The story goes that a man entered a small restaurant and asked for a meal that he could eat on the go. The restaurant’s owner, Louis Lassen, slapped a beef patty in the middle of two slices of bread, which gave birth to America’s first hamburger. That was in 1900, and today, people flock to Louis’ Lunch every day for a taste of history and freshly made burgers. That’s exactly what we did last weekend, when we drove out to New Haven to see what all the fuss was about.
You can’t miss the building. Even if it’s small, it stands out with its very appearance, and also by the number of people waiting outside. It’s fairly small inside, so there’s not a lot of room for people who are waiting for their orders. The available food items are written on chalkboards and some of the items are deliberately misspelled: for example, creem instead of cream and appul for apple.
Ordering your food is easy enough. Choose from either a hamburger or a cheeseburger, then specify if you want it with tomatoes or onions. The meat is cooked medium rare, but you can let them know if you want it cooked a certain way. And that’s about the only customization you can expect for your burger. As they reminded people, they’re not Burger King for them to let you have it your own way.
The biggest challenge we faced was the wait. I reckon it might have taken 30 minutes or more for us to get our food. There were a lot of people waiting and more coming to get burgers to go, and the cast iron grill there could only broil up so much meat. So you can imagine we were pretty hungry by the time our burgers rolled out.
The burgers don’t come in buns but in regular bread, which is nowhere near sturdy enough to hold the hunk of beef, but that just makes the eating fun. The meat was tasty, but it wasn’t as juicy as regular burgers; I chalk that up to the broiling. What was good to see that the burgers really were served freshly cooked, although it would have been nice if we got our food much sooner.
After all that meat, we absolutely had to have dessert, so we headed down to Ashley’s Ice Cream, which has been the winner of a lot of local best ice cream awards.
My sister had chocolate frozen yogurt, my other sister and her husband shared a child-sized cup of Butter Crunch, and I had my own child-sized cup of Nutella Chip. Child-sized servings in this country always puzzle me–the alleged child for which the servings are offered always seems to be a really huge one. Not complaining in the case of this ice cream, though–it’s creamy and just yummy.
Address: 261-263 Crown Street New Haven, Connecticut 06511-6611
Phone: (203) 562-5507
Web: Louis’ Lunch
Ashley’s Ice Cream
Address: 280 York Street New Haven, Connecticut
Phone: (203) 776-7744