Hidden Spots of New Haven

Despite the extra day tacked on to the end of February, the most obnoxious and depressing month of the year, (Valentine’s Day, Groundhog Day, Floral Print Day….need I say more?) Spring Break 2012 is upon us.  Feel free to thank a religious figure, some higher power, or the Yale Administration for providing us with the earliest, longest spring break known to man.  Two weeks of reprieve from The Have—long enough to reflect on the semester thus far, make absurd resolutions for the last 8 weeks of the term, and promptly forget our plans after copious amounts of time spent in a near vegetative/comatose state of mental and physical recovery.

That being said, the return to New Haven is inevitable.  However, our return also means the lackadaisical days of springtime sun are fast-appraoching to remind us that we are, in fact, living creatures in need of more than the meager light provided by energy efficient halogen bulbs (who thought it was a good idea to build a library underground??).  

Yalies that have not seen daylight since the midterms are spotted on cross campus frolicking, lounging, and chatting.  Such activities remind us there is more to life than securing a summer internship, social networking, and cultivating the perfect, all-encompassing resume that is tailored to highlight our suitability for a position of prestige. 

My point: We are back in New Haven.   There is no avoiding it, so may I suggest expanding your horizons, jumping off the “New Haven is a slum” bandwagon, and actually working up the nerve to explore some of the lesser known locales?  I promise it will bring satisfaction to your sensation-seeking itch.  

Sure, there are pickpockets, druggies, and sketchy homeless people curled in door-stoops.  But let's get real, just because someone was shot on the corner of Orange Street 2 months ago doesn’t mean your life is in danger if you venture past Batell Chapel on a Friday afternoon.  This is a city.  We just need to use our common sense.  Don’t walk alone after dark, don’t wave your Louis Vuitton handbag around like a flag while passing by the Occupy community, blah blah blah, you know the drill.

So moving beyond the cynicism, there are actually some really cool places to go in New Haven that can get you out of the less-than-two-months-left-of-school-and-if-I-spend-one-more-second-in-Blue-State-I-may-start weeping-while-ripping-out-the-baristas'-piercings mentality.

And so without further ado, I present you with a list of uplifting, new, exciting, and stimulating experiences located just outside your comfort zone.

Criterion Cinema

If you are an upperclassman, you may scoff at this initial jumping off point, but seriously, the number of students I have conversed with that were unaware of the existence of this Temple Street movie-going experience blows my mind.  After all, what better way to take a break from reality, soak up some culture, or seduce the girl of your dreams, than by taking her out on a real, legitimate date that doesn’t involve "watching a movie" on a pull out futon?  Furthermore, they are student friendly: $5 classics and mimosas on Sunday morning.  Need I say more?

Despite the desperate whispers that Bespoke was closing for good, behold the renovated Bespoke: Gilt.  With a sexier name and full makeover, complete with Mediterranean decor and a titillating cocktail menu, this is the new place to start off any sultry spring evening. 

New Haven Animal Shelter
Secretly want to adopt a stray chinchilla/rabbit/dog to keep hidden in your dorm room?  Have time to kill?  Or better put, want to make time to do something meaningful?  It is a short drive or a very long hike to 81 Fournier Street, but this is the perfect place to go to get a reality check and a grip on real life.  Nothing like abandoned animals to remind you of the realities of life beyond Yale.
Jojo's Café
Spring is the perfect time to try out a fresh people watching perspective, or rather, coffee shop hangout.  A nice change of pace and location, this cute cafe on the corner of Park and Chapel Street has a full menu and plenty of space to camp out for hours on end.

Woodland Café
If you are a fan of loose leaf teas and haven’t yet discovered this coffee shop tucked away on Chapel Street, I promise, you will thank me.  The service is slow, the place has unreliable hours, but their fruit and almond tea (ask for number 7.4) is the closest thing I’ve had to bliss since… ok, in a long while.  And rumor has it they will stay open till at least 8:00 on weeknights. 

Café Romeo
 If you've never been down Orange Street, this cafe is the perfect excuse.  The little cafeteria serves paninis, gelato, and coffee with the class and style unique to the Italians.  Seated in the picturesque outdoor seating area, you can almost forget your Ivy League dramas and allow yourself to relax like a true Italian.

And while you are over there... P and M Orange Street Market is not to be missed.  It's like a classy GHeav, with better prices, fresh produce, a deli bar, and sandwiches made to order that taste great-- even if you are sober. 

Frank Pepe's Pizzeria Napolitana
This joint is supposedly home of the best pizza in the world.  You live in New Haven.  This seems like an easy way to embrace the local culture.  You could even go incognito and mingle with the locals.

Koffee After Dark

This is the sexed-up version of your traditional coffee shop.  Complete with a wine bar, plush couches and a constant queue of cool clientele, the dimly lit Koffee is a breath a fresh air after months of listening to Foster the People on repeat in ABP clutching lukewarm coffee.  Located on Autobon near GHeav II and UCS, it’s a trek if you’re not planning on eating an egg and cheese where your identity is unknown or planning out the next twelve years of your life at the career services center, but worth it for the quirky ambiance and prime people watching. 

Kumo Hibachi Restaurant
This sushi lover’s heaven is located at the tail end of  Elm Street, but with half price sushi after 5:00, 7 days a week, it's well worth the walk.  The wait staff  can be ornery at times (beware of the server with a sleeked-back ponytail and fixed sour expression), but the bar (and let me assure you--they don’t play games with their tequila sunrise), hibachi dining, and sushi rolls are worth the snooty service.   Also, 'Like’ Kumo on Facebook to get half off a hibachi meal.

Get after it.