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Fearless Critic restaurant review
New Haven
Casual restaurant

Mon–Thu 11:30am–3:00pm
Mon–Thu 5:00pm–10:00pm
Fri–Sat 11:30am–10:30pm
Sun 4:30pm–10:00pm

Features Date-friendly, veg-friendly
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted


Upper Chapel Area
1151 Chapel St.
New Haven, CT
(203) 776-9802
Thai Taste
A popular restaurant in the thick of Chapel’s Thai row that occupies a cool beer-hall space

This place has totally upped its game since the last edition of our guide. Perhaps the proprietors were inspired by the success of their other venture, Rice Pot, which pushed the New Haven envelope of authenticity. As such, they’ve brought up the quality (and redone the menu) of Thai Taste. While it’s still not as regional or authentic as Rice Pot, it’s definitely better than it used to be, and the atmosphere is much more fun than average Thai.

Located in the basement of the Hotel Duncan, this subterranean restaurant has décor that feels like an old-school bar—in fact, it is one, occupying a space that used to be a German beer hall called Old Heidelberg. It’s rather dark and well worn, with graftings of Thai paraphernalia, presided over by framed photographs of the Thai royal family, which proudly take their places in the entrance and foyer. One unsettling aspect of this restaurant’s location is the fishbowl effect of windows at knee height to passing foot traffic; on the other hand, this may be a boon to potential customers who have the opportunity to see for themselves just what exactly patrons are eating.

One of our favorite things here is the Panang curry, whose vegetable mélange includes eggplant, squash, carrots, snow peas, and peppers, although the quality can vary. Sometimes it’s so addictive that we want to drink a large Styrofoam cup of it; other times it’s so salty that even we (who could very well wear salt licks around our necks) can barely eat it. Tofu isn’t fried to super-crispy, but its slight sponginess is a plus when it comes to mopping up the curry. “Sizzling steak” comes from kitchen to table with memorable sound effects, emitting pungent aromas of ginger and garlic that will have fellow diners setting aside the printed menus and straining to peer over banquettes in search of inspiration. But we do wish they had more sour-savory yum, as Rice Pot does. And Thai iced tea is tooth-achingly sweet.

Ultimately, it’s the unique atmosphere, more than the food, that distinguishes Thai Taste from the competition on Chapel Street. It’s a strange place to run into visiting luminaries from Yale, but we have indeed spotted some here.

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