18 hours in new haven
February 8, 2006 4:05 PM   Subscribe

I'll be in New Haven, CT all on my lonesome from approximately 3:00pm on a Friday until roughly noon on a Saturday. Suggestions for a good dinner or breakfast? Maybe a coffee shop with free wi-fi?

bonus question: what's the drive like from Bradley International Airport to New Haven? Google maps tells me it's about an hour, but what about traffic and the like?
posted by crush-onastick to Travel & Transportation around New Haven, CT (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is Toad's Place still open?

*tries to remember misspent youth, fails*
posted by LarryC at 4:12 PM on February 8, 2006

New Haven is famous for pizza. Try Sally's, or Pepe's.
mmm. White clam pizza made from fresh clams.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 4:20 PM on February 8, 2006

Yeah -- pizza rules in New Haven.

Also consider Louis' Lunch (261-263 Crown Street) -- which is credited with "inventing" the hamburger. Their burgers are made the same way they were since the beginning (1900) -- toasted bread instead of a hamburger bun and no condiments; the only permitted garnishes are cheese, tomato, and onion.
posted by ericb at 4:42 PM on February 8, 2006

Is Toad's Place still open?

posted by ericb at 4:44 PM on February 8, 2006

Mamouns Falafel restaurant (85 Howe St. ) is great if you are into middle eastern, plus they are open till 3am, and nothing beats falafel at 3am!
posted by Captain_Science at 5:20 PM on February 8, 2006

And reading the second part about the drive from bradley depends what time you will be getting in? About an hour is assuming no traffic and you will be first going past Hartford (which around rush hour can be fun) and then then 91-95 interchange to get into New Haven is slow at the best of times...
posted by Captain_Science at 5:26 PM on February 8, 2006

If you want to wander aimlessly through in aisles of an independent bookstore, head to Atticus at 1082 Chapel St., (203) 776-4040. They've got a cafe but I don't know about the wireless situation.

There's a great CD store called Cutler's that's worth checking out as well. 27 Broadway, (203) 777-6271.

Dinner at Pepe's is non-negotiable. Do not listen to the people who suggest that you go to Sally's--they are heretics and not to be trusted. Save room for a cannoli and a cappuccino at Libby's, just a little further down the block. 139 Wooster St., (203) 772-0380.

For nightlife, I would see who's playing at Cafe Nine.

The New Haven Advocate can give you listings and all sorts of other good information.
posted by jesourie at 6:48 PM on February 8, 2006

A fourth for Pepe's pizza - considered by some to be the best pizza in the country. Where my grandparents-in-law had their first date in 1926.
posted by jalexei at 6:53 PM on February 8, 2006

Gourmet Heaven is right near Cutler's and all the little Yaley nonsense if you want a great 24-hour buffet/health food/convenience/free wi-fi.

Across the street is a place called "Ivy Noodle" which has the ultimate in fast street-food style Chinese. I always get crispy noodles.

Not far from either of those is a pub called Rudy's which, last I heard, had authentic Belgian-style frites.
posted by clango at 7:12 PM on February 8, 2006

Hey crush, welcome to the nutmeg state. Hartford has an early rush hour, especially on Fridays, so watch out for I-91 through the city.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 8:14 PM on February 8, 2006

If you havn't figured out from above, many (food critics included) consider New Haven to have the best pizzas in the US, and there has been much verbal/written fighting about which pie is the best.

There is a lot of competition which means the overall quality of traditional pizzas in New Haven is very high. Add to this that two top competitors, Pepe's and Sally's, are run by estranged branches of the same family who fight.

This comment comes from an article at sliceny.com
Sally's and Pepe's are the way to go on your first official pilgrimage to New Haven. Next time, may I recommend the following: Modern Apizza (the third jewel in the New Haven pizza crown; on State Street), Roseland (just past the Yale Bowl), Ernie's (on Whalley Avenue; get the onion and garlic - phenomenal), and Tolli's in adjoining East Haven (for spinach and bean). Believe me, you've only just scratched the surface of the greatest pizza city in America (I know, I know, there's a NYC bias among your constituents, but I've lived in both places and, when it comes to "apizza," I don't think it's even close). Best, G.
— posted by Gaspar at October 26, 2004 04:38 PM
Note however that many independent pizza joints in New Haven are not Italian but are run by Greeks. They make good pizza but tend to have thick crusts with a heavy garlic laden tomato sauce covering.

It's been 5 years since I've been to New Haven and after reading and writing this stuff I'm feeling a strong need for a fix from Wooster Square.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 2:39 AM on February 9, 2006

I'd take the commuter train into NYC and enjoy manhattan!
posted by mark7570 at 6:09 AM on February 9, 2006

My band played the Cafe Nine on our first tour. No one came, but the Reuben sandwich was great.
posted by jon_kill at 6:49 AM on February 9, 2006

1) Modern Pizza on State is at least as good as Sally's/Pepe's, and not such a crowded tourist trap;

2) Koffee on Audebon Street (off Whitney) has free WiFi

3) The Peabody Museum (Yale's natural history museum) has a stuffed Dodo bird! (If you're a museum person, there are several in the downtown area, though the collections are more modest than what you're used to if you've been to the ones in major cities)

4) Ditto on checking the New Haven Advocate and possibly www.playnewhaven.com for music listings (you'll find copies of these laying around everywhere once you get here)


5) It's about a 95 min. train ride into NYC if you're totally stumped and looking to travel.
posted by availablelight at 7:51 AM on February 9, 2006

Almost forgot: The best breakfast in New Haven is at The Pantry (also on State Street), but get there before 11am to avoid the brunch crowds.
posted by availablelight at 7:53 AM on February 9, 2006

Sally's and Pepe's fans come from different worlds; that's all there is to it. If you're not going to be in New Haven again, get a slice from each.

Other than that, hang around Yale as much as possible. I know there's an indie movie theater (by Yale's bookstore), which could be good if you want to kill time Friday night. In the same area, there are tons of small coffeeshops, au bon pains, and so on to duck into and out of. Unsurprisingly, there are Starbuckses. I'm guessing some or all of the above will have free wifi. I think Old Campus is also wired, although it's going to be pretty damn cold to sit on the quad.

If it were me, I'd talk my way into as many Yale buildings as I could. Depending on your age, spin some tale about how you're a prospie, or the parent of a prospie, or a member of the class of '62, or a megabucks so-and-so who's thinking about going back to grad school. Or tell a shorter version of the story and glom onto a tour group (this should be a good time of year for tours). Yale has lots of fascinating anecdotes and good architecture. It also has the Beinecke, Sterling, and the Harkness Tower. You can almost certainly talk your way into parts of the main library, but Beinecke will be impossible unless you're with a tour, and it's really cool. Like "hello, we have a Gutenberg Bible, and in case of fire, we have an awesome system to suck all the oxygen out of the stacks within seconds, and if you're stuck inside it's too damn bad" cool.

Side note: There are bits of New Haven you probably won't really want to walk through alone. Don't. Sticking near Yale will help you avoid these places.
posted by booksandlibretti at 8:35 AM on February 9, 2006

Response by poster: i suppose i should clarify: i will actually be at yale on business. (so booksandlibretti, thanks for the campus suggestions!). i have the rental car to get to & from the airport, but am hoping not to have to pull it out of the hotel garage, except for the trip back to the airport. so how walkable is the area around campus (don't worry, where i live it's at least as cold if not colder, so that's not a problem)? is campus isolated from the other stuff in town?
posted by crush-onastick at 8:42 AM on February 9, 2006

Bradley to New Haven is a little more than an hour at rush hour; at 3pm on a Friday you'll hit some, but not unbearable, traffic.

Free WiFi may be had at Koffee? on Audobon Street. There is also coffee there. You cannot drive directly to it; park somewhere on the street (0.25 = 20 minutes on the meters, quarters only) and walk there. Off the top of my head that's the easiest place to get WiFi; it is very easy to wardrive in the area, if you know what you're doing.

The Pepe's/Sally's/Modern argument is neverending and highly personal. You will have to queue up on a Friday, even in February. Libby's is the required post-dinner dessert, if you go that route. I prefer Mamoun's, but it should be noted that you *must have cash*. (It's pretty cheap.) Ivy Noodle is a nice cheap noodle house. There is a Pho noodle shop that recently opened up called Pot-au-Pho on Whitney Ave; it is more expensive but better than Ivy Noodle.

The Yale Galleries (Modern and British) are fine little galleries, as is the Peabody. Check the website for their hours though. The Peabody recently reinstalled their giant model squid.

Movie theaters - the one by the Yale Bookstore (a B&N) was called York Square, but it is GONE (the marquee currently says 'Sic Transit Gloria undi'); there is another one closer to the green called the Criterion. It is your standard urban semi-indie theater. If you want to catch a regular movie, head up I-91 to North Haven and the strip malls off exit 9 for the Showcase.

Grab an Advocate from one of the free boxes for the listings for movies/music/etc.

On Preview: The area is OK to walk around in if you are starting from a good place. If you're at the Omni, you're right near downtown; head towards the green but NOT towards the highway or the hospitals. It will be cold, of course. Campus is kind of scattered around the town and not all together like many campi. You might be closer to Broadway or to Whitney, but it's still all pretty walkable. Do stay away from alleys, the highway, and the areas around the hospitals. There's minimal panhandling and it's not dangerous downtown.
posted by cobaltnine at 8:54 AM on February 9, 2006

Oh, that's excellent! See if your business contacts can get you a special tour with any student who works in an office somewhere. I looked at Yale's visitor site and the last official Friday tour is at 2 PM. Yalies are very gung-ho about the campus and history, and have no problems believing everyone else is, too. Definitely see if they can hook you up with someone to show you around and tell you about the history and architecture. A one-on-one tour with some work-study student will get you way more places than the official group tour will.

You will definitely be safe, fine, and happy if you stick to the general area around Yale (I'm assuming you'll be around Old Campus?). This area is very walkable -- this is the first thing Yale students see when they leave Old Campus, and parents won't part with tuition dollars if they think they're leaving their kids in a warzone. This is the Starbucks, au bon pain, Abercrombie & Fitch, indie theater territory I was describing above. As you go farther away, you'll see more fast food joints, bigger stores, and smaller houses with paint peeling off, broken stairs, and graffiti. You'll be okay in that commercial zone, even on foot, if you get a sudden craving for Popeye's or something, but I wouldn't be too friendly and I wouldn't spend a really long time if you look affluent. New Haven is very divided, and town-and-gown conflicts are not just about town and gown. It's a pretty big problem for the city, and it's really a shame.

Yale is in the middle of New Haven, but (and again, I'm talking about Old Campus) it's very walled off. Residential colleges have literal walls (with a very cool security system), and the rest of the place -- the quad, for example -- is just very set off by that insulating zone. So Yale isn't on the outskirts, but the buildings aren't scattered throughout the city even as much as NYU's are. There are some outliers, but they tend to come in clumps. And of course the hospital and med school are separate, in a different and worse part (with a drive/bus-ride in between). Don't bother going there unless you cut your finger off or something; there's not very much to see and you won't want to hang out around there.

I think this is going to be really interesting for you -- I'm almost jealous. If you like anecdotes, collegiate gothic architecture, myths and legends, heaps of history, and all that kind of thing, you should have an absolutely great time on the tour. Leaven that with Sally's and Pepe's, maybe an indie movie, and plenty of wifi, and it should be a really good time.

On preview: Man, York Square closed? Also on preview: Clumpiness is apparently relative -- I attend NYU, and Yale is much clumpier by comparison. Again, I am doing that "Yale = Old Campus area" thinking, though. I'm assuming you won't be too interested in Science Hill, the athletic fields, the hospital/med area, and the other outlying clumps.
posted by booksandlibretti at 9:05 AM on February 9, 2006

Oh, true story. I bought a coffee there, and the guy behind the counter told me it was two dollars, so I gave him a Canadian two dollar coin, because I wasn't thinking that hard at the moment. He looked at it, and said, "WHOA MAN WHAT IS THIS?!?" I looked at his face and realized my mistake.

"It's a Canadian two dollar coin."
"No, it's worth money. You can buy it from me if you want."
"How much?"
*sighing* "Two dollars."

So he robs the tip cup to give me two dollars and stands there amazed with his new purchase. Meanwhile. I'm standing there holding the two dollars out to him.

"WHAT, MAN?!?"
"I'm paying for my coffee."
"Oh, man... it's like you're paying with Canadian money..." (he actually said this next part): "You just blew my mind!"

So, if you wanna see a drug-addled hippie... uh... find that guy.
posted by jon_kill at 9:47 AM on February 9, 2006

1) The Playwright is a great bar just across the street from your hotel--the interior was brought over from a old Church in Ireland. You're also right next to the Criterion. Cafe 9 is grubby but has great live music if you hit it the right night.

2) Pay attention to where you are like you would in any environment, but don't fear "townies", for god's sake, if you want to walk around a bit in the downtown area (or beyond, in the daytime). Wooster Square and up Whitney Avenue (esp the Audebon St area) are interesting.

3) Check the Yale Bulletin and Calendar (linked here: www.yale.edu/yaleinfo) to see if there are any cool lectures/events you can attend.

4) email's in the profile, if you have any other questions.
posted by availablelight at 12:29 PM on February 9, 2006

P.S. If you don't do a formal tour, you must go into the Beinecke Library to experience the translucent marble exterior. Sterling Library is nice (and has some cozy nooks, though I'm not sure about WiFi), but everything else will be pretty standard Old East Ivy-League stuff (interesting if you've never toured a place like it before, though).
posted by availablelight at 12:33 PM on February 9, 2006

I'm Yalie in New Haven right now so hopefully this can be of some help--

The Au Bon Pain (ABP) here just put up a sign that says FREE WIFI, so if you're into chain joints, that's a good option. It's centrally located at the York/Broadway/Elm corner. Starbucks on Chapel/High is a few blocks away, but frankly it's just another chain so probably skip it. You will not be able to tap into Yale's wireless network as that requires an ID and pass. There is free university Internet access from terminal computers at Sterling library on the right hand side as you walk in. Free Internet until they kick you out! The same goes for a cluster in Cross Campus library, which is underneath Sterling sort of. All of the other computing clusters are identification-only pretty much.

Not that this should be advertised, but most Yale buildings are open "to the public," and by public I mean anyone interested enough to walk inside. Sterling library is wide open until about 5pm on Fridays, so definitely check that out. You just can't go up into the stacks. You can also check out Beinecke library--someone said it's closed to wanderers, which is completely untrue. Simply open the door and go up the stairs on your right to see the Gutenberg Bible. Ask around and you can see much more. It's a beautiful building! Also be sure to check out Commons and Woolsey Hall which are across the plaza from Beinecke. You can walk into any number of classroom buildings including SSS with its regal lecture hall at Grove/College, WLH on Cross Campus, and LC on Old Campus. Definitely don't miss Old Campus! You won't be able to enter many of the college courtyards (which are beautiful!) without an ID card, but inevitably a student would show you around if you asked.

Good food has pretty much been covered. Pepe's/Sally's for pizza (but that's a bit of a walking trip), Rudy's on Elm St. for cheese fries (amazing!), Louis Lunch on Crown St. for the cutest most hobbit-hole looking burger joint you've ever been to, and any number of Thai and Indian restaurants around the Chapel St. area. I favor Zaroka for Indian on York St. and Thai Taste and Indochine on Chapel for Thai-ish fare. Late night eats can be had at Ivy Noodle (your experience depends on what you order), Yorkside near Toad's. If you're into street carts, we've got a few of those. The most amazing being "the burrito cart" at the corner of York/Bway/Elm which features the amazing burrito men making giant $5 burritos while wearing what look to be black and red chile pajama pants. Not to be missed!

Here's the Toad's schedule for early Friday night. Late night Toad's is barnlike club/bar that just gets sweaty, dirty, and infested with college students from Yale and Quinnipiac. In other words, happily avoided for non-collegiate types.

Best bookstores are Labyrinth on York Street, the Yale Bookstore, and Atticus on Chapel Street. Atticus also makes interesting sandwiches.

Contrary to some of the comments, the picturesque parts of Yale campus are all clumped together within about 9 blocks, so you won't need to do any driving at all. Major street borders are Chapel Street, College Street, Park Street, and the Grove St. Cemetery. The majority of Yale students never touch cars while they are here as we traverse campus on foot.

If you like vaunted old institutions, take a walking tour of the Secret Societies, which can be fun for curious visitors. Here's a link to a Yale map that has the societies labeled in teeny tiny letters. Touristy options would be Skull and Bones on High Street near the Yale Art Gallery, Scroll and Key on College Street near Woolsey Hall, Wolf's Head on York Street near the Yale Daily News and Book and Snake on Grove St. across from the cemetery. Those are all within Central Campus and have fun, mysterious architecture.

Mostly, just walk walk walk and don't be afraid to open doors and make ventures inside. Stick close to Yale as you're most likely to find the highest concentration of interesting sites in this area as opposed to zig zagging across the few other interesting areas of New Haven.

Feel free to email me if you need specific info or directions at my mefi user name at gmail.
posted by superfem at 1:43 PM on February 9, 2006

Forgot to mention that The Doodle is an excellent breakfast choice. Tiny little joint with a few stools, jovial dude behind th e counter, and some really tasty egg sandwiches.
posted by superfem at 1:51 PM on February 9, 2006

« Older Using WordPress as a CMS for non-blog sites.   |   How much should I charge for computer repair. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.