There's More to New Haven's Dining Scene Than the Pizza
In less time than it takes to watch, regret, then forget The Skulls, you can ride Metro-North to Union Station and explore New Haven's culinary secrets beyond the Gog and Magog of cheeseburger and clam pie giants Louis' Lunch and Frank Pepe's. Instead make a pact with your palate to discover the gas station harboring a gourmet steakhouse truck and a national bakery chain's unmarked test kitchen, hiding in plain sight on Chapel Street. Then, after dark, pursue mashed potato pies in a nightclub pool hall, the best cocktails between New York and Boston, and after-hours pastrami sandwiches, no password required.
All photos by Adam Robb The coal oven at the original Frank Pepe's on New Haven's Wooster Street. Sauteed mushrooms and creamed spinach top The Meat Truck's signature Steak House sandwich.
Whether you arrive by car or train, refueling is essential, so satisfy your appetite and Zipcar all at once at The Meat Truck. Serving lunch at Science Park on Thursdays, cooking show-obsessed chef Jose Perez steers this mobile steakhouse to his friend's Sunoco station at 350 Foxon Boulevard on Friday and Saturday afternoons. There, he composes eight heavyweight sandwiches inspired by his favorite meals at Craftsteak and Quality Meats, including the signature Steak House, which packs toasted garlic bread with thick-sliced griddled Angus beef smothered in sauteed mushrooms and more garlicky creamed spinach.
If you're truly meat-obsessed, you might next seek out Meat & Co (116 Crown Street; 203-776-6328). While it's easy to find a lunchtime seat at the counter for the beastly tongue-and-pastrami Rick Reuben, it's just as easy to spot a line at the walk-up window when the after-hours crowd queues up for roast beef-and-liverwurst God Forbids until 3am. And God forbid you don't eat meat, the veggie-inclined can take comfort in an onion-frizzed barbecue squash Garden Rustler, and the knowledge that this natural bounty's locally sourced through Common Ground, a local high school farm initiative.
Drinks at 116 Crown and sandwiches at next door Meat & Co feature locally sourced fruits, herbs, and vegetables.
The crew behind Meat & Co take their own gardening seriously, too. Garnishes and infusions at next-door bar 116 Crown (116 Crown St; 203-777-3116) work their way into many of the 50+ cocktails on the menu, including a fennel, mint, and ouzo Lemonatha. Local honey sweetens the icy, spicy gin-and-bourbon Fourth & Clyde that's fired up by liquid nitrogen and Salemme chili flakes.
The most popular address inside 116 Crown is this gin-and-bourbon Fourth & Clyde.