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BEST NEW: Bread & Water, Middletown (Shown: Roasted beet carpaccio with arugula, candied walnuts, honey goat cheese with a vinicotto balsamic)

Mara Lavitt

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 as well as the hottest, newest places. 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.

ALSO: Click here for the 2017 Readers’ Choice winners


Best For Overall Excellence

Union League Cafe, New Haven

Max Downtown, Hartford

The Restaurant at Winvian Farm, Morris

Thomas Henkelmann, Greenwich

Arethusa al tavolo, Bantam

Millwright’s, Simsbury

Oyster Club, Mystic

The Whelk, Westport

Community Table, Washington

The White Hart, Salisbury

Golden Lamb Buttery, Brooklyn

The Schoolhouse at Cannondale, Wilton

Elm, New Canaan

Le Petit Café, Branford

Best New

El Segundo, Norwalk

Nom-eez, Bridgeport

Spiga, New Canaan

Bread & Water, Middletown

Present Company, Simsbury

North House, Avon

The Cottage, Westport

Midnight Ramen, New Haven

House of Naan

House of Naan Indian Kitchen and Bar

House of Naan, New Haven

Rise, Mystic

Arethusa a mano, Bantam

Zaragoza, New Milford

BREWPORT beers.jpg


Brewport, Bridgeport

Vue 24, Foxwoods

Savoy, West Hartford

Dere Street, Newtown

Best Italian

Bar Sugo, Norwalk

Adriana’s, New Haven

Liana’s Trattoria, Fairfield

Treva, West Hartford

Bricco, Glastonbury and West Hartford

Rustica, Chester

Viron Rondo Osteria, Cheshire

Goodfellas, New Haven

Aranci 67, Wilton

L’Orcio, New Haven

Bread and Water, Middletown

Roma, Oakville

Cafe Silvium, Stamford

Salute, Hartford

Best American

Firebox, Hartford

West Street Grill,Litchfield

CHAR, Greenwich

The Schoolhouse at Cannondale, Wilton

Match, Norwalk

Millwright’s, Simsbury

Metro Bis, Simsbury

Zinc, New Haven

South End, New Canaan

River Tavern, Chester

Roots Down, Woodstock (update: closed in early 2017)

The Cottage_Spicy Squid Broccoli

The Cottage (Spicy Squid Broccoli)

The Cottage, Westport

Carol Peck’s Good News Cafe, Woodbury

Elm, New Canaan

Best French

Union League Cafe, New Haven

Luc’s Café, Ridgefield

Thomas Henkelmann, Greenwich

Da Pietro, Westport

Le Petit Café, Branford

Bernard’s, Ridgefield

Àvert Brasserie, West Hartford

Best Latin American/Spanish

Iguanas Ranas Taqueria, Middletown

Brasitas, Stamford and Norwalk

Valencia Luncheria, Norwalk

Baja’s, Orange

Casa Villa, Stamford

Besito, West Hartford

Mezon, Danbury

Olea, New Haven

Monte Alban, Hartford

Barracuda, New Haven

Ceviche, Middlebury

Crave, Ansonia

Rubamba, New Haven

Best Mexican

Sayulita, South Glastonbury

Bodega, Fairfield

Bartaco, Westport

Mexicali Rose, Newtown

El Ranchero, Danbury

Rincón Taqueria, Norwalk

Besito, West Hartford

Best Indian

Thali, New Haven, New Canaan and Ridgefield

Chaat House, West Haven

Coromandel Cuisine, Newtown, Darien, Orange, Southport and Stamford

Tikkaway Grill, New Haven

Amba Vilas Palace, Danbury

India, New Canaan

Kolam, Newtown

Haveli India, Middletown

Utsav, Vernon

House of Naan, New Haven

Best Middle Eastern/Mediterranean

Kibberia, Danbury

Sesame Seed Restaurant, Danbury

The Fez, Stamford

Saray, West Haven

Sultan’s Turkish, Waterbury

Layla’s, Fairfield and Stamford

Mamoun’s, New Haven

Oliva on Main, Bethlehem

Best Chinese

Clinton’s Taste of China, Clinton

New Wok, Newtown

China Pavilion, Orange

Great Taste, New Britain

Shu Restaurant, Fairfield

Black Bamboo, West Hartford

Junzi Kitchen, New Haven

Best Korean

Midori, Hamden

Edo II, Danbury

Seoul BBQ & Sushi, New Britain

Pick and Mix, Avon

Best Japanese

Kawa Ni, Westport

Ki Asian Bistro, Danbury

Toro, Newtown

Sushi Red, Plainville

Midnight Ramen, New Haven

Best Sushi

Miya’s Sushi, New Haven

Toro, Newtown

Yokohama, New Milford

Kotobuki, Stamford

Shiki Hana, Fairfield

Pink Sumo Sushi & Sake Café, Westport

Ichiro, Danbury

Sushi Red, Plainville

Murasaki, West Hartford

Mannen Japanese Restaurant, Ridgefield

Ki Asian Bistro, Danbury

Daiko Japanese Restaurant & Jerry-San’s Sushi Bar, West Haven

Best Vietnamese

Nom-eez, Bridgeport

The Good Elephant, Essex

Pho Saigon, Bridgeport

Mecha Noodle Bar, New Haven, Norwalk and Fairfield

Pho Vietnam, Danbury

Pho 501, East Hartford

Best Thai

Som Siam, Old Saybrook

Thai Berry, Monroe

Thai Spice, Norwalk

Thai Awesome, Hamden

The Blue Elephant Trail, West Hartford

Thai Delight, Newtown

Best Pub Grub

Little Barn, Westport

Bidwell Tavern, Coventry

The Hideaway, Ridgefield

Engine Room, Mystic

Republic, Bloomfield

Donahue’s, Madison

Blind Rhino, Norwalk

Little Pub, Ridgefield, Wilton, Greenwich and Fairfield

Corner Pug, West Hartford

Moxie, Madison

Liberty Rock Tavern, Milford

The Spread, Norwalk

Rooster Co., Newington

The White Horse Pub, New Preston

Best Road Food

Heibeck’s Stand, Ridgefield

Danny’s, Stratford

Los Garcias Mexican Fusion, Waterbury

Botsford Drive-In, Newtown

Goldburgers, Newington

Ted’s Restaurant, Meriden

Rawley’s Drive-In, Fairfield

Lake Zoar Drive-In, Monroe

Best Food Truck

Rice and Beans, Bethel

Chief Brody’s Banh Mi, New Haven

Caseus Cheese Truck, New Haven

CT Streatery, New Milford

HAPA, Stamford

“Chris Gonzales is serving not only the best food from a truck, but his food would rank as some of the best out of a restaurant.” — Jeff “JFood” Schlesinger,

Nosh Hound, Stamford

Green Grunion, Danbury

The Meat Truck

Meat Truck

Meat Truck, New Haven


Tipsy Cones

Tipsy Cones, Stratford

Munchies Food Truck, Waterford

The Local Meatball, Fairfield

El Camion, Woodbury

Melt Mobile, Stamford

Best Deli

Sierra Deli and Grill, Norwalk

O’Neil’s Sandwich and Coffee Bar, Bethel

Rye Brook Deli, Stamford

Sapori D’Italia, Hamden

Liuzzi Gourmet, North Haven

Vinny’s Deli, Wallingford

Rein’s Deli, Vernon

Nardelli’s, Naugatuck

Connecticut Sandwich Co., New Canaan

Kensington Market, Berlin

A&S Italian Fine Foods, Fairfield

Soup Thyme, Monroe

Best Beer Bar

Local, Norwalk

Eli Cannon’s Tap Room, Middletown

Engine Room, Mystic

Coalhouse Pizza, Stamford

Willimantic Brewing Co., Willimantic

Prime 16, New Haven and Orange

MiKro, Hamden

Barcade, New Haven

Cask Republic, Stamford, Norwalk and New Haven

Blind Rhino, Norwalk

The Hops Co., Derby

My Place, Newtown

“My Place restaurant buffalo soldier wings. As a judge for the New York Best Wings Festival and Time Out Wing Fest, I can say in my expert opinion, these wings are the jam!” — Chef Plum

At the Corner, Litchfield

J. Timothy’s Taverne, Plainville

Best Cocktails

116 Crown, New Haven

Ordinary, New Haven

Match, Norwalk

ON20, Hartford

Bailey’s Backyard, Ridgefield

Geronimo, New Haven and Fairfield

Elm City Social, New Haven

The Cottage, Plainville

Little River Restoratives, Hartford

“Chris and Patrick managed to make a bar feel like a speakeasy and yet be unpretentious at the same time. They’ve made it a community gathering space through the numerous events they’ve held, and you can be guaranteed that every time you step foot in there you will be sipping on a killer cocktail.” — Alcyia Chrosniak,

Espresso Neat, Darien and Westport

Best Barbecue

Bear’s Smokehouse Barbecue, Hartford

Walrus + Carpenter, Bridgeport

The Cookhouse, New Milford

Chester’s Barbecue, Groton and Clinton

Hoodoo Brown BBQ, Ridgefield

“If Hoodoo Brown were on Tinder, I’d swipe right all day long. I’d actually buy a second iPhone just so I could double my chances of having a date with them.” — Ken Tuccio 

Smokin’ with Chris, Southington

The Stand, Branford

Ricky D’s Rib Shack, New Haven

Taino Smokehouse, Middletown

“Tucked next to a large hardware store, this restaurant doesn’t look like much. There’s only a small number of indoor tables at this location, but don’t let that fool you. Taino is pumping out high-quality barbecue. The meat is tender and spicy courtesy of the restaurant’s barbecue sauce. Can’t get a table inside? Pick it up and take it home. That’s what those in the know do.” — Kate Hartman 

Best Burgers

Bareburger, Ridgefield

Prime Burger, Norwalk

Haywire, Westbrook

Burgers, Shakes, and Fries, Darien and Greenwich

Prime 16, New Haven and Orange

Louie’s Lunch, New Haven

Ted’s Restaurant, Meriden

Goldburgers, Newington

Bobby’s Bodacious Burgers, Mohegan Sun

Max Burger, West Hartford

B Restaurant Group, Multiple locations

Best Steak

The Capital Grille, Stamford and Hartford

David Burke Prime, Foxwoods

J. Gilbert’s, Glastonbury

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, West Hartford

Joseph’s Steakhouse, Bridgeport

Washington Prime, Norwalk

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Michael Jordan's Steak House

Michael Jordan’s Steak House, Mohegan Sun

Prime, Stamford

Best Tapas

Barcelona, Fairfield, New Haven, Stamford and West Hartford

Ibiza, Hamden and Danbury

Olea, New Haven

Costa del Sol, Hartford

Majorca, Hartford

El Segundo, Norwalk

Mezon, Danbury

Most Romantic

The Schoolhouse at Cannondale, Wilton

ON20, Hartford

Le Petit Café, Branford

Artisan, Southport

The Restaurant at Winvian Farm, Morris

Vue 24, Foxwoods

Union League Cafe, New Haven

Golden Lamb Buttery, Brooklyn

Bernard’s, Ridgefield

Best Desserts

The Schoolhouse at Cannondale, Wilton

The Pantry, Washington Depot

Community Table, Washington

L’escale, Greenwich

Vespa, Westport

Àvert Brasserie, West Hartford

Match, Norwalk

Mill Street, Greenwich

Flatbread Company, Canton

Aranci 67, Wilton

Marjolaine Pastry Shop, New Haven

“If you’re driving along Interstate 91 between Exits 3 and 4 in the morning and you smell something wonderful, it’s the croissants baking at this State Street staple. The plain croissant — no butter, no jam — is reason enough to visit, but there are many other baked delights to make you drool.” — Scott Griffin, journalist and professor

Best Breakfast

Chip’s Family Restaurant, Trumbull, Fairfield, Orange, Wethersfield and Southbury

Cristy’s, Westbrook

“Homemade corned beef hash to die for. Huge, fluffy pancakes in dozens of varieties are downright delicious. Be prepared to wait in line.” — Robert Rabine 

King’s, Newtown

The Breakfast Nook, New Haven

Lakeside Diner, Stamford

O’Rourke’s, Middletown

Josie’s Corner, Kensington

Dottie’s Diner, Woodbury

Laurel Diner, Southbury

Arethusa a mano, Bantam

Best Brunch

Mama’s Boy, Norwalk

Fresh Salt at Saybrook Point Inn & Spa, Old Saybrook

Bella’s Café, New Haven

Apricots, Farmington

Firebox, Hartford

Heirloom, New Haven

Geronimo, Southport

Lena’s Cafe & Confections, New Haven

Engine Room, Mystic

“Brunch includes ‘Beermosas’ (don’t knock it till you try it), custom and build-your-own Bloody Marys, and a handful of libations compelling enough to take you back off the wagon after a night out. The food menu offers a perfect balance of sweet and savory, plus the benefit of smoky BBQ. My favorite is the Benedict, which includes brisket and sweet cornbread, but don’t miss the sticky, bourbon-maple glazed cinnamon-pecan buns.” — Shelley Lawrence Kirkwood, food writer

GW Tavern, Washington

Best Vegetarian/Vegan

Heirloom Food Co., Danielson

Claire’s Corner Copia, New Haven

Hidden Valley Eatery, Washington Depot

It’s Only Natural Restaurant, Middletown

G-Zen, Branford

Bloodroot, Bridgeport

Organic Market, Westport

Shoreline Diner, Guilford

The Lime, Norwalk

Best Outdoor Dining

Fresh Salt at Saybrook Point Inn & Spa, Old Saybrook

Hopkins Inn, Warren

Morning Glory Cafe, Old Lyme

Paloma, Stamford

L’escale, Greenwich

L’Orcio, New Haven

The Wharf at Madison Beach Hotel, Madison

Lake View, Coventry

Red 36, Mystic

The White Horse Pub, New Preston

Oyster Club, Mystic

The Blue Oar, Haddam

Bartaco, Westport

Cafe Flo, Old Lyme

The Place, Guilford

Best Hidden Gem

Staropolska, New Britain

RSVP, West Cornwall

Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant, New Haven

Four Roosevelt, Mystic

Ecco Rooftop Eatery, Bethel

Cafe Flo, Old Lyme

Rincón Taqueria, Norwalk

Magee’s Curbside, Stamford

Mothership Bakery & Cafe, Danbury

“In late November when the Mothership opened a second location in downtown Danbury, more people learned what fans of this family bakery already knew: the Mothership is awesome. From pies and other delectable pastries to a wide range of breakfast and lunch options, this is one ship you’ll want to board again and again.” — Erik Ofgang, Connecticut Magazine

New Fairfield Market, New Fairfield

Sweet Evalina’s Stand, Woodstock

Rudy’s Restaurant and Bar, New Haven

“This bar and restaurant is popular with college students, and it’s easy to see why. Burgers and fries are a classic combination, but Rudy’s takes it to another level with their authentic, crispy Belgian fries served with a variety of delectable sauces, from smoked ketchup to honey mustard to samurai. Wash it all down with a beer from the bar’s draft list. This place is more than just a burgaer joint.” — Kate Hartman, formerly of Connecticut Magazine

Teff, Stamford

Best Cheap Eats

Don Carmelo’s Mexican Grill, Norwalk

Jack Rabbits, Old Saybrook

Townhouse Diner, Hamden

Mexicali Rose, Newtown

Junzi Kitchen, New Haven

Perk on Main, Durham

Atticus, New Haven

“It’s difficult to categorize this combination restaurant/cafe/bookstore, but it has been one of my favorites for years. It’s in the ‘cheap eats’ category only because it’s a relatively inexpensive place to get a really good meal. Sandwiches, entrées, soups, desserts, bread. Nothing less than delicious.” -- Scott Griffin, journalist and professor

Best Chicken Wings

Eli Cannon’s Tap Room, Middletown

Dew Drop Inn, Derby

J. Timothy’s Taverne, Plainville

Mikro, Hamden

Hoodoo Brown BBQ, Ridgefield

Archie Moore’s, New Haven, Fairfield, Milford, Wallingford and Derby

My Place, Newtown

Best Pizza

BAR, New Haven

Bufalina, Guilford

Sally’s Apizza, New Haven

Locali, New Canaan

Modern Apizza, New Haven

Stanziato’s, Danbury

Camille’s Wood Fired Pizza, Tolland

Da Legna, New Haven


Brick and Wood

Brick + Wood, Fairfield

Mondo, Middletown

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, New Haven and other locations

Canton Flatbread Company, Canton

“The menu is simple, but all three courses — salad, flatbread and dessert — are right on the money. The creative flatbreads compel you to overeat, and the warm brownie with graham cracker ice cream makes you happy to pay the check.” — Gary Stoller,

Letizia’s, Norwalk

“Letizia’s is a tiny little spot on Main Avenue in Norwalk, and the pie they serve will make your tastebuds think everything else is from the frozen food aisle in your local supermarket. They’re the pizza equivalent of a band that hasn’t been discovered yet. They’re crushing it every night, while you’re sitting on Spotify listening to Nickelback.” — Ken Tuccio, Welcome To Connecticut podcast host

Best Seafood

Fresh Salt at Saybrook Point Inn & Spa, Old Saybrook

F.I.S.H., Stamford

Oyster Club, Mystic

Max’s Oyster Bar, West Hartford

Stowe’s, West Haven

The Mayflower Grace, Washington

S&P Oyster Co., Mystic

The Whelk, Westport

Lenny and Joe’s Fish Tale, Madison, New Haven and Westbrook

The Clam Castle, Madison

Shell & Bones, New Haven

Liv’s Oyster Bar, Old Saybrook

The story has been edited to correct the names of Oliva on Main, Chief Brody’s Banh Mi and The Mayflower Grace.