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Louis’ Lunch – come for the history, don’t stay for the burgers?

The following is a post I originally made on Yelp, reviewing Louis’ Lunch, the originator of the modern hamburger, located in New Haven, Connecticut. Click here to see the original post on Yelp.

If you choose your burger joints by their historical significance, Louis’ Lunch can’t be beat.

If, however, you choose your burger joints using other factors – namely, actual taste of the burger, menu options, not feeling like your’re stuck in a tiny elevator, then Louis’ Lunch is lacking.

Having heard about it for years on various TV shows as the birthplace of the burger, Louis’ Lunch had always been a destination of mine. Surprisingly, it took me 26 years of living roughly 45 minutes away from New Haven to finally get there and experience it.

And boy, that experience was… disappointing? Underwhelming? Meh? Yeah… something like that.

The inside is very (read: VERY) small and cramped, due both to the size of the interior and the number of people who pile in to taste a bite of history. Aside from the probably-over-the-fire-code amount of people inside, the interior actually looked pretty cool (aside from one HUGE thing that annoyed me – more on that later).

The cast iron gas stoves were interesting to see in action, as was the manager wielding some sort of Arabian-looking sword to cut the onions, tomatoes and sandwich.

Louis’ Lunch’s cast iron stoves. The same ones that made the very first burgers.


Oh, and speaking of those onions and tomatoes – those are the ONLY two toppings you can get on your hamburger or cheeseburger. As a guy who likes options, that is a big letdown, even though I knew about that fact going in.

As for the “cheese” – I should probably clarify. It’s less “cheese” and more “Cheez Whiz” spread, which was an… I’ll say an interesting choice. Another interesting choice is the use of slices of white bread for the buns instead of, like, you know, actual buns. But hey, who am I to argue with the originators?

The lone bright spot from my trip to Louis’ Lunch was their potato salad. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I HATE mayonnaise, but luckily for me this potato salad was closer to semi-mashed potatoes than actual potato salad. And I sure do love me some mashed potatoes!

Back to that one HUGE thing that annoyed me from earlier. Out of everything that came out of my experience there, perhaps the thing I disliked the most was their purposely-misspelled menu (apple = appul, cherry coke = chury koke, etc.). I’m not sure why, it just bugged me, and luckily, I’m not alone.

If you look at the chalk board, you can see it riddled with spelling errors made on purpose. I’m sure any of my grammar-loving friends are squirming in their seats right now.


This sign is at least spelled correctly. But… pretentious much?


Overall, I guess Louis’ Lunch is one of those places that you have to experience for the historical and nostalgic value of the place, especially if you are into burgers (which I am).

Looking at a previous Yelp review from somebody named Jack C., he sums up in one sentence what I’ve been running on about for paragraphs now – “Historical doesn’t mean good.”

Well said, Jack C., well said.

About Nick Irving

Hello! My name is Nick Irving, and this blog is/was mostly about public relations and social media. It originally started as part of a public relations class, but I really enjoyed doing it and kept up for a little while. I currently work at the Worldwide Leader in Sports ESPN and unfortunately don't have much time to post much anymore. To see more info about me, feel free to connect on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/nlirving/.


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