Must-Visit Restaurants in New Haven, Connecticut

From cheap eats to elegant restaurants, you’ll always find something tasty in New Haven
From cheap eats to elegant restaurants, you’ll always find something tasty in New Haven | © Paul Brady / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Christy Taylor
13 August 2020

New Haven is home to Yale University, making it a multicultural city with restaurants serving a variety of cuisines. Start with breakfast at Claire’s, followed by lunch and bookshop browsing at Atticus, and end with dinner at farm-to-table Heirloom. And don’t forget to sample the local “apizza” and visit the inventor of the hamburger. Hungry yet? Read on for our full recommendations, and you’ll get even hungrier.

Louis’ Lunch

Restaurant, American, Vegetarian
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If a place claims to be the inventor of an iconic piece of Americana – the hamburger, created in 1900 – it’s worth a visit. Louis’ Lunch, a family-run business since its inception in 1885, features a brick facade with red shutters, giving it a homey vibe. In 2000, the Library of Congress recognized it as the creator of the hamburger, but this hasn’t stopped many others from trying to claim the title. Its classic burger has five cuts of meat served on toasted white bread with cheese, onion and tomato.

Heirloom

Restaurant, American, Vegetarian, $$$
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Located in the polished Study at Yale hotel, Heirloom has a modern, classy aesthetic, with leather and marble touches and warm lighting from exposed bulbs. This New American restaurant procures seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Start your meal with some warm local ricotta followed by the Connecticut grass-fed burger or seared Maine sea scallops. Must-have desserts include the hot caramel apple doughnuts and the baked cookie plate. Heirloom also offers an impressive wine list, with bottles from around the world.

Claire’s Corner Copia

Restaurant, American, $$$
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For those looking for healthy vegetarian cuisine, Claire’s is a great place to go. It has a simple and casual interior with black-and-white checkered tile floors and boards above the counter that list an array of items. Founded in 1975, the restaurant is still run by the original Claire, who is committed to making her restaurant organic and sustainable. Stop by for breakfast and have a fresh smoothie along with one of Claire’s award-winning quiches or the seasonal goodness sandwich. For those wanting something sweet, locals swear by the Lithuanian coffee cake.

Atticus Bookstore Cafe

Cafe, American, Vegetarian, Coffee, Tea , Fast Food, $$$
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Is there anything better than good books and something tasty to eat? This bright, warm and cozy bookshop-cafe has the tagline “supporting a more thoughtful, connected New Haven since 1975.” It procures its freshly milled wheat and rye for its bread from Connecticut farms and offers popular staples such as avocado toast and classics with a twist, including the breakfast sandwich with over-easy eggs, bacon, gruyère and arugula on a brioche roll. For an after-lunch treat, try a magic bar or brownie.

Ordinary

Cocktail Bar, Cocktails, $$$
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An unassuming exterior hides Ordinary, a bar with a unique past. The site has previously been a tavern, inn, bookstore, general store and hotel, and it even housed George Washington for a night. The historical theme is carried throughout the interior, with carved dark wood, red booths and vintage-inspired decor, including a large stuffed moose head above the fireplace. The food is simple, with classics such as grilled cheese (add bacon for extra deliciousness), “doodle doodle” burgers, and pretzels with beer cheese. In 2015, Condé Nast Traveler named it one of the “Greatest Bars in the World” based on its cocktails.

BAR

Bar, Restaurant, Nightclub, Italian, $$$
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New Haven has a unique pizza style known as “apizza,” characterized by its charred crust and longer fermentation of the dough. While Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana (the inventor of New Haven apizza) and Sally’s Apizza are firm favorites, BAR has quickly made a name for itself. You choose a base pie and then add toppings, such as mashed potatoes, garlic and bacon. Drink-wise, it has a selection of house-brewed beers, wines and cocktails. The industrial-style space features a large, open front room with an antique pool table, a lounge area and a back room with a dance floor that hosts live music and DJs.
These recommendations were updated on August 13, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.