Heirloom Food Company
Danielson, (860) 779-3373, eatheirloomfood.com
The nosh at this café will challenge the way you think about healthy food—at least that’s their hope. Many dishes at Heirloom Food Company are vegetarian or vegan, but the creative use of local, fresh and organic ingredients will entice all patrons to give their food a try, regardless of their eating preferences. For breakfast, maybe the Scrambled “Eg” Burrito with seasoned scrambled tofu, melted organic white cheddar or vegan cheese and veggies on a sprouted-wheat wrap. Or what about the Veggie Reuben, where assorted veggies are taken off the grill, topped with melted cheese, sauerkraut and finished with Heirloom’s special sauce. Looking for something lighter? Try a pastry with a mug of coffee, expertly micro roasted by Ashlawn Farms in Lyme and shipped to Heirloom Food Company weekly. There are plenty of soup, salad, sandwich and burger options here and the fresh-squeezed juices are not to be missed. You can pick up something delicious and take it with you or sit and take a load off. The café invites everyone to “sit, sip, eat, relax” in their space. Once you do, you may never leave.
Colchester, (860) 537-2410, harrysplace.biz
This roadside stand in Eastern Connecticut has been serving up classic burgers and hotdogs for 94 years. Like they say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and there’s certainly nothing to fix here. Burgers are served thick and juicy with more than 15 different toppings. Same goes for hot dogs.
Willimantic, (860) 423-4243, cafemantic.com
From custard-soaked French toast for Sunday brunch to charred octopus for dinner, there are near endless posh options for reasonable prices at this café. But this is also the place to find great coffee, breakfast sandwiches and assorted fresh pastries from Stonington bakers. No matter what you’re in the mood for, this place is worth a stop.
UConn Dairy Bar
Storrs, (860) 486-1021, dairybar.uconn.edu
Ice cream at this university- run shop goes straight from the cows (the UConn dairy herd) to the cone thanks to UConn students. Visitors can peer through the glass wall behind the main counter to watch the creamery’s process. There are 24 flavors available, including standard vanilla and chocolate as well as coffee espresso crunch, banana chocolate chip and more.
Putnam, (860) 928-1191
Hungry customers can often be found waiting in lines outside of this seasonal, family-owned (since 1937) stand for tasty burgers, chicken and seafood. There’s ice cream for dessert at this summer favorite, where the food is always prepared fresh.
Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm
Sterling, (860) 564-0248, ekonkhillturkeyfarm.com
This family-owned and -operated turkey farm is home to some of the best homemade ice cream on Connecticut’s eastern border. That can come in a cone, cup or even over a piece of homemade pie.
Scottie’s Frozen Custard
Colchester, (860) 537-1265, scottiesfrozencustard.com
Custard at this seasonal shack has a literal cult following with people waiting anxiously for summer to roll around so they can get their hands on one of 30 flavors offered. They make autumn sweet too when it’s time for pumpkin pie-flavored custard in September.
Farmer’s Cow Calfé & Creamery
Mansfield, (860) 450-8408, thefarmerscowcalfe.com
Farm fresh and local is done well at this vibrant (neon green) “calfé.” The Farmer’s Cow dairy coop products are featured prominently in the menu, and all breakfast and lunch items are made with as many local ingredients as possible. Bring the kids by for a scoop of ice cream or better yet, a glass of flavored milk from the calfé’s ingenious milk bar.
Meet Me On Main
Coventry, (860) 742-5835
Breakfast is served all day at this quaint coffee shop located in a converted firehouse, and lunch begins at 10:30 a.m. Come in for all manner of hot beverages—coffee, tea and espresso to name just a few. The baked goods are fresh daily and everything can be eaten in or taken out.
Fireside at Sharpe Hill Vineyards
Pomfret, (860) 974-3549, sharpehill.com
There are only seven options on the regular menu at Fireside at Sharpe Hill Vineyards, the winery’s fine dining restaurant, but when the meals are as refined as they are here, a handful is all you need. Try the Steakhouse Prime spring lamb chops grilled on wood with fresh rosemary and served with mint jelly or their creole shrimp, marinated in a hot Louisiana Creole sauce, which has been praised for its irresistible heat. There is also a rotating menu of specials to tempt your palate. Pair your favorite with one of the vineyard’s 12 specialty wines, and you’re sure to have more than a meal. Fireside at Sharpe Hill Vineyards gives you an experience. Dining is available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only and requires a reservation. Make your call early as this exclusive dining experience typically fills up weeks in advance.