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 sauté and sweet chili lime sauce 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

Villa Mulino
Conveniently located in Avon, Villa Mulino is an easy ride from anywhere in the Farmington Valley — and, offering casual fine dining at its best through a contemporary reinterpretation of classic Italian dishes, it is well worth the trip. Featuring a scratch kitchen, the menu includes appetizers both unusual and delectable, such as Beef Carpaccio, prepared with shallots, cremini mushroom, pine nuts, shiso aioli, and shaved Black Truffles…creative salads, like the La Bufala, with arugula, mozzarella di bufala, prosciutto di parma, pistachio, and local alba honey…extraordinary fresh pastas, including the Mushroom Mafaldine, featuring wild mushrooms, truffles, pine nuts, garlic, and heavy cream…entrees such as the Filet Mignon with braised beets, parsnip purée, and sautéed oyster mushrooms and Seared Scallops cooked with risotto nero, crispy prosciutto, and celeriac. Craft cocktails and an extensive wine list complete the experience. Described as “the latest culinary destination at Riverview Farms Plaza,” Villa Mulino may be new to the area, but its chefs and waitstaff demonstrate a relaxed yet worldly approach to dining that you do not want to miss.
136 Simsbury Road (Riverview Farms), Avon

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 Café 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. 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. (And they cater, too!) So go. After all, tu estas cordialmente invitado — which means you’re invited.
330 North Main St., Bishops Corner
West Hartford

The Coffee Spot
If you love coffee, hot or cold, and crave a fine selection that includes macchiato latte, Cappuccino, and Americano, this is your spot. If you love uniquely flavorful teas, such as Rooibos, Dirty Chai Latte, or Matcha, this is your spot. If cocoa is a favorite and hot cocoa with expresso appeals, this is your spot. And if superb, freshly made baked goods; a light but delectable breakfast of bagels, toasts, muffins, or scones; or a lunch that’s both savory and satisfying, like a turkey club, a Caprese Sandwich, or mac & cheese with bacon, this is your spot. But here’s what you need to know about this wonderful spot: if you’re on the fly, count on quick service and take out — but if you like to savor your food and drink while relaxing, reading a book, working on your laptop, enjoying a visit with friends, or listening to music on your Bluetooth, then you’ll delight in the 19th century Victorian that The Coffee Spot calls home, with its eclectic blend of individually themed rooms. The setting is as appetizing as the menu. They welcome everyone to enjoy both. And believe me, you will.
750 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury

Dom's Coffee
They say, "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 — all made on site by Dom’s pastry chef. Tucked inside you’ll also find Dom’s Cheese, which offers an amazing selection of delicious cheeses and charcuterie 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, friends, or a good book. A simply lovely place.
20 W. Main St., Avon

Five Corners Bistro & Craft Bar
Want to know what's better than a good square meal? A menu full of meals with a very special fifth corner 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 Brined Pork Chop, with sweet potato, maple bacon hash, and apple chutney is not to be missed.) And they also offer Brunch on weekends, Happy Hour, and private events. So go taste for yourself what a difference Five Corners makes.
354 Colt Hwy., Farmington

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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 real 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 Antonio's is also an entertaining experience because this delightfully amusing spot — created by owner Steve Antonio — is a tribute to the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond, featuring a vast collection of memorabilia. There's a vintage juke box and a Coke cooler. Fun 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 Grandma's Old Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie.) And Happy Hour starts at 12 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 Mediterranean Platter, with Tabouli, Hummus, Grape Leaves, Baba Ghanoush, Falafel, Salada Baladi, and Tahini, served with a Pita side, 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 with a great selection of wines and crafty cocktails. For another, the menu offers 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 Spinach Sacchettini, their Chicken Picata, or the Shrimp Scampi.) The kids menu is child tested, parent approved, and wallet friendly. And the pizza is reliable, as always. There are 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 hummus is superb. And the service always friendly. And while you’re there, browse their intriguing selection of imported groceries. Good stuff.
550 Farmington Ave., Hartford

Andy’s Italian Kitchen
First opened in West Hartford in 1975 by Andy and Grace DelSanto, Andy’s Kitchen has since settled into the heart of Simsbury, where, under the watchful eye of Andy DelSanto, Jr. and his son, it has become a local favorite. But then that’s no surprise. The recipes used aren’t simply authentic but were passed down from the grandparents to the parents — and from the parents to Andy, Jr. And what a menu they offer. It begins with drinks and appetizers, moves on to the salads, soups, sandwiches, grinders, calzones, pizzas (including build-your-own versions), the Italian classics everyone craves (their pastas are superb), includes house specials you won’t want to miss (be sure to try the Chicken Marsala), great sides, and a kids menu. But the best is yet to come, with luscious desserts that taste every bit as divine as they look. (The fried dough with cinnamon and sugar is really something.) Plus a great selection of gelato flavors are available at their gelato bar. And not only does Andy’s Italian Kitchen cater but they also offer complete family meals you can take home and savor with your shoes off! If you haven’t been, go. You’ll see.
926 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury

le Bánh Patisserie
If you have a sweet tooth — or are about to entertain those who do, le Bánh Patisserie is somewhere you must go. Here, Pastry Chef Kim Hoàng Wood blends her Vietnamese heritage with her study of French pastries under Executive French Pastry Chef Frédéric Larre, a member of the Académie Culinaire de France, to turn out exquisite baked goods. Indeed, her bánh (which means cakes in Vietnamese)…her Cannelés (which means tarts in French)…her luscious pies…and her amazing cookies are actual works of art, both for the eyes and for the taste buds. And using only the finest, locally sourced organic ingredients and the freshest fruits, Chef Wood creates classic European-styled treats that are not only a new gastronomical experience, but low in sugar and made without additives. And le Bánh Patisserie makes weddings even more special and catered gatherings unforgettable. Calories simply do not get any better than this — or more worthy than this. Go.
542 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury

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Our Picks Classic

Seasons Restaurant & Tap Room
Uniquely appealing with its elegant main dining room, Seasons offers guests a reliably tasty hotel-style menu featuring such stand-outs as the Duck-N-Rice, made with seared duck breast, rice cooked in duck broth and south American spices — or the Seasons Pepita Crusted Salmon, which includes Faroe island salmon, pumpkin seed crust, succotash, and maple cream. 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

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 a Farmington favorite — and why not? Chef Flori Kryeziu is renowned for turning fresh ingredients into authentic, thoughtful, and elegant Northern Italian fare absolutely vivid with flavor — all of 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. And the menu? Superb. An appetizing selection of Small Plates is sure to please, and all of the salads are creatively enhanced, as witness the Beet Salad, with its roasted beets, butternut squash, pickled apple, honey-roasted fennel, arugula pesto vinaigrette, and goat cheese with sourdough crisp. The entrées are a nice balance of decidedly tempting seafood, meat, poultry, and pasta dishes. The Paella is wonderful, as are the "Simply Grilled" seafood and meats, which are accompanied by distinctive sauces and garnishes. Soma may be relatively new to Simsbury, but their flair for elevating flavors to new heights is already making history.
731 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury

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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,is 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 the superb Chilean Sea Bass, 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 people what they want. Serving both lunch and dinner, as well as a mouth-watering Sunday Brunch, their various menus include appetizers, a raw bar, soups and salads, pizzas and flatbreads, house-made pastas, sandwiches and burgers, entrees from both land and sea, steaks and chops, selections from the saucier, family-style entrees, and sides. They also offer a reasonably priced Prix Fixe luncheon Monday through Friday, as well as a a Prix Fixe dinner every Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. And they have a very genial ghost who 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: starters like the Wagyu Beef Carpaccio; pastas like the Muchroom Risotto; and entrees like their Bacon Wrapped Venison Loin. 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 pan roasted chicken, with broccoli, sausage, roasted red potatoes, and pan gravy and their house-made ricotta gnocchi — are certain to satisfy. Looking for spiffy without the iffy? This is it.
9 Bank St., Granby

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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. Recipes such as their Veggie Pop, with sauteed mushrooms, spinach, roasted tomatoes, avocado, and goat cheese scrambled eggs stuffed in their specialty — a fresh, warm popover. Belgian Waffles topped with fresh seasonal fruit, powdered sugar, and whipped cream. The Turkey Avocado BLT. And their Buffalo Fried Chicken Wrap. And wait until you taste the 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
Opened in 2010, the Hartford Baking Company started with just one baker and four baristas. Now, just over a dozen years later, their 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? They insist 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 fresh salads are uniquely tempting. And they are genuinely 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., 860-269-3704
West Hartford: 965 Farmington Ave., 860-724-4169
Glastonbury: 400 Hebron Ave., 860-200-1368

Clark Farms Farm to Table Café
Located in Granby, the Clark Farms’ Farm to Table Café & Pub at Bushy Hill Orchard is not your typical restaurant venue. The Café serves a hearty breakfast — including a great Breakfast Burrito; their Simple Breakfast of two eggs, any style, bacon, and toast; pancakes and waffles; and more — from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm, and a pub-menu lunch, with appetizers, salads, sandwiches, whippersnappers, and sides from 1:00 to 3:00 pm. The Cidery is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm for hard cider, sangria, mimosas, and applewine, with local beers coming soon! The ice cream, soft serves, and sorbets are a divine. And they welcome on-site weddings and catered events. I know it looks daunting. But you’ll want to try everything — because everything is awesome. (Closed for the winter).
29 Bushy Hill Rd., Granby

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, and papardelle! Then there are the fresh sauces. Magnifico! And for a little variety, they also offers savory salads, hearty sandwiches, and appetizing Power Bowls — and you can enjoy everything at the Café for lunch or dinner... by way of their awesome Gourmet to Go and its soup-to-nuts menu...or as part of the Family Meal Deals designed to satisfy a hungry family of four. In addition, New England Pasta Company does seasonal catering, as well as Continental Breakfast and Luncheon catering ideal for both corporate and personal needs — the latter including a menu of salads and lighter fare guaranteed to be the high point of any meeting. And yes, their desserts, from cakes and brownies to 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 bring ‘em in — and bring ‘em back. You should go find out.
104 Main St., Collinsville, 860-693-8010
Take Out 860-693-8010
Catering 860-805-6899

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 Café & Bakery
Known as “the kitchen that never sleeps,” Harvest Café and Bakery is where their all-day-breakfast is the stuff of legends — and lunches run 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. Harvest Café & Bakery also bakes from scratch; caters; offers savory take-home items, including take-home frozen bake-your- own items; creates holiday meals to go; 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.
244 Farms Village Rd., W. Simsbury

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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, as well as wines by the glass. Expect a wait on nights near the weekend. But it’s totally 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

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 is 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 newer 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 a try. You’ll be BFFs in no time.
1019 Farmington Ave., Farmington
860-677-4341 and

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 that big game. Eat-in, take-out, or ask for delivery. There’s no way you can go wrong. Not at Lisa’s.
530 Bushy Hill Rd., Simsbury
860-651-1820 / Delivery 860-651-6591

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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 or Grilled Shrimp with Asparagus. 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. And that speaks for itself.
532 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury
860-408-9800 and 860-408-9822

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 and the Shagg Dog Roll. All the while, entrées are whisked out of the kitchen and off to hungry patrons, one right after the other, without missing a beat. And every day includes Happy Hour from 3 to 7 p.m. So what’s the story? Simple answer. Good food. Fast. And reasonable. And that’s an unbeatable combo.
45 South Main St., Unionville
860-673-8888 and 860-321-7462

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

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, an Asian fusion restuarant, 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

Sakura Garden Japanese Steakhouse
Craving some authentic Asian cuisine? Then come here. There’s an expansive sushi bar area, with a menu both creative and fresh, as well as an extensive selection of maki, nigiri, and elegant new-style sashimi. The spacious hibachi features chefs who turn fresh cuts of meat and seafood into fine art in an elaborate tableside show that tastes more amazing than it looks. The cocktails are lovely to behold — and sip. There’s a nice wine list. And as expected, they offer an impressive assortment of sake.
120 Hebron Ave., Eric Town Square, Glastonbury

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 with friends in Bamboo’s spacious dining room. (Try the Hong Kong Steak topped with oyster sauce. Yum.) 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. You may select the level of spiciness you prefer — and they don’t skimp on the portions here, either. My favorites are the Tom Yum Soup, Grilled Shrimp, the Pad Thai, most of the curries, and all of the sautéed dishes. And I always order the Papaya Salad. Talk about tasty…
312 Park Rd., West Hartford

Mizu 21
One of the finest Japanese restaurants in the Farmington Valley, Mizu 21 Hibachi and Sushi Bar offers diners a casually elegant atmosphere that is both welcoming and comfortable — and an exceptional menu. Not only do they serve amazing hibachi and sushi but additional Asian favorites, such as General Tsao’s Chicken, Crispy Chicken with Thai Peanut Sauce, and create-your-own Poke bowls, for a blend of Asian selections certain to please everyone. They also have a special choices for the kids. And the Mizu 21 chefs are uniquely skilled at turning the freshest of ingredients into the most appetizing dishes and exotic sauces imaginable, drawing diners in — and bringing diners back.
21 Albany Turnpike (Rt.44), Canton

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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 neat little spot is the perfect place for a rendezvous with friends, listening to live music, sampling some good craft beers, or 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 — a 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 Bleu, 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 equally appetizing prices. Hungry for good food, good music, and good fun? You just found it!
20 Tariffville Rd., Simsbury

Plan B
Think a “b” restaurant might not be first class. Think again. The brew side of things at Simsbury’s Plan B Restaurant includes almost 100 bottled beers and 14 rotating draft lines. They pour bourbon any way you like it, including “a nip, three fingers, a flight, on the rocks, in a cocktail, for breakfast, shaken, stirred, and bruised.” And their burgers are amazing. Ordinarily, I‘d wonder just how much one can actually do with a burger to make it a little less…well…ordinary, but they offer 13 different kinds of burgers that are all fabulous. (Be sure to try the 3 Shrooms Burger, El Diablo, and the M.O.A.B. — or Mother of All Burgers). 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. Their entrées include a beer-battered fish and chips 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 Classic Reuben and the Brewmaster Burger Wrap. And if burgers are your thing, you just hit the jackpot. They have a Bacon, Mushroom, Swiss Burger you won’t soon forget. 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, 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 a great Lobster Bisque), robust sandwiches served with fries or house-made potato salad (the Grilled Cheese Pulled Pork is excellent), small plates as fancy as the Filet 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 folks both near and far to come for the comfort…stay for the food…and leave with a smile — and everyone always does. And there’s something else everyone always does, too. They always come back.
1616 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury

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