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one night in New Haven

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So we lived in New Haven in the seventies (when Leon's really was the place to go.) Will be in town for this Friday evening only. We plan to do a walking tour of Yale and downtown---so where do we go for dinner-----Not looking for anything pretentious or ridiculously expensive-just a nice, local place ( where we can sit and discuss how New Haven has changed.) We pretty much eat anything. A place that serves alcohol would be nice, but not required. Looking for more than going back to Sally's for pizza. Thanks!

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  1. Ibiza for super Spanish dining. Great service with no attitude. If you prefer French Union League. Both are two of the best in the city.
    Enjoy!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: jdgall

      I certainly second Ibiza and Union League as the two go-to places in NH at the top end, but I get the impression the OP is looking for something a bit less ambitious. Zinc is also quite good, and a notch below the other two in price. L'Orcio is excellent for Italian (DON'T go to the present Leon's, which will only make you sad about what used to be). Thaali is very interesting Indian (though it's not quite as stellar as it was a few years ago). But for a really good and interesting dinner at a price lower than the very top end, go to Skappo's (officially a wine bar, but really a close family run Umbrian restaurant in the 9th square area). They're closed Monday and Tuesday (I think - I admit I haven't been able to go for a while), and you will need reservations, but if it works out, this is probably the one place other than the top end to go in NH. The small plate system here isn't cheap, but it's not outrageous either, and everything I've ever had has been great. Fascinating wine list, too.

    2. So where did you go, and how was it?

      9 Replies
      1. re: linguist

        It was great being back in New Haven! Thanks for suggestions--wish we'd had more than the few hours we spent exploring the area---You were right in your guess that Ibiza's prices were a bit more than we wanted, but the reviews we so good that we decided to have tapas and appetizers at the bar. It was the perfect choice----had a wonderful grilled octopus salad, codfish croquettes, a grilled squid dish, a fig, goat cheese and beet salad, something with spinach and lamb ravioli (the one thing i thought missed the mark.) I could have made a meal out of the bread and wonderful olive oil. With a pitcher of sangria, it came out to about $75/couple which was fine. I'm so glad we decided to go there. Never intended to try Leon's-you are right-it would have been much too sad. But we enjoyed walking around the campus and remembering what used to be where. Even drove to the top of East Rock (my husband used to be a runner, and that was his route) At the end of the meal he even admitted that i was right--we don't have restaurants like this in Princeton, NJ. Thanks again.

        1. re: stillnotdon

          Glad (but not surprised!) that you enjoyed Ibiza. If you have time to come back to NH again, check the archives of this board for lots more suggestions. New Haven has become a real restaurant destination since you lived here (although for various reasons ChowHound has had much less discussion of things here recently than was true a couple of years ago).

          1. re: stillnotdon

            My daughter's a rising sophomore at Yale, and we have really enjoyed checking out the restaurant scene on our visits there (Should we be glad she chose Yale over P'ton? :)). Another one to put on your list is the Istanbul Cafe (I think that's the name). We also loved Zinc the last time we were there.

            1. re: DGresh

              Definitely---at least if you ever intended to eat there! This is not your typical college town. Very expensive restaurants, often inconsistent, make me afraid to go for fear of an "off" night. Even worse is when one entree is so much better than the other that you and your partner have 2 entirely different dining experiences during the same meal.:)

              1. re: stillnotdon

                I'm assuming "this" is Princeton … not that nobody in New Haven ever has an off night, but there's a range of good places and prices to suit just about everyone — certainly not my experience the few times I've been to Princeton (or when I arrived in NH in the early 90's). I'm sorry there's been less discussion of this area on CH lately, but there are still plenty of places to go.

                1. re: linguist

                  Yup---sorry i wasn't clear that I was talking about Princeton ;) We always loved New Haven-Even in the 70's there were some great places---I used to go to the original Rudy's, Annie's firehouse soup kitchen (anyone remember that one?), and somewhere on the way to the Yale bowl was a pizza place that baked their own bread stuffed with escarole and sausage---I still crave that bread. Oh, and on Park St there was a chinese restaurant owned by a man named Peter. When you ordered hot and sour soup, he'd go in back and start chopping--good soup, but long night. And Partners--we went there but it was on high st and on chapel, before it blew up. Is that the same one now on Park and Crown??And Pepe's and Sally and Leons. Like i said, we loved New Haven.

                  1. re: stillnotdon

                    And do you remember Poor Lad's? Another great oldie. I always enjoyed the performance and service Edmund the maitre'd offered. Food was great to boot.

                    1. re: stillnotdon

                      Is there good Vietnamese food in Princeton? I know there is in central NJ. But we are sadly lacking in good Vietnamese food in New Haven.

                      1. re: Pipenta

                        No, sadly no vietnamese at all, and the one thai place is pitiful. However, Philadelphia is only 40 minutes away and, being a real city, has many asian options. Edison NJ, about 40 minutes in the other direction, is also less ethnically challenged than Princeton. I'm only beginning to get the hang of Philly, and rarely get to Edison, but luckily in Bucks County, Pa, outside of philly and closer to where i live in NJ, we are finding more ethnic restaurants--particularly Afghan, Korean and Pho.