I’ve been wanting to try this restaurant since I first heard about it, in the 90’s. (They opened in September of 1975, when I was still being schooled in Indiana.) This is a restaurant that serves vegetarian and vegan offerings, with a robust breakfast menu, as well as a robust Tex-Mex / Mexican selection. All vegetarian, and most items can be made vegan if the originals contain dairy or eggs. The dessert menu looks extensive, too, but if I can eat and love mains and sides, I personally have little need for dessert. Yeah, I’m weird.
Now a New England denizen, New Haven is not in a direction I ever tend to travel… well, except of late for Yale New Haven medical events. I’ve done the New Haven IKEA smoked salmon salad – the only IKEA within any remote travelling distance from me, so I’ve done that when going in for check-ups. But since I didn’t need to visit IKEA for shopping yesterday, and since their smoked salmon salad is the only interesting thing on their menu… why not take a lark and go to Claire’s Corner Copia before heading back home?
Claire’s also has many gluten-free options, and ways to make most things you order gluten-free. Some desserts and burgers contain tree nuts, most of which I have to avoid for my own gastro-intestinal lack of fortitude. I didn’t see any peanuts on the menu. Oh, and yes, this place is also certified kosher.
I planned not to eat soy (faux) chicken or bacon – the idea of those items doesn’t resonate well with me, though they are on the menu. BUT there are plenty of items on the menu that are really real food, and one will never go hungry here.
Well, indeed: portion sizes are huge.
I ordered a Tostada Frijoles. This is a “corn tortilla topped with organic refried beans & melted cheddar cheese, salsa, sour cream, & guacamole, served over organic greens with chopped tomatoes, organic cucumbers, and red onion“, as per the menu. It also comes with a separate salad dressing, and a mini loaf of bread with butter. When I ordered, they asked, and I said dairy is fine by me — if I were going vegan, they’d be substituting where needed with non-dairy vegan items.
At least at this time of year, they source real and flavorful tomatoes — no hothouse things ramped up from Florida without any taste whatsoever. (I don’t consider “cardboard” to be a taste.)
This dish was wonderful – the only thing I wished I saw early on was the hot sauce station. By the time I discovered this, my dish was nearly eaten. I will note that the guacamole, while good, was essentially basic. And while I usually rail against those silly partially-peeled cucumbers, these ones were no problem – no waxy coatings on wherever they sourced theirs from. There was a LOT of salad hidden under that tostada.
That mini loaf bread – I wrapped it in a couple of napkins and took it home with me. I’ll eat from it later this week, but I will note that it felt as though it would be soft and malleable for whatever intentions I may have. I certainly didn’t have any “room” to indulge in it at my lunch.
Other notes: There’s a menu posted outside of the restaurant, and a board above the serving stations in chalk, with the menu again. (I’d looked online and had pretty much decided from there, but the one outside the restaurant was useful for me to confirm.) You place your order, they hand you your beverage, then you find a seat and wait for the items of food you ordered to arrive. This was shortly after noontime, and the place was hopping, but food service was quick and efficient.
A downside is that the place is pretty noisy. I was alone, so I didn’t have to worry about conversations, but I can see that someone with hearing issues might feel some angst.
To use the “facilities”, ie the bathroom – you have to ask someone on staff for access. However, on consideration, I realized this restaurant is located in downtown New Haven, and New Haven is not really noted for being a “safe” city to hang around in. So, I’m regarding this as a “New Haven thang” and not going to dock them on that.
My beverage was a non-sweetened raspberry iced tea, depicted above, which was flavorful and yummers. They also had choices of blueberry, green mint, and a “regular” black tea. There were a variety of other (non-alcoholic) beverages, which I did not peruse.
The restaurant is open seven days a week. (I didn’t check about major holidays.) It is not exactly on the corner, but one shop in… Free wifi. People near me seemed to be getting a bounty of food as well. Prices are reasonable, my lunch tostata frijoles cost $10.25, before beverage and tax.
Rating, 4 out of 5 stars. Food is fresh and flavorful.
Claire’s Corner Copia
1008 Chapel Street
New Haven, CT 06510