New Haven from above

The Best of New Haven in 2016

Last year I did a Best of 2015 list last year giving out various awards and calling them The Rockies.

Well, I hate that name, and I’m going to do something a little different this year. More awards, more silliness, more totally made up categories about New Haven, based entirely on my own opinion with as few facts as possible.

Here’s your made-up award. Imagine your name in there. Nice, isn’t it?

After all, it’s 2017 and we’re living in the post-truth era, to this blog is no place to “take back the truth.”

Without further adieu, I present B2R’s Best of 2016 in New Haven:

Best New Restaurant – Mecha Noodle

The hype is real. Oh yes it is.

The line snakes out the door and you think to yourself, there’s no way a ramen place is that good. Until that savory broth touches your lips and was that an angel choir just singing?

The only thing better than ramen is ramen doused in chili oil.

Oh, never mind, that’s just old school Nas. Which is pretty much the same thing as an angel choir. Who says a noodle joint can’t play old school hip hop?

If you haven’t been to this very hip place, now is your chance. The wait isn’t as bad as it looks and the food is absolutely worth it.

Honorable Mentions: House of Naan (very good), Ah-Beetz (surprisingly good pizza)

Best New Bar – Barcade

What, you thought it would be something else?

Do you know of another new bar where you can hear Megadeth and DJ Shadow while playing Crazy Taxi? No? Then of course Barcade wins.

And don’t even try to steal their copyright.

The music is one of the most underrated aspects of Barcade. I can’t tell you how many awesome songs I’ve heard while hanging out here. And even if you’re too drunk to play video games (which is apparently pretty common for me), it’s totally cool to hang at the bar and just enjoy their awesome beer selection.

Unless it’s Friday or Saturday and it’s packed. Then too bad for you.

Best Place I Finally Tried Even Though It’s Been Open Forever – Union League

That’s right, I finally did it for Restaurant Week this year. I went with my bff and we checked it out and I gotta say.. I was pretty impressed. The scallops were savory and beautifully seasoned. The soup was delicious. The dessert was elegant and dripping in sweetness.

What all the other customers look like, probably. (Photo courtesy

I can’t imagine this is the kind of place I’d hang out frequently — can you imagine me putting pants on all the time — but if you get a chance, it’s absolutely worth stopping by.

Another Super Cool Place I Finally Checked Out – Shell & Bones

Nestled away over at City Point, Shell & Bones isn’t exactly the easiest place to get to. I rode my bike at night, and while it wasn’t the worst neighborhood, I wouldn’t necessarily say it was the best neighborhood. Still, almost everybody but that kid on a quad was pretty cool.

The place is in a great location with unbelievable views and a very friendly and competent waitstaff. The menu is a little fancy-pants for me, but very impressive. Everything I tasted was delicious and awesome and I can’t wait to get back there during the summer.

Is this even New Haven? (Creative Commons)

Best New Personal Discovery – Biking to Lighthouse Park, Taking the Bus Back

I always knew it was theoretically possible to ride your bike to Lighthouse Park and take the bus back, but the logistics always worried me. How often do the buses run? What bus is it? Does it go where I want?

And how stupid am I going to look trying to get my bike to work on the front of the bus?

The answers, it turns out, were:

  • It’s the G bus and it runs pretty frequently
  • It goes right downtown
  • Putting the bike on is hella easy
  • No more sweating on the way home!
Photo via Creative Commons

I did this a few times and it’s an awesome way to spend a day. Who knows, maybe the New Haven Bike Share will actually have stations at Lighthouse Park.

Favorite New Shop – Arethusa Farm Dairy

Finally, a new shop that doesn’t make me think, “Well that’s never going to work.”

It has ice cream. It has cheese. It has reasonably priced milk from cool, local cows who listen to the best indie rock, probably.

Their farm probably isn’t quite this idyllic. Since this is an Amish farm and they only listen to jug bands. (Creative Commons)

The place is hoppin’ in the summer and I don’t blame ’em. I’m hoping they’re here for years to come.

Worst News of 2016 – Still no GPS on Buses

More delays on GPS for buses. No live-tracking of transit systems. No display board so you can see when the next bus is coming.

These are all huge aspects of using public transportation and make it so much more accessible to people who haven’t memorized all of the routes and destinations.

Here’s hoping that the NHI is right that it’s coming in very early 2017.

Why is that black guy posing like that? Or the white guy in jeans? Why did somebody even make this?

Best News of 2016 – Downtown New Haven Isn’t So Empty Again

The new Olives and Oil took over the very lackluster Tavern NH. Brother Jimmy’s, which makes solid BBQ and is a decent party spot for people much younger than me, is probably going to make an excellent tenant.

Shift Cycling, MPWR House Gym, and Mecha Noodle filled out a bunch of Crown Street rather nicely.

Sure, Russian Lady/Wicked Wolf/Playwright spot will probably stay empty forever cause nobody needs a 25,000 square foot shittier version of Bar. And I fear that Ah-Beetz is going to have trouble attracting customers even though their pizza is surprisingly good.

But hey, at least Bud Light has promised a new restaurant opening where CSKB was.

Well that’s… reassuring.

All in all, Elm City is looking on the up and up.

My New Year’s Resolution for 2017 is…

… Finally Try Sandra’s Next Generation.

It’s one of the top-reviewed places in New Haven and I’ve never managed to get there in my six years in New Haven. Get it together, Josh!

A Happy 2017 to everybody (I know, I know) and thanks for reading. Here’s to another great year of me convincing nobody to ride the bus.