Zully Arias and Dora Guo

After hearing about brown vegetables and unidentifiable protein served at other colleges (ahem, ahem, Annenberg), I had impossibly low expectations for the dining hall food. I was pleasantly surprised. Compared to the muck I had braced myself for all summer, Yale’s “Italian Wedding Soup” and “Rotisserie Chicken with Artichokes” were like Michelin-starred dishes.

But as the element of surprise wore off and my gastronomic expectations were restored to their usual height, I realized that the truth is that the dining hall food is, sadly, just average. It’s not horrible, but not particularly good either. It’s like IKEA food — simple, healthy-looking, but everything kind of tastes the same.

Luckily, New Haven has some excellent restaurants. Here’s a list of my recommendations for birthday celebrations or when you just want to treat your taste buds to a little something more.


Pad Thai: Thai restaurant, located around 10 minutes by foot from Old Campus. A plate of pad thai goes for $9, and all the dishes are packed with flavors that Yale Dining can only dream of. It’s a very casual sit-down restaurant, perfect for a meal out with friends.

Barcelona: A Spanish restaurant that’s around a two-minute walk from Old Campus. It is on the pricier side, with tiny tapas dishes averaging around $8, but it’s definitely worth it. You’re paying for the ambiance, too — dimly lit, spacious, romantic.

Tarry Lodge: An Italian restaurant, around a seven-minute walk from Old Campus. Tarry Lodge is a fancier choice for a special night out, like a birthday dinner. I must say, their eggplant parmesan ($21) is excellent.


Wooster Square Farmers Market — open every Saturday morning at Wooster Square in New Haven’s traditionally Italian neighborhood. Around 20 local shops line up their booths, selling goodies like flaky, buttery pastries — a rare species in the dining halls — fresh fruits, and cheese. When you go, get the saffron and pistachio ice cream. It’s the most refreshing ice cream I’ve ever had.

Food Trucks: Every day, around lunchtime, a bunch of food trucks park at Science Hill, luring hungry STEM and econ Yalies. I recommend Mecha-Uma, where you can get Japanese bentos. They taste very close to the bentos I eat at home in Japan. If you’re craving Mexican flavors, head to the food trucks along the coast of Long Wharf, a little further from campus.

Nica’s Market — An Italian market near East Rock, 20 minutes from Old Campus. Their selection of cheese is stellar. The deli section is alluring, with gorgeous paninis, pasta and lasagna lined up in the glass case.


G Café: a small, brightly lit café, a six-minute walk from Old Campus. Their pastries and bread are delivered straight from their own bakery. I love their drink menu, especially the huge selection of fruity teas and divine hot chocolate. The outside terrace is great for getting work done while also soaking up much-needed vitamin D.

Claire’s: One of the oldest vegetarian restaurants in the country, Claire’s — just a one-minute walk from Old Campus — is a great spot for brunch. You can get hearty food for a good price. I recommend that you go with a friend because the portions are gargantuan.


Arethusa Farm Dairy: There’s a bit of a debate about which ice cream store around campus is the best. I will fight for Arethusa to my very last breath. Their ice cream is deliciously creamy and you can really taste all the ingredients. Ashley’s ice cream isn’t rich enough, Milkcraft is sickly sweet, and Ben & Jerry’s is just your typical tub ice cream.

I hope you’ll trust my list and try out these places. If you catch me there, digging into a flaky croissant or steaming plate of pad thai, don’t hesitate to give me a little wink.


Mao Shiotsu | mao.shiotsu@yale.edu