The coastal Connecticut city of New Haven, which fronts Long Island Sound, has a vibrant gay scene that revolves heavily around Yale University.
The second largest city in the state, with a population of 130,000, New Haven is steeped in history and has a strong arts and cultural scene. Visitors can browse the fairly funky shops around Yale University's Gothic-inspired campus (especially along Chapel Street and the blocks just off of it), or visit three outstanding museums: the Yale Art Gallery; the Yale Center for British Art, which contains the largest such collection outside of Britain itself; and the Peabody Museum of Natural History. New Haven is also a terrific theater town; many shows have their pre-Broadway runs at the Long Wharf Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, and Shubert Performing Arts Center.
New Haven Gay Bars
Any time of the week, the city's only full-time queer hangout, 168 York Street Cafe (168 York St., 203-789-1915), draws crowds, especially on Friday - the restaurant here serves pretty tasty American fare, too. Bi-level Partners Cafe (365 Crown St., 203-776-1014) is another lively spot, with a video lounge and pool room downstairs and a dark and seductive dance floor up. Another mostly straight venue, Bar Nightclub (254 Crown St., 203-495-8924) is always gay-friendly and draws a trendy collegiate crowd.
New Haven Gay-Friendly Restaurants and Cafes
New Haven has one of the best selections of ethnic eateries in New England, including especially stellar (and quite gay-friendly) purveyors of Malaysian fare, at Bentara (76 Orange St., 203-562-2511); Japanese food and inventive sushi, at Miya's Sushi ([68 Howe St., 203-777-9760); and Spanish dishes and tapas, at Ibiza Restaurant ([39 High St., 203-865-1933). Another exceptional spot for pre-theater drinks, sublime contemporary American fare, and a sexy crowd is Zinc (964 Chapel St., 203-624-0507) - pan-seared monkfish with crispy polenta, Swiss chard, and a smoky yellow pepper sauce is a typical choice. Another favorite is Pacifico (220 College St., 203-772-3239), which lies directly across from the Shubert and serves creative Latin American fare. In a somewhat similar vein, Soul de Cuba Cafe (283 Crown St., 203-498-2822) is a great spot for hearty and delicious Cuban fare (the restaurant has a sister locale in Honolulu).
Caseus Fromagerie & Bistro (93 Whitney Ave., 203-624-3373) is both a lovely bistro and one of the best artisan cheese shops in New England - fans of stinky cheese should not miss this one. Great veggie fare can be had at Claire's Corner Copia (1000 Chapel St., 203-562-3888), and the Cafe at Atticus Bookstore (1082 Chapel St., 203-776-4040) is a cerebral spot for breakfast, sandwiches, coffees, and other tasty light choices. In the city's Little Italy along Wooster Street, Frank Pepe Pizzeria (157 Wooster St., 203-865-5762) is credited with introducing the pizza pie to America - it still serves delicious thin-crust pies better than anything you'll find in New York City. The same neighborhood is home to hip and gay-popular Fuel Coffee Shop (516 Chapel St., 203-772-0330), which uses fair-trade beans and also serves very tasty sandwiches.
Also check out our Guide to Gay Bars and Gay-Friendly restaurants in Hartford, which is just a 45-minute drive north on I-91.