New Haven Is Cooler Than You Think, and Here's the Proof

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Photo by Michelle Herrmann

Louis’ Lunch

This tiny eatery carries a big claim: inventing the hamburger. In 1900, a hurried customer asked owner Louis Lassen to make something he could take to go. So Lassen apparently put steak trimmings in between two slices of toasted bread and sent the man on his way. Over a century later, Louis’ Lunch remains in the Lassen family, and large antique cast iron grills keep on cooking handmade patties. The only permitted toppings are cheese, tomato and onion. So don’t ask for ketchup.

Live Music

New Haven has concert spaces ranging from compact settings to concert halls. Toad’s Place has welcomed major acts over its history (The Rolling Stones played here in 1989) and keeps a steady calendar of performers. College Street Music Hall holds general admission standing or cabaret-style seating; most shows are for all ages. The dive bar feeling Cafe Nine promotes local talent and indie performers, with acts spanning from jazz to hip-hop.

Theatre

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Photo by Yale Repertory Theatre

The performing arts are a mainstay in New Haven, thanks to its long-running theatres. On two stages the Long Wharf Theatre revitalizes classic plays, premieres new experimental productions, and holds special events and children’s programming. Founded in 1914, the Shubert Theatre has quite the legacy in being a performing arts center where legendary Broadway productions made their debut (A Streetcar Named Desire, and Richard Rogers’ productions of Oklahoma! and The King and I, among others). Reopened in December 1983 and managed by a nonprofit, the Shubert welcomes touring Broadway shows and national musical acts. As Yale School of Drama’s theatre in residence, Yale Repertory Theatre produces premieres and gives classics bolder interpretations. Established in 2008, Yale’s Binger Center for New Theatre continues this work by providing resources to commission, develop, and produce new plays and musicals.

Claire’s Corner Copia

The “Claire’s” in this eatery’s name is for Claire Criscuolo, who founded this vegetarian enclave with her husband, Frank, in New Haven in September 1975. Based on the couple’s conviction that eating nutritious foods help to ward off illnesses, Claire’s Corner Copia serves dishes that can meet vegan and gluten-free options. With a casual setting, the restaurant’s menus feature fruit smoothies and breakfast plates, sandwiches, entrees, salads and desserts. For the latter, try the famed Lithuanian Coffee Cake.

Miya’s Sushi

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Photo by Michelle Herrmann

You won’t find traditional rolls at Miya’s Sushi, a family-owned Japanese restaurant in operation since 1982. Instead sushi and other fare get an inventive twist. Dishes carry more of an eco-friendly and experimental focus, with sustainably sourced yet still flavorful ingredients. Don’t be surprised to get miso soup with roasted pumpkin, sweet potatoes and acorn squash, or find all plant-based rolls. Their “invasive species” menu has dishes containing plants and fish (Japanese knotweed and Asian carp, among others) that aren’t native to their habitats.


Michele is a travel/lifestyle writer who got over her fears and picky eating habits to immerse herself in destinations as far as Fiji, to date. Her work has been featured on Yahoo Travel, ShermansTravel, Budget Travel, and Epicure & Culture.

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