Best Restaurants in Connecticut 2015: Experts' Picks

Max Downtown

Max Downtown

Get ready to bite into the restaurants judged the best of the best in Connecticut by our “experts,” who range from veteran restaurant critics and food writers to contemporary bloggers who track the trends—and hottest, newest places—along with cookbook authors and even a former restaurant owner. Joined by some food-savvy Connecticut Magazine editors, it’s a group for which dining is a passion—and dining at the best places is an art that takes constantly having a collective finger on the pulse of the Connecticut dining scene. Together, our Readers’ Choice and Experts’ Picks provide a comprehensive view of the state’s tastiest places to eat well.

Experts’ Picks: Best For Overall Excellence

Union League Café, New Haven
Max Downtown, Hartford
Winvian, Morris
Olio, Stamford
South End, New Canaan
Bailey’s Backyard, Ridgefield
LeFarm, Westport
Bernard’s & Sara’s Wine Bar, Ridgefield
Thomas Henkelmann, Greenwich
West Street Grill, Litchfield
Arethusa al tavolo, Bantam (below) - "It's the type of sparkling, happy and casual-but-sophisticated wine bar/restaurant you might find in Milan, say, with models from runway shows and financiers salted among travelers savvy enough to find the place to eat. Executive chef Dan Magill's food is fabulous, as are the wines by the glass." —Douglas P. Clement, Vertical Editor, Connecticut Magazine

Julie Bidwell


Experts’ Picks: Best New Restaurant

A’Vert Brasserie, West Hartford
Moxie, Madison
Kawa Ni, Westport
Viron Rondo Osteria, Cheshire
Washington Prime, Norwalk
Jojoto, Branford
Muse by Jonathan Cartwright, Washington
Paloma, Stamford
Tarry Lodge, New Haven
NIXS, Hartford
Ceviche, Middlebury
Ted’s Montana Grill, Hartford
Red 36, Mystic


Experts’ Picks: Best Italian

Carbone’s, Hartford
Bin 100, Milford
Treva, West Hartford
Bricco, Glastonbury, West Hartford
Cavey’s, Manchester
Rustica, Chester
Bar Sugo, Norwalk
Upper Crust Trattoria, New Milford
Cotto Wine Bar, Stamford - "I’m always searching for Italian restaurants that will remind me of being in Italy. Cotto Wine Bar is run by Romans who import the best cured meats and cheeses, and have a big wine list representing all of the regions of Italy. And they bake an excellent pizza."Elizabeth Keyser, food writer
Locali, New Canaan
Goodfellas, New Haven


Experts’ Picks: Best American

Firebox, Hartford
West Street Grill, Litchfield
Char, Greenwich
The Schoolhouse at Cannondale, Wilton
The Spread, South Norwalk
Match, South Norwalk
Millwright’s, Simsbury
Community Table, Washington
Good News Café, Woodbury
Metro Bis, Simsbury


Experts’ Picks: Best French

Union League Café, New Haven
Luc’s Café, Ridgefield
Thomas Henkelmann, Greenwich
Da Pietro, Westport
Ondine, Danbury
Le Petit Café, Branford


Experts’ Picks: Best Mexican/Latin American

Iguanas Ranas Taqueria, Middletown
Brasitas, Norwalk, Wilton
Valencia Luncheria, Norwalk
Baja's, Orange
Casa Villa, Stamford
Besito, West Hartford
Mezon, Danbury
Bodega, Fairfield


Experts’ Picks: Best Indian

Thali, Ridgefield, New Haven
Kolam, Newtown
Chaat House, West Haven
Coromandel, Stamford, Darien, South Norwalk, Southport, Orange, Newtown


Experts’ Picks: Best Asian

Feng Asian Bistro, Hartford
Wafu Asian Bistro, Southport
Mecha Noodle Bar, Fairfield
Thai Delight, Newtown
Clinton’s Taste of China, Clinton
Kawa Ni, Westport


Experts’ Picks: Best Pub

Cask Republic, Stamford, New Haven
The Rustic Café, East Lyme
Little Barn, Westport
Bidwell Tavern, Coventry
The Hideaway, Ridgefield
Dew Drop Inn, Derby
Geno’s Grille, Storrs
The Engine Room, Mystic
White Horse Country Pub, Washington
Republic, Bloomfield


Experts’ Picks: Best Craft Beer Haven

Jeff Kaufman

Local, South Norwalk
Little Pub, Ridgefield, Wilton
Eli Cannon’s Tap Room, Middletown
Cask Republic, Stamford, New Haven
The Engine Room, Mystic
Coalhouse Pizza, Stamford
The Ginger Man, Norwalk
Willimantic Brewing Co., Willimantic
Craft 260, Fairfield
MiKro, Hamden
Walrus + Carpenter, Bridgeport (right) - "Casual hotspot that manages to be more bar than restaurant without having a pub vibe. Their cocktail program, originally created by Adam Patrick (now bar manager at Match in SoNo) has been taken over by Sean Nye (previously of South End) and features perfectly executed classics as well as Sean’s own concoctions. They also make a barrel-aged Manhattan not to be missed. Southern comfort food like waffle iron grilled cheese with bacon and classic mac and cheese pair perfectly with a wide selection of craft beers, both on tap and in the bottle. Live music on weekends attracts a crowd."—Adeline Jessica Crites-Moore


Experts’ Picks: Best Cocktails

Crown 116, New Haven
Ordinary, New Haven
Dish Bar & Grill, Hartford
Match, South Norwalk
ON20, Hartford
Bailey’s Backyard, Ridgefield
Geronimo, New Haven, Fairfield


Experts’ Picks: Best Place to Eat in The Bar

Post 154, Westport
South End, New Canaan
Good News Café, Woodbury - "Order Miss Peggy’s Crispy Onion Bundle or “Adult” Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Lobster." —Susan Purdy, cookbook author, with Cassandra Purdy, chef/caterer
Bar Bouchée, Madison
Kotobuki, Stamford
Crown 116, New Haven
Rooftop 120, Glastonbury
Union League Café, New Haven
Heirloom, The Study at Yale, New Haven


Experts’ Picks: Best Barbecue

Bear’s Smokehouse Barbecue, Hartford
Walrus + Carpenter, Bridgeport
Bobby Q’s, Westport
The Cookhouse, New Milford
Dinosaur Bar-b-que, Stamford
Chester’s Barbecue, Groton


Experts’ Picks: Best Steak

The Capital Grille, Stamford, Hartford
Morton’s Steakhouse, Hartford
David Burke Prime, Foxwoods
Blackstones Steakhouse, Norwalk
J. Gilberts, Glastonbury
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, West Hartford
Joseph’s Steakhouse, Bridgeport 


Experts’ Picks: Best Tapas

Barcelona, Stamford, Norwalk, Fairfield, New Haven
Picador, New Canaan
Ibiza, Hamden, Danbury
Olea, New Haven
Costa del Sol, Hartford


Experts’ Picks: Best For Families

Rizzuto’s, West Hartford, Stamford, Bethel, Westport
Sesame Seed, Danbury
Glenwood Drive-In, Hamden
Lenny and Joe’s, Madison
Wood-n-Tap, multiple locations
Coriander Café, Eastford
Truffles Bakery and Kitchen, Farmington
Fat Cat Pie Co., Norwalk
East Side Restaurant, New Britain (below) - "For more than 70 years, families have celebrated birthdays, anniversaries and family nights out here with heaping plates of authentic German food, accordion music, whopper desserts and rollicking toasts of ‘Ticky tocky, ticky tocky—hoy! Hoy! Hoy!’" —Connecticut Magazine staff

Julie Bidwell


Experts’ Picks: Most Romantic

ON20, Hartford
Le Petit Café, Branford
Ondine, Danbury
The Schoolhouse at Cannondale, Wilton
Artisan, Southport
Winvian, Morris
Paragon, Foxwoods 


Experts’ Picks: Best Desserts

The Schoolhouse at Cannondale, Wilton
The Pantry, Washington Depot
Union League Café, New Haven
Community Table, Washington
L’escale, Greenwich
Ondine, Danbury
Mama’s Boy, South Norwalk


Experts’ Picks: Best Brunch

Mama’s Boy, South Norwalk
The Spread, South Norwalk
Fresh Salt, Saybrook Point Inn, Old Saybrook
Bella’s Café, New Haven
Fat Cat Pie Co., Norwalk


Experts’ Picks: Best Sushi

Miya’s Sushi, New Haven
Toro, Newtown
Yokohama, New Milford
Kotobuki, Stamford
Wasabi, Orange
Shiki Hana, Fairfield
Pink Sumo, Westport 


Experts’ Picks: Best Vegetarian/Vegan

Heirloom Food Company, Danielson
Claire’s Corner Copia, New Haven
Hidden Valley Eatery, Washington
It’s Only Natural Restaurant, Middletown
G-Zen, Branford
Bloodroot, Bridgeport
Back 40 Kitchen, Greenwich
Organic Market, Westport 
West Street Grill, Litchfield (below) - "Co-owner James O’Shea has an ace up his sleeve with an array of delicious vegetarian/vegan dishes, which are his own creation. Some are on the menu and some are not, but he loves to show them off. Just ask." —Connecticut Magazine staff

Julie Bidwell


Experts’ Picks: Best Outdoor Dining

Fresh Salt, Saybrook Point Inn, Old Saybrook
Hopkins Inn, New Preston
Locali, New Canaan
Washington Prime, Norwalk
Harlan Publick, South Norwalk
Bartaco, Westport
G.W. Tavern, Washington
Morning Glory Café, Old Lyme
Capriccio Café, Stamford
Paloma, Stamford - "Newly opened, Paloma is a beautiful spot to eat outside. Take a seat right by the water, have some fantastic cocktails, and try some of Chef Aarón Sánchez’s Mexican-inspired cuisine to while away the perfect day." —Connecticut Magazine staff
L’escale, Greenwich


Experts’ Picks: Best Last-Minute Option

Donahue’s Madison Beach Grill, Madison
City Limits, Stamford
Dish ’n Dat, Canton
85 Main, Putnam
The Vanilla Bean Café, Pomfret
Ted’s Montana Grill, Hartford 


Experts’ Picks: Best Undiscovered Treasure

Ichiro, Danbury
Staropolska, New Britain
The Blue Oar, Haddam
Basso Café, Norwalk
Olio, Stamford
Ruuthai’s Kitchen, Bridgeport
Eren’s Grill, Fairfield (Greenfield Hill)
RSVP, West Cornwall


Experts’ Picks: Best Seafood

Fresh Salt, Saybrook Point Inn, Old Saybrook
F.I.S.H., Stamford
The Oyster Club, Mystic
Max’s Oyster Bar, West Hartford
Stowe’s, West Haven
Muse by Jonathan Cartwright, Washington
Gaspar’s, New London
S&P Oyster Co., Mystic
Acqua, Westport 
The Whelk, Westport (below) - "Chef-owner Bill Taibe must audition every fish he serves at his lively neo-mod clam shack on the river.  We had the most beautiful trout we’ve ever seen or tasted here." —Connecticut Magazine staff

Julie Bidwell


Experts’ Picks: Best Value

Restaurant L&E, Chester
Little Pub, Ridgefield, Wilton
Rizzuto’s, West Hartford, Stamford, Bethel, Westport
Jack Rabbit’s, Old Saybrook
The Granola Bar, Westport
Volta, Stamford
Los Poblanos, Norwalk
Nataz, North Branford
Sans Souci, Meriden
Mamie’s, Roxbury
Antonio’s, Ansonia, Woodbridge


Experts’ Picks: Best Hotel Dining

Artisan, Southport
Heirloom, The Study at Yale, New Haven
Winvian, Morris
Old Lyme Inn, Old Lyme
Fresh Salt, Saybrook Point Inn, Old Saybrook
The Willows, Bristol
Madison Beach Hotel, Madison
Harbour House Restaurant at the Inn at Mystic, Mystic
The White Hart, Salisbury
Falls Village Inn, Falls Village
L’escale The Delamar, Greenwich


Best Restaurants in Connecticut 2015: Experts' Picks

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