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Best Restaurants 2020: Experts' Picks

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Still hungry after seeing the results of our annual Readers' Choice poll? We’ve teamed up with food experts from around the state to put together a second serving of must-try restaurants and eateries. Also, check out our writers' look back at their favorite places they visited in 2019.

Best for Overall Excellence

Arethusa al tavolo, Litchfield

Cafemantic, Willimantic

The Cottage, Westport

Elizabeth’s Farmhouse, Putnam

Grano Arso, Chester

Metro Bis, Simsbury

Millwright’s, Simsbury

Oyster Club, Mystic

Present Company, Simsbury

Shell & Bones Oyster Bar and Grill, New Haven

Strega, Branford

Swyft, Kent

Union League Cafe, New Haven

Winvian Farm, Morris

Carlsons Landing Chicken Deboned breast and thigh Roasted chili and cocoa sauce Sweet potato gnocchi Gremolata (2)_1.jpg

Carlson's Landing, Essex

Best New Restaurant

Boca Oyster Bar, Bridgeport

Cafe Otis, Norwich

Carlson’s Landing, Essex

Céntrico Taqueria & Tequila Bar, Bethel

Hamilton Park / High George, New Haven

Mama Chow, Fairfield

Sherkaan Indian Street Food, New Haven

Tavern on State, New Haven

TexiKo, Hamden

Whitecrest Eatery, Stonington

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Best Up-and- Coming Chefs

Kyle Bledsoe, Carlson’s Landing, Essex

Sean Butler, Francesca’s Wine Bar & Bistro, Collinsville

Jim Casey, Bridgestreet Libations & Temptations, New Hartford

Ashley Flagg, Hamilton Park / High George, New Haven

Ben Freemole, Tavern at GrayBarns, Norwalk

Karen Hubrich, Gruel Britannia, Fairfield

Paul Mannion, Broken Symmetry, Bethel

Emily Mingrone, Tavern on State, New Haven

Xavier Santiago, Carbone’s Prime, Rocky Hill

Ki-Yen Yeung, Tiger Belly Noodle Bar, Granby

Best Pastry Chefs

WBC_4319.jpg

Kristen Eddy

James Arena, Arethusa al tavolo, Bantam

Carrie Carella, NORA Cupcake, Middletown

Kristin Eddy, Millwright’s Restaurant, Simsbury, and Porròn and Piña, Hartford

Anna Llanos, Mothership Bakery, Danbury

Jeremy McKendry, The Bake House, Litchfield

Whang Suh, Hen & Heifer, Guilford

Rob Vankeuren, Flour Water Salt Bread, Darien

Marina White, Terrain Cafe, Westport

Adam Young, SIFT Bake Shop, Mystic

Best American / New American

Bridgestreet Libations & Temptations, New Hartford

Francesca’s Wine Bar & Bistro, Collinsville

J. Timothy’s Taverne, Plainville

Jesup Hall, Westport

Oyster Club, Mystic

The River Tavern, Chester

The Spread, Norwalk

Taproot, Bethel

Tavern at GrayBarns, Norwalk

Vintage, Colchester

HALF ROAST CHICKEN sunchokes, chanterelles, jus and salsa verde (7)_1.jpg

The Tavern at GrayBarns, Norwalk

Best French

Àvert Brasserie, West Hartford

Bar Bouchée, Madison

Bistro on Main, Manchester

Le Petit Café, Branford

Luc’s Cafe, Ridgefield

Union League Cafe, New Haven

Best Indian

Coromandel, Darien, Orange and Stamford

Dhaba Wala, Hartford

Himalaya Cafe, Old Saybrook

House of Naan, New Haven

Sherkaan Indian Street Food, New Haven

Utsav Indian Cuisine, Wethersfield and Vernon

Best Mexican

Azteca Restaurant, Bridgeport

Broken Symmetry, Bethel

El Nuevo Sarape, Hartford

Evarito’s, Norwalk

The Green Grunion, Danbury

Mexicali Rose, Newtown

Mi Casa 2, New London

Rincón Taqueria, Norwalk

Sayulita, South Glastonbury

Best Italian

Adriana’s, New Haven

Alforno Trattoria, Old Saybrook

Aranci 67, Wilton

Cafe Silvium, Stamford

Cantina Cafe Ristorante, Middletown

Columbus Park Trattoria, Stamford

Grano Arso, Chester

La Tavola, Waterbury

Ristorante Luce, Hamden

Roma, Oakville

Strega, Branford

Trattoria ‘A Vucchella, Bridgeport

Treva, West Hartford

Best Middle Eastern / Mediterranean

Bereket Turkish Cuisine, Bridgeport

Layla’s Falafel, Fairfield, Westport, Stamford and Trumbull

Lazizah Bakery, Norwich

Lebanese Cuisine, Bethel

Noujaim’s Bistro, Winsted

Sesame Seed Restaurant, Danbury

Tangiers International Market, Hartford

Zohara Mediterranean Kitchen, West Hartford

Best Asian

Gingko, Fairfield

Golden Palace, Uncasville

Kawa Ni, Westport

Ki Asian Bistro, Danbury

Miya’s Sushi, New Haven (scheduled to close at the end of 2020)

OKO, Westport

Peter Chang, Stamford

Shu, Fairfield and West Hartford

Sichuan Pepper, Vernon

Taste of China, Clinton and New Haven

Best Vegetarian / Vegan

21 Oak, Manchester

Arles & Boggs, Wallingford

Bloodroot, Bridgeport

Claire’s Corner Copia, New Haven

Flora, West Hartford

G-Zen, Branford

Heirloom Food Company, Danielson

ION Restaurant, Middletown

Little Beet Table, Greenwich

The Salad Bar, Rocky Hill

Shandals Vegetarian Cafe, Bridgeport

Best Pho / Ramen

Kawa Ni, Westport

Mama Chow, Fairfield

Mecha Noodle Bar, Fairfield, Norwalk, New Haven and Stamford

Pho 501, East Hartford

Pho Hong Thom, Bridgeport

Pho Saigon, West Hartford

Sprouts Vietnamese Cuisine, Bethel

Thai BowL, Watertown

Tiger Belly Noodle Bar, Granby

Tiger Belly Dragon’s Bride and Hana Roll (7).jpg

Tiger Belly Noodle Bar, Granby

Best Latin American / Spanish

Canggio, Norwich

Crave, Ansonia

Gaudí Tapas & Wine, Danbury

Ibiza Tapas and Wine Bar, Hamden

Olea, New Haven

Porròn & Piña, Hartford

Rubamba, New Haven

Zafra Rum Bar, New Haven

Best Tapas

Barcelona, Fairfield, New Haven, Norwalk, Stamford and West Hartford

Cafemantic, Willimantic

Crave, Ansonia

Gaudí Tapas & Wine, Danbury

Olea, New Haven

The Spicy Green Bean, Glastonbury

Best Seafood

Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough, Noank

Boca Oyster Bar, Bridgeport

Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock, New London

Ford’s Lobster, Noank

Lenny’s Indian Head Inn, Branford

Liv’s Oyster Bar, Old Saybrook

Lucas Local Oyster Bar, Newtown

Max Fish, Glastonbury

Shell & Bones Oyster Bar and Grill, New Haven

The Whelk, Westport

Best Sushi

Asian Bistro, Rocky Hill

Feng Chophouse, Hartford

Ki Asian Bistro, Danbury

Mahzu, Norwich

Meadow Asian Cuisine, Simsbury

Miya’s Sushi, New Haven (scheduled to close at the end of 2020)

OKO, Westport

Sushi Red, Plainville

Best Barbecue

Bear’s Smokehouse, Hartford, Windsor, South Windsor and New Haven

Chester’s Barbecue, Groton and Clinton

The Cue, Danbury

Hoodoo Brown BBQ, Ridgefield

Smokin’ with Chris, Southington

Taino Smokehouse, Middletown

The wild striped bass special at The Cue.

The Cue, Danbury

Best Pizza

E&D Pizza Company, Avon

Fortina, Stamford

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, New Haven, Fairfield, Danbury, Manchester, West Hartford, Waterbury and Mohegan Sun

Letizia’s Pizza, Norwalk

Little Rendezvous, Meriden

Modern Apizza, New Haven

Otto Pizza, Chester

Roseland Apizza, Derby

Sally’s Apizza, New Haven

Swyft, Kent

Zuppardi’s Apizza, West Haven

Best Breakfast or Brunch

Bella’s Cafe, New Haven

Blue Plate Kitchen, West Hartford

The Breakfast Nook, North Haven

Carbone’s Prime, Rocky Hill

Coriander Cafe, Eastford

The Corner Restaurant, Milford

Dottie’s Diner, Woodbury

Engine Room, Mystic

LaSalle Market & Deli, Collinsville

Laurel Diner, Southbury

O’Rourke’s Diner, Middletown

Rise, Mystic

Seasons Buffet, Mohegan Sun

That Breakfast Place, Willimantic

Toast, Four Corners, Storrs

Best Desserts

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Millwrights, Simsbury

Aranci 67, Wilton

Arethusa al tavolo, Litchfield

Bianco Rosso,Trumbull, Wilton

Millwright’s, Simsbury

Olea, New Haven

Sift Bake Shop, Mystic

Best Hidden Gems

Deep Roots Street Food, Granby

Kob Jai Pho & Thai, Rocky Hill

Lebanese Cuisine, Bethel

Lobster Landing, Clinton

Penny Lane Pub, Old Saybrook

Primavera Pub, Hartford

RSVP, West Cornwall

Sasso’s Coal Fired Pizza, Torrington

Stella’s and Mazie’s, Hartford

Tiger Belly Noodle Bar, Granby

Vintage, Colchester

Whistle Stop Cafe, Deep River

The White Hart Inn, Salisbury

Best Outdoor Dining

Anya, Thompson

Bartaco, Westport

Boca Oyster Bar, Bridgeport

Butchers & Bakers, Farmington

Ford’s Lobster, Noank

High George, New Haven

L’escale, Greenwich

Lenny’s Indian Head Inn, Branford

Lucky Lou’s Bar & Grill, Wethersfield

Mill on the River, South Windsor

The Place, Guilford

Pond House Cafe, West Hartford

Red 36, Mystic

Shanks, Clinton

Shell & Bones Oyster Bar and Grill, New Haven

Most Romantic

August, New Haven

Carbone’s Ristorante, Hartford

Fresh Salt, Old Saybrook

Le Petit Cafe, Branford

M/BAR, Mystic

Millwright’s, Simsbury

The Schoolhouse at Cannondale, Wilton

Union League Cafe, New Haven

Winvian Farm, Morris

winvian Pork belly –garden red peppers, pearl onion, trumpet mushrooms (4).jpg

Winvian Farm, Morris

Best Beer Bars

The Beer Collective, New Haven

Blind Rhino, Norwalk and Bridgeport

Brewport, Bridgeport

Cask Republic, New Haven and Stamford

Eli Cannons Tap Room, Middletown

THC The Hops Company, Derby

J. Timothy’s Taverne, Plainville

Spigot Beer, Norwalk

Taprock, Unionville

Best Cocktails

116 Crown, New Haven

The Beamhouse, Glastonbury

Conspiracy, Middletown

The Essex, Essex

Kawa Ni, Westport

Little River Restoratives, Hartford

Ordinary, New Haven

Oyster Club, Mystic

Zafra Rum Bar, New Haven

Best Wine Bars

August, New Haven

Bin 228, Hartford and Glastonbury

Library Wine Bar & Bistro, Wallingford

M/BAR, Mystic

Nouveau Monde Wine Bar, Newtown

The Owl, New Preston

Vinted Wine Bar, West Hartford

Best Affordable

El Pollo Guapo, Wethersfield, Hartford and Glastonbury

Kala Bistro, North Haven

Kumo Sushi, Hamden

Mamoun’s Falafel, New Haven

Primavera Pub, Hartford

Sergio’s, Hamden

Wood-n-Tap Bar & Grill, Hartford, Southington, Farmington, Rocky Hill, Vernon, Orange, Wallingford, Hamden and Newington

Best Food Trucks*

Craftbird, Hartford

Mercado, Hartford

Frank Andrews Mobile Kitchen, Clinton

The Green Grunion, Danbury

La Tavola pizza truck, Waterbury

Los Garcia Mexican Fusion, Waterbury

Munchies Food Truck, New London

Tacos Los Michoacanos, Long Wharf, New Haven

The Tasty Yolk, Bridgeport and Fairfield

The Whey Station, Middletown

*Locations are approximate


The Experts

Eric D. Lehman: writer for Edible Nutmeg and author of A History of Connecticut Food

Amy Nawrocki: author of A History of Connecticut Food and a contributor to Edible Nutmeg

Andrew Dominick: CTbites, Westchester and Hudson Valley magazines

Mike Urban: Yankee Magazine contributor and author of four books on New England food and travel

Rand R. Cooper: Hartford Magazine

Winter Caplanson: Connecticut Food and Farm

Kristin L. Wolfe: Connecticut Magazine, CTbites, Edible NutmegEdible CT EastHudson Valley Magazine

Adeline Jessica Crites-Moore: Adeline Jessica Social Media and Rosenfeld Media 

Doug Clement: CTbites, Edible Nutmeg, Litchfield Magazine, Hartford Magazine, Connecticut Magazine, The New York Times

Taylor Kinzler: host, CT Live!, NBC Connecticut

Teresa Dufour: host, CT Style, WTNH News 8

Scott Dolch: executive director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association

Joe Amarante: arts & entertainment editor, New Haven Register / Hearst Connecticut Media

Erik Ofgang: Connecticut Magazine senior writer

Mike Wollschlager: Connecticut Magazine writer / content editor

Albie Yuravich: Connecticut Magazine editor in chief


For more great restaurants around Connecticut see the results of our annual Readers' Choice poll, with statewide and county-level winners in 40 categories. Also, check out our writers' look back at their favorite places they visited in 2019.

This article appeared in the January 2020 issue of Connecticut Magazine. You can subscribe here, or find the current issue on sale hereSign up for our newsletter to get the latest and greatest content from Connecticut Magazine delivered right to your inbox. Got a question or comment? Email editor@connecticutmag.com, or contact us on Facebook @connecticutmagazine or Twitter @connecticutmag.

The senior writer at Connecticut Magazine, Erik is the co-author of Penguin Random House’s “The Good Vices” and author of “Buzzed” and “Gillette Castle.” He is also an adjunct professor at WCSU’s MFA Program and Quinnipiac University

Mike Wollschlager, editor and writer for Connecticut Magazine, was born and raised in Bristol and has lived in Farmington, Milford, Shelton and Wallingford. He was previously an assistant sports editor at the New Haven Register.

Albie Yuravich is the editor in chief of Connecticut Magazine. A product of the Naugatuck River Valley, he's also been a newspaper editor and writer at the New Haven Register, Greenwich Time, The Register Citizen and the Republican-American.