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One Nice Dinner in New Haven

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I will be visiting my grad student son in New Haven for one in late August and am looking for a place for a nice special dinner mid-week, but that is not dressy or stuffy, as he is a really casual guy. He was taken to Barcelona and really enjoyed it. He eats just about anything. My other twenty-one year old son will be with us...he does not eat red meat, but really likes fish. Thank in advance for the recs.

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  1. Downtown New Haven has some wonderful choices. Highly recommended would be Zinc ("Modern American Food"), Ibiza (upscale Spanish....really fabulous), or Pacifico (Nuevo Latino). Another option would be Bespoke, but candidly, I don't think the food is as good as when Franco Camacho owned it.

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    Pacifico Restaurant
    220 College Street, New Haven, CT 06511

    1 Reply
    1. re: lsnhc

      L'Oricio on State Street. Sit in the Garden.

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

    2. There's a nice new place called Red Lentil that's vegetarian/vegan, excellent quality and good prices.

      1. Ibiza is great but the acoustics are not the best for conversation. Union League is also excellent and an easy place for conversation and good food. I have seen lots of students there in various levels of 'student' or casual dress.

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        Union League Cafe
        1032 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT 06510

        1. Adrianna's on Grand Ave. Very good Italian. Great fish dishes. Upscale without the stuffiness.

          1. Your list should certainly include Thaali, if Indian food is a possibility. They provide very subtle and sophisticated food (among the best Indian in the state, by general agreement) in an attractively non-funky setting. Plenty of non-meat choices.

            Another place to consider is Skappo: they call it a "wine bar," but don't be fooled by that. Entirely operated and staffed by a very friendly (!) family from Umbria (Assisi), they serve a kind of Italian you won't easily find elsewhere. They do have an interesting wine list of well selected and unusual Italian wines, but the food is interesting and excellent in it's own right. A special experience. For Italian food of a somewhat more familiar sort, L'Orcio is the best choice. I'm not counting the more Italo-American possibilities, which may sometimes be good but not unusually so. Or the pizzerie…

            Another interesting ethnic possibility is the Malaysian restaurant Bentara, unusual enough to be well worth a visit and not so weird as to put off any but the most traditional of diners. They also have an incredible wine list, which is a pity since the food is generally the sort with which you should drink beer, not wine. That list is shared with a steak house across the street operated by the same people, probably the best steak house in the area but not what you're looking for given a red meat-averse guest.

            In my opinion, the best food in town is at Union League and Ibiza, already discussed above. Although I have also seen Yalies there in all sorts of dress short of cutoffs and a t-shirt, this is really a rather formal place and not what it sounds like you're looking for. Ibiza can be noisy, but only in the way a busy restaurant may be, not really off-putting or impossible-to-converse noisy. Much, much better than Barcelona, IMO.

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            Bentara
            76 Orange Street, New Haven, CT 06510

            L'Orcio
            806 State St, New Haven, CT 06511

            Union League Cafe
            1032 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT 06510

            6 Replies
            1. re: linguist

              Thank you so much for all the recs. I have booked Zinc for dinner. The menu looks terrific and inventive. I am really looking forward to visiting New Haven on a regular basis to partake in a number of the aforementioned places during my sons five years at Yale.

              1. re: sherry f

                Good choice and have a great meal! We've got lots of dining options; hope your son enjoys Yale.

                1. re: newhavener07

                  Thanks so much...I will pass on your good wishes. Chowhound has been invaluable in planning wonderful meals while visiting our kids away at college. The Yale son spent five years in Providence and we had some terrific meals and largely avoided tourist traps. Ditto for our Wesleyan, Ct. son. We have eaten very well in Middletown and Glastonbury. Interesting how the chef at Zinc is from Glastonbury.

                  1. re: sherry f

                    Just wanted to report back on our dinner at Zinc. We had a great dinner- it is a really lovely spot. Food was terrific and service was lovely. The vibe in the downtown is fantastic. Looking forward to going back to New Haven and trying some other places.

                    1. re: sherry f

                      My daughter just finished her freshman year at Yale and we hit a bunch of restaurants over the course of the year with help from Chowhound. We had dinner at Zinc on Saturday night and it was our favorite so far, really terrific. We've also been to Istanbul Grill, Thali, Kudeta, Heirloom, and Ibiza, and have enjoyed them all, but those duck nachos at Zinc were out of this world!

                      1. re: DGresh

                        My wife and I too tried Zinc for the 1st time on Saturday night. Enjoyed the meal overall and agree that the duck nachos were the highlight . . . although I thought the pieces of duck could have been a little larger. Flavors were great though.