effect. You are one of the first people to agree with me. Pizza and burgers; give me a break! Recently we've eaten at Basta for Italian, Wild Ginger for Japanese/sashimi, Seoul for Korean, Thali for Indian and Ibiza Tapas for Spanish. There is incredible variety in the New Haven area and quite a bit of it is very good.
                        OTOH, Pizza is mundane and not very healthy.

                        1. re: Scargod
                          d
                          danieljdwyer Aug 26, 2009 06:35 AM

                          I agree with linguist's point as well, but mundane? Please. I'm not willing to paint any type of food as mundane, but if I was, how about I label tacos as mundane?

                          1. re: danieljdwyer
                            Scargod Aug 26, 2009 07:37 AM

                            We could possibly say that about other dishes as well, but Pizza IS the meal. It's not like eating a taco and when do you just eat one kind of taco to be your whole meal? What about beans and salsa and tamales?
                            Pizza is bread with toppings. Like having a sandwich or a burger as the meal. Many people eat only pizza as their meal and nothing else. For me, buy the third or fourth slice I am losing interest.
                            I would not call a clam pie or a potato pie mundane, but I would call a potato pie boring and dumb. White carbs on white carbs with yum (!), bad for you bacon. I've had some at Bar; it tastes OK for a slice or two if hot.
                            Pizzas have a few (mostly topping), variations, but they are the same all over except for personal preferences about the bread and how it's cooked. Healthy and good for you? Mostly NOT.
                            Note: there are a few rare exceptions (I hear Zinc Kitchen is different and good), but I'm talking the normal fare in New Haven.

                            I don't expect any acceptance for my point of view in New Haven. I worry about being burnt at the stake. I couldn't eat a pizza three times a week (or more), any more than I could eat Mexican food on that basis. OK, I could eat at Guadalupe la Poblanita three times a week; but never just tacos!

                            1. re: Scargod
                              kattyeyes Aug 26, 2009 07:57 AM

                              <<For me, buy the third or fourth slice I am losing interest.>>

                              That's because:
                              a) You're not Italian
                              and/or
                              b) You may lose interest easily. ;)

                              It's not my meal often, but I love the stuff. But I also love dessert. I don't discriminate against that which is not as nutritious. I am an equal opportunity eater!

                              I don't want to hijack this thread. There are other great New Haven restaurants that have yet to be named here. So go fish. Add another!

                              1. re: kattyeyes
                                d
                                danieljdwyer Aug 26, 2009 10:14 AM

                                Don't make excuses for the man. I'm not Italian, and I have ADHD. He's just a heathen.

                              2. re: Scargod
                                d
                                danieljdwyer Aug 26, 2009 10:13 AM

                                Dangerously off topic here, but weren't you the guy who chastised my logic when I didn't want to rush through my lunch break just to get a few tacos? ;)
                                (You were right to chastise my logic there. The Ixtapa truck was totally worth the rushed eating, eating standing up among the seagulls, and getting stains on my shoes in the process. I may be a taco guy after all.)

                  2. d
                    danieljdwyer Aug 26, 2009 10:08 AM

                    Here are some recommendations, broken down by price.

                    Very Inexpensive (under $5)

                    Mamoun's Falafel - Typical falafel joint. Usually very good, but I've had some mediocre falafels here. http://www.mamounsfalafel.com

                    Ixtapa taco truck - There are a number of taco trucks on Long Wharf Drive right next to the highway. This is the only one I've been to. The tacos are dirt cheap and excellent, but the burritos are relatively expensive and not good.

                    Louis' Lunch - Very good, but atypical burgers. More of a snack than a full meal for me, as the burgers aren't big and there are no good sides. http://www.louislunch.com/

                    Inexpensive (under $15 not including drinks

                    )

                    Bentara (for lunch) - Very good Malaysian. The noodle soups are the best value in town. Dinner costs more and has the same menu, so I'd stick to lunch.

                    Bangkok Garden - Best Thai food in town. I am a big fan of the Chaiya noodles. 172 York St, New Haven, (203) 789-8684

                    Royal Palace - Very good authentic Cantonese and Hunan. The typical American Chinese take out dishes (like General Tso's chicken) are not good here. http://ctmenusonline.com/rp.htm

                    Blessings 2 Go - Best typical American Chinese takeout (or delivery) in town. http://www.campusfood.com/restaurant.asp?mlid=256758&campusid=173

                    Lalibela - Very good Ethiopian. The lunch buffet is a good deal. http://lalibelarestaurant.ejmart.com/

                    Bar - Great pizza. Very good beer. http://www.barnightclub.com/

                    Prime 16 - Very good burgers. Great beer selection. Happy hour weeknights from 4-7 is a great deal. http://prime16.com/

                    Soul de Cuba - Excellent Cuban food, for lunch or dinner. One of New Haven's few hidden gems. They also have a great selection of rums. http://www.souldecuba.com/index.php

                    Istanbul Cafe (for lunch) - Very good Turkish food. Dinner is in a higher price range, but has a completely different menu than lunch. Both menus are varied, and the dinner menu is pretty extensive. A great value. http://www.istanbulcafect.com/

                    Guadalupe la Poblanita - Only good, authentic Mexican in the area. Everything I've had there has been very tasty. 136 Chapel St, New Haven, (203) 752-1017

                    Modern Apizza - Best pizza in town, and, in my opinion, the best pizza period. http://www.modernapizza.com/

                    Mid-range (under $30 not including drinks

                    )

                    Barcelona - Pretty good tapas and excellent wine list. It's very slightly overpriced, the food can sometimes stand improvement, and there's a much better tapas bar one town north, but this is still one of the best places in town for a night out. They have some of the best dessert in town, the wine list is nearly unmatched in the area, and, if you know what to order, your meal will be great and won't cost too much. Steer clear of any of the larger plates, and keep in mind that some of the less expensive tapas (under $8) are some of the best they offer. Also, the queso y charcuteria plate has some excellent choices, and the portions are large enough that it's a great deal. http://www.barcelonawinebar.com/

                    116 Crown - Excellent Modern American small plates. The cheese and charcuterie plate is great. They have a very extensive, creative, excellent cocktail list, a very good wine list, and a decent beer list. Along with Firehouse 12, it's one of the two best bars in the area. Like Barcelona, it has a hip vibe, and is great for a night out. http://www.116crown.com/

                    Caseus - Very good French Bistro. It's also a cheese shop, so obviously the dishes with cheese are the special feature here. I'd recommend it for lunch over dinner, as I think they do a better job with the lunch selections, and the prices are more reasonable. But make it a big, long lunch. Caseus uses some local ingredients. http://www.caseusnewhaven.com/caseus-lunch-menu.pdf

                    Foster's - Very good, creative American food. Chef Foster does some odd things, but he always manages to surprise me and pull them off. The menu has unique items you won't find elsewhere in town, like various game meats. His ever changing spins on steamed muscles are always delightful. He also has a lunch menu that is great and would go in the Inexpensive category. Chef Foster makes one of the best efforts in town to use local ingredients. http://fostersrestaurant.com/

                    Geronimo - Hit and miss Southwestern. I debated whether or not to include this one. If you stick to more simple menu items (guacamole, chiles rellenos, steak frites), you can have a really great meal here. But some of the more complicated dishes (chicken mole) fall very, very flat. I'd give it a shot while the weather is still nice enough to sit on the porch. They have a great selection of tequilas, and make a fantastic margarita. http://www.geronimobarandgrill.com/

                    Pacifico - Nuevo Latino. Another one I hesitate to recommend. I had quite a number of great meals here over a three year period, but this year it's been mildly disappointing both times I've been. It was also incredibly busy both of those nights, which is no excuse, but I think (and hope) that I just hit them on an off night both times. Every time I've been, even those two times, I've found that they do wonderful things with plantains. They also make great caipirinhas and have a handful of good cachacas.

                    Skappo - Excellent Italian small plates. Specifically, the food is Umbrian, which uses a rather different set of ingredients than most of the Italian food people are familiar with. It's a tiny place, and is owned and entirely run (from hosting to cooking to washing the dishes) by one immediate family. This place easily has five times the charm of any other restaurant in the state. http://www.skappo.com/

                    L'Orcio - Excellent Northern Italian. I've only been a handful of times, but I've been very impressed. This place not only has the reputation, it has always lived up to it, in my experience. In a very Italian town in a very Italian area of a very Italian state, this place stands out as a real gem. They have a beautiful patio that would be great to take advantage of while the weather is still nice. http://www.lorcio.com/

                    Thali - This is the best Indian restaurant I have ever been to. No contest. It's upscale Indian, and manages to pack in all the flavor of your more typical Indian place, but without the food being heavy. I've never had a disappointing dish here. The menu is large enough and changes often enough that I've rarely eaten the same thing twice. There is also a less expensive, vegetarian satellite called Thali Too. http://www.thali.com/

                    Miso - Miso is either the best sushi place in the state or else in a tie with Wild Ginger in Orange (which I haven't been to in years, but used to love when I ate there frequently, and which still gets rave reviews). It's pricey, but, considering how much better it is than the competition, it's a much better value than any other sushi in town. They also have a good selection of non-sushi items, among which the udon soups are particularly fantastic. http://www.misorestaurant.com/

                    Expensive (over $30 not including drinks

                    )

                    Bespoke - While I think Bespoke is very overpriced, it's also very good. A lot of people love it. It's the kind of place that companies downtown take their multi-billion dollar clients, but sit next to a table of hipsters in jeans, v-necks, and Chuck Taylors. The cuisine is Latino influenced and high end.

                    Heirloom - Heirloom is fairly new and very excellent Modern American. The dining space is the nicest in town, and it's in a hotel that is well known for its design. The menu is relatively small, but focused. The food is hearty and satisfying, but without sacrificing anything in terms of flavor. This is the only place in town that I would say really focuses on local ingredients (and I wish I had thought of it before my previous post saying local ingredients weren't big in New Haven). http://www.studyhotels.com/heirloom/index.cfm

                    Central Steakhouse - The only place in town worth going for a steak. They also have an assortment of very good entrees that aren't red meat, for your dining companions who want something else. This has the same ownership as Bentara (Malaysian) so it is far from your typical steakhouse in terms of the flavor profiles. They have an absolutely fantastic wine list, maybe the best in town, and a nicely designed wine cellar you can dine in. http://www.centralsteakhouse.com/

                    Union League - Very good fine dining French, which I think they inappropriately label as bistro food. Let me start by saying that I really mean it that Union League is very good, and sometimes it approaches excellent. Okay, now I have to add that I sometimes find it somewhat boring and overpriced. This is not necessarily because of any defect in the food, but because it is sort of generic fine dining French. It's an overexposed cuisine, which can still be an absolute delight, but sometimes leaves me wishing I'd dropped my $200 somewhere else. That being said, every single plate I've had there (except during Restaurant week, when they had to dumb things down to hit the promotional menu price) has been nearly flawlessly executed. http://unionleaguecafe.com/

                    Ibiza - What can I say about Ibiza? I think this is unquestionable the finest restaurant in town, and was the best in the state before Still River came along. Mark Bittman has called it the best Spanish restaurant in America, and he is far from the only one. I've been eating here since their first year in business, and that whole time I've had one dish that was not flawlessly executed. This was a salt cod dish, in their first year in business, and it was close to flawlessly executed. The menu changes frequently, and every dish is incredibly flavorful. The wine list is fantastic, and more reasonably priced than that of the other heavy hitters in town. The waitstaff is great, but they're very Spanish in attitude, which is a very different school of though than the French have for fine dining, and I think they catch people off guard for this reason. New Haven has a fantastic dining scene, but this is the only place I tell people from New York they should take the train up to go to. http://ibizanewhaven.com/

                    As for you inquiries about local produce, I stick by what I said in my previous post, but amend it to include recognition of Heirloom's efforts. Sure, some places are using a few local ingredients in a few dishes on their menu. But if you put four drops of honey in to a bucket of vinegar, you've got a bucket of vinegar, not honey.
                    And there is, quite unfortunately, nowhere to get ramen. Not only would I not recommend York Street Noodle House, but nothing they serve is even remotely similar to ramen.

                    30 Replies
                    1. re: danieljdwyer
                      Shoreliner Aug 26, 2009 01:39 PM

                      Thank you for this excellent overview of New Haven's restaurants. My daughter and I don't go into New Haven that often (we usually hang on the shoreline east of NH). I've tried many of the restaurants, but not some of the newer ones - now I want to go into New Haven soon! Thanks again.

                      1. re: danieljdwyer
                        d
                        danieljdwyer Aug 26, 2009 01:50 PM

                        I inexplicably left these links out:
                        Bentara - http://www.bentara.com/
                        Pacifico - http://www.pacificorestaurants.com/home_nh.htm
                        Bespoke - http://www.bespokenewhaven.com/

                        1. re: danieljdwyer
                          kattyeyes Aug 26, 2009 07:15 PM

                          Really excellent rundown, DJD!

                          Just one comment--I thought I was the only one who liked Bangkok Gardens on this board. It didn't seem to get any love till your post. I'm raising a virtual Singha to your entire review! ;) There are still so many places in New Haven I have to try.

                          1. re: danieljdwyer
                            linguist Aug 26, 2009 08:37 PM

                            Great summary. I agree with almost all of these: I don't think Miso rates all that high, in comparison with Wild Ginger, Wasabi and East in Orange or even Yooki Yama in Branford, and (unlike Katty), I would seriously question the claim that Bangkok Gardens is the "best Thai in town." Also, I know you are very critical of Zinc (apart from the desserts, which we agree are the best around), but I don't really agree with you there, and I think it belongs on the list. Maybe we should have a Zinc thread.

                            Apart from these quibbles, though, you've go all my favorites, including a couple that don't always make everyone's list. Thanks!

                            1. re: linguist
                              kattyeyes Aug 27, 2009 06:26 AM

                              I don't know about "best Thai in town"...it's the only Thai I've eaten in town and I have had good experiences there. But I have yet to try Thai Terrace and I trust Scargod's judgment on that one.

                              P.S. I walked by Yooki Yama last weekend (before going to Le Petit Cafe) and thought of you. HA HA! How about that wine bar on the corner right near YY--it was something Italian, I think--any info on it?

                              1. re: kattyeyes
                                Shoreliner Aug 27, 2009 01:52 PM

                                The wine bar you mention, if it's near YY on a corner, is Pasta Cosi, a small, restaurant - and it's good. We go there sometimes for apps and wine. Ate there once, food was good, but tables too close together in the dining area. We used to go to there old location - where they had a small area where you could buy their sauce (fresh) and some prepared dishes. Wish they had that now, although some stores carry their jarred sauce.

                                1. re: Shoreliner
                                  kattyeyes Aug 27, 2009 05:05 PM

                                  Yes, that's it, thanks. We were told (while walking around the green) they have live music and it's kind of mellow. Quid pro quo--you like jarred sauce from a good local restaurant? Try Roma next time you're at Stew Leonard's (Roma is in East Hartford)--they frequently pass out samples of it on the weekend.

                              2. re: linguist
                                d
                                danieljdwyer Aug 27, 2009 07:25 AM

                                Where would you recommend for Thai instead (in New Haven itself - I know there is better Thai in other towns)? I'm not terribly enthusiastic about Bangkok Gardens, but I settle for it because I like Thai and have had bad meals at Thai Taste and Indochine Pavilion. I've not tried Pad Thai or Thai Pan Asian, because most of the reviews are pretty negative. I'll admit that I have not tried Rice Pot, but maybe I should?

                                1. re: danieljdwyer
                                  m
                                  mmalmad Aug 27, 2009 07:36 AM

                                  I prefer Rice Pot and Thai Pan Asian,(in that order to Bangkok Gardens) I have yet to try Terrace, but stopped in for a takeout menu when I checked out the Indian Market next door.
                                  The Indian Market in Orange is far better

                              3. re: danieljdwyer
                                Scargod Aug 27, 2009 06:24 AM

                                Since I'm a "heathen" I just make up stuff about all these places. Ha!

                                You must live in New Haven central because it seems you eat, breathe and sleep these places. I have no quarrel with what you have written and commend you on the in-depth comments and detail. I just don't have the time.... OTOH, perhaps you and I could do our own version of "The Menu"?
                                I would add Thali to your mid-range list, and having eaten there yesterday for lunch (and approaching 10 meals total), I would put it in my personal top five favorites for the downtown area. Such flavors, quality and service!
                                I would also add Christopher Martins. Great bar and bar food and they have fancier fare in their diningroom that is above average. Next door to Modern. If you're in this end of town it is great for a late night bar meal.
                                Though we've had the occasional, minor flaw with Pacifico meals it remains on our favorites list, particularly for lunch.
                                Lastly, though this is bordering on the outskirts, out Whalley Avenue in "Westville", is Delaney's Grille & Taproom. Some of you may know of it. It is going through somewhat of a transformation. The food is better and the menu different (and varied), and the interior is spiffed up. New booths, seat covers, paint, etc. They may have not gotten to the outside yet, but don't judge a book by its cover! I am going to cover it in full on a new thread. They were doing a good business yesterday at 5:30-7PM!
                                Speaking of outskirts: there are some fine places a few minutes away. Hamden and West Haven are good examples. Again, good work Daniel!

                                1. re: Scargod
                                  d
                                  danieljdwyer Aug 27, 2009 07:18 AM

                                  I don't mean to slight the surrounding area. The originator of the thread said "New Haven" and "grad school", so I, perhaps unfairly, assumed Yale and possibly no car. And hey, if my list got any longer, I wouldn't have gotten any of the work done I'm actually getting paid for.
                                  I did live downtown until about four weeks ago, and I'll be working here for another three weeks. After that I'll be posting on the Boston board...
                                  What's "The Menu"?

                                  1. re: danieljdwyer
                                    Scargod Aug 27, 2009 08:05 AM

                                    Oh no! I mean, what a place for food, but you will be missed here. What line of work are you in, if you can divulge that?

                                    The Menu is a restaurant review guide book for the immediate New Haven area done by Robin Goldstein with Claire Murumba. First published in 2005 they had a second edition in 2006. It has 268 places in it. I used it a lot when I first moved to the area as the Chelsea Company gives or gave them away to new tenants to help people new to town find their way around.

                                    1. re: Scargod
                                      Shoreliner Aug 27, 2009 01:59 PM

                                      I have a copy of the second edition of "The Menu" and wish there was an up-to-date guide like that again for the New Haven area!

                                      1. re: Shoreliner
                                        r
                                        rbailin Aug 27, 2009 10:12 PM

                                        Ah, but there is:

                                        Fearless Critic: New Haven Restaurant Guide, 3rd Edition was published in July 2009 by R. Goldstein et al. See http://www.amazon.com/Fearless-Critic... for details.

                                        And no, I haven't read it yet.

                                        1. re: rbailin
                                          Scargod Aug 28, 2009 05:14 AM

                                          Great! Thanks. I once contacted Robin and tried to get on as a contributor. He didn't show any interest.
                                          If it's more of the same I consider it a very good guide, with my opinions not varying too much from theirs.

                                    2. re: danieljdwyer
                                      j
                                      joan mar Aug 27, 2009 08:11 AM

                                      We will definitely miss your input on this board. You go out to eat often and give great reviews! Good luck in Boston!

                                  2. re: danieljdwyer
                                    f
                                    foodieinct Aug 27, 2009 11:52 AM

                                    That is an awesome review of New Haven restaurants. Thanks. I would highly recomend Bespoke and Union League. Both pricey and worth the trip (since I do not live in NH) on a special occasion.

                                    1. re: danieljdwyer
                                      g
                                      GoodFoodie Aug 27, 2009 12:56 PM

                                      GREAT review danieljdwyer but disagree about Bangkok Gardens. I think Rice Pot (on State Street) serves the closest to Authentic Thai in New Haven. Royal Palace is not typical 'American Chinese' if you ask for the Chinese menu. Took a friend from Hong Kong there who was quite impressed. And you forgot Thali Too on Broadway which is vegetarian and moderately priced. Definitely gives BIG Thali a run for its money.

                                      1. re: GoodFoodie
                                        zoe p. Aug 28, 2009 06:57 AM

                                        Fearless Critic also has a website that features a few rotating reviews:
                                        http://newhaven.fearlesscritic.com/

                                        When I moved here 3 years ago, I found The Menu dated, and I sometimes feel that the authors' tone is too authoritative for how informed they actually are. Not that they're not informed, just that they kind of overdo it.

                                        And isn't Rice Pot owned and run by the same people as Thai Taste? That's what most people around town say. I suspect that the difference in clientele (Thai Taste is often full of undergrads on dates) makes for different dining experiences and perceptions . . . In any case, I vote Thai Taste best Thai, at least for curries. Their noodles are no good. But it's hardly worth debating, as they are none of them outstanding and whichever one you prefer, it's good enough.

                                        DJD left off Mezcal, which is pretty darn good. Like a lot of places in New Haven, it does a few things well. DJD's excellent survey makes this point too. (I'll miss you! Best of luck in Boston! I regret every meal I've had there! I feel like eating out in Boston requires a lot of knowledge OR a lot of money.)

                                        New Haven too requires a fair amount of research, trial and error, and, then, finally, decisiveness. I won't eat at anyplace that serves mac and cheese.

                                        1. re: zoe p.
                                          Scargod Aug 28, 2009 07:46 AM

                                          I intentionally left Mezcal off my suggested additions to the list because I am still on the fence about whether they rate as best of or even way better than.... It's been a while since I've been to El Amigo Felix ,and while not bad (and quite different from Mezcal), I would not put it on any "best of" lists either.

                                          Thai Taste, under the Duncan Hotel, is owned by the same people who own the Rice Pot. TT is OK if you are really on a budget. I ate there for lunch many times, years ago before I found what I think is better. The restaurant has occasionally been overrun with fruit flies and not always the cleanest place. I've had mixed experiences at the Rice Pot. Thus I give the nod to Bangkok Gardens, but if you can take the time to drive to the Terrace you can get some fresh, spicy and creative Thai.
                                          For someone who really likes grilled cheese sandwiches, why wold you rule out a restaurant that serves Mac and Cheese? I would not order it but it wouldn't be something to keep me away from a place.
                                          Re, "Fearless Critic", are you suggesting you are more authoritative? If you use terms like "fearless critic" I think it suggests that you are willing to stick your neck out and be opinionated. The author does have credentials. Anyway, I haven't read it that way.

                                          Lastly, if we didn't debate what we like, and why, I would find it harder to know what I am likely to like when I read posts. It's part of getting to know someone on Chowhound. Daniel and I have debated and disagreed (and agreed), yet I have great respect for his opinions.

                                          1. re: zoe p.
                                            kattyeyes Aug 28, 2009 09:56 AM

                                            I'm puzzled on your mac and cheese comment, too. If so, save yourself a trip to Heritage Trail in Lisbon. Nowhere near New Haven, but you're limiting your options for great food if mac and cheese somehow sends you running from a restaurant. For the record, Chef Harry's mac and cheese is divine! I think when we approach mac and cheese divinity (vs. say Kraft Mac & Cheese), it's a different discussion. Happy eating just the same!

                                            1. re: kattyeyes
                                              zoe p. Aug 28, 2009 01:00 PM

                                              Cheesy Comfort Food: It's a quirk. I make grilled cheese sandwiches and excellent variations on mac and cheese myself. I won't pay someone else to cook it and serve it to me, cuz in my book, it's just not that kind of food. Esp. in this neighborhood, I think it's a trendy gimmick. Buyer beware. And if a restaurant is interested in selling that kind of gimmick to even some of its customers . . . I'm wary of how they'll treat me.

                                              Mezcal: It need go on no one's lists but my own. It's gotten very popular, so if the original poster has any friends in New Haven, they'll probably suggest going there sooner or later, and the original poster can expect good things and doesn't need to worry that it's going to be a pretentious waste of time and money. This is not true of all of New Haven's restaurants.

                                              Healthy Debates: I love debates, love food debates, love Chow debates, etc. I'm not sure that downtown New Haven Thai is worthy of that much ink. Tho' Scargod is dead right about the fruit flies.

                                              Fearless Critics: Nope, I'm no expert. But there's something about their tone to knowledge ratio that's just a little bit off for me. I read them, find them useful and wish they'd tone it down just a tad. A lot of people who've lived in NH awhile (longer than me) take them with a grain of overpriced sea salt. ; )

                                        2. re: danieljdwyer
                                          Scargod Aug 30, 2009 07:20 AM

                                          Ate at Barcelona last night before the rescheduled men's finals at Pilot Pen. Turns out that the private party Barcelona was throwing was a party for all the players. Oddly, Mardy was dining at Basta with us.
                                          It has been a while since we have been to Barcelona. the last time was in conjunction with the "Wine Dine, Design" tour that happened last year. A participant, Gray Organschi Architecture, on Crown, did Barcelona's interior. But, I digress again...
                                          I think Barcelona's tapas menu is very good. We enjoyed them. Superior to (or at least more sophisticated than, Ibiza Tapas in Hamden. A slick restaurant/bar. We need to revisit Ibiza.

                                           
                                           
                                           
                                          1. re: danieljdwyer
                                            d
                                            DGresh Feb 23, 2011 03:08 AM

                                            My family went to Thali this past weekend after visiting Yale. My daughter's vegetarian so this restaurant offered a lot of options for her. We were very impressed with the quality and variety of the food. Yes it's a bit pricy but really special. The waiter recommended some dishes for us and we enjoyed what he suggested-- we got the crab and shrimp appetizer (kind of expensive at $16 for a smallish plate) but it was very tasty. My son got the lamb chops and he ate most of them though I got a taste and they were delicious. I got my usual favorite Indian dish (saag paneer) and my daughter got a vegetable curry. The waiter recommended, and we ordered, a sampler of naan. We had leftovers which made a nice lunch for three of us. I highly recommend this restaurant.

                                            -----
                                            Thali
                                            87 Main Street, New Canaan, CT 06840

                                            1. re: danieljdwyer
                                              DonShirer Feb 24, 2011 02:43 PM

                                              An excellent list when it was posted, Dan. I wonder if you would alter any of these comments today? Foster's, for instance, is now history, unfortunately. You would also, I'm sure, add Thali Too to your inexpensive list. Good vegetarian Indian selections.

                                              By coincidence I ate lunch at Guadalupe Poblanita today (a minor miracle...the last two times I tried around noon, it was closed.) It was indeed open, today, but I was the only customer. I wonder if they may have gone downhill a bit. My taco lunch was ok, but not exceptional. By the way, I wanted to try their goat tacos, but they now only make them on Saturday.

                                              -----
                                              Thali Too
                                              65 Broadway, New Haven, CT 06511

                                              1. re: DonShirer
                                                bagelman01 Feb 24, 2011 03:59 PM

                                                Don,
                                                Just so you know, danieljdwyer moved away from New Haven a while back. I think you can find him on the Boston board.

                                                1. re: bagelman01
                                                  mucho gordo Feb 26, 2011 02:10 PM

                                                  When did NH acquire such a diverse array of cuisines? I don't recall having any ethnic restaurants (given the fact that 3/4ths of the population was Italian, we didn't consider that to be an ethnic food) way back when. I never had Chinese or Mexican or.....until I moved to CA; to my knowledge they just didn't exist there.

                                                  1. re: mucho gordo
                                                    bagelman01 Feb 26, 2011 03:27 PM

                                                    Mucho,
                                                    No Mexican until the early 70s. As a kid Chinese (Cantonese-American) was available at Far East on Chapel Street across from the YMCA from about 1958 (that I remember) until 2000 and Chung King on Whalley Avenue near Norton from about 1962.
                                                    Basels served Greek on State Street from the mid 60s. Jewish Eastern European specialties were availble on Oak Street (later named changed to Legio Avenue) from the 1930s until the arly 60s then migrated to Whalley Avenue.

                                                    All the new cuisines, Thai, Malasian, South American followed the change in immigration quotas in the 1980s.

                                                    -----
                                                    State Street Cafe
                                                    342 State St, North Haven, CT 06473

                                                    Far East Cafe
                                                    40 Cummings Park, Woburn, MA 01801

                                                    1. re: bagelman01
                                                      mucho gordo Feb 26, 2011 03:47 PM

                                                      Yes, I remember eating at Basels when I worked for Al Cretella (remember him?) but I don't remember it being Greek food and I remember getting bagels from a bakery on Oak st. I thought Legion ave and Oak st were 2 separate sts. I don't remember ever seeing a Chinese place back then. I led a very sheltered life.

                                                      1. re: mucho gordo
                                                        junescook Mar 2, 2011 12:57 PM

                                                        Right about Chinese in those days, MG. I remember piling into the old DeSoto and driving up to the Chinese Hitching Post on the Berlin Tpke to get Chinese food back then.

                                            2. l
                                              leigh58 Aug 30, 2009 09:19 AM

                                              just got home in illinois from taking son to grad school (yes,yale!) 2 places i would go back to are Jimmy`s in west haven, seafood was perfect. and of course educated burger. yumm!

                                              8 Replies
                                              1. re: leigh58
                                                Scargod Aug 30, 2009 11:36 AM

                                                Though I may be mistaken, I can't find much good to say about Jimmie's. Any place thats only strong suite is fried food doesn't get my vote to be on this thread.

                                                1. re: Scargod
                                                  l
                                                  leigh58 Sep 1, 2009 07:33 AM

                                                  yes, i agree. what chef c annot drop something in a vat of grease? yet, i had the seafood pot pie. divine!! husband had the ribeye, son had prime rib. both grilled to a perfection. i would definatley go there for anything OTHER than fried plate.

                                                  1. re: leigh58
                                                    Scargod Sep 1, 2009 09:35 AM

                                                    Sorry. What do I know? I thought that fried seafood was pretty much all they did. My bad.

                                                    1. re: Scargod
                                                      f
                                                      foodieinct Sep 2, 2009 09:45 AM

                                                      Went to Bespoke last Saturday night. As usual very good food. However the service was less than stellar... and it was super loud in there.
                                                      Not sure what that was about but I guess there are "off days" for everyone.

                                                      1. re: foodieinct
                                                        Scargod Sep 2, 2009 02:00 PM

                                                        Saturday nights are a true test of a restaurant's mettle. Could just have been a younger, wild weekend crowd making the extra noise. I hate noisy places when I spend big $$. I try to avoid Saturdays at restaurants, just like I try to avoid travelling on major holidays. I know it's not that easy to pick and choose if you are an average working stiff. I still want to go to Bespoke. I have to think of an excuse....

                                                        1. re: foodieinct
                                                          r
                                                          rbailin Sep 3, 2009 02:19 AM

                                                          Remember that Yale's back for the fall semester, and Bespoke would be one of the trendy restaurants to impress the parents.

                                                          1. re: rbailin
                                                            d
                                                            danieljdwyer Sep 3, 2009 06:14 AM

                                                            That's always been one of my problems with Bespoke, and Roomba before it. The management clearly knows a lot more about image and marketing than they do about food. The food is good, but they are able to manipulate image to sell it for more than it is worth. This doesn't just work with the Yale crowd, but with the corporate crowd. Bespoke seems to get more expense account meals than anyone else downtown. It's easy to see why; to the corporate client with no real food knowledge, it's a very impressive restaurant.

                                                            1. re: danieljdwyer
                                                              f
                                                              foodieinct Sep 3, 2009 11:14 AM

                                                              So I am looking forward to trying Ibiza, for the real good food in New Haven...
                                                              Marketing and image aside I still like the food at Bespoke. And they make a great Gimlet.

                                                2. i
                                                  irvnasty May 31, 2010 02:50 PM

                                                  Pacifico, Geronimo, Ibiza, Istanbul Cafe, and Barcelona are probably the best of the places listed.

                                                  For less fancy food, Mahmoun's Falafel, Louis Lunch (burgers), Prime 16 (burgers), Pepe's, Sally's, Modern Apizza, Est Est Est, and BAR (all pizza) are all good options. Also, outside of Yale-New Haven Hospital, lunchtime carts are often delicious and very cheap. Not counting pizza, the best food in town is the Tijuana Taco burrito cart on the corner of York and Elm. As a born Californian, it is not lightly that I call it the best burrito I've ever eaten.

                                                  Sadly gone: Hot Tomatoes and Roomba (though the Roomba's owner operates Tijuana Taco)

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