Our Finds - Casual - Classic - Upscale Contemporary - Breakfast - Pizza - Asian - Pubs

Our Finds

@ The Barn
Rustic on the outside and contemporary on the inside, @ The Barn is spacious and light, with booth or table seating, as well as a patio for warm-weather dining. The menu is upscale, well executed, and beautifully presented. Top-grade steaks are the highlight, but they don’t overshadow a menu that is widely varied and thoroughly enticing. (The Surf ‘n Turf Shrimp & Pork Belly, with yellow rice and red pepper asparagus sauté, is lovely.) Their wine list, by the bottle or glass, is very extensive, and the bar has all the right stuff — including comfortable seating for casual meals. It’s all really top-notch and the cognoscenti know it.
17R East Granby Rd., Granby

Han Asian Cuisine
A while back, when Granby was longing for a good restaurant offering more than sandwich-or-salad lunches and pizza, pasta, and burgers for dinner, along came Han Asian Cuisine — a little gem that serves a nicely varied menu of Japanese, Chinese, and Thai cuisine. Their entrees, including noodles and sushi, sashimi, rolls, and pan-Asian offerings, are all exquisitely prepared and presented. And the bar is perfect for gathering and relaxing. Dine in or take out.
10 Hartford Ave., Granby

Ocho Cafe Tacos y Tequila
This is the kind of place that makes you smile the second you open the door. Partly, it’s because everything is so brightly colorful, from the walls and artwork to the tableware. But it’s also because Ocho Café welcomes its guests as family by offering authentic award-winning South of the Border dishes made with the finest ingredients — and their signature Margaritas. The appetizers, soups, and salads are hearty and tantalizing. The dinner menu is extensive, featuring entrees such as Molcajete (a mixed grill of steak, chicken, carne al pastor, and Mexican sausage served in a heated stone with queso asadero, salsa, avocado and scallions, plus onions and colorful peppers and a choice of beans and red rice). And as expected, there’s a wonderfully creative selection of Tacos, Enchiladas (the Enchiladas Con Mole are awesome), Fajitas, and Chimichangas guaranteed to satisfy those who savor authentic Mexican cuisine — as well as those just getting acquainted. They also have a Happy Hour menu and some amazing desserts. So go! After all, tu estas cordialmente invitado — which means “you’re invited.”
330 North Main St., Bishops Corner
West Hartford

Verdura Tapas & Wine Bar
Yet another of restaurateur James Chen’s superb imaginings — and proud sibling to his other four very popular Zen Group offspring, which include Table 570, @ the Barn, Han Asian, and La Figata — Verdura offers “an elevated take on the classic cuisine of Puerto Rico and Latin America.” And it is a take that is not to be missed. The menu begins with authentic Spanish cheeses and hams to snack on, then expands to feature such exceptional tapas creations as Mo-Fon-Go, with prawns, smashed plantains, sofrito, garlic butter and tomato sauce, and large plate offerings like the pan seared fresh cod, with chorizo, avocado, tomato, edamame, olives, spinach, and lemon herb zest. And there is a lovely selection of wines by the glass or bottle. Got an itch for the sort of inspired scratch cooking that turns traditional tapas fare into remarkably innovative dining? You’ll find it here.
10 Hartford Ave., Granby

Dom's Coffee
Never judge a book by its cover. And this little place is the reason why. At home in an old fashioned residence along Rte. 44, its interior delights by revealing a stunningly minimalist Euro-design interior that enhances the lovingly laced lattes, beautiful pastries from several local bakeries — as well as those made at Dom’s, and the delicious cheeses from all over the world that Valley coffee connoisseurs have come to savor. So check it out. And feel free to linger with your computer or relax with a friend, depending on which suits your mood. A lovely place.
20 W. Main St., Avon

Five Corners Bistro & Craft Bar
Conventional wisdom says that there’s nothing better than a good, square meal. But that’s no longer true, thanks to a menu with more than just four ordinary corners from Farmington’s Five Corners Bistro & Craft Bar. Sleek and contemporary in style, Five Corners offers no less than 40 selections of gin, 24 beers on tap (mostly Connecticut breweries), wine on tap, and superb scratch cooking. (Their Cider Maple Brined Pork Chop, with sweet potato gratin and balsamic glaze brussel sprouts, is not to be missed.) Go taste for yourself what a difference Five Corners makes.
354 Colt Hwy., Farmington

back to top

Our Picks Casual

Antonio’s is a great destination restaurant featuring consistently high quality Italian American meals, affordable prices and an unmatched decor that is a true claim to fame. Loyal customers keep coming back for Italian pasta standards, great pizza, steaks, burgers and seafood. Sandwiches named after locals highlight how the restaurant embraces the community. But it’s also a true experience because this delightfully amusing spot (created by owner Steve Antonio) is a tribute to the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and beyond, featuring a vast collection of memorabilia, a vintage juke box, and a Coke cooler. Newspaper clippings and quirky sayings abound. Even the menu offers a taste of Steve’s humor, featuring a Chicken Marsala that “has precisely 108 noodles” and a Parmigiana served with “exactly 89 hand-chosen penne rigate.” You can count, but your food will get cold.
1185 Hopmeadow St., Simbury

Dish 'n Dat
From an everything-for-everyone menu to its retro-chic diner décor, Dish ‘n Dat is a wonderful throwback to the ‘60s. The breakfast-anytime menu has omelets cooked to any taste, pancakes in six varieties, and countless sides. There are all kinds of appetizers, burgers and sandwiches, salads and soups, shakes, beer, wine, and drinks — as well as those blue-plate specials some of us still remember. (Be sure to try the Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Basket, which comes with fries and creamy cole slaw.) And Happy Hour starts at 3 p.m. every Monday through Friday!
144 Albany Tpke., Rte. 44, Canton

River's Edge Mediterranean Cuisine
Set among a stretch of non-descript storefronts, River’s Edge looks a bit plain from the street. But don’t be fooled. Once inside, all that changes. Simple but stylish, with both comfortable booths and tables, it’s just the spot to enjoy a menu featuring the cuisine of Mediterranean countries like Morocco, Algeria, Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Egypt, Turkey, Israel, Cyprus, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Their soups are robust and their salads substantial. The burgers are delish. Entrees like the Alexander the Great, a thin pan-seared Filet Mignon with rice vermicelli and grilled veggies, are a genuine treat. And if you get the Turkish coffee, you’ll learn how fortune tellers read the future from the tracings inside the cup. BYOB.
210 West Main St., Avon

Galleria Restaurant
Farmington’s Galleria Restaurant is a great little place. For one thing, it features a warm environment with soft lighting and a full bar offering a great selection of wines and crafty cocktails. For another, the menu features the kind of authentic food you’ll appreciate (Sal and Sam’s recipes never disappoint) — including a uniquely varied menu of fabulous pizzas. And while lunch is often fast paced, this is not the place for a rushed dinner, because here the entrees are all made from scratch to order, so they take a little longer. Of course, if time really is of the essence, head to the bar and order The Shrimp Torino in a garlic cream sauce over focaccia, which tastes even better after one of Valon’s signature cocktails! You’ll leave satisfied — and return soon. Trust me.
2 Spring Ln., Farmington

Marco's Restaurant
Looking for a nicely affordable menu offering everything you’d expect at a good Italian restaurant — and then some? Then head to Marco’s Family Ristorante — the local favorite. They have everything from clubs, subs, calzones, and stromboli to amazing entrees. (Be sure to try the Veal Picata or the Shrimp and Calamari Verdi.) The kids menu is child tested, parent approved, and wallet friendly. And the pizza reliable, as always. There are 19 wines by the glass. And the remarkable bubble gum machine continues pumping out bubble gum. It’s just the place to mangia.
32 Main St., Tariffville

Tangiers International
A while back, Tangiers relocated — and while it was only a little ways down Farmington Avenue, just over the border in Hartford, its legions of fans worried. Well, we’re glad to report that the only thing that changed was their address, because everything else is as great as ever. At lunchtime, order the falafel, which is made from a generations-old family recipe. It’s uniquely seasoned and served with tangy, herby tzatziki or tahini. Or try a gyro, authentic and flavorful. The pita bread is baked daily. The hummus superb. And the service always friendly. And while you’re there, browse their intriguing selection of imported groceries. Good stuff.
550 Farmington Ave., Hartford

back to top

Our Picks Classic

Seasons Restaurant & Tap Room
Uniquely appealing with its elegant main dining room, Seasons offers guests a reliable hotel-style menu featuring such stand-outs as the Steak Frite, with the cut of the day cooked au poivre and served with Bernaise, Hollandaise, or steak sauce, as well as thin fries and arugula — or The Pan Roasted Duck Breast, accompanied by orange saffron risotto and glazed carrots. Combined with a nice wine, good company, and panoramic views of Talcott Mountain Stream, this dressed-up pub is a winner.
279 Avon Mountain Rd., (at the back of the Avon Old Farms Hotel)
Avon, 860-269-0240

Ruth’s Chris Steak House
Maybe the steakhouse trend came. And maybe the steakhouse trend went. But Ruth’s Chris doesn’t care, because at Ruth’s Chris, it’s here to stay — their signature prime beef legendary, as are their perfectly cooked rib-eyes, their tender Porterhouse for two, or their full-bodied New York Strip. Fact is, everyone knows that when it comes to beef, Ruth’s Chris does it best. Just follow the sizzle.
2513 Berlin Tpke., Newington,

Piccolo Arancio
Just as its sister restaurant, Peppercorns, is a Hartford favorite, Piccolo Arancio is Farmington’s favorite — and why not? Chef Salvatore Cialfi, who was trained in Rome, is renowned for turning fresh ingredients into authentic, thoughtful, and elegant Northern Italian fare absolutely vivid with flavor — which he encourages diners to enjoy “leisurely, sensuously, and with gusto.” So go. And take his advice. This place is wonderful.
819 Farmington Ave., Farmington

Saybrook Fish House
Anchored at the junction of Routes 44, 179, and 202 in Canton, Saybrook Fish House is an excellent fish house, featuring all the best seafood that’s easy to crave — and hard to find, including Fish and Chips, crispy and hot. A raw bar stocked with fresh clams and oysters. Authentic chowders, both fish and clam. Whole belly fried clams. Broiled oysters and scallops. Mussels, sole, scrod, and salmon. Crab cakes or King Crab legs. Baked Stuffed Shrimp. Lobsters. And yes, for the folks they call Fish Frowners, there’s pasta, chicken, and some excellent steaks. Need a taste of summer-by-the-sea right now? Make this your destination.
460 Albany Tpke., Canton

Soma Grille
Located in Simsbury’s beloved 1820 House, which was extensively restored in 1985, Soma Grille is named after Amos Eno, one of the home’s most well known residents — Soma being Amos in reverse. The restaurant itself was beautifully renovated in 2019 and boasts an expansive bar with a big screen TV ideal for casual drinks and conversation, indoor dining areas that are light and spacious, and outdoor dining on the porch and patio in season, with the lush green lawns and the countryside beyond offering exceptional views. And the menu? Superb. An appetizing selection of Small Bites is sure to please, and all of the salads are creatively enhanced, as witness the Beet salad, which features beet jam, pickled golden beets, honey roasted fennel, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, olive oil, and white balsamic reduction, with sour dough crisps. The entrées are a nice balance of decidedly tempting seafood, meat, poultry, and pasta dishes. And Soma’s Simply Grilled, which features seafood or meats accompanied by distinctive sauces and luscious “Top Hat” garnishes, ensures that while Soma may be new to Simsbury, their flair for elevating flavors to new heights is already making history.
731 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury

back to top

Our Picks Upscale Contemporary

Max a Mia
Max a Mia is, by far, the Valley’s most consistent purveyor of up-market food and drink for those whose taste demands it — and whose budget allows it. The sensibly trendy neo-Tuscan booths and the solid bluestone bar make many Valley professionals and their friends feel secure here. The lunches, including wonderful soups, salads, exceptionally fine fresh fish, and their signature bread served with fresh-roasted garlic, are a welcome treat, too. And don’t rush. Have a cappuccino.
70 E. Main St., Avon

Feng Chophouse
Since 2006, when Feng Asian Bistro opened, sushi lovers have known exactly where to go for amazing sushi. But when it closed in the fall of 2017, who could have guessed that an elegantly updated bar and cocktail area, its new wine room, a private dining space with conference-level conveniences, and the introduction of windows offering superb streetscape views would not be the only changes — or the best. Finally realizing his longtime dream, owner John Chen added a room lined with bricks of Himalayan sea salt for dry-aging steaks and fish, a process that makes the finest cuts of beef even more tender and flavorful, while giving exceptional edomae sushi a uniquely savory umami flavor. And so, Feng Asian Bistro reopened as Feng Chophouse, where a deliciously reimagined menu of sushi and steak, plus entrees such as Chilean Sea Bass, house-made pasta, and the taste of Korean BBQ, challenge diners with even more difficult choices. Fortunately, Feng Chophouse serves nothing but the best, so order with confidence. And be sure to return so you can try everything.
93 Asylum St., Hartford

Abigail's Grille & Wine Bar
Historic Pettibone Tavern — now Abigail’s — is undoubtedly the Valley’s most popular restaurant. And really, the reason is very simple: They give the people what they want, thanks to a variety of menus that offer Pan Seared Day Boat Scallops accompanied by mushroom & spinach risotto and lemon beurre blanc, a Bone-In Gorgonzola Pork Chop served with whipped potatoes, broccoli rabe, and cranberry cognac, and a Rigatoni a’la Vodka, made with grilled chicken, sweet Italian sausage, spinach, caramelized onions, diced pancetta, and tomato vodka sauce with a touch of cream. They also have a reasonably priced, seasonal three-course dinner every Sunday and Monday, lunch specials, a great Sunday Brunch, and a ghost that refuses to leave. (Now, that’s the spirit!)
4 Hartford Rd., Simsbury

Present Company
There are some very fine restaurants here in the Farmington Valley — Present Company included! Wait…what? You haven’t been there? Well, then you have some catching up to do, because this little gem in Tarriffville is an epicure’s delight. And here are just three of the many reasons why: the Beef Bourguignon, their Chicken and Dumplings, and Gigi’s Meatloaf, prepared by Chef/Owner Jeff Lizotte exactly as his grandmother Gigi taught him. Few restaurants offer such elegant fare — Present Company excepted. And should you be hosting a luncheon gathering or business meeting soon and want someone special to cater it, you just found them.
2 Tunxis Rd., Tariffville

Metro Bis
Now located in the Ensign House, one of the town center’s most interesting buildings, Metro Bis is Simsbury’s gem — a top-rated, country-style French bistro where acclaimed Chef Chris Prosperi creates a superb menu, drawing from the latest culinary trends for foodie palates. And while the bill of fare changes daily to leverage both the freshest ingredients and Chef Prosperi’s inspired imagination, this culinary treasure never disappoints. Ever.
690 Hopmeadow St., @ The Ensign House, Simsbury

Millwright's Restaurant & Tavern
Set in a beautifully restored late-17th century gristmill, Millwright’s gorgeous views of the waterfall and its wonderful downstairs tavern are worth the price of admission. Factor in Chef Tyler Anderson’s impressive credentials and awards, his epic win on Food Network’s “Chopped” competition, and his remarkable ability to fashion simple, delicate creations from carefully selected New England-sourced ingredients and Millwright’s becomes one dining experience you do not want to miss.
77 West St., Simsbury

La Figata
You know how every so often you want to go out to eat somewhere kind of spiffy but end up feeling iffy about the whole thing? Well relax. La Figata is the place to go for people iffy about spiffy, because their menu, “inspired by a blend of northern and southern Italian cuisines,” features both lunch and dinner in a setting that’s upscale — yet comfortably casual. The menu includes a tempting selection of hearty sandwiches, paninis, pizzas, and salads. And for those seeking something more filling, the pastas and entrees, including a luscious Cider-Glazed Salmon, served with spiced butternut squash puree, garlic spinach, and lemon gremolata potatoes, are certain to satisfy. Looking for spiffy without the iffy? This is it.
9 Bank St., Granby

back to top

Our Picks Breakfast / Lunch

Popover Bistro & Bakery
At Popover, healthy ingredients rule — their watchwords being organic, vegan, gluten free, GMO free, free range, grass fed, and locally sourced. Then there are the recipes that make those ingredients sing, like the Harvest Wrap (with roasted butternut, apple, grilled chicken, spinach, cranberry chutney, crumbled bleu cheese, and Pumpkin Goddess Dressing), the Belgian Waffles (served with fresh fruits and maple syrup from Girard’s Sugarhouse), and the Big Vegan Bowl. And wait until you taste the fresh popovers, fruit smoothies, wine, beer, and homemade bakery items. Already a fan? Good for you. And we mean that both figuratively — and literally.
928 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury

The Hartford Baking Company
The Hartford Baking Company isn’t new. It actually opened in 2010 with just one baker and four baristas. Yet now, only a dozen years later, the staff has grown from five to 50, their one location has expanded to three, and the bakery’s reputation for seriously superior baked goods has reached every corner of the state, with deliveries heading out daily to restaurants and grocery stores all over Connecticut. Their secret? The Hartford Baking Company insists on using the finest preservative-free ingredients, including superb unbleached flours, rich butter, exquisite European chocolate, and the kinds of truly delectable fruits and vegetables available only through their partnership with local farms. Their vast selection of breads in all shapes, sizes, textures, and flavors are prepared using the artisan process, with strict attention to detail at every step. They offer a menu of pastries that comprises everything from muffins, cookies and brownies, Biscotti, shortbreads, and sticky buns to Danish, fruit tarts, and seasonal quiches. Their sandwiches are wholesome and served on freshly baked bread. Their salads are uniquely tempting. They delighted to serve the individual patrons who come back time and time again, as well as their growing list of wholesale customers. Their exceptional Holiday Menu makes seasonal gatherings much more special — and they cater, too! So let’s just say this is a place you knead to check out! (Sorry.)
Farmington: 767 Farmington Ave., 860-269-3705
West Hartford: 965 Farmington Ave., 860-724-4169
Glastonbury: 400 Hebron Ave., 860-200-1368

Clark Farms Farm to Table Cafe
Located in Granby, the Clark Farms’ Farm to Table Café at Bushy Hill Orchard is not your typical restaurant venue. Already famous for its one-of-a-kind farm-to-table breakfast served only on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to noon, the Café also serves a hearty lunch Thursdays and Fridays from 11 to 3 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. They sell fresh take-out meals and homemade soups throughout the week, not to mention a full line of bakery items, including their amazing cider donuts — arguably the region’s best. In the warmer weather, their ice cream and frozen yogurt is a must. They offer on-site weddings and catered events, including seasonal farm dinners that are exceptional. And soon…drumroll please!...they will be debuting their very own made-on-the-farm Hard Cider, at which time the Café will be open until 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. I know. It looks daunting. But you’ll want to try everything!
29 Bushy Hill Rd., Granby,
cafe line: 860-372-2329

New England Pasta Company & Cafe
There’s no place like New England Pasta Company. For one thing, they make the only fresh pasta in the Farmington Valley. For another, they make it in several flavors, including classic egg, spinach, cracked black peppercorn, fresh garlic and parsley, and three herb. And if that doesn’t impress, consider this: they actually cut their pasta to order as fettucine, linguine, angel hair, papardelle! Then there’s the fresh sauces. Magnifico! And you can enjoy all of them at the Café for lunch or dinner…by way of their awesome Gourmet to Go — a grab-and-go soup-to-nuts menu…or as part of the Meal Deals designed to satisfy a hungry family of four. For a little variety, the New England Pasta Company also offers Lunch Boxes to Go filled with savory sandwiches and wraps, along with some seriously tasty salads. Seasonal Catering. Continental Breakfast Catering. And Corporate Catering, with a menu of salads and lighter fare guaranteed to be the high point of any meeting. And yes, their desserts — including cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and cannoli — are just as good as everything else. I know. Sweeeeet!
300 West Main St., Rte. 44, Avon

LaSalle Market & Deli
Collinsville’s funky old country store (aka LaSalle Market & Deli ) always draws a good-spirited crowd with its comfortably mismatched furnishings, Friday open-mic nights, market gallery, and bargain prices. But we’re betting that it’s their awesome breakfasts, hearty lunch sandwiches, homemade soups, pizazzy pizzas, prepared foods, and ice-cream-cones-to-go that brings ‘em in — and brings ‘em back. You should go find out.
104 Main St., Collinsville, 860-693-8010

Claudia's Grinder Shop
It’s high noon on Farmington Avenue — and there they are again. Claudia’s fans. Indeed, grinder connoisseurs who not only claim that her little shop makes the best grinders in the Valley but line up daily to place their order. Oh sure. There are days when they can’t resist her homemade soups, the daily specials, or one of the wicked good wraps. But then, who can. And don’t let that line thing worry you. When the doors do open, this small but efficient little flavor factory has everyone served in no time. Claudia wouldn’t have it any other way.
1035 Farmington Ave., Farmington

Harvest Cafe & Bakery
Known as “the kitchen that never sleeps,” Harvest Café and Bakery is where breakfasts are the stuff of legends — and lunches a close second. Both menus include some pretty simple standards, followed by original recipes, Kim’s Specials, Daily Specials, and Theme Specials — with humor a key ingredient and all of it fabulous. During Covid the hours are: Wedneday-Sunday 7:30 am - 2 pm. Harvest Café & Bakery also scratch bakes, caters, has retail savory take home items, creates holiday meals to go, has take home frozen bake your own items, and posts special items daily on Facebook! So if you’re up for a breakfast you won’t forget or a sandwich you’ll long remember, put Harvest on your short list. And put it at the top.
1390 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury

Ana's Kitchen
In this increasingly complex world, the simplicity of Ana’s Kitchen would be nothing less than a breath of fresh air — were it not for the fact that it smells sooooo amazing! The restaurant itself isn’t fancy. Just warm and welcoming, with an easy atmosphere that invites lingering. And the menu is just as beguiling, including all sorts of items that are creative in deliciously subtle ways. Ana’s serves great breakfasts until 11 weekdays, noon Saturday, and all day Sunday. And for lunch there are savory soups, sandwiches, and salads — all as tasty as they are wholesome. Not surprisingly, Ana’s also offers a menu of espressos, iced and frozen drinks, teas and coffees, hot chocolate, vanilla chai lattes, and even a Fire Cider Toddy, all of which either pair nicely with the marvelous baked goods they make every day or provide something tasty to sip on while you get a little work done in the late afternoon. And Ana’s caters, too. (I know! How great is that!) You’ll simply have to go.
712 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury

back to top

Our Picks Pizza

Harry's Bishops Corner
What is it about Harry’s that has everyone hooked? Well, for starters the pizza is absolutely terrific. But that’s because they keep it simple and they keep it fresh — like their fall seasonal specials, which are layered with fresh tomatoes, basil, and red peppers from nearby Rosedale Farm. But they also keep things flexible, so if you want good, gluten-free crust or dairy-free cheese, just ask. And Harry’s is easy on the wallet, stocking 21 different wines and pitchers of beer at nicely affordable prices. Expect a wait on nights near the weekend. But it’s well worth it.
732 N. Main St., West Hartford

Little City Pizza
If the path to Little City Pizza’s door looks a little worn, it’s because soccer Moms and hockey Dads know what’s best for their kids. And whether you eat in or take out, you can expect an excellent thin-crust pizza, great paninis, home-style soups, satisfying salads, daily lunch and dinner specials, and some beer and wine for all those smart parents. Score!
152 Simsbury Rd., Avon

Joe Pizza
Question: Where can you count on getting great New Haven-style pizza, one seriously lusty hamburger, mouth-watering calzones, powerhouse pasta plates, Sicilian salads made with love, and good kids meals — all for the best prices around? Answer: Joe Pizza, in Simsbury or Canton. Take your pick. You can’t miss.
140 Albany Tpke., Rt. 44, Canton,
2 Wilcox St., Simsbury

Naples Pizza
As generations of Miss Porter’s grads will attest, the pizza at Naples is at least a few slices better than the rest. The real deal, as they say. Always perfectly crusted and ready to be piled high with fresh toppings for a New York-style pizza Napoletana right here in the heart of Connecticut. Take it home to enjoy, if you can wait. But feel free to grab a seat and dig right in. It’s that good.
838 Farmington Ave., Farmington

Hot Heaven Pizza
They don’t call this place Hot Heaven for nothing. Fact is, their New York-style pizza crust is always just right. The toppings are fresh and varied. There’s a modest dining room where you can get yourself a good pasta dinner and the kiddos something yummy from the children’s menu. Not only are you invited to BYOB but if you forget your Pinot Noir, there’s a wine shop next door! And everything is really reasonably priced. Now that’s heaven.
33 East Main St., Avon Village, Avon

Farmington Pizza & Kitchen
Tucked neatly into a little yellow cottage just off Farmington’s main drag, Farmington Pizza & Kitchen may be the new kid on the block but they already getting great reviews — even from diehard fans of the pizza joint that used to be there, which is saying something! But then why not? The menu itself is delightfully diverse — indeed, surprisingly diverse, including 18 authentic brick oven specialty pizzas from their fabulous brick oven…a nice assortment of appetizers…the grinders you might expect, along with some you wouldn’t (the Chicken Cordon Blue is very tasty)…lots of creative wraps, paninis, and hamburgers…your choice of a chicken or beef gyro…13 truly intriguing salads (the Caprese is lovely)…a classic calzone for calzone connoisseurs…traditional dinners…a menu youngsters will love…and both Baklava and NY-style cheesecake for those who consider dessert an actual food group. (I do.) So go give Farmington Pizza & Kitchen — this new kid on the block — a try. You’ll be BFFs in no time.
1019 Farmington Ave., Farmington

Lisa's Luna Pizza
Lisa’s Luna Pizza is a legend around here, thanks to consistently outstanding thin-crust pies made with fresh ingredients. And you can’t beat it for a quick slice or beer before the movie — or a couple for the game. Eat-in, take-out, or ask for delivery. There’s no way to go wrong. Not at Lisa’s.
530 Bushy Hill Rd., Simsbury
860-651-1820 / Takeout 860-651-6591

back to top

Our Picks Asian

Meadow Asian Cuisine
There has to be a reason Meadow Asian Cuisine has a full house on weeknights when others have empty parking lots — and we’re betting it’s their well-balanced menu of absolutely superb sushi, sashimi, maki rolls, and Pan-Asian entrées, all nicely rounded out by offerings like rack of lamb chops, sea bass, and steak. Of course, it could also be the harmonious flow of consistently excellent food orchestrated by owner Sam Lin. The white-linen service that’s discreetly attentive. A wine list diverse enough to please. Or the stylish little bar. But all that really matters is that Meadow has a full house on weeknights when others have empty parking lots. That speaks for itself.
532 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury

The Green Papaya
You’ll always be welcome at The Green Papaya, because that’s the kind of restaurant it is. Their popularity, however, goes well beyond the warmth and friendliness of the gracious staff to the menu itself — a delectable fusion of Thai and Laotian cuisine that features a complexity of spices and ingredients, as well as a uniquely consistent quality despite a wide-ranging menu. Indeed, The Green Papaya is enthusiastically praised in reviews from actual customers — and it doesn’t get much better than that.
160 Albany Tpke., Canton

It’s dinner time at Yume and seats are filling up fast. At four of the six Hibachi tables, families are already enjoying their meal — one eye on their beautifully grilled food and the other on the chef, whose versatility with slicing, dicing (and juggling very sharp knives) has them cautiously entranced. Nearby, three sushi chefs are pressed by the demand for Maki, Sushi, Sashimi, and specials like the Rainbow Roll from the weekday menu promising special pricing. And all the while, entrées are whisked out of the kitchen and off to hungry patrons, one right after the other, without missing a beat. So what’s the story? Simple answer. Good food. Fast. And reasonable. And that’s an unbeatable combo.
45 South Main St., Unionville

The Elephant Trail
This little gem — formerly reached by way of a circuitous path through Avon Village — has now ambled east down Route 44 a bit. Owned by the Tek family, who (like their restaurant’s namesake) never forget a customer’s face, The Elephant Trail offers wonderful service and an extensive Thai menu that’s healthful, delicious, and something of a bargain. You’ll want to stop by and see for yourself. And bring your herd of friends.
85 East Main St., Avon

Toshi Izakaya
Once upon a time, there was a popular Japanese restaurant in the Riverdale Farms Silo called Toshi — beloved by all, near and far. Then one day, a chef named Dan Ma took it over, renovating the space, revising the menu, and renaming it Toshi Izakaya (which, translated, means “a more relaxed bistro-style place with a full bar”). Well, before long the folks with their ears to the ground found out and, deciding to keep the good news (and all those tables) to themselves, didn’t tell anybody. But a place this absolutely terrific, featuring Japanese cuisine and a wonderful sushi bar, can’t stay a secret for long, and in no time at all, Farmington Valley denizens near and far had a new Toshi to love: Toshi Izakaya. And they’re all eating happily ever after.
136 Simsbury Rd., Riverdale Farms, Avon

Table 570 Asian Fusion
Farmington Valley restaurant entrepreneur Jimmy Chen has done it again. After opening Granby’s Han Asian Cuisine, @ The Barn, La Figata, and Verdura Tapas & Wine Bar in Granby — he has completely redone the former Green Tea on Hopmeadow Street, opening Table 570 Asian Fusion to rave reviews. The food is excellent, with an eclectic mix of Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisines, as well as sushi that rivals the finest found in the superb Japanese restaurants our region is blessed with. Another win for Jimmy — and the Valley.
570 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury

Prai Kitchen
We’ve always loved great Thai food, but from our first visit to Prai, we’ve felt that we were experiencing a new level of creativity and excellence — indeed, a Gourmet Thai. In our many trips back, our favorites have included the Duck Tamarind, Prai’s Chicken Basil, and the Siam Beef. Prai Kitchen will be a true find for Thai aficionados and a real pleasure for many who are new to the cuisine. Go taste for yourself!
23 LaSalle Rd., West Hartford

Bamboo Asian Cuisine
Offering an expansive menu of authentic Mandarin, Thai, and Japanese food, as well as Sushi and Bento Box meals, Bamboo Asian Cuisine is a real find for those who enjoy both the artistic flair and sublime flavors of genuine Asian cuisine — all expertly prepared with the freshest ingredients. Grab a seat at the bar and enjoy a delectably casual meal accompanied by a good game on the big screen TV. Gather with colleagues for one of Bamboo’s anything-but-ordinary luncheon specials. Select something light and luscious from a palette of fresh sushi (try the Sashimi Sampler) — or order a Japanese-style Bento-Box, served with miso soup, salad and rice. Be sure to stop in for a scrumptious dinner (don’t miss the Rack of Lamb served with black pepper sauce and sautéed vegetables) with friends in Bamboo’s spacious dining room. Or if you prefer, go online and order your favorites for pick up just 15 minutes later. You won’t be disappointed.
3 Melrose Dr., Farmington

Liki Sushi & Asian Bistro
Liki Sushi & Asian Bistro may be new to the Valley, but they are clearly not new to creating a superb Asian fusion dining experience. The restaurant itself is simple on the outside and comfortably elegant on the inside — its contemporary décor warm, easy going, and just glam enough to make you feel like you’re somewhere very special. And the menu confirms that. Abundant with choices for those who love Asian Bistro fare, as well as for those who love expertly prepared sushi and sashimi, everything is presented so exquisitely you’ll think you’re in a fine art gallery, not a fine restaurant. Ahhh, but then you’ll taste your Seafood Combo…your New York Strip Steak Teriyaki…or your Thai Lemon Grass and you’ll smile, because that’s when you’ll realize that Liki is indeed a little of both — and a place you do not want to miss.
385 West Main St., Avon

Sweet Chilli
You’ll find this worthy little place on Park Road, along with some interesting shops that you might want to visit — including a topsy-turvy rug and vintage furniture store, an antique store, and a classic bookshop. But eat last so you can savor your meal because Sweet Chilli Thai is good Thai, with standards elevated to well above expectations. And they don’t skimp on the portions here, either. My favorites are the beef sauté, the Pad Thai, most of the curries, and all of the sautéed dishes. And I always order the outstanding Papaya Pok Pok salad.
312 Park Rd., West Hartford

back to top

Our Picks Pubs & Tavern

Cracker Barrel Pub
The Cracker Barrel isn’t just a pub. It’s a Tariffville institution, drawing an eclectic crowd from here and there, between and beyond. There’s a big boisterous bar, an informal dining room, and a comfortable deck in season. Some solid grub is served for lunch and dinner — including burgers, sandwiches, and pizzas of all kinds. And with 24 beers on draft (15 by the pitcher) and lots of crafts, it’s a good place to spend an evening, watch a game, or meet friends. Everyone knows that.
30 Main St., Tariffville

Red Stone Pub
Need a place to connect? In some English towns, where thatched roofs, narrow lanes, and old stone walls abound, places like Red Stone Pub are called “snugs” — or small, hard-to find, dimly lit ‘locals’ with high-backed booths that offer a lovely privacy perfect for those ready to unwind. Beer is, as might be expected, king here, with a long list of hard-to-find brews and fresh-tapped kegs. But the pub-fare sandwiches are hearty and good — and their snacks just right for settling in. Hungry? Thirsty? Maybe a little stressed? Head to Red Stone Pub.
10 Jim Gallagher Way, Simsbury

Lisa's Crown & Hammer Restaurant & Pub
Set in the Collinsville’s old and very diminutive wooden train station, this is a neat little spot to rendezvous with friends, enjoy live music, sample some good craft beers, or enjoy choosing from a contemporary menu that ranges from lighter-fare sandwiches and burgers to hearty entrees like Scallops and Bacon with mashed potatoes or the Rigatoni Bolognese — the traditional Italian beef ragu in a creamy tomato sauce topped with ricotta, basil pesto, and shaved parmesan. Of course, you’ll have to squeeze into the bar area. But then that’s how many a good long-term relationship has begun.
3 Depot St., Collinsville

Old Well Tavern
Life can be a challenge. And when it is, remember these three words: The Old Well Tavern. That’s where one awesome jukebox, five pool tables, a no-frills bar room, 18 draft beers, over 30 bottled beers, and a really good menu that includes BBQ Specialties like the tangy Pulled Pork sandwich, Big Beefy Burgers like the “Black ‘n Blue,” Tavern Favorites like
the Bangin’ BLT, and entrees as simple as the classic Mac & Cheese dinner or as hearty as a great Rib Eye are all waiting for you at appetizing prices. Hungry for some good food, some good music, and some good fun? You just found it!
20 Tariffville Rd., Simsbury

Plan B Burgers and Brew
Ordinarily, I‘d wonder just how much one can actually do with a burger to make it a little less…well… ordinary. And if you have, too, head here. They have 17 different kinds of burgers, and all of them — even The Naked Burger, a stripped down version of the rest — are fat and fabulous. (Be sure to try the 3 Shroom Burger, their West Coaster, and The Italian Job.) Then there’s the brew side of things, with 70 different beers and 60 bourbons, including small batch, very small batch, and sustainable — all poured however you prefer. Confused about where to go for a great meal? Go with Plan B. They get an A+.
4 Railroad St., Simsbury

Cambridge House Brew Pub
Best known for a big selection of award winning house-made brews and their nice, low-key atmosphere, Cambridge House also offers a great selection of pub-food favorites. The entrées include a Beer-Battered Fish platter that’s awesome and a Brisket dinner you can order for one or a family of four! The sandwiches and wraps are always good — especially the Chicken Parm sandwich and the Granby Cheesesteak Wrap. And if burgers are your thing, you just hit the jackpot. They have a Brewmaster Double Burger, featuring a double beef burger along with the warning “if you dare.” Grab a table and enjoy.
357 Salmon Brook St., Granby

Farley Mac's
The Irish do love their pubs — and not just because of the hearty food and drink awaiting them there. They love their pubs because they are the heart of the town where friends and family gather. And Farley Mac’s was created to be just such a place, with its burnished woods and beamed ceilings and a bill of fare that’s not only appealing but abundant. There’s a nice selection of appetizers (the BBQ Kielbasa is terrific), soups (including Lobster Bisque), robust sandwiches served with fries or house-made potato salad (Reuben fans will be delighted), small plates as fancy as Sirloin Tips and as down to earth as Homemade Meatloaf, a kids menu filled with kid foods, and some tempting desserts, including everyone’s favorite: chocolate cake. Truth is Farley Mac’s invites both near and far folk to come for the comfort…stay for the food…and leave with a smile — and they always do. And there’s something else they always do. They always come back.
1616 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury

back to top