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Louis Lunch

263 Crown St., New Haven, CT - (203) 562-5507
Posted By David Panagrosso on 7/23/2004 9:26:00 PM
I was disappointed. Having grown up just outside of New Haven, I've been hearing about Louis Lunch for 30+ years. I was a little ashamed to say I had never been there until recently. Now I've gone, and probably won't go back. First impressions are everything. Not that the food was bad, but it didn't live up to the reputation.

I ordered a burger with onions and cheese spread. A sign above the counter says that all burgers are cooked medium-rare. Mine came medium-well. It was a little dry, and the onion slice was not much bigger than a half-dollar. I'm guessing the burger itself is a 1/4 pound patty. I was there outside of the lunch rush, about 2PM, so it's not like they were busy or didn't have time to put proper attention into the cooking. And at $4.25 for the burger, I would expect a little more as far as quantity and quality.

Was the food bad? No, but it wasn't everything I had heard. But, everything I had heard was either from the newspaper or on television. No one I know ever said anything about the place. I think most of the media reports are influenced by the fact that Louis Lunch is considered one the the possible birth-places of the hamburger. But history doesn't do it for me. I'd much rather eat at Yankee Doodle, also in town, where the quality is consistently excellent, and the prices are much lower.

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Scorecard

1 - Overall: Won't Eat Again
Overall: Won't Eat Again
Rate this place
One cheeseburger, with Louis's works, which are onions (grilled into the burger as it cooks) and sliced tomato.  Ketchup is forbidden at Louis lunch.
"One cheeseburger, with Louis's works, which are onions (grilled into the burger as it cooks) and sliced tomato. Ketchup is forbidden at Louis lunch."
Michael Stern





Louis Lassen III explained to us that he once tried to use a machine to make the burger patties, but it ruined their flavor and texture.  Today, as in the beginning, each hamburger is hand-formed.
"Louis Lassen III explained to us that he once tried to use a machine to make the burger patties, but it ruined their flavor and texture. Today, as in the beginning, each hamburger is hand-formed."
Michael Stern


Bread for burgers is still toasted the old-fashioned way at Louis.  Of course, there are no buns for burgers ... because hamburger buns had not yet been invented when Louis Lassen invented the hamburger.
"Bread for burgers is still toasted the old-fashioned way at Louis. Of course, there are no buns for burgers ... because hamburger buns had not yet been invented when Louis Lassen invented the hamburger."
Michael Stern


These metal broilers are what give Louis Lunch hamburgers a succulence inside their crunchy exterior. Note how a knife is used to keep the door latched on the left broiler.  That's been the technique for at least the three decades we've been eating Louis' burgers!
"These metal broilers are what give Louis Lunch hamburgers a succulence inside their crunchy exterior. Note how a knife is used to keep the door latched on the left broiler. That's been the technique for at least the three decades we've been eating Louis' burgers! "
Michael Stern


The original Louis Lassen at his lunch counter some time in the 'teens.  That's the SAME counter at which customers dine today.
"The original Louis Lassen at his lunch counter some time in the 'teens. That's the SAME counter at which customers dine today."
Michael Stern


Vintage graffiti scratched into a Louis table. Graffiti on the counter dates back almost a century!
"Vintage graffiti scratched into a Louis table. Graffiti on the counter dates back almost a century!"
Michael Stern


Freshly-painted Louis on a bright winter day. Jeff Lassen told us that the family now owns the property on which Louis sits, so no matter what sort of urban renewal happens around it, Louis is not going anywhere.
"Freshly-painted Louis on a bright winter day. Jeff Lassen told us that the family now owns the property on which Louis sits, so no matter what sort of urban renewal happens around it, Louis is not going anywhere."
Michael Stern


Louis Lunch is tiny.  Expect to wait for a seat during lunch hour.
"Louis Lunch is tiny. Expect to wait for a seat during lunch hour."
Michael Stern



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