Taste of Greenwich
A town like ours, filled with powerful personalities and a melting pot of cultures, demands a phenomenal food scene to match. But keeping up with what’s new, what’s fresh and what’s worth ordering in this geographically blessed region can be challenging, as the dining domain changes constantly. So we did some taste testing, polled the pros and talked to local food lovers, in search of all things delicious. For our annual food issue, top chefs and caterers reveal their favorite restaurants, plus we’ve got the buzz on new hot spots, BYOBs, amazing deals, divine dishes, and where to go when you’re sick of Italian—or when you’re craving it. We also explored our neighboring town of Port Chester, which is morphing into a bona fide food mecca. Or, if you’re in the mood for a food-enhanced escape? We tell you which restaurants are worth a road trip. Whether you’re seeking haute cuisine or humble comfort food, there’s a table nearby with your name on it.
Greenwich’s appetite for new restaurants shows no sign of letting up. Be sure to check out these great spots that are either on their way or have been around for a mere six months.
Soon there will be no need to head into the city to hit STK, Peter Luger’s or any other carnivorous lounge. A cool new American steakhouse is about to open in our own backyard and it will boast a menu rivaling that of any Manhattan meat-lover’s haven. “Blackstone’s is the king of top quality meat,” says owner Eddy Ahmetaj, and based on a recent dinner at the Norwalk location, we agree with his assessment. Try the prime aged New York strip, rib eye or special Kobe steak. For seafood enthusiasts, the signature entrée is the Dover Sole with capers and white wine sauce, while classic chilled seafood rounds out the appetizer selection, with shrimp cocktail, lobster cocktail, oysters and Maryland lump crabmeat among the options. That prerequisite of a good steakhouse—a distinctive house salad—is delivered here too, a version with crunchy green beans, chopped tomatoes and bacon. Enjoy your dinner with a bottle from the large cellar, with American wines and international vineyards well represented. The handsome space designed by Granoff Architects has a black-and-white- themed interior and will offer valet parking to make the downtown location even more convenient.
28 West Putnam Avenue, steakhousect.com
A French bistro that’s taken over the space of the venerable Jean-Louis, this chic eatery serves up fine French fare, nightly specials and a lively scene. Co-owned by Antoine Blech and Anshu Vidyarthi with chef Adrien Blech heading up the kitchen, Le Penguin turns out faithful versions of French favorites, such as steak frites, moules frites, country pate, escargots, and bouillabaisse as well as more contemporary creations like crispy black bass with wild quinoa and a monkfish flambé with pickled fennel and orange oil. The colorful interior designed by Lynn Morgan is particularly welcoming with orange grass-cloth walls, cobalt blue accents, lots of mirrors, maps of Paris and the martini-swilling penguin mascot figured prominently. It’s the type of place you’d like to linger, and the pro servers let you. Just be sure to indulge in one of the outstanding desserts while you do. Ile Flottante (floating island) poached meringue dessert with vanilla cream sauce is a special treat, as are the lemon tart and Cointreau-laced chocolate mousse.
61 Lewis Street, Greenwich, 203-717-1200, lepenguinbistro.com
Harvest Restaurant & Wine Bar
This new American, farm-driven restaurant from Vicente and Kleber Siguenza, owners of Cava in New Canaan and Scena in Darien, has quickly become an Avenue staple. Set in a sleek space with rustic wood accents, the restaurant’s unusual configuration—with an open kitchen at its center, scenting the air with its wood-burning grill, and bar seating toward the back—gives the place added flexibility. You can enjoy an intimate meal in the front dining room or join the bar crowd for snacks and a glass of wine from the 300-plus-bottle list that emphasizes American vineyards. Chef Eben Leonard’s menu mixes creative dishes such as Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad over risotto cake (a must-order) with retro favorites like chicken noodle soup and carpetbagger oysters and plenty of comfort food, such as white cheddar shrimp & grits and short rib mac & cheese. Favorite entrees? The wood-grilled veal chop served with carrots, creamy spinach and veal-stuffed ravioli and the garlicky seafood pan roast. Finish with one of the heavenly desserts, an espresso-chip and peanut-butter-laden brownie sundae or fresh lemon crepes with strawberries.
372 Greenwich Avenue, 203-869-4080, harvestwinebar.com
Leafline Salad Company
For fresh, organic meals in a modern-rustic setting, check out Leafline Salad Company. “I was intent on doing something earthy and farm-like,” says owner Robert Kessner of his new restaurant designed by Rich Granoff. Shoppers and corporate types line up at lunchtime to pick up top-quality salads and juices, and the menu includes many vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free choices (Kressner has food sensitivities and wanted options for people with restricted diets). Watching your weight? Calorie counts are listed on the menu; dressings derive flavor from fresh herbs and less fattening ingredients, such as Greek yogurt as the base. You can mix your own salad or choose from a menu of classics with a twist, including Ancient Greek, Hemp Caesar, Sweet Cobb and 21st Century Waldorf. All salads can be made into wraps too. Most popular salad is the Urban Cowboy–a hearty choice with romaine, barbecue grilled chicken, smoked bacon, grape tomatoes, corn, black beans and white cheddar cheese. Other top draws: Raw and Glowing (a kale-based salad with teriyaki-glazed tofu) and the Steak and Eggs.
41 Greenwich Avenue, 203-413-9900, leaflinesalad.com
Set on the border of Byram and Port Chester, this New American restaurant serves up farm-to-table cuisine and organic ingredients with nightly specials that take advantage of what’s in season. Its historic location has been the home to eating establishments for eighty years, and the new owners, the Rugova family, orchestrated a green renovation with a nod to the past—all of the wood is reclaimed material, from the antique red oak bar to the wainscoting pulled from old factories in Brooklyn. “It’s a high energy place with beautiful character,” says Jimmy Rugova, whose family also owns Dolphin and Café Hudson in Westchester. Top dishes on the creative menu: a super-tender char-grilled octopus; tequila-cured salmon over fried green bananas; wild striped bass with cauliflower puree, oyster mushrooms and wilted spinach and a bucatini with lamb Bolognese served with creamy goat cheese and a lemon cremolata. All desserts are homemade, including the ice cream; try the sublime Espresso Semifreddo with chocolate-covered coffee beans, salted caramel and whipped cream.
2 South Water Street, 203-900-1100, charct.com
Dishes We Just Can’t Get Enough Of
Even though we’re always craving new tastes, certain must-haves stick in our minds and we order them again and again. Here, some personal favorites and most-requested dishes at local eateries.
Trenette Aragosta, pasta with lobster tail served in a fresh truffle cream sauce; bone-in filet mignon; charred broccoli with parmesan, olive oil and red pepper flakes
35 Church Street, 203-622-4223, gabrielesofgreenwich.com
Corn and crabmeat bisque; French onion soup; fish provençale soup; chicken curry salad; Sardagna vegetarian crepe with Fontina cheese, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke, asparagus, olive oil and pine nuts
362 Greenwich Avenue, 203-629-6153, melimelogreenwich.com
Traditional paella and the tres leches cake
1392 East Putnam Avenue, 203-698-9033, bistrolatinogreenwich.com
(soon-to-be renamed Post)
Rock Shrimp, Tuna Tartare, and a new favorite: the Trio of Toro, three pieces of the melt-in-your-mouth tuna, one draped in edible gold leaf, another seared over rice and a third topped with wasabi tobiko over crispy sushi rice
203 East Putnam Avenue, 203-869-2339, nuagerestaurant.com
The Sea Scallop ravioli with roasted cauliflower, zucchini flower and Marcona almonds
366 Greenwich Avenue, 203-629-4747, mediterraneoofgreenwich.com
Seafood salad, Veal Rollatini
136 River Road Ext. Cos Cob, 203-422-2177, louiesrestaurantbar.com
The Ginger Man
Burger with cheddar, bacon and sautéed onions on an English muffin
64 Greenwich Avenue, 203-861-6400, gingermangreenwich.com
Grilled octopus, Spaghetti Bolognese, Double Cut Pork Chop
554 Old Post Road No 3, 203-629-1999, polporestaurant.com
Costoletta Burrata (veal chop stuffed with Burrata), Rigatoni with garlic and oil, roasted lamb, pepperoncini and tomato
1309 East Putnam Avenue, 203-637-1155, valbellact.com
Vanilla cake with whipped cream filling
3 Field Road, Cos Cob, 203-869-9545, sweetlisas.com
The Cos Cobber
Fish & Chips; Cos Cobber Salad
31 East Putnam Avenue Cos Cob, 203-992-1333, thecoscobber.com
The Plateau Royale (platter of seafood including lobster, clams, shrimp and oysters), Yellowfin Tuna Tartare, Bouillabaise and Black and White Chocolate Souffle
500 Steamboat Road, 203-661-4600, lescalerestaurant.com
Paella Salvaje, Chicken Pimientos, Whipped Sheep’s Cheese, Fennel and Asparagus salad with crispy egg
18 West Putnam Avenue, 203-983-6400, barcelonawinebar.com/greenwich
The Hawaii Roll—a mix of spicy shrimp, avocado and crunch inside, surrounded by a king crab and spicy tuna blend with tobiko on top, and the Lava Roll—a row of rolls on a long plate with towering pieces of shrimp tempura on either side; the rolls layer cucumber and avocado with spicy tuna, all topped with crunch, tobiko and a spicy sauce
4 Lewis Court, 203-987-3978, kiragreenwich.cc
MacDuff’s Public House
Classic Shepherd’s Pie
99 Railroad Avenue, 203-422-0563, macduffspub.com
Port Chester Hot Spots
Food so fabulous you’ll run for the border.
The trend may have started when the Bastianich family and a top chef named Batali first talked of resurrecting a favorite Italian eatery known as Tarry Lodge. Or perhaps it was when celeb chef Rafael Palomino put down Latin roots with Sonora. Whatever the impetus, New York chefs have been staking a claim on this once-quiet city for years now—with talk of significant openings in 2014—and we are the happy benefactors of this restaurant boom just over the border.
From the owners of Carmine’s in the city, this urban Italian eatery that opened in 2010 welcomes diners with the fabulous scent of the wood-burning oven that fires up popular pizzas such as Bianca, Clam (with pancetta, smoked mozzarella, garlic) and Broccoli Rabe. Outside, a large patio covered with a red awning has a system of gas heaters to extend the season. The cavernous open dining room with booths and bar seating suits an array of customers—it’s family-friendly (crayons and activity sheets provided) but warm and sophisticated enough for date night or a group gathering.
Top Eats: Caesar salad made with Tuscan Kale tossed with white anchovies; polenta fries; pappardelle with lamb ragu; dry-rubbed shell steak; organic pan-roasted chicken
25 South Regent Street, 914-939-2727, arrostorestaurant.com
Peruvian cuisine is a hot trend, with its melding of bold flavors and techniques—Incan, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and Jewish cooking styles are among the influences. We’re fortunate to have an authentic, well-priced restaurant from the Oshiro family close to home. Acuario specializes in seafood, with a reputation for having the best ceviche anywhere, not to mention the shrimp, mussels, crab, clams, mixed with ahi sauce, yucca and other South American ingredients. But the restaurant also serves up steak and chicken specialties including churrasco with plantains, eggs and fries.
Top Eats: Tostones; Ceviche Acuario; Arroz con Mariscos (Peruvian Paella); Pescado Sudado; Pescado a la Macho
163 North Main Street, 914-937-2338, acuariorestaurant.com
In the elegant, homey setting at this authentic Northern Italian staple, you can sit by the fire in the main dining room that’s decked out with Persian rugs, or in the library room where the walls are lined with books and fine art. All pastas are made fresh daily with classics such as Linguini al Vongole and rustic choices ranging from the ravioli with spinach, portabello and walnut sauce to San Remo, with shrimp, sun-dried tomatoes and arugula. Don’t miss the nightly fish specials and Caesar salad, which is mixed tableside.
Top Eats: Gnocchi Alla Alba, Spaghetti Carbonara, Veal Scallopini Alla Alba.
400 North Main Street, 914-937-2236, albasrestaurant.com
Mexican fans have fallen hard for this trendy, beachy taqueria with outdoor seating on the Byram River. Families flock to the casual, bustling restaurant early in the evenings, and later the space transforms into a lively, noisy bar scene fueled by potent margaritas. Tacos are the big draw and creative new flavors have recently been added: fried oyster, sesame rib eye, wild boar, falafel and lobster in season. Bring the whole experience home by ordering a party pack, which includes guac, tacos, grilled corn and other sides to feed a crowd.
Top Eats: Guacamole, Baja Fish Taco, Fried Oyster Taco, Sesame Rib Eye Taco, Pork Belly Rice Bowl, chopped Salad, Port Chester Reviver cocktail
One Willett Avenue, 914-937-8226, bartaco.com
Yes, there is room for more pizza in our we-can’t-get-enough-Italian world—especially when it’s this good. An outpost of Coals in the Bronx, this pizza joint is distinctive due to the method of cooking—thin, stretched crust is grilled over wood coals, so it’s crispy and chewy. The solid list of craft beers includes Allagash, Captain Lawrence and Lake Placid on tap, with specials such as Breckenridge, Rushing Duck and Spider Bite listed on the chalkboard, and special flights of four for $8.
Top Eats: Margherita pizza; Rustic pie topped with fontinella, mozzarella, roasted mushrooms and fragrant truffle oil; Pure Bliss with mozzarella, ricotta, pecorino, tomato and basil pesto; Fluffernutter with nutella and mascarpone cheese
35 North Main Street, 914-305-3220, coalspizza.com
A go-to for dates and singles, Nessa is a trendy, candlelit Italian and wine bar that entices with its warm interior, small plates, top-notch pastas in half and full portions and wines by the quartino (glass and a half), not to mention the bocci court in back. If your evening includes a show at Capitol Theater, you’ll get 15 percent off your bill. One of the dessert specials here is so popular, the handcrafted Italian doughnuts known as Zeppole, that owner Marc Tessitore recently opened a sister restaurant next door called Zeppoleme. This little spot adjacent to the garden serves savory and sweet Zeppole with dipping sauces like caramel, buttercream and hazelnut nutella (“a hundred million thumbs-up,” says one six-year-old taste tester).
Top Eats: Prosciutto and fig bruschetta; “Ino” truffle egg toast; fusilli sausage; nutella Panini; “modern” Zeppole made with ricotta mixed into the dough
Tucked away on a residential side street, this off-the-beaten-path Latin restaurant boasts a festive scene inside, with samba music playing and regulars enjoying tapas, cocas (Spanish flatbread “pizzas”), killer mojitos and sangria. One of Chef Rafael Palomino’s restaurants, Sonora represents cuisines from all around Latin and South America, with a menu reflecting Uruguay, Peru, Colombia and Cuba, as well as a top selection of wines from Spain, Argentina and Chile. Weekends call for live music, including tango, flamenco and jazz.
Top Eats: Made-to-order guacamole, lobster quesadilla, pollo releno, seafood paella, Cuban skirt-steak churrasco
179 Rectory Street, 914-933-0200, sonorarestaurant.net
There’s much to enjoy at this Batali-Bastianich trattoria, where the menu celebrates food from around the Boot: award-winning pizzas, outstanding pastas, plus addictive snacks and antipasti and a substantial wine list. With a steady stream of regulars, this superstar-chef-owned restaurant gets crowded at times. If you arrive early enough, grab a seat at the marble bar. Or when you’re craving a quieter meal, request a table in the upstairs dining room.
Top Eats: Nancy’s chopped salumi salad; Vitello Tonato; lump crab with piquillos; Sicilian octopus; Guanciale pizza with egg, clam pizza; Fusilli a la Crazy Bastard; Lasagna alla Napoletana (Sunday special); Game Hen with black truffles; Osso Bucco
18 Mill Street, 914-939-311, tarrylodge.com
No roundup of Port Chester restaurants would be complete without this classic steakhouse set inside an 1880s brick factory building. Even as so many other restaurants have moved into town, Willett House is still the go-to place for prime steaks, top service and a handsome, clubby atmosphere that rivals the likes of Peter Luger. Beyond the porterhouse, filet, prime rib and other top cuts, the restaurant also serves up fresh seafood: twin lobster tails, crabmeat-stuffed salmon, seafood fra diavolo and more. Willett House received Wine Spectator’s 2013 award of excellence for its substantial, impressive list (in fact, some well-aged bottles are being offered at a discount right now, so it’s a good time to enjoy some excellent vintages).
Top Eats: Willett house salad, lobster bisque, crabmeat-stuffed scallops, porterhouse steak for two, bone-in prime aged shell steak, New York cheesecake
20 Willett Avenue, 914-939-7500, thewilletthouse.com
Worth the Road Trip
What better way to spend a fall weekend (or any weekend) than cruising through Connecticut with an outstanding meal on your horizon? These restaurants, from farthest to closest, deliver an experience you just can’t find in town. They’re well worth the extra miles.
West Street Grill
- Distance: 74 miles
- Great For: Antiquing-in-the-country lunches or dinners
- The Setting: “Litchfield is arguably one of New England’s most beautiful and authentic eighteenth-century villages,” says James O’Shea, co-owner of West Street Grill with Charles Kafferman. For more than two decades, this restaurant has attracted creative types and celebs (George Clooney, Daniel Day Lewis, Meryl Streep, Richard Gere among others) with its highly regarded modern American cuisine. A host of top chefs have honed their talents here, and now twenty-eight-year-old rising star Jim Cosgriff heads the kitchen as executive chef.
- What To Order: Parmesan Aioli peasant bread; local salads and seasonable vegetables; gnudi, a lighter version of gnocci, with vegetables; beef and ricotta meatballs with spaghetti; Maine scallops, wild striped bass; short ribs of beef; homemade ice creams and sorbets; carrot cake.
- Don't Miss: The outstanding vegetable-based dishes. “We care greatly about vegans here,” says O’Shea, who recommends the buckwheat noodle rolls in Thai coconut-lime-ginger broth with seared vegetables and crispy organic tofu.
43 West Street, Litchfield, 860-567-3885, weststreetgrill.com
Union League Café
- Distance: 46 miles
- Great For: Lunch or dinner paired with a cultural outing; nearby museums include the Yale University Art Gallery and the Peabody Museum of Natural History.
- The Setting: Rub elbows with Yalies in this elegant French brasserie set in a historic Beaux Arts building; the space, across the street from the university, housed the Union League Club during the late 1800s.
- What To Order: Duck leg confit; baby spinach salad with Roquefort, caramelized pears and pecans; chocolate feuillantine cake.
- Don’t Miss: In celebration of twenty years in business, the restaurant’s owner and executive chef, Jean Pierre Vuillermet, along with general manager and sommelier, Jean Michel Gammariello, will feature dishes from the original menu.
1032 Chapel Street, New Haven, 203-562-4299, unionleaguecafe.com
Blue Hill at Stone Barns
- Distance: 20 miles
- Great For: Special occasions and the ultimate farm-to-table
- The Setting: Situated on Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, an eighty-acre farm and educational center that was originally part of the Rockefeller estate, this elegantly rustic restaurant (a former dairy barn) serves the freshest possible meals. Everything is harvested from the nearby pastures and woods and prepared by James Beard award-winning chef Dan Barber.
- What To Order: You don’t really need to order, in fact, as the “farmers feasts” here are truly centered around whatever comes into the kitchen that day and the menu is more of a list of the ingredients you can expect to sample during the meal. Instead, you pick the number of courses you would like. Time your visit to each season—for instance, in summer to experience tomatoes in new and unexpected ways—and sample the best of the harvest.
- Don’t Miss: The Stone Barns tenth Annual Harvest Fest on October 5, a celebration and fundraiser with live music, hayrides, a farmer’s market, food crafting stations, a farm Olympics, square dancing and more.
630 Bedford Road, Pocantico Hills, NY, 914-366-9600, bluehillfarm.com
Farmhouse at Bedford Post
- Distance: 16 miles
- Great For: A close-to-home, sophisticated taste of the country (Wednesday to Saturday)
- The Setting: Inside a restored 1860s inn co-owned by Richard Gere, the Farmhouse is the formal restaurant on this Relais & Chateau property with a pretty patio that stays open into the autumn months.
- What To Order: Farmhouse Antipasti with seasonal vegetables, cured meats, parmigiano and olives; bone marrow pizza; local & foraged green salad (greens plucked from the BPI property); pork chop with grilled cherries and balsamic; charcoal grilled cornish hen with olives, tomato and feta; mixed grill from the wood fire.
- Don’t Miss: On October 5, Bedford Post and Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts will host a special Harvest Dinner prepared by Chef Jeremy Miller on the Caramoor grounds; for info, go to caramoor.org/support/galabenefits2
954 Old Post Road, Bedford, NY, 914-234-7800, bedfordpostinn.com/farmhouse
- Distance: 16 miles
- Great For: Seafood sourced locally and prepared as you’ve never had it
- The Setting: A casual oyster bar on the Saugatuck River from Chef Bill Taibe, who also owns the acclaimed LeFarm; communal tables in the center of the dining room give the space its social buzz.
- What To Order: Smoked trout dip; Copps Island oysters; warm crab fondue; griddled octopus; whelk-shitake risotto; squid ink cavatelli; Stonington shrimp and grits; lamb burger; whoopie pies.
- Don’t Miss: The “underground” dinners called Souterrain, held at locations disclosed only forty-eight hours before the event; past settings include Sport Hill Farm and the Westport Arts Center. To get on the list, send an e-mail to email@example.com
575 Riverside Avenue, Westport, 203-557-0902, thewhelkwestport.com
The Global Kitchen
When you’ve had your fill of Italian—well, at least until next week—branch out at these top spots representing cuisines from around the globe.
Get your Japanese fix at this family-friendly spot tucked behind the Avenue, where chefs turn out creative rolls blending uber-fresh fish, rice and crisp veggies. Co-owner Jack Zheng lived in Japan for fifteen years where he trained as a sushi chef. He has passed on that skill to executive chef, Jason Wang. Every morning, Jason’s there early to receive shipments of fish, assuring top quality. Though Kira is a go-to for delivery (they’ll run those Lava Rolls to any address in Greenwich), the restaurant’s worth visiting in person to appreciate the beautiful presentation, such as the Passion Roll—Spicy “Manhattan” (a mix of salmon, yellowtail, tuna, crab and crunch) encased in rice and then wrapped in bluefin tuna, all formed into the shape of a heart. Purists should partake in sashimi too, top quality raw fish at its finest. Most-requested rolls: Hawaii, Volcano and Out of Control Roll (topped with eel); pair with a saketini, wine or Kirin Ichiban.
4 Lewis Court, 203-422-2990, kiragreenwich.com
Famous Greek Kitchen
At this thirty-three-years-and-running Greek restaurant, the next generation has taken over, bringing new energy to a Byram mainstay. John and Liz Karapides, originally from Northern Greece, recently handed the baton to their children: Steve, a CIA-trained chef; Maria, the manager; Sophia, who decorated the renovated space; and Larry. Together, the siblings unveiled an expanded menu at an attractively redesigned restaurant that retains its you’re-a-friend-of-the-family level of hospitality and reasonable prices. Sublime standards include the freshly made hummus; Greek salad with big chunks of creamy feta, slices of pepperoncini and house-made dressing; lamb burger topped with tzatziki; mousaka and more. Among the specialties we can’t wait to taste again: Five Shades of Green salad (a blend of cucumber, avocados, pistachios, golden raisins and gorgonzola); oktapodi, a slow-cooked and char-grilled octopus; shrimp saganaki with feta and dill over a tomato sauce. There’s an extensive wine list too.
10 North Water Street, 203-531-6887, famousgreekkitchen.com
In an unassuming outpost in Cos Cob near CVS and the hardware store, sits a tiny restaurant that’s drawing a buzz from those who have lamented our town’s lack of Indian. The new Mumbai counts mixed grill kebabs (organic salmon and free-range chicken are options), coconut fish curry, traditional breads, and a big selection of dals among its menu standouts. You can order online directly from the restaurant and every meal is delivered with a trio of dipping sauces, papadums (we wouldn’t mind a few more of these) and a small portion of rice pudding, fragrant with cardamom. We love the coconut rice, lightly spicy butter chicken, tamarind eggplant, and wide variety of vegetable-based dishes.
140 East Putnam Avenue, Cos Cob, 203-625-5500, mumbaitimesct.com
Little Thai Kitchen
Who says you can’t find decent Thai in the ‘burbs? This petite, modern eatery on the Western side of town, which would seem at home among the ethnic restaurants of Ninth Avenue, is in fact an offshoot of LTK New York. Local corporate types retreat to this spot on their lunch breaks and it’s a go-to for takeout, but this would also be a cozy place for a quiet dinner date (and not an expensive one, since you can bring your own wine or beer). What to order: fish cakes, Tom Yum soup, Beef Larb or Nua Nam Tok salad, Sambal Chicken, Beef Basil, Tamarind Shrimp, Drunken Noodles (with fried eggs and chilies), and, of course, the Pad Thai.
21 St. Roch Avenue, 203-622-2972, littlethaikitchen.com
Long before the farm-to-table craze, chef and owner Nancy Roper was sourcing from Connecticut farms and Niman ranch for her creative New Mexican fare, and you can taste that freshness and quality in her cooking. On any given Friday, this place is packed with families and couples on date night, many swilling a Texas-sized Super Chief Margarita made with freshly squeezed lime juice, agave tequila and triple sec. Beyond the amazing chips, salsa and guacamole—which keep you sated while you wait on busier evenings—we like the red chile onion rings, chorizo con queso, roasted vegetable quesadilla, Carne Adovada burrito, spicy San Antonio fajitas. Also, don’t miss the sopapillas (Mexican bread “pillows”) served with local honey.
44 Old Field Point Road (but it’s really on Hamilton Ave.), 203-661-4774, boxcarcantina.com