Edit: I no longer live in New Haven, CT, as of August 2010. I will continue to make changes as I learn of them, but I can no longer vouch that all of them are still there. I’d suggest checking Yelp, Twitter and Facebook for each establishment’s page for the most up-to-date information.
When I first decided that I was going to go to Yale University, one of the first things I did was started googling “vegan” and “Yale” and “New Haven.” I didn’t really find much, other than an article from the Yale Daily News. That’s unfortunate, because there are actually many vegan options in and around New Haven, especially near Downtown New Haven. I’ve written about many of them before, but I thought I’d do a current post on everything- you know, for the next vegan contemplating going to Yale. Just a note, I’m a graduate student living off-campus, so I can’t speak for the offerings that Yale University has in it’s own dining halls.
1. Ahimsa, on the corner of Chapel Street and Howe Street. All vegan. It’s fairly upscale (if I were going here on a Saturday night, I’d probably wear a dress, and if I were a guy, I’d probably not care quite as much; jeans are fine at lunch), it has a number or raw offerings and a juice bar. It has a $10 buffet for lunch, and a $20 “Champagne Brunch” on Sundays. Dinner can be expensive. The food is primarily Indian, but it’s not exactly an Indian restaurant- they do have other options, and the menu changes with some frequency. Live Jazz Music on Friday and Saturday nights. Edit: As of September 2009, Ahimsa is currently closed for renovations for the addition of their new Earthbound Cafe. I don’t know when they’re scheduled to reopen, but I hope it will be soon!
Edit, March 2010: “For Lease” sign in the window. I suspect this will not be reopening.
Edit. March 2011: When I moved, Rudy’s was moving into the space that Ahimsa used to occupy.
2. Elaine’s Healthy Choice, Whalley Ave, near Shaw’s (close to the Yale campus). Primarily take-out, but there are a couple of tables. I can’t say it enough, the family that runs this place is really, really, nice and friendly. The food is really good, and it’s very inexpensive (all entrees, including a salad and a roll are $8.95). The food is fairly simple, with a Jamaican influence. The restaurant is closed on Saturdays, and just recently started offering a Sunday brunch. Elaine said they’re gonna have coconut pancakes. I will be there one of these Sundays! This is also an all-vegan restaurant.
Edit, September 2011: I was so bummed to learn that Elaine and her husband decided to move down South to open a cooking school. I wish them the best of luck, and even though I can’t get to Elaine’s often anymore, I will truly miss it.
3. Claire’s Corner Copia, Chapel Street, near Temple Street. Vegetarian. Most of the offerings here are vegetarian, not vegan, but there’s definitely enough vegan offerings to make it worthwhile- but you have to note to the person you order from that you need all vegan- or you may get a pasta salad with feta sprinkled on top on the side. This is a VERY popular restaurant, and a great place to go with friends. I find the biggest drawback is that there’s frequently a long line (you order at the counter, give them your name, and then they bring the food to your table), and they can be kind of slow. They do usually have at least one vegan baked good among their desserts. Inexpensive.
4. Thali Too, Broadway, behind the Yale Bookstore (Barnes & Noble). I always forget that this one is here (I buy my books either online or at the Medical Bookstore, down at the other end of campus)! It’s vegetarian, and I can’t vouch for how much of the menu is vegan, as I’ve never been. They are reasonably cheap. Indian cuisine. ETA: Mostly vegan, except paneer and Mango Lassi.
5. Catch a Healthy Habit Cafe, West Haven. I’ve not actually been to this one, though I’ve bought raw cookies from them at the Farmer’s Market. This is all-raw, but caution, they do use honey in some (but not all) of their goods (they use agave in many of them, so there’s still plenty of vegan foods!). It’s about 3.5 miles from where I live in Downtown, so it’s a little far to walk, but it’s a fine bike ride.
Edit, 11/09: They have moved to Fairfield, CT. You can get to Fairfield from New Haven by train, but let’s just hope that they keep coming to the Wooster Square Farmer’s Market!
6. It’s Only Natural, Middletown. Vegetarian, mostly vegan. The only non-vegan offering here is cheese that can be added to most of the sandwiches, and otherwise everything, including desserts are vegan. I think this is too far for most people to bike to, so you’d probably need a car, but it’s worth checking out. This is actually near the Wesleyan Campus, and they also have a health food store up the street. Bring quarters for on-street parking. I can’t quite explain the cuisine- check out their menu.
New! (Edited July, 2011)
8. The Red Lentil, New Haven (Temple Street). I have not been here, as this is new after I moved from New Haven, but I thought I would add it in. The website right now doesn’t apear to have much on the New Haven location, but it is there. It’s vegetarian/vegan, with many vegan offerings and many dishes that can easily be made vegan. I see nachos on the Watertown menu. Nachos! With Vegan cheese!
Edit: Tried it out- I wasn’t disappointed!
There are a few other all-vegan or vegetarian restaurants in Connecticut, but I haven’t been to them all. They include Bloodroot and Shandal’s Vegetarian Cafe in Bridgeport, and The Alchemy Juicebar Cafe in Hartford. There may also be a few others- you can always check out Happy Cow and Yelp for the most up-to date listings.
Vegan Friendly Restaurants
This being a college town, you can find at least one vegetarian meal at almost every restaurant, but vegan meals are harder to find. The one that makes me the saddest is Rudy’s, but I’m going to mention it anyway, because it has the best fries around. They do have salads- but unfortunately, their veggie burger is not vegan. They also have an awesome Cherry Lambic beer that’s totally vegan. I HATE beer, but I love that stuff, so Rudy’s gets a mention. It’s a place to watch the ball game, play pool or just hang out drinking beer with friends.
There’s also a TON of ethnic restaurants in the area, and that’s often a good way to find a vegan meal, and to check out everything that New Haven has to offer. This is not an exhaustive list, just places I like or are really popular.
1. Lalibela (Temple Street). Ethiopian. Lots of vegan options, and they’re clearly marked. I’ve only been to their cart by the hospital, but I’ve never been disappointed. It looks like the actual restaurant is pretty expensive, though their lunch cart is really cheap. I’ve actually taken my Laptop Lunchbox to the cart, and the guy gave me an extra choice (it’s usually 3 items for $5 at the cart) because he didn’t want to see a compartment go unused.
2. Mamoun’s Falafel (Howe Street). Cheap and open till 3AM daily. I have a weakness for their baba ganoush, but there’s a number of other vegan offerings. They don’t use dairy or eggs in anything, but I’d probably ask about honey before trying any of the desserts. This is one of those places that people really remember from their Yale years- when I called my insurance agent to change the address on my car insurance when I first moved here- the first thing the agent said was “Oh, have you been to Mamoun’s? My daughter went to Yale law school, and she loved that place…” Definitely try this one out!
3. The Kasbah Garden Cafe (Howe Street). This is just a few doors down from Mamoun’s, and they do use dairy, but there are still vegan options. The best reason to come here isn’t the food- it’s the beautiful garden. They have outdoor seating in this lovely garden that’s right in the middle of the city. They also have lots of tea, if you’re into that.
4. Fuel Coffee Shop- this might actually be all vegetarian/vegan, but I’m not sure so I’m putting it under vegan-friendly. This is in Wooster Square. I haven’t been here, but I have passed by, and it looks promising. It apparently gets very busy on Saturday mornings during the near-by Farmer’s Market! ETA: All vegetarian, some vegan dishes available.
5. Book Trader Cafe (Chapel Street)- I’ve only been here for a hot beverage or a smoothie, but I think that they have a couple of vegan sandwich options, too. They also usually have some type of vegan baked good. They have outdoor seating that’s really good for people watching, too.
6. Miya’s Sushi (Howe Street)- I haven’t been here, but I really need to go. I generally avoid sushi because I hate nori, but Miya’s has their sushi wrapped in some alternative wrappings, like injera, so they look pretty intriguing. They are also quite expensive, but I’d imagine it’s a great place to go if you really like sushi.
7. c.o. jones (State Street, heading towards North Haven)- Mexican. Pretend that’s all one word, and then laugh! There’s a number of Mexican restaurants in the area, and generally, you can get something with beans and just ask them to leave off the cheese/sour cream, and that’s what you’ll have to do here. They get a mention because they have a sweet potato taco that’s pretty good, and they have really good, really strong and really cheap margaritas. Enough said.
8. The Shoreline Diner and Vegetarian Enclave, Guilford. This one you need a car (or a friend with one) to get to, although you could certainly bike if you’re into long bike rides (17 miles from downtown, according to Google Maps walking directions). There’s a number of vegan options, and according to their website, it looks like they’re adding more. I’ve been here a few times with an omni friend- it’s a great place to meet for lunch, especially if you have friends who live down towards that way.
9. Georgie’s Diner, West Haven. New satellite of The Shoreline Diner, in bike riding distance of the Yale campus! This is hands down my favorite place to go with omni friends and family. Aside from it being an awesome place to go with co-workers after work on Saturday mornings, I had my mom take me here after graduation. I got something a little fancier than the veggie burger, though. Ah, the memories…
There’s lots of other restaurants in Connecticut that are also vegan friendly, and I’d recommend checking HappyCow or Yelp if you’re looking in areas outside of New Haven. I know that China Pan in Farmington (Chinese food with a vegan menu) is definitely on my list of places to try!
Edit: I tried China Pan. It’s okay- I wouldn’t go out of my way to go here again, but if you’re going to the mall anyways, it’s worth stopping by (it’s a couple of plazas down the street from the Mall).
1. Edge of the Woods, Whalley Ave. All the food and other products sold here are vegetarian or vegan. They have lots of options, and include a bakery (with vegan pastries!), a juice bar, and a hot foods/salad bar. It’s actually a pretty good place to eat. They sell local produce (not all of their produce is local), lots of frozen convenience foods, vegan meat/dairy alternatives, and bulk foods, among the other standard health food store fare.
2. Thyme and Season, Whitney Ave, Hamden. This may be a little easier to get to for people who live in the East Rock section of New Haven. This doesn’t have all the offerings that Edge of the Woods has, and does sell meat, but has a better selection of frozen convenience food and meat/dairy alternatives. It’s also a little pricier, but worth the occasional trip.
Update: They have GoMax vegan candy bars (the ones that are like Snickers and Almond Joy)- but they (used to) mix them in with the “healthy” meal replacement type bars, not the candy. It’s (was) kind of hilarious.
3. Shaw’s, Whalley Ave. This is a fairly run-down store, but their natural food sections is really good. They even sell those Eco-Planet vegan cheddar crackers that I can’t find anywhere else in the area. This is the closest regular grocery store to the Yale campus.
Edit, March 2010: Shaw’s is closed.
4. Trader Joe’s, Orange (Route 1). This is about a 10 minute drive from downtown, but a great place to stock up. Hopefully you’ll know someone with a car if you don’t have one! This is on the smaller side for a Trader Joe’s, but I’ve generally found what I need here. Like most Connecticut grocery stores, they sell beer (but not wine or liquor, which is fine, cause there’s a big package store next door).
Update: They sell Lindeman’s Kreik and other flavors (Belgian Lambic beer with fruit juice- i.e., actual beer without the beer taste), which is vegan! It’s the same stuff that I mentioned above that Rudy’s has. They sell it in 2-serving size bottles.
5. Whole Foods, Milford (Route 1). Opened Fall 2009.. It’s actually just a few doors down from Trader Joe’s, though they’re in different towns. Good vegan and raw foods selections! There’s a Whole Foods in West Hartford that has a big chocolate kiosk that sells vegan chocolate from Divine Treasures… speaking of which, is another place I should visit at some point.
There are several Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods locations throughout Connecticut. There’s also a surprising number of little health food stores all over the place!
To round things out, I thought I’d mention the farmer’s market. I’m just going to link you over to City Seed, as these sometimes change, but I’ll mention the big one, the Wooster Square Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings. I started going to this as soon as I moved here, and it’s been amazing to watch the offerings grow. Unfortunately, these days I work Saturday mornings so I only get to go if I have cancellations at work, but this is an awesome place to go. In addition to seasonal, local produce they also sell fresh bread, and there’s a booth that sells vegan soaps and lotions. There are booths that sell fresh meat and dairy, so be aware of that.
You’ll also want to check out…
The New Haven Vegan Meet-Up Group. I didn’t really learn about this until my last semester, and I want to kick myself for it. I think I would have felt a lot more connected to the local vegan community had I joined earlier!
Little Monsters Cakes. They don’t have a storefront, but they provide a lot of the vegan desserts to other establishments. They also provided all of the desserts to the Vegan Dessert Freakout I went to in 2010 (I believe it’s an annual event).
Uncle Louie G’s Italian Ice (North Haven). I only went there once a few weeks before I moved, but almost all of their options are vegan!
The Wine Thief has two locations in New Haven: one downtown on Crown, and the other on Whitney Ave in East Rock. Not all of their wine is vegan, but they are super knowledgeable and will be able to point you towards some great vegan wines. It was through them that I learned of one of my favorites, Culpeo. I’d bet that they can even help you pair your wine with vegan food, too. I have faith in these guys!
So, if you’re a vegan or vegetarian considering coming to Yale (or one of the other colleges and Universities in New Haven), don’t fret about being able to find vegan food. It’s absolutely here!