It’s ridiculously simple, and wonderfully masterful — fresh ground beef cooked medium rare, cheese, tomato and onion on white toast. Adding anything else would be a crime against hamburger humanity.
Located near the Yale University campus in New Haven, Conn., Louis’ Lunch is a historic institution worthy of a 10-hour Ken Burns documentary. They invented the friggin’ hamburger for crying out loud.
As their website states: One day in 1900, a gentleman hurriedly walked into Louis’ Lunch and told proprietor Louis Lassen he was in a rush and wanted something he could eat on the run. In an instant, Louis placed his own blend of ground steak trimmings between two slices of toast and sent the gentleman on his way.
One hundred years and then some later, Louie Lunch hasn’t much changed. Its one of the few places in America that hasn’t been franchised out, renovated or updated. It moved in the 1970s, but remained fully intact.
You have three gas broilers and an old-timey toaster behind the counter. The hamburgers are cooked sideways. Orders are taken on paper. No credit card machines. No garbage cans. A chalk board for the pie of the day and soda selection from local beverage maker Foxon Park.
The menu: hamburger/cheeseburger, potato salad, potato chips, drinks, pie, coffee. Of course, don’t ask for ketchup because your dumb ass ain’t getting any.
The dining room can fit 20-25 people at a time. Ingrained in the wood are etching from generations. The individual booth with the desks can barely hold your small paper plates of food.
If you get there at opening at 11am, you won’t find a wait like I did today. During warmer days and when school is in session, expect a line out the door.
As for the burger, it’s amazing. It helps that the place is a living museum. Two burgers, potato salad and soda is $18.