Best place to get conveniently ripped off — Durfee’s Sweet Shop
One would expect to at least have his groceries placed into a plastic bag when paying $5 for a box of cereal, but apparently that is too much to ask of Durfee’s (or Durfee’s Sweet Shop, to be precise). While its location on the Elm Street side of Old Campus is extraordinary, the limited selection of goods and Gourmet Heaven-esque prices make visits to this campus snack spot few and far between. Regardless of the fact that bursar billing is accepted here, charging hungry and poor students $5.50 for sandwiches that get mushy in the back fridge and are inferior to dining hall sandwiches is simply outrageous.
Best place to break up — Commons dining hall
Let’s face it. Nobody likes eating in Commons. It’s huge, it’s impersonal, and they run out of bagels really early. But it is definitely the best place to break up with someone. Here’s how it would work: you take your soon-to-be dumped significant other to Commons. Neither of you have to pay, so there’s no tension. It’s crowded enough that it’s impossible to make a scene. But despite the throngs of Yalies, you can probably find a spot where you’re surrounded by people you don’t know, so no one has to know what’s going down. Best of all, it doesn’t matter if Commons is forever tarnished with the memory of the breakup — you never liked it there anyway.
Best place for a birthday party — Viva Zapata’s
A large suit of armor greets you as you enter this inexpensive Park St. Mexican restaurant, a favorite spot of Yale students who want to get plastered over a plate of nachos and salsa. Dimly lit and decorated with old antiques, Viva’s does a good job at recreating a rustic Mexican ambiance within the gray industrial confines of New Haven, and they do feature a fine selection of tequilas.
Best place for a postcoital snack — Gourmet Heaven
If you’re deluded enough to think you’ve just gone to hell for having sex, then why not change your mind by experiencing the rich culinary delights of Gourmet Heaven? With a round-the-clock sandwich deli with Boar’s Head meats, shelves of obscurely exotic crackers and cookies, and a buffet that is incredibly steamy, Gourmet Heaven is the ideal destination following your hard-earned sexual performance. If you buy your partner a pretty flower from out front, he or she may even be tempted to complete a second round of fun. Though the prices at Gourmet Heaven tend to be steep, consider it as a reward for a job well done. You’ve just had sex at Yale. Congratulations!
Best place to indulge in Southern hospitality — Sandra’s Place
With a new location on Whitney Avenue near University Career Services, Sandra’s prides itself on its mouth-watering array of Southern dishes, including golden fried chicken, fresh baked cornbread, and black-eyed peas. The service displays a refreshing kindness and gentility that is not always exhibited by your disgruntled and oppressed dining hall worker. Sandra’s is no “Dirty South”; there is no Petey Pablo playing on the radio; instead, the simple yet sophisticated ambiance of the restaurant is complemented by the mellow tunes of live jazz bands. Yale was instrumental in opening up this restaurant, and they knew a good thing when they saw it.
Best martini — Hot Tomato’s
If you’re looking to get elegantly wasted, then waste no time in venturing to the hippest martini bar on this side of Long Island Sound. Sandwiched between the Taft apartment building and the Shubert Theater, Hot Tomato’s provides the ideal setting for the next breed of up-and-coming investment bankers to display their suave sophistication. People dress to impress at this upscale bar, so don’t even bother of showing up if you’re still donning the sweatpants and wrinkled T-shirt you wore to class this morning. The selection of beverages is extensive, and if you play your cards right while at the trendy downstairs bar, maybe you can succeed in taking home that immaculately dressed beauty who has been furtively casting glances across the room.
Best bargain martini — Back Room @ Bottega
Searching for something a little cheaper? The Back Room @ Bottega offers an array of martini flavors — from Appletini to a Chocolatini. The prices for the specialty martinis are considerably less — $7 versus $8.50 — at Bottega than at Hot Tomatoes. The decor attempts to pass for a hyper-chic back-alley Manhattan club, but it doesn’t quite succeed. Nevertheless, the atmosphere is great for private parties, drinks and hors d’oeuvres.
Best raw fish — Samurai
Bottom line: if you want sushi, Samurai is the place to be. It’s within walking distance, affordable, and reliable. The atmosphere is a little sterile and not exactly conducive to having intimate conversations, but it’s perfect for having a casual dinner with friends or a first date. After handing you a menu, the waiter often returns in a few minutes and puts you on the spot, demanding a decision. Though you may find yourself hastily spitting out an order of California rolls, Samurai offers an extensive menu of Japanese cuisine, including a long list of types of sushi and specialty dishes for two.
Best Asian — Bangkok Gardens
Although New Haven boasts a fair number of Thai restaurants, Bangkok Gardens stands out among the alternatives. The menu is pretty standard as far as its competition goes, but you are likely to be satisfied — though maybe extremely bloated — with whatever you order. The greenhouse-like section of the restaurant is a fun place to sit whether it’s a sunny day or pouring rain. Try the drunken chicken and top it off with fried ice cream, the ultimate way to jack up your cholesterol.
Best Ethopian — Caffe Adulis
When you are desperate to escape from the monotony of institutional food and boring menus, Caffe Adulis promises to save you with its eclectic, savory Ethiopian and Eritrean dishes. Adulis is a little pricier than other restaurants in town, but the extra amount you may pay for a meal or hors d’oeuvres and drinks is made up by the stylish decor, service, and the quality and selection of items on the menu. If you are looking for some post-dinner hookup action, then you’re likely to burn off some of the calories if you bring your date here. Oh, and be sure to try the plantains and the key lime martini.
Best place to see and be seen — Koffee Too? window
If you derive a perverse satisfaction in being watched by random passersby, then it’s best that you tote your literature reading to the front window of Koffee Too? on York Street. Although it serves up a mighty blend of java, Koffee Too?’s specialty is providing the rare, lifelike sensation of being inside a fishbowl. Don’t be fooled by the students engrossed in their books or plugging away at their laptops –they are not there to be productive (they could go to CCL for that). They are there in the hopes of being spotted, seduced and overwhelmed by one of the few sexually active Yalies on campus.
Best place to find a marriageable man or woman — Law School dining hall
Although serving up spicy chicken sandwiches to students of the best law school in America, the Law School cafeteria plays a far more important function — providing one of the few social settings on campus where lowly undergraduates can breathe the same air and sit at the same tables as law students. If you are sexy enough to undergo their judicial review and pass the bar, you may find yourself in a position of being sequestered and getting some provocative class action. Collusion with a law student could lead to the supreme courtship, so be especially attentive to your style and grace while dining in this room.
Best carbo loading — Yorkside Pizza
On a typical Saturday night post-Toad’s, Yalies all too often find that all the cash they had br
ought with them for the evening has somehow mysteriously disappeared, along with any recollection of events that just transpired. As a restaurant that accepts Flex dollars, Yorkside frequently bails them out when they are ravenous for food, or just need to counterbalance the effects of Red-headed Sluts and Long Island Iced Teas with something solid. But Yorkside is more than just a place of refuge on the weekends — some say it has replaced Naples for nights of bonding over pizza and beer, two staples of the collegiate diet.
Best comfort food — Ivy Noodle
On cold rainy nights when Yale’s Gothic towers look more forbidding than usual, there’s nothing quite like stepping into the warm fluorescent light at Ivy Noodle and indulging in a good bowl of soup. A little more flavorful that home-cooked chicken noodle, the soups at Ivy vary from standard wonton to the harder-to-find fish ball. But what all of them have in common is their rich ingredients and chunky vegetables, enough to fill the tummy of any homesick soul. The congee — a rice porridge — deserves special mention.
Hottest waiters — BAR and Toad’s
Okay, so they’re not really waiters and waitresses. But the bartenders at BAR and Toad’s are reason enough to risk ID confiscation and touchy-feely townies. The man behind the counter on Thursday nights at BAR is a young stud who usually wears ordinary street clothes instead of a uniform, which makes him stand out all the more. At Toad’s, take notice of the blonde tips on one of the workers — it all adds to his Justin Timberlake aesthetic. A special mention goes to Joe at TJ’s, the nicest bartender around. Don’t miss him singing “Sexual Healing” on karaoke night.
Place where everybody knows your name — Louis’ Lunch
Go here once, they’ll recognize your face the next time. Go here twice, they’ll know your order too. Keep coming, and as long as you don’t ask for ketchup, they’ll be your old pals. At Louis’, everyone’s family, even the belligerent crown stumbling out of BAR. Make a tradition of sipping an egg cream, watching your burger cook on the old-fashioned revolving grill, and swapping stories across the counter.
–Adam Click, Brooke Fitzgerald and the scene editors