12 Best Restaurants in West Haven, Connecticut

Last Updated on March 3, 2024 by Emily Johnson

West Haven is a small coastal city located just west of New Haven in Connecticut. With its beautiful beaches, historic sites, and close proximity to Yale University, West Haven attracts many visitors each year. The city also boasts a vibrant dining scene with restaurants serving up delicious fare.

From romantic date spots to family-friendly eateries, West Haven has something for everyone. Keep reading for our picks of the 12 best restaurants this underrated foodie haven has to offer.

Best Seafood – The Shack

If you’re craving fresh seafood with stunning waterfront views, head to The Shack. Located right on the shore, this laidback restaurant serves up deliciously simple preparations of caught-that-day local seafood. The menu changes frequently based on what was most recently hauled in.

Favorites include their fried clam strips, Maine lobster rolls overflowing with sweet meat, and steamers dripping with broth and butter. Make sure to save room for their housemade key lime pie, topped with billowy meringue. With picnic tables overlooking the marina, it’s the perfect place for a relaxed meal after a day at the beach.

Best Italian – Zuppardi’s Apizza

For excellent thin crust pizza in a casual setting, longtime favorite Zuppardi’s Apizza can’t be beat. Family-owned and operated since 1934, they serve up piping hot pies from their coal-fired oven. Toppings like pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, and peppers adorn their crispy-chewy crust, but locals advise not to overlook their classic tomato pie.

Simple but perfect, their red sauce, pecorino romano, olive oil, and fresh basil is the stuff pizza dreams are made of. Whether you dine-in at their no-frills restaurant or order for takeout, a trip to West Haven isn’t complete without biting into a slice of Zuppardi’s famous ‘za. Don’t forget to save room for their homemade cannolis filled to order with sweet ricotta cream.

Best Vegetarian – Shoreline Diner

For fresh and healthy options perfect for the veggie-inclined, Shoreline Diner serves up light bites in a friendly retro-style diner. At this cash-only cafe, popular meatless choices include their crispy cauliflower wings, hearty vegan chili, kale Caesar salad, avocado toast, and black bean burgers.

Nearly everything on their menu can be adapted for vegan and gluten-free diets, taking the stress out of accommodating special requests. Made with organic ingredients whenever possible, their nourishing bowls are flavorful as well as good for you. And no worries if you do crave a juicy burger or fluffy pancakes– Shoreline Diner has plenty of options for meat-eaters too. Leave room for a thick milkshake or a slice of their rotating selection of pies.

Best Pub Food – The Corner Restaurant

For elevated gastropub fare paired with local craft beers, The Corner Restaurant is a must-visit. Tucked into a historic brick building downtown, this gastropub dishes up inventive bar bites and hearty main plates. Start your meal with chicken confit sliders topped with melted brie or crispy brussels sprouts tossed in a zesty ginger miso sauce.

Move on to pan seared salmon with quinoa pilaf or their signature beer can chicken served with roasted potatoes and asparagus. With exposed brick walls, dark woods, and flickering candles, the ambiance is rustic and romantic. And with 20 beers on tap plus a lengthy reserve list, beer lovers will delight in their options. For a memorable meal that’s still casual enough to wear your jeans, grab a table at The Corner.

Best Latin – Havana’s Cafe

Craving authentic Cuban cuisine? For fluffy empanadas, tangy ceviche, and slow roasted pulled pork, Havana’s Café can’t be topped. This lively hole-in-the-wall restaurant packs big flavor into sandwiches, rice bowls, and plates meant for sharing family-style. While everything on their menu bursts with vibrant Latin flavors, long-time regulars agree that their Cuban sandwich takes the cake.

Layers of roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard between slices of pressed Cuban bread is what lunch dreams are made of. Make sure to order a side of yuca fries, sweet plantains, or rice and beans to round out your meal. Save room for a creamy slice of their tres leches cake or a cafecito to end your meal. Buen provecho!

Best Fine Dining – The Tavern Off Shore

For a special occasion meal to remember, snag a reservation at The Tavern Off Shore, West Haven’s premier fine dining experience. Set in a historic home overlooking the Long Island Sound, their fixed price tasting menu features the finest local ingredients crafted into works of culinary art by Executive Chef Grace Williams.

Dishes change seasonally but favorites include their seafood tower overflowing with oysters, lobster, crab, and shrimp; handmade pastas like squid ink linguine with sea urchin cream; expertly seared scallops with Meyer lemon butter; and Long Island duck with a cherry glaze. With gracious service in an elegant setting, it’s no wonder The Tavern Off Shore has garnered prestigious restaurant awards year after year. Be sure to check this haute cuisine hot spot off your bucket list.

Best Brunch – Three Figs Café

For leisurely brunches featuring sweet and savory dishes with global inspiration, Three Figs Café is at the top of its game. At this airy cafe trimmed in greenery, mornings kick off with standouts like their red velvet pancakes topped with cream cheese frosting, shakshuka baked eggs in a zesty tomato sauce, and Cuban sandwiches stuffed with citrus-marinated pork shoulder.

Processo coffee, refreshing mimosas, and tropical smoothies pair perfectly with any meal. Later in the day, Three Figs transitions to a wine bar with small bites and cheese boards meant for sharing. Wherever the day takes you, the eclectic, mismatched furniture and relaxed vibe of this urban-chic hotspot make it easy to settle in for hours. Plan to wait for a table on weekends or come early to snag a seat– this gem is always buzzing.

Best Deli – Frankie’s Deli

Want sandwiches stacked sky-high with all the fixings? Look no further than Frankie’s Deli, serving New York-style sandwiches and deli classics on Brooklyn’s Best Bread since 1972. Here the motto is “go big or go home” when it comes to sandwich fillings. Options include their foot-tall pastrami on rye overflowing with juicy meat, gooey Reubens bursting with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese, or overstuffed wraps lined with crispy bacon.

But don’t let the staggering sandwiches intimidate you– half portions are available too. Loaded up potato knishes, creamy coleslaw, and their signature rainbow cookie round out any meal. Decorated with vintage Coca Cola signs and license plates from regulars, this old-school deli slings sandwiches and nostalgia in equal measure.

Best Coffee Shop – Moonlight Café

Need a jolt of java or a cozy place to work remotely? Moonlight Café serves up locally roasted brews and sweet treats in a trendy café trimmed with plants. Patrons rave over their expertly pulled espresso drinks from macchiatos to red eye coffees. Sweet tooths delight in their Nutella sea salt brownies, lemon lavender scones, and fluffy cinnamon rolls dripping with icing.

Heartier lunch bites like grilled cheese sandwiches, grain bowls, and avocado smash toasts round out the menu. The atmosphere here is warm and welcoming withFree wifi, ample seating, and cheerful baristas. It’s no wonder locals and students make this their go-to hangout morning, noon, and night.

Best Family-Friendly – Jimmies of Savin Rock

For seaside favorites the whole family will devour, no place beats Jimmies of Savin Rock. This neighborhood staple has been serving burgers, hotdogs, lobster rolls, and ice cream right on the scenic boardwalk since 1948. Kids dig into grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken fingers, and corn dog bites while parents enjoy hefty shrimp po’ boys, clam chowder breadbowls, and fish tacos.

Be sure to save room for Jimmy’s Famous ice cream, made on site in flavors like cookie dough, cotton candy, and cookies and cream. Enjoy your treats beachside on picnic tables overlooking the water or take them to go for easy eats on the pier. With delicious food, stunning views of Long Island Sound, and an arcade room filled with games, it’s no wonder families flock here all summer long.

Best Hidden Gem – Little Kitchen Food Truck

Venture into an empty lot on Captain Thomas Boulevard on weekends to discover Little Kitchen, West Haven’s darling hidden gem food truck. Don’t let the humble exterior fool you– their small menu packs mammoth flavor into every bite. Specializing in Salvadorian street food, owners Delmy and Walter serve up pupusas, carne asada tacos, yuca fries, and plantains from Delmy’s family recipes.

Chef Walter also experiments with weekly specials like Korean fried chicken wings, ramen noodles, and fully loaded nachos. With wallet-friendly prices, vibrant Latin flavors, and owners who greet you like old friends, Little Kitchen has developed a cult following. Once you try their heavenly pupusas, you’ll be hooked too. This diamond in the rough takes some effort to find but is well worth the journey.

Best Outdoor Dining – Bella Vista Ristorante and Pizzeria

For Italian fare and panoramic views of New Haven’s skyline, Bella Vista can’t be topped. Perched atop West Haven’s highest point, their wrap-around patio offers stunning vistas of the harbor dotted with sailboats below.

From this lofty perch, diners can soak up some sun while feasting on brick oven Neapolitan pizzas topped with fresh mozzarella and basil; linguine dotted with littleneck clams in a garlicky white wine sauce; chicken parmesan blanketed in oozing cheese; and saltimbocca alla Romana with sage and prosciutto. Bella Vista has been making diners swoon for over six decades, and one glance at the scenery makes it easy to see why. Arrive right at golden hour to catch a romantic sunset as you toast to la dolce vita with fine Italian wines. Mangia!

Best Desserts – Sweet Justice Bake Shop

Got a sweet tooth? At Sweet Justice Bake Shop, rows of delectable treats await behind their bakery case. As winners of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, this popular bake shop has earned national accolades for its scrumptious cupcakes in flavors like cookies and cream, cherry amaretto cheesecake, and churro. But don’t miss their layers cakes, rugelach cookies, cream puffs, brownies and blondies either.

Vegan and gluten-free options are always available for restricted diets. Enjoy your goodies on site in their cheerful yellow interior or take a box-full to go so you can sample several. For custom celebration cakes, make sure to order at least a few days in advance as their schedule fills up fast. One bite of their moist ‘n sweet creations makes it easy to see why fans have declared Sweet Justice West Haven’s king of cakes.

Conclusion

From tasty pub grub to exquisite fine dining, West Haven’s dining scene has something to satisfy every palate. Seafood lovers shouldn’t miss fresh catches from The Shack, while Little Kitchen Food Truck serves up delightful Salvadorian street eats. Classics like deli sandwiches and pizza please the crowds at Frankie’s and Zuppardi’s, and Sweet Justice Bake Shop satiates sweet tooths with their drool-worthy desserts.

Whether you want a romantic night out or a family-friendly meal, West Haven delivers top-notch fare without pretention. So next time you find yourself in this coastal Connecticut town, make sure to stop into one of these best-of restaurants to discover the area’s underrated foodie offerings for yourself. Just come hungry– with so many mouthwatering options, choosing one place to dine might be the hardest part!

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