Vegetarianism has been gaining steam in the U.S. for the past several decades. For a long time, being a vegetarian or vegan meant that you had to eat most of your meals at home or settle for simple salads offered at most restaurants, but that has changed a lot as vegetarian and vegan eateries have started popping up in cities all across the country.
If you’re in the New Haven area and you’re looking for a delicious vegetarian or vegan dining option, you’re in luck: The city has been home to Claire’s Corner Copia since 1975.
Heart-healthy and Delicious
Claire’s Corner Copia was opened in 1975 by Claire LaPia and Frank Criscuolo. Inspired by the cooking habits of Claire’s mother, the couple wanted to make food that was both delicious and healthy. “Eat this, it’s good for you” and “We don’t eat foods with ingredients I can’t pronounce” were mantras that they lived by when creating their menu.
If you visit Claire’s, you’ll find two menus: One for breakfast (served until noon) and the “main menu” which includes foods available for lunch and dinner. The foods on both are loaded with whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and beans.
The breakfast menus includes things like vegan whole grain pancakes, omelets, various egg dishes, avocado toast, and a slew of favorites made with healthy ingredients and lacking preservatives and other chemicals. I haven’t personally tried the breakfast foods, but I’ve heard from friends that it’s some of the best around (even compared to unhealthy fare).
The main menu offers a lot more selection: Salads and sandwiches of all kinds; Mexican chilies, nachos, quesadillas, and burritos; whole grain flatbread pizzas; veggie burgers; and a range of entrees and sides ranging from curry to eggplant parm.
If you’re more in the mood for something sweet, there’s a whole menu dedicated to desserts and sweets. Cakes can be made to order and come in a variety of sizes and styles, and there are also pies and cookies. These all range in their ingredients: Some have dairy, others don’t; some are vegan and gluten free, and others aren’t. If you have special dietary restrictions, just make sure you ask about the ingredients before you buy!
Just looking at the range of the menu, it’s easy to see why the restaurant has been called “One of the 10 best heart-healthy restaurants in America” by MSNBC.
My Experience at Claire’s
For a long time I was a self-avowed carnivore: I ate as much meat as possible as often as possible. I’ve since become much more balanced in my approach to food, leaning towards vegetarian fare for most of my meals while still enjoying meat on occasion.
I was first brought to Claire’s by a vegetarian friend during my meat-loving days. I was a bit worried about whether or not I’d be able to find something to eat, but I settled on a burrito (the Refried Beans and Cheddar Burrito). I was stunned by the food: I’d never had a burrito that tasted so good, or that filled me up quite as much, as this one did—and it didn’t even have meat! That day very well may have been the first step on my path towards sometimes-vegetarianism (that’s what I’ll call it).
In visits since, I’ve also had the eggplant parm, which reminded me of how my mother makes it, the curry, and a handful of desserts. The desserts are amazing, hands down. The curry was okay, but has reaffirmed my belief that curry should only be eaten at a restaurant that specializes in it.
If You’d Like to Go
Being in New Haven, it can be a bit tricky to find parking, but you should be able to find a spot within walking distance. The restaurant is located at 1,000 Chapel Street, New Haven, and is open 8am to 9pm Monday through Friday and 9am to 9pm Saturday and Sunday.
The restaurant itself is sort of a mix between a deli, a bakery, and a sandwich counter of sorts (with far more options of food!) so don’t worry about dress code. It’s a comfortable atmosphere were anyone can fit in.