A short 90 minute trip from NYC, New Haven is home to much more than just a few old-school pizzerias and one famous burger joint. There’s apparently a small college there, too. It’s a worthwhile day trip for a change of scenery and some quality eating – as long as you know where to look. That’s where we come in.
Here’s your Infatuation list of necessary New Haven spots, from someone who spent four years there on a full-ride with Dining Team. (It’s a new program at Yale).
In a town best known for its old-school pizza joints, it can be hard to fit in if you don’t have an old, overweight Mafioso manning the oven (see: legends Pepe’s and Sally’s). But Bar isn’t so worried about that; their famous mashed potato and thick-cut bacon pizza sends all tradition by the wayside. Purists should sample the red pie with mozzarella and meatballs, which has a sweet and tangy sauce and a thin, charred crust. Wash it down with one of Bar’s excellent home-brewed beers.
The Cheese Truck
Three words: incredible grilled cheese. This amazing sandwich’s oozing center is made from a daily-varying mix of artisanal cheeses, and the crusty bread is coated with butter and nicely toasted. Accompanied by tangy whole grain mustard and a few cornichons, the classic will never do you wrong, but also try a Jambon de Paris with grilled onion, or a bacon and guacamole combo.
Part restaurant, part cheese shop, and proprietor of The Cheese Truck, Caseus is great for either a sit down dinner or a pit stop before a picnic. The restaurant has mastered the cow beyond its milk: the cheeseburger and the steak frites both feature well-seasoned meat and incredible fries. The shop is home to a strong offering of local products, from cheese to charcuterie to honey and jam. Try the Kunik, a renowned goat and Jersey cow cream brie, if it’s in stock, and pair it with Urban Oven olive oil crackers for a badass picnic basket.
Claire's Corner Copia
People go to this place to take shots of the icing alone. Locals and students alike swear by the Lithuanian coffee cake, a bomb cinnamon-y slice that manages to be both dense and fluffy. Venture away from the crowd to try the ricotta chocolate chip cake, a sleeper that is actually the best dessert on the menu.
Killer cocktails, truffle fries, charcuterie, and a nice vibe make this the Have’s premiere drinks spot. The cocktail menu is organized by flavor profile, so whether you’re feeling “Aromatic & Subtle” or “Bracing & Bold” you’ll find something that suits you. One standout is the Forth & Clyde, a gin/St. Germain/bourbon/honey/lime/chili flakes creation that goes down way too easily.
Heirloom is excellent for pretty much any occasion. From the classic burger to the scallops with caramelized spaghetti squash and capers, this place has a menu that suits all appetites, with both simple and refined dishes. Additionally, if you’re planning to stay the night anywhere other than a friend’s couch, the Study Hotel is an immaculate, sleek option, and you can get Heirloom’s entire menu through room service. An egg sandwich in bed is probably worth an overnight stay.
Pretty much everything on this brunch menu is worth it (and so is the 30+ minute walk from downtown). Be prepared to wait, but the service is quick and the food hits the spot. Afterwards, take a walk around the upper State Street area to check out the cute boutique bookstores, bakeries, and hipster Yale grad students who live in the neighborhood.
City Farmers' Market Downtown
Every Saturday from May until December, a bunch of fresh, local goods grace New Haven’s historic Wooster Square. This is a perfect opportunity to stock your fridge for the week, and to grub on excellent homemade items like small-batch yogurt and French pastries while you cruise around. Look out for the fruit clafoutis from SoNo Baking Company and (as previously mentioned), the grilled cheeses from The Cheese Truck.
Zaroka Bar & Restaurant
We’re always down for some Indian food, and Zaroka doesn’t disappoint. Unlimited papadum with fresh dipping sauces accompanies well-executed classics like chicken tikka masala and lamb korma, and it’s all fantastic. If you like cheese, try the Paneer Burgee, and don’t be afraid of the often-replenished all-you-can-eat lunch buffet if you’re looking for a deal.
Part old-school collegiate drinking house, part drunk food heaven, Rudy’s is New Haven’s answer to Pommes Frites, but bigger. A huge beer menu is topped only by the longer french fry dipping sauce menu, with options like curry ketchup and pesto mayo that let you get funky with your frites. The fries themselves are on the medium-to-thin side and balance a crunchy exterior with a soft potato-y interior, just as fries should.
Union League Cafe
Soaring ceilings and waiters in suits make the Union League Café perfect for dinner with the parents. Mom and Dad might even feel like they’re in the Paris of Connecticut, what with the slightly stuffy service, killer wine list, and high-end bread basket. The menu at Union League is strong across the board, with classic French items like duck confit and bouillabaisse. Oh, and there’s obviously a pretty solid crème brûlée for dessert.