Who doesn’t love a nice, juicy hamburger on a summer day?! In honor of Memorial Day weekend (and as an avid cheeseburger lover), I decided to test out the site of the original hamburger on my trip New Haven, Connecticut, at the quaint little restaurant called Louis’ Lunch. The luncheonette has been around for over 100 years, and in 1900, served up the first hamburger to a customer who wanted a quick meal “on-the-go.” The rest is history!
What makes Louis’ so special is that they still serve their famous burgers the same way they did way back when. Even generation after generation, the burgers are still cooked in the same cast-iron grills they were made in back in 1898. Talk about having an old-time lunch! Instead of using traditional hamburger buns, the patty, a special blend of meat varieties made fresh daily, is sandwiched between two slices of toasted white bread. Being especially particular with my burgers, I have to admit I was a little skeptical and wondered if a burger on two small slices of white bread would satisfy me. Even more, Louis’ doesn’t serve burgers with mustard or even ketchup! A burger without ketchup felt alien to me, as I’m sure it is for most burger lovers.
Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised when I took that big first bite! My cheeseburger, ordered medium rare with “the works” (tomato and onions), was super juicy and flavorful. While it is a simple sandwich, its greatness comes from the fact that it’s not over the top with crazy add-ons like bacon or guacamole or even ketchup. And I was super full after I demolished my cheeseburger – the patty is pretty thick, so you don’t even miss the larger hamburger rolls. Louis’ Lunch knows the secret to its success: by keeping the burgers basic, customers are reminded of what a fresh, authentic American hamburger should taste like.
The restaurant itself is a step back in time, although it was actually moved from its original location in the 70s to make room for a high rise building. Dedicated patrons and fans donated bricks to help rebuild the place, which is now located on Crown Street. While there is not much seating inside, I enjoyed seeing all the old fashioned wooden booth seats lining the side wall of the restaurant and the bar stools at the front counter. For me, chowing down on my burger in one of the booths of the restaurant was a real Memorial Day Weekend treat.
So if you’re ever in New Haven (or love a good burger as much as I do!), Louis’ Lunch is definitely a restaurant not to miss. Just a word of advice: remember not to ask for ketchup!