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Asian - Breakfast/Lunch - Classic - Casual - Pizza - Pubs - Upscale - Finds

Our Picks Asian

Meadow Asian Cuisine
Meadow’s well-balanced Japanese menu of sushi, sashimi, maki rolls, and Pan-Asian entrées make it a favorite among those who want the best of both. Lamb chops, sea bass, and steak add even another dimension to the food offerings. This is, without a doubt, why Meadow has a full house on weeknights when others have empty parking lots. Owner Sam Lin orchestrates a well-tuned flow of consistently excellent food and attentive service that brings back a crowd of well-heeled regulars who also appreciate the spiffy white linen dining room, the nice wine list, and the nifty little bar.
532 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury
860-408-9800

*The Green Papaya
It’s a little funky on the outside and a little sparse on the ambience, but the complex spices of the curry (galangal, coconut milk, cumin, coriander, kaffir lime and so forth), the Tom Yum soup, seafood like the Lao Fish Pocket sleeping in lemongrass and banana leaves, the welcoming staff, and a menu that courageously ranges far and wide never fail to switch on the smiles and warm up the place right away.
160 Albany Tpke., Canton
860-693-9322

Yume
Dining tables are filling up fast. Three of the six Hibachi tables light up with kids, parents, and grandmas devouring the food, enthralled by the tricky chef. Three sushi chefs are pressed by the demand for Maki, sushi, and specials like the Rainbow Roll from the weekday 30% off menu. Entrées are whisked out of the kitchen. So what’s the deal? Simple answer. Good food, fast and reasonable.
45 South Main St., Unionville
860-321-7463

Sakimura.
One of the wonderful things about Sakimura is the small brownstone building that houses it. It’s got a calm, relaxing ambience, well suited for enjoying sushi in the cozy dining room or at the sushi bar. The fish is fresh, the rolls creatively presented, and service attentive. The hibachi room has a separate space of its own that draws a loyal following that enjoys the show and the savory menu selections.
10 Wilcox St., Fiddler’s Green, Simsbury
860-651-7929

*Bamboo Grill.
A modest Vietnamese eatery where a talented kitchen has, for a decade, turned out surprisingly great dishes that satisfy even the most discriminating tastes. Lots of fresh seafood and vegetarian selections, big portions, and small prices. BYOB.
50 Albany Tpke., Rt. 44, Canton
860-693-4144

*Tan Wong.
It’s a mellow place with attentive service and all the familiar Chinese menu items, done admirably with no frills. Fresh daily specials are in the $9-$12 range. This is for when you’re stressed at work and stretched for cash, for when you’re tired of pizza delivery, sick of Subway and can’t face leftovers.
135 West St., Simsbury
860-651-4838

Toshi Izakaya
What’s up at Toshi, the beloved Japanese eatery that held up the Riverdale Farms silo for so many years? Well here’s the scoop. A few years ago, chef Dan Ma took over, renovated, renamed it Toshi Ikayaka (meaning a more relaxed bistro-style place with full bar). As usual, the folks with their ears to the ground found out but didn’t tell anybody. And, as usual, they’d like to keep good news to themselves. Please don’t let them. It’s absolutely terrific.
136 Simsbury Rd.,
Riverdale Farms
Avon, 860-667-8242

The Elephant Trail
This little gem that was once confined to the circuitous path through Old Avon Village has now ambled east down Rt. 44 a bit. Owned by the Tek family, who never forget a customer’s face, they provide gracious service and have a surprisingly extensive Thai menu that’s healthful, tasty, and a bargain.
85 East Main St, Rt. 44, Avon
860-677-0065

Table 570 Asian Fusion
The Farmington Valley’s latest restaurant entrepreneur has done it again. Following up Granby’s Han Asian Cuisine and @ The Barn, James Chen has completely redone the former Green Tea on Hopmeadow Street and opened Table 570 Asian Fusion last December 1st. Entering from Hopmeadow Street the front of the building looks like new construction, and the beautifully redone interior with contemporary handcrafted wood tones is just as nice. The food is excellent, an eclectic mix of Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese cuisines. Table 570 also serves excellent sushi that rivals the superb Japanese restaurants our region is blessed with.
570 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury
860-651-4888

* = bargain back to top

Our Picks Breakfast / Lunch

Popover Bistro & Bakery
At Popover, they’re building their entire operation around healthy ingredients (organic, vegan, gluten free, GMO free, free range, grass fed, locally sourced) and recipes that make them sing, such as the Bloody Mary with blue cheese, olives and organic vodka; the Vegan “Chicken” with “beyond meat” chicken strips, veganaise, celery, onions, dill; the Sweet Potato+Quinoa Burger; and the Belgian Waffles with fresh fruits, coconut and almond whipped cream and maple syrup from Lamothe’s Sugar House. Fresh popovers, fruit smoothies, wine, beer, and a bakery add to the fun.
928 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury
860-413-2392

Truffles
Take a peek just behind the New England Pasta Company and Cafe and there’s Truffles, for so many years a Farmington favorite. They’ve got wonderful soups, salads, and baked goods. Truffles offers dinners Wed.-Sat. Top quality, fresh, tasty stuff at both places.
380 West Main St., Rte 44, Avon
860-255-7402
767 Farmington Ave, Farmington
860-409-0667

Bushy Hill Orchard
The Orchard is not your typical restaurant venue, located in North Granby the farm offers a one-of-a-kind breakfast which is truly farm to table. With the majority of its products sourced from its own farms or other local farms in the region. They include their “famous” cider donuts which are the region’s best. The Orchard is also offering on site wedding and catering events including seasonal farm dinners.
29 Bushy Hill Rd., N. Granby
860-653-4022

New England Pasta Company & Cafe
It’s been a blessing to have fresh pasta for years, as well as the great frozen lasagna, ravioli and such. And it’s hard to beat those ready-to-go dinner specials. But, wow! NEPC has also become a bustling café for diet-conscious lunches, nice coffees and fresh pastries in the a.m. Snappy service and a crisp ambience, some retail items, and a pasta maker at work all make it a pleasure to spend some comfy time here.
300 West Main St., Rte. 44, Avon
860-678-9100

Fabiola’s Fine Foods
A well-hidden, lunch-only spot serving absolutely super soups, sandwiches, crusty bread, and stellar salads!
195 W. Main St., Avon, 860-674-9113

Peaberry’s Café
A refreshing alternative to Starbucks, a place to be seen or not be seen — your choice — but always a small-town favorite with a hip vibe. Grab a cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich, hang out with friends, or simply catch up on some work…a good place to chill, so to speak. Enjoy a latte and conversation, or grab a place on the comfy couch to read and enjoy a signature sandwich like the Turkey Avocado or the Sunshine Salad that will leave you feeling like you did your health a favor. A coffee that thinks it’s an Irish Stout? That’s the word on the street about their Nitro Coffee. And don’t forget open mic nights.
712 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury
860-658-2930

Claudia’s Grinder Shop
Many regulars claim Claudia’s has the best grinders in the Valley by a long shot. A steady line of fans march in as soon as the clock hits 12, ordering the homemade soups and the specials, the wonderful wraps, and the great big grinders at this small, efficiently-run family operation.
1035 Farmington Ave., Farmington
860-674-9525

LaSalle Market & Deli
Hearty sandwiches, homemade soups, big breakfasts (or just the no-frills breakfast sandwiches), pizza, prepared foods, and ice cream cones to go are the standouts at Collinsville’s funky old country store that always draws a good-spirited crowd with its comfortably mismatched furnishings and bargain prices.
104 Main St., Collinsville, 860-693-8010

Harvest Café and Bakery
Fans and friends rave about the honest-to-goodness fare from a kitchen that never sleeps, where breakfasts have long been legendary, and lunch can speak for itself. The menu starts with some pretty simple breakfast standards you’d expect. Then original recipes, Kim’s Specials, Daily Specials and Theme Specials round out the daily offerings and add a little humor into the mix. Breakfast starts at 6 a.m. every day but Sunday (7:30 a.m.) and goes all day (until 2:30). Lunch kicks in at 11. Between, around, and after all that, they bake, cater, create holiday take-out meals, post stuff on their Facebook site, and tickle their brains for tomorrow’s specials.
1390 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury
860-658-5000

* = bargain back to top

Our Picks Classic

Saybrook Fish House
This spot rests firmly at anchor at the confluence of traffic flowing through the junction of Routes 44, 179, and 202. And good for us. Around here, a good down-to-earth fish house is hard to find. This is it.
460 Albany Tpke., Canton
860-693-0034

Apricots
At Apricots, the well-seasoned staff continues to operate with quiet aplomb as they have for more than 30 years, turning out consistently prepared specialties that recall the high-rollin’ 80’s. Downstairs, the spiffy tavern cooks up some very good comfort food.
1593 Farmington Ave., Farmington
860-673-5405

La Trattoria
In the Bettera family tradition, this polished Valley classic has satisfied more than three generations with excellent traditional Italian dishes, twin lobsters, a kids menu, lunch, and brunch along with absolutely professional service. One of the best things here is their selection of small-plate, low calorie entrées in the $12.95-$14.95 range. Why didn’t somebody else think of that?
21 Old Albany Turnpike, Rte. 44, Canton
860-673-5000

ON20
During my short career in international finance, when largesse often meant something others couldn’t afford to eat, Marie Antoinette’s “let them eat cake” elicited a knowing chuckle from those of us who regularly dined at one of the many temples of haute cuisine in the cities that counted — like New York’s Four Seasons and Lutece or Taillevent in Paris. Hartford has only one such place, and this is it. With hot new chef Jesse Powers, it’s dusted off some of its lingering corporate formality while, at the same time, elevating the entire dining experience. It’s my kind of place. Off the dinner menu: Always the 8-course chef’s tasting offering. Go to the ON20 menus on their website, www.ontwenty.com. You’ll see what I’m talking about.
400 Columbus Blvd., Hartford
860-722-5161

Chatterley’s
Once the lobby of a Victorian-era hotel, it’s a loveable time warp with arched windows, long curtains, a flowered rug, padded chairs, cozy booths, and fresh flowers on each table. And there’s a vintage bar where you can imagine, years ago, the local salesmen, storeowners and factory workers swapped stories about how lousy the economy was, smoked cigarettes, and drank Manhattans, while the dinner guests ordered fish ‘n chips, pot roast, or turkey with mashed potatoes. Nowadays, you’ll see a great menu with stuff like wilted kale salad, marinated lamb chops, wild mushroom risotto, Korean BBQ short ribs, craft beers and fine wines too. And they still grouse about the economy and, of course, drink Manhattans.
2 Bridge St., New Hartford Center
860-379-2428

Seasons at Avon Old Farms Inn
A reliable hotel-style menu features such winners as our medium-rare crusted rack of lamb that oozed luscious flavors into its polenta pillow, nice plump seared sea scallops on a cushion of risotto joined by good drinks, good wine, and a good time in the elegant dining room. The dressed-up pub is as comfortable as ever.
Back of the Avon Old Farms Hotel
279 Avon Mountain Rd., Avon
860-677-1651

Ruth’s Chris Steak House
In an era where steakhouses stand decidedly outside the trend, Ruth’s Chris continues to buck those trends. It delivers its signature prime beef with no frills, with just a confident aplomb that comes from years of being the best in this business. What about the perfectly marbled, perfectly cooked rib-eye, the tender Porterhouse for two, and the full-bodied New York Strip? You’re getting the message, right? There is something special going on with the beef here. However you want to read it (or cut it), it’s spelled luscious.
2513 Berlin Tpke., Newington,
860-666-2202

Piccolo Arancio
Its sister restaurant, Peppercorn’s, is a long-running big hit in Hartford, but Farmington’s Piccolo Arancio stands out too, with its authentic, thoughtful, and elegant Northern Italian fare.
819 Farmington Ave., Farmington
860-676-8855

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Our Picks Casual

Portobello’s
You’ll get delightfully consistent Italian comfort food at this family-friendly, budget-friendly, people-friendly spot that turns out a huge menu of remarkably tasty grinders, pizza, big fresh salads, daily specials, you name it. Eat at the bar and you’ll make new friends. Besides all this, the wait staff is uncommonly pleasant and equally competent.
107 Main St., Rt. 44, New Hartford
860-693-2598

Antonio’s
It’s the good-spirited creation of owner Steve Antonio, who has infused it with a splash of panache — a 50s - 60s Americana-filled place with vintage juke boxes, pinball machines, Coke coolers adapted for wine storage, wanted posters, and a bunch more memorabilia from the “good old days.” All around the house, sporty kids and their families scarf down pizzas and burgers after a tough game. The menu offers a taste of Steve’s humor, too. It claims the Chicken Marsala has exactly 108 noodles, for instance. Serious fresh fish, steaks, and Italian standards are always a hit, and they’re affordable too.
1185 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury
860-651-3333

Dish ‘n Dat
The retro-chic diner décor is a throwback to the sixties, as is the everything-for-everyone menu. All kinds of burgers, salads, soups, shakes, wine, beer, drinks, appetizers, sandwiches, mac ‘n cheese, blue-plate specials, and so on. The anytime breakfast menu has omelets cooked to any taste and pancakes in six varieties, with countless sides. Happy Hour starts at 3 p.m. every day!
The Shoppes at Farmington Valley
110 Albany Tpke., Rt. 44, Canton
860-693-4927

River’s Edge Bistro
It’s scrunched among a non-descript strip of storefronts extracted from a riverside industrial structure. It’s a real surprise inside, a simple, spiffy set up — some booths, some tables, an array of very nice Mediterranean appetizers and entrees like tuna steak, mousaka, mixed grills of meats and veggies, soups, substantial salads, paninis, even Mediterranean burgers. It’s all very good. And perhaps best: if you get the Turkish coffee, you can learn a few things about how fortune tellers can see your future in the tracings on the inside walls of the cup. BYOB.
45 S. Main St., Unionville
860-404-2382

*Tower Ridge Country Club
Chef Angel works miracles here. Great big burgers with fries, excellent wraps, fresh salads, and bountiful $12-$15 weeknight buffets featuring stuff like pasta with mussels, BBQ-cooked chicken, and ribs. Five-buck Pabst pitchers and appetizers like meatball sliders with fries – a whole meal by themselves – add to the better-than-par tavern menu. Relaxing views of the hilly golf course make the whole scene a sustainable oasis.
140 Nod Rd., Simsbury
860-408-4640

*Blue Sky Foods
Lovely whole bellies, lots of snappy fried fish, and oysters, clams and their friends. Cubans you’ll fall for, hamburger hunks, and good old-fashioned sweeties (shakes, sundaes, floats) for dessert. The scene: loud colors, beachy, kitschy, seafood shacky, and surfy. Guaranteed to turn your day around! BYOB, and take note that it closes during the winter season.
431 Main St., Rt. 44, New Hartford
860-379-0000

The Village Cafe and Bistro
Chef/Owner Steve Day has created an ambitious hybrid menu built on quality ingredients that results in lots of good stuff. Consider this: the breakfast menu includes a lobster omelet, every kind of egg combo that you can imagine (as well as some you can’t), along with the “almost famous” lamb hash; his lunch menu includes a killer Reuben, a beautiful “almost famous” roasted turkey sandwich with apple chutney, a lobster club, half pound burgers of all types, and lobster bisque. The Friday and Saturday dinner menu has herb-crusted swordfish and crispy Long Island duck breast.
Canton Village Plaza,
220 Albany Tpke., Canton
860-693-4302

Quercibella
The specialty here is gourmet flatbreads with an impressive array of very top-notch, exceptionally fresh health conscious ingredients. To give you an idea: the Tutto Verde (veggie) has mushrooms, peppers, spinach, olives, artichokes and ricotta and there is a Duck Sausage, D’Anjou Pear and Cranberry one with goat cheese and candied pecans, as well as a bunch of other originals. The oven is wood-fired. Nice selection of beer and wine. A snug spot, with farm tables in a small barn-like structure, complete with silo, it’s up 44 in New Hartford across from the Collinsville Antiques Outlet.
280 Main St., New Hartford
860-238-4261

*Marco’s Restaurant
Our dear little wooden ship has weathered a tough economy and changes at the helm, but we’re glad to report that there is still almost nothing over $20 on the menu. The pizza’s reliable. The kids’ menu is cheap. There are still seven wines by the glass for $6 or so. And the remarkable bubble gum machine is still working.
32 Main St., Tariffville
860-651-4214

J. Timothy’s
People just love this place. Built as Cooke’s Tavern in 1789, it’s got as many stories as the Knicks have losses. But the name of the game here is wings. “Dirt Wings.” We won’t tell you the story, but just tip you off it has nothing to do with the wings themselves. But the stats speak for themselves: 8 tons of wings, 3000 buckets sold Super bowl weekend. Hard to believe, right? There’s a wait to get in every night of the week. There are all kinds of dining spaces, up and down, some haunted, they say. The straight-and-narrow comfort food speaks for itself too. Let the good spirited staff and owners tell you the rest.
143 New Britain Ave., Plainville
860-747-6813

Tangiers International
They’ve moved a little ways down Farmington Avenue and over the border into Hartford, but we’re glad that nothing else has changed. Go in for lunch and order the falafel. It’s made from a generations-old family recipe, uniquely seasoned and served with tangy, herby tzatziki or tahini. You may want to return for a second. Otherwise, the gyros are authentic and flavorful, pita is baked daily, the hummus is superb, and the service always friendly. Browse their intriguing selection of imported groceries while you wait.
550 Farmington Ave., Hartford
860-233-8168

* = bargain back to top

Our Picks Pizza

Harry’s Bishops Corner
This place has people raving about it for one reason: the pizza is absolutely terrific. They keep it simple, no long list of Fancy-Dan combos. Seasonal specials this fall were layered with fresh tomatoes, basil, and red peppers from nearby Rosedale Farm – whole wheat dough if you want, and 21 bottles of wine are priced from $12 to $17, with pitchers of beer for $11. Expect a wait on nights near the weekend.
732 N. Main St., West Hartford
860-236-0400

Lisa's Luna Pizza
Luna is a legend in the pizza world around here. Consistently outstanding reviews from everybody for their thin-crust pies made with fresh ingredients. You can’t beat it for a quick, small Margherita and a beer before the show. Or a few larges for the game. And so on. Eat-in, take-out, or delivery.
530 Bushy Hill Rd., Simsbury
860-651-1820 and Takeout: 860-651-6591
or orderstart.com/lunapizza

Little City Pizza
There’s an understandably well-worn path to the door because soccer Moms and hockey Dads know what’s best for their kids – and that’s why they bring them here (or grab take-out). Will Kokines has stayed true to his original recipe: excellent thin-crust pizzas, good grinders, home-style soups, satisfying salads, daily lunch and dinner specials, and some beer and wine for the parents.
926 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury
860-658-4001

Joe Pizza
So, where else can you still get a slam-bam lusty burger, a vanilla milkshake, New Haven-style pizza, calzones, kids meals, powerhouse pasta plates or a Sicilian salad with lots of love – and prices that are still less than the rest?
140 Albany Tpke., Rte. 44, Canton
860-693-1265 website
2 Wilcox Street, Simsbury
860-217-0312
website

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. This is the real deal – perfectly crusted, New York-style pizza Napoletana lavished with your choice of fresh toppings. It’s a good place to sit down and eat it, too.
838 Farmington Ave., Farmington
860-674-8876

*Tower View Pizza
The view from here goes far beyond pizza and grinders. There’s also a nice selection of Italian dinners, including Chicken Marsala, Fettuccini Alfredo, Veal Parm, and Shrimp Primavera. Open M-F until 10:30, Saturday ‘til 11. Cheap! And they deliver!
136 Simsbury Rd., Avon
860-677-7993

*Hot Heaven Pizza
The New York-style crust is just right and the toppings are varied — and everything here is cheap, too. There’s a modest dining room where you can also get a bunch of terrific pasta dishes for one, two, or the whole family. Kids menu and BYOB. Wine shop next door.
33 East Main St., Avon Village Marketplace, Avon, 860-470-0257

* = bargain back to top

Our Picks Pubs & Taverns

Cambridge House Brew Pub
Best known for their big selection of award-winning house-made brews, they also have an impressive selection of great pub-food favorites and a low-key atmosphere that makes it a good choice for families and groups of friends – or just a lonely soul trying to find a friend or catch the game.
357 Salmon Brook St., Granby
860-653-2739

*Old Well Tavern
As you might know, the Valley can be kind of an uptight place as far as let-your-hair-down fun goes. This is the antidote. A dance hall with top local bands like Eight to the Bar and Jeff Pevar, a jukebox, a competitive APA pool league, a no-frills bar room, and really good food including crowd favorites the Tavern Burger and “The Beast,” piled with fresh pulled pork, coleslaw, and onion rings. The rest of the menu includes some roll-up-your-sleeves ribs, big sandwiches, a hefty prime rib special, and moderate prices.
20 Tariffville Rd., Simsbury
860-658-0050

Lisa's Crown & Hammer Restaurant & Pub
Housed in the miniature old wooden Collinsville train station, this is a neat spot to rendezvous with friends, catch live music, meet up with a craft beer, or sample from the substantial, contemporary working-person’s menu that ranges from burgers to big steaks to hearty bowls of bargain priced of pasta. You have to squeeze into the bar area, but that, of course, is sometimes the way long-term relationships are built.
3 Depot St., Collinsville, 860-693-9199

Cracker Barrel Pub
The Tariffville institution with its big, boisterous bar, informal dining room, and comfortable deck draws an eclectic crowd from here and there, between and beyond. Some solid grub for lunch and dinner. Fifteen beers by the pitcher and lots of crafts too.
30 Main St., Tariffville, 860-651-0598

The Red Stone Pub
In some English towns, they call places like the RSP “snugs,” — small, hard-to-find, dimly lit meet-ups, with high backed booths that obscure regulars from window viewing and protect private conversations. Beer is king here: a long list of hard-to-find bottles on the chalkboard and fresh-tapped kegs.
10 Mall Way, Simsbury, 860-217-1744

Plan B Burgers and Brew
The burgers, a little expensive at about $11 to $15, are better than promised – as is the beer selection (about 70 choices). And they’ve added another B to the plan in a big way: 60 kinds of Bourbon, with small batch, very small batch, and sustainable options. Up to 141.8 proof and up to $29.50 for three fingers (horizontal outside the glass). Nips are $5 to $18.50.
4 Railroad St., Simsbury, 860-658-4477

* = bargain back to top

Our Picks Upscale Contemporary

Max-a-Mia
The food and service — always tasty and confident, the sensibly trendy neo-Tuscan booths, and the solid bluestone bar make many Valley professionals and their friends feel secure here — and even more so now that the economy has improved. It 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 lunches are a welcome treat, too: wonderful soups, salads, and exceptionally fine, fresh fish are joined by their signature bread served with fresh-roasted garlic. And have a cappuccino, perhaps. It’s a lovely place to duck the late-afternoon frenzy at work and linger until necessity pulls you away.
70 E. Main St., Avon, 860-677-6299

Feng
The titan from downtown Hartford has conquered the huge space at the front gate of The Shoppes with a deft display of warm fusion. There’s a full bar, a sushi bar flanked by two dining areas, then a hibachi room with eight tables. The menu is fusion-genius, moving from a not-too-exotic sushi selection to a dim sum platter, pad Thai, wild salmon with risotto in a lobster sake sauce, and so on.
110 Albany Tpke. (Rt. 44), The Shoppes at Farmington Valley, Canton

Abigail’s Grille & Wine Bar
The historic Pettibone Tavern, renovated as Abigail’s, is undoubtedly the Valley’s most popular restaurant. The reason: they give the people what they want. Lunch, brunch, tavern, and dinner menus that serve a mélange of excellent meat and fish standards, stone pies, kids plates, and raw-bar fare, as well as standouts like the rack of lamb and the pan-seared scallops. They also have a Happy Hour on weeknights until 7 p.m., a reasonably priced, seasonal, three-course dinner, a no-nonsense express lunch, and a ghost that refuses to leave.
4 Hartford Rd., Rts. 185 and 202
Simsbury, 860-264-1580

Metro Bis
A top-rated, country-style French bistro where acclaimed Chef Chris Prosperi creates a menu drawing from the latest culinary trends for foodie palates. It sits in the stately Simsbury 1820 House, one of the town center’s most charming buildings. You can expect a similar setting inside – and Prosperi’s consistently creative touch.
731 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury
860-651-1908

Millwright’s Restaurant
Though Chef Tyler Anderson has a powerhouse resume of awards and trophies and was a winner of Food Network’s “Chopped” competition, his strength is in simple, delicate creations made from carefully selected, New England-sourced ingredients. The setting in a late 17th century gristmill, with window views of the waterfall, and the downstairs tavern is worth the price of admission.
77 West St., Simsbury
860-651-5500

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Our Finds
These are some of the “off the beaten path” spots we discovered and a few old favorites that may have fallen off our radar for a while, and we especially liked finding and rediscovering these gems in 2016-2017.

Lotus Grill
College students are not quite as dumb as most parents think when it comes to the everyday things in life like healthy food and budgets and so on. You know how it is. That’s why there is a steady line of winter-breakers flowing in and out of this modest little place on Route 4 between Dunkin Donuts and Edrick’s Cleaners. The food is like so good, and it’s got like nothing bad in it, and omg it’s so cheap and beautiful and made in Vietnam. Translation: Appetizers 3.59-8.99; entrees (fish, beef, pork, chicken) 10.99-14.99; salads 5.99-6.99; Vermicelli (rice noodles with grilled meat and raw veggies), and Veggie entrees all under $10. And all made beautifully right here in Farmington.
979 Farmington Ave., Farmington
860-676-2255

@ The Barn
Jimmy Chen has done it again. The Valley has needed an up-to-date fine dining place, and the polls are saying this is it. The owner of the popular Han Asian Cuisine, right around the corner, Jimmy has totally redesigned, rebuilt and retooled the old structure inside and out. The result is a smooth, contemporary dining room and bar that’s been drawing big crowds from all around since shortly after it opened. Top-grade steaks are a highlight, but they don’t overshadow the rest of the very-nicely executed, upscale menu. The wine list is very extensive, the bar has all the right stuff, and you should get there soon. It’s a really top-notch spot and the cognoscenti know it.
17 E Granby Rd., Granby,
860-413-3888

Mikado Asian Bistro
What a feast for the eyes and the appetite on this soggy night in December. The former Ricefields, right next to Larsen Ace Hardware in Canton, has been totally renovated and revived by new owner Kevin. It’s gleaming with comfortable booths and striking colors. The presentation of all the dishes is beautifully done, and despite the gloomy weather, they had all the usually hard-to-find items that discerning sushi fans are always happy to find. They have added a new, full service bar that nicely rounds out the welcoming atmosphere.
220 Albany Turnpike, Canton
860-693-9696

Han Asian Cuisine
For a number of years Granby has yearned for a good restaurant. A special place. More than bacon and eggs, pizza and pasta, a salad and sandwich, a latte and a frappe, a big Mac and fries. Is that too much to ask for? Not anymore! Han has 27 entrees: noodles, sushi, sashimi, rolls, pan-Asian offerings, and a great gathering spot at the bar. This is a shiny spot that thrives on its precise operation and very far-ranging menu that reaches out to a wide variety of tastes. It’s really hard to do all this so well, but Han has. And for being so patient for so long, Granby deserves the best.
10 Hartford Ave., Granby,
860-413-9756

Cure
When the diagnosis is the doldrums, Cure may be the cure — the spiffy newcomer that’s taken over Mathew’s spot in Unionville, has redesigned it and created a totally modern, hip food and drink scene. It‘s the trendy urban rustic look with high ceilings, high-top tables, with a great cherry bar. That’s the place to be. It’s comfortable, accommodating, and a lot of fun. The refreshing thing here is that the bartenders actually know the “cocktail culture” with recipes arriving here — from NY of course — and deliver the goods in style. They offer cocktail counseling, analyze your tastes, and settle you down. So, now you’re having fun too. And you’re talking to some social workers, artists, intellectuals, teachers, interior designers, and some friends you haven’t seen in a long while, and you’re asking yourself, “Where are all these hip, contemporary folks like me coming from?” All better.
55 Mill St., Unionville,
860-321-7821

Dom’s Coffee
With its smooth, minimalist Euro-design interior and lovingly laced lattes, Dom’s is hot among Valley coffee connoisseurs. They found it quickly even though it’s housed in an old fashioned residence along Rte. 44. They have J. Renee java served with an artistic flair, beautiful pastries from la Petite France, and Lithuanian cheeses. And you can linger there with your computer or relax with a friend depending on who or what you like better.
20 W Main St., Avon,
860-878-1905

Avon Country Deli
It’s a shiny December Sunday and there’s a line squeezing in to the deli waiting for a table and a cup of fresh coffee. The question is: How did they all find this place, tucked behind a hill and a dale in Riverdale Farms? The answer is obvious: they serve wonderful breakfasts. And the coffee… it’s the coffee. Though the place is bursting at the seams this morning, the staff handles the crowd with courteous aplomb, and the kitchen turns out the very tasty, well balanced breakfast plates with remarkable efficiency. This should be right at the top of your list on Sunday mornings!
136 Simsbury Rd., Avon,
860-676-2866

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