Looking Up

Looking Up

Even in the high-achieving culinary capital of Connecticut, meals tend to happen close to the ground. You can count on one hand the rooftop spots to dine or drink—Elm City Social, High George, Goodfellas—and still have two fingers left for the city’s tallest options: John Davenport’s and Bar 19, now open for limited service on the top floor of the Omni.

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But you’d easily run out of fingers and toes trying to count the spots that elevate diners to more modest heights. Geronimo’s open-air patio half a story above Crown Street is a year-round go-to for good meals and times. Heirloom’s “relaxed, modern” dining room overlooking Chapel Street is a magnet for the stylish with its clean, elegant furniture and finely tuned fare. Willoughby’s Coffee is understandably more casual but, at least in the one way, just as lofty from its perch several feet above Church and Grove.

Of course, there are less literal ways to interpret up-ness. Many downtown establishments are growing up, like beloved Stella Blues, which recently celebrated 13 years of passing tasty, unfussy drinks between bartenders and customers who can just barely hear each other. Others still are opening up: 80 Proof, where highlights include an oversized patio with an outdoor bar; Hachiroku, an elevated Japanese pub concept; Torino, an Italian concept with a “clubhouse” component; NOA, a forthcoming Thai spot from the makers of September in Bangkok; and Fest Faves, a circus tent oddity promising “carnival eats and festival treats” from the base of Whitney Avenue.

All of which and more indicates that, after two-plus years of pessimism and struggle, New Haven’s food scene seems to be looking up.

Written and photographed by Dan Mims. Image features the patio at Geronimo.

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