March 9th, 2008 | Uncategorized

Top 10: Underrated

If they went to high school, they would have been the kids sitting ignored and alone in the cafeteria who actually had awesome secret lives where they were in rock bands and had hot girlfriends. Okay, maybe those kids didn’t exist, but these coffee shops and restaurants do.

10. Booktrader

This bookstore-slash-coffee shop is undeniably excellent, though its underrated-ness depends on who you ask.

For everyone who isn’t an Art major but isn’t embarrassed to look like one, take a few extra steps up Chapel for a literary-themed sandwich and some of that pleasure reading you haven’t had time for since the summer.

9. The Whole Enchilada

Now for part one of many upcoming plugs for what’s known as the Arts District, that area of Whitney Avenue and Audobon Street mysteriously devoid of Yalies except the occasional hungry TDer. Next time you’re at Docuprint, make the trip worthwhile: Stop next door at the mysteriously ignored Whole Enchilada for some very tasty, healthy, reasonably priced Mexican food.

8. MEnUJudging by the lines on Sunday morning, this breakfast joint is not technically underrated. Nevertheless, The Pantry is most people’s first choice, with MEnU as a last refuge from an hour-long wait. I’m not sure why. The Pantry may have classy jazz posters, but the food at MEnU is actually better. Hard to believe, yes, but worth confirming for yourself.

7. Anna Liffey’s

Another Whitney Avenue gem. Go for the sports, go for the beer, go for the Irish charm, and if you have a free Tuesday evening, go for the trivia nights, which are open to all ages and serve as a useful reminder that you and your friends are not actually the smartest people you know.

6. Wall Street Pizza and Restaurant

Okay, so they lost their liquor license. But do you really go to Yorkside to get drunk? Really? Bottom line: The pizza here is just way better.

5. Kasbah Garden

It might be a little out of the way, but this café on Howe Street is without a doubt the best date spot in New Haven. Go when the weather’s not gross for an incredibly charming outdoor garden complete with decorative lights, soft music, and yummy Middle Eastern tea and desserts.

4. East Melange

Okay, so their ads about “Ivy Loodle” are not so much funny as … what’s the word … stupid. But they are true. Why would you eat at Ivy Noodle, which is, let’s face it, pretty bad, when in just a few more steps and for hardly any more money you can get vastly better noodle soup? Practice your Chinese on irritated waiters here ‘til 2 a.m. every night except Sunday.

3. Koffee

Having been warned at the beginning of my freshman year that Koffee was “full of lesbians,” I’ve since realized that even if that were true (it isn’t), it’s hard to conceive of a reason why that would be a problem. With its many comfy chairs, free wireless, and consistently fantastic music, it’s by far the most pleasant coffee shop in New Haven. Nonetheless, Koffee is almost always devoid of Yale undergrads.

2. Thai Pan Asian

Pad Thai cheaper and unquestionably better than across the street. Enough said.

1. SitarIt’s better than Royal India, it’s cheaper than Thali or Zaroka, its service is impeccable, and it’s always mostly empty. There is really no reason to go anywhere else for Indian food in New Haven, and I’m terrified they’ll go out of business, so for my sake, walk down to Grove and Orange (really not that far) to preserve a sadly neglected institution and eat the best Saag Paneer in the city.

Sarah Wolf