Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut, United States, advertises itself as the first restaurant to serve hamburgers and as being the oldest hamburger restaurant still operating in the U.S. Opened as a small lunch wagon in 1895, Louis’ Lunch was also one of the first places in the U.S. to serve steak sandwiches. According to Louis’ Lunch, the hamburger was created in 1900 in response to a customer’s hurried request for a lunch to go. In 1917, Louis moved the business into a square-shaped little brick building that had once been a tannery. In 1975, the restaurant was moved four blocks down to 263 Crown Street. Hamburgers cooked in the restaurant are made on antique vertical cast iron gas stoves from 1898 and the toast made in an antique toaster from 1928. The hamburgers are a broiled blend of five cuts of steak. Toppings include cheese, tomato or onion, but the restaurant does not offer other condiments. Louis Lassen’s restaurant is recognized in the Library of Congress as the origin of the hamburger, but other claimants and detractors exist. The restaurant has been highly rated by Travel Channel’s Chowdown Countdown and others, but has been the subject of criticism over condiments.
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