Food (and Drink) Network

When it comes to dining, Stamford has it all covered: from romantic spots with harbor views and boisterous bar crawls in the heart of downtown to quiet hangouts out in the country. And that goes for all types of cuisine, too. Sure, there’s lots of Italian but all continents are represented here, including the new Aussie kid on the block, Flinders Lane. There are places to take the kids, others where you can celebrate the end of the workday, and yet more that welcome grown-up conversation. With so many options, the only challenge lies in deciding where to go to enjoy a bite. With that, we present our annual food lovers guide to what’s hot in the restaurant scene right now.


GUIDE TO GOOD EATS

Code Breaker for Dining Hours
B: Breakfast BR: Brunch L: Lunch D: Dinner

1 Acuario
78 W. PARK PLACE, 203-998-7722 acuariorestaurant.com
L&D, Daily
Eat in or take out but give this Peruvian gem a try. Bold, eclectic and energetic (the atmosphere and food), it’s just fun. Must eats: Any of the nine ceviches as apps or mains; tostones (twice-fried plantain slices served with a zesty garlicky salsa); and pollo a la brasa, succulent charcoal-grilled chicken, the stuff that makes memories. On a budget? Head over after work for its 4 to 8 p.m. happy hour.

2 Amore Cucina & Bar
921 HOPE ST., 203-357-1066 amorecucinastamford.com
L&D, Daily; BR, Sun.
This is real Italian with yummy food and more-than-ample portions. Start with the pizza: round from the wood-fired oven or square from the gas-fired one. Other must-haves: fried lasagna balls, chicken scarpariello when you’re craving heat, and pappardelle Bolognese. Brunch is all about bottomless Bellinis, mimosas and the Bloody Mary bar.

3 Aria Restaurant
1033 WASHINGTON BLVD. 203-323-2742 ariacuisine.com
L&D, Daily
White table cloths, a menu featuring food from all regions of Italy, and an extensive wine list make it the place for any occasion—from a special event to a casual meal. Fans love the five carpaccios, thin slices of raw meat or fish; the black squid ink risotto, a briny, earthy specialty from Venice; and zuppa di pesce, fish swimming in a lightly spiced wine and tomato broth.

4 Asian Bistro
121 TOWNE ST., 203-998-7333 stamfordasianbistro.com
L&D, Daily
Where do we start explaining this multicultural Asian-fusion joint in Harbor Point? Think sushi (including hand rolls), hibachi, touches of Thai and Chinese, and, thank goodness, some authentic Szechuan when you want to spice things up. We also like that there is plenty of grilled fare on the menu, such as filet mignon and Chilean sea bass.

5 Asiana Bistro
844 HIGH RIDGE RD. 203-724-9333 asianabistro.net
L&D, Daily
Not to be confused with the previous listing, an Asian-fusion destination that fans love for its consistency, friendly staff and fresh food. Must-haves include the drunken noodles, because holy basil, they do them well; the broccoli bathed in a soy ginger sauce when vegetarian is calling your name; and crispy sesame chicken, crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside.

6 Bar Rosso
30 SPRING ST., 203-388-8640 barrossoct.com
L, Tue.–Fri.; D, Tue.–Sun.
Walk in and you are immediately met by the aroma of pizza bubbling away in the wood-fired oven behind the bar. But there’s much more, including a long list of hot and cold shareable plates; a weekday happy hour menu that could be dinner; and desserts that you should savor. Hint: Nutella pizza, cannoli martini, or homemade gelato and sorbet.

7 Bar Zepoli
75 BROAD ST., 203-353-3319 barzepoli.com
L&D, Daily
Big changes came to the former Napa & Co. home. The new owners introduced Italian/American fare and designed the space into a rustic dining-and-gathering area with brick facades, wood trimming and comfy seating. There are small plates (nonna’s meatballs, charred octopus, pasta fagiolle), pizza, interesting salads, and large plates—angus ragu, sausage papardelle, gnocchi pomodoro and mint-crusted lamb. First visit? Order the sea scallop trofie.

8 Barcelona Wine Bar
222 SUMMER ST., 203-348-4800 barcelonawinebar.com
L&D, Daily; BR, Sat.–Sun.
Stamford is so lucky to be one of ten Barcelona spots east of the Mississippi. The owners originally brought the tapas concept to SoNo years ago, and they consistently deliver terrific, seasonal bites in an inviting, friendly setting. Not sure what to try? Sample it all. Love wine? There are forty by-the-glass offerings and a seventeen-page wine menu with pairing suggestions.

9 Bareburger
21 HARBOR POINT RD. 203-890-9886 bareburger.com
L&D, Daily
Organic. Free-range. Grass-fed. Pasture-raised. Descriptive phrases that many crave and define what this Harbor Point eatery offers. We love the “Be My Burger” section, where you pick your patty (from beef, wild boar and duck to black bean and quinoa), bun, cheese, bacon, veggies, sauce and spread. But there’s so much more, all fresh and sustainably raised.

10 Bartaco
222 SUMMER ST., 203-323-8226 bartaco.com
L&D, Daily
Chips, guacamole and fruity margaritas: What more could you want? How about falafel, pork belly, rice bowls, chicken soup, tamales and ceviche? And don’t forget the tacos. There really is something for everyone, from fish, pork, beef, chorizo to veggies and duck with tamarind glaze. Then there are sides: grilled corn, black bean salad and chipotle slaw. Make it a food fest and try it all!

11 Bedford Thai
77 BEDFORD ST., 203-595-5577 bedfordthai.com
L&D, Daily
This newest kid on the Bedford Street block is already gaining rave reviews and drawing crowds, evidenced about every night of the week. There’s lots to choose from but the hands-down faves are the curries: vegetable, tofu, chicken, beef or shrimp served nine different ways, from mild to fiery. Bring your appetite to savor fresh food, large servings and great prices, served by a friendly, knowledgeable and accommodating staff.


COFFEE MATES

WAKE-UP CALL
Rising and dining has never looked so good! Three hot spots where you can start the day right. Plus, some popular BREAKFAST items off their morning menus.

LORCA | open since 2012
125 BEDFORD ST., 203-504-2847 lorcastamford.com
B,L&D, Daily
This cute-as-a-button coffee shop is exactly what every city needs. If you want to make friends at the office, pick up a box of hot coffee. Lots to satisfy tea lovers, too, and the baked goods, especially churros (fried dough with dipping sauce) and alfajores (butter cookies with dulce de leche) are must-haves. There’s also breakfast and lunch sandwiches that make this place sparkle.

  • Lorca’s latte is its most popular coffee, along with the cortado.
  • The manchego sage pesto sandwich is a must-order, either for breakfast or lunch.
  • Craving something sweet? Try the no-butter, orange olive oil cake, made with orange rinds, orange juice and yogurt.


ELM STREET DINER
| open since 1987
463 ELM ST., 203-325-1141 elmstreetdiner.com
B,L&D, Mon.–Sat.; BR, Sun.
Sometimes only diner food will do, and when that urge hits, head here. Whether you lean toward sweet or savory, this menu is bound to have something calling your name. Consider any of the following: donut sundaes, Elm Street fries with melted mozz, chopped bacon and BBQ ranch dressing, cinnamon toast crunch milkshakes, wild mushroom truffle flatbreads, five layer chocolate cake. We could go on. But if there is one thing this gem is known for, it’s the breakfast-all-day menu, chock-full of eggs, omelettes, benedicts, buttermilk pancakes, French toasts, Belgian waffles and more.

  • Elm Street’s Greek yogurt waffle is topped with fresh fruit, honey, granola and powdered sugar.
  • Angelo’s homemade, old-fashioned doughnuts, prepared plain or powdered with cinammon


GRANOLA BAR
| open since 2017
700 CANAL ST., 203-883-0304 thegranolabarct.com
B&L, Daily
Of course there’s granola and baked goods, but there’s so much more here. A favorite: avocado toast, done your way. Naked, avocado is simply drizzled with olive oil and sea salt on toasted multigrain bread. Or, you can add an egg and crushed red pepper. The location is fun and casual, serving all the egg dishes, parfaits, smoothies and oatmeal you may crave in the a.m. Granted, it is a take-out spot, but this makes it easier to get to work on time.

  • The original granola bar. It is also made with white chocolate and cranberry or pretzel and M&M’s, or served with almond butter and jelly or nutella
  • The popular avocado toast, here served with a fried egg. If you’re feeling spicy, you can also top it with feta and crush red pepper flakes, and wash it down with an espresso.

12 Bobby V’s Restaurant & Sports Bar
268 ATLANTIC ST., 203-883-4320 bobbyvsrestaurant.com
L&D, Daily
Hard to believe Bobby Valentine left his perch on Columbus Park but he did, and went bigger and better. Too-many-to-count huge flatscreens; a partnership with Sportech Venues so you can place your bets on horse/greyhound races and jai alai; an indoor golf simulator; and all manner of bar food, craft beer, cocktails and wine. Time to check out these new digs.

13 Boothbay Lobster Co.
14 HARBOR POINT RD. 203-870-9565 boothbaylobster.com
L&D, Daily
If you’re looking for no-frills wicked fish, your search is over. This seafood is so fresh, it practically jumps out of the ocean and onto your plate. Of course there’s lobster, in many forms including naked and in mac & cheese, but there’s also clams, mussels, crab, tuna and octopus, and some non-fish offerings like pork belly, plus interesting salads. It’s really casual and laid-back, just like Maine.

14 Brasitas
954 E. MAIN ST., 203-323-3176 brasitas.com
L&D, Daily
How can you not love a place that starts your meal with a basket of plantain chips and super yummy salsa? When it opened in 1999, it was one of the area’s first Nuevo Latino restaurants, and quickly began accumulating a loyal following. It’s small, parking is often a few blocks away, but who’s complaining? Don’t leave without sampling ceviche, mussels with linguiça and a pitcher of sangria.

15 Brother Jimmy’s BBQ
112 BEDFORD ST., 203-504-8123 brotherjimmys.com
L&D, Daily
Rustic and casual, it’s a slice of North Carolina. Start with hush puppies with maple butter, then opt for a BBQ platter with Carolina pulled pork or the baby back ribs, add a few sides and enjoy the coleslaw and cornbread that comes with it. It’s messy, sure, but if it wasn’t, then it wouldn’t be real.

16 Café Oo La La
2325 SUMMER ST., 203-353-3300 cafeoolala.com
B&L, Daily
Yay! Breakfast all day! Cereals, yogurt, omelets griddle cakes, and breakfast sandwiches, all represented in some really creative ways. There’s also lots of salads, hearty sandwiches—like the Cuban, baked breaded eggplant or filet mignon with horseradish cream —and coffee and tea to match any mood.

17 Café Silvium
371 SHIPPAN AVE., 203-324-1651 cafesilviumct.com
L&D, Mon.–Sat.
For sixteen years, the brothers Petrafesa have fed customers huge portions of incredible Italian fare. Newbies wonder about Rigatoni Gnact Gnact, but after tasting this pasta with prosciutto/pancetta/sausage in vodka sauce, they know they met their new BFFs. Always busy, so expect to wait for a table. When you can’t decide what to order, fear not: You’ll return to try something different.

18 Cantina Mexicana
488 SUMMER ST., 203-553-9978 cantinamex.com
L&D, Daily
Exactly what Stamford needed: upscale Mexican! If you’re hankering for the usual fare, you’ll find  the nachos, guacamole, quesadillas, burritos and fajitas you’d expect. Feeling a bit sophisticated? How about grilled salmon with roasted poblano cream sauce, skirt steak with chimichurri, or pan-seared shrimp swimming in a lemon butter and white wine sauce. Personally, we wouldn’t leave without a taste of the mole de olla soup—beef ribs and veggies in a rich broth.

19 Cantina Tequila Bar & Southwest Grill
135 BEDFORD ST., 203-674-5652 cantinastamford.com
L&D, Daily
Tequila first! There’s lots to choose from, plus eleven different margaritas, including the fan favorite, the Blood Orange. There’s a Tex-Mex menu to go with all that drinking, from classic guacamole (try the mango habanero) and tacos (three per order from mix-and-match menu). There’s just one rule: Come hungry.

20 Capital Grille
230 TRESSER BLVD. 203-967-0000 thecapitalgrille.com
L, Mon.–Fri.; D, Daily
So what if it’s a chain; the usual connotation does not apply to this upscale restaurant, which prepares everything—beef, poultry, fish, soups, salads and, of course, dessert—to perfection. There really is something for everyone. Pricey? Sure. But honestly worth every cent. Plus, a big shout-out to the waitstaff: professional and knowledgeable. With impeccable demeanor, they know how to turn a meal into a special occasion.

21 Capriccio Café
189 BEDFORD ST., 203-356-9819 capriccio-cafe.com
L&D, Daily; BR, Sat.–Sun.
When it’s warm out, this outdoor patio café under lime-green umbrellas is the place to hang out. But it’s fun year-round (albeit tiny inside). It’s casual and trendy, offering lots of paninis, salads, pizzas and pastas, served by a waitstaff that couldn’t be friendlier. Weekend wine brunches have half-priced bottles. And leave room for dessert, especially the crème brulée or the Nutella crêpes with ice cream.

22 Casa Villa
866 E. MAIN ST., 203-348-0622
182 W. MAIN ST., 203-323-1721
casavillarestaurant.com
L&D, Daily
For those in search of authentic Mexican, this darling of downtown is for you, as it is for office employees since delivery is fast and the cost affordable. Both restaurants are casual, the staff is friendly, and the glorious food makes for easy takeout. Just know that parking can be a challenge at both places, a small price to pay for eating at this local gem.

23 Cask Republic
191 SUMMER ST., 203-348-2275 caskrepublic.com
L&D, Daily; BR, Sat.–Sun.

24 Chez Vous Bistro
188 BEDFORD ST., 203-540-8770 chezvousbistro.com
L&D, Daily; BR, Sun.

25 The Cheesecake Factory
230 TRESSER BLVD. 203-316-0649 thecheesecakefactory.com
L&D, Daily; BR, Sun.
The menu is huge—more than 250 offerings—so leave time to check it out. Not to fret, though, as there is a Skinnylicious section on the menu, and this is where you find the best bargain: chicken lettuce wrap tacos with three sauces is our fave. Or, if sweet is what you crave, try the cheesecake. With almost forty varieties, there’s bound to be one just for you.

26 Cilantro
60 ATLANTIC ST., 203-914-1666 cilantrostamford.com
L&D, Daily
Once you find the place—up a long flight of stairs across from the Palace Theatre—you’re in for a treat. This Latin fusion eatery sets the mood with complimentary plantains and salsa. If you want something  fresh and light, try the watercress salad. Next opt for traditional ropa vieja (shredded beef), the tequila-brined pork chop or the seared red snapper over fava beans. Be sure to leave room for tres leches with caramelized bananas.

27 Coalhouse Pizza
85 HIGH RIDGE RD. 203-977-7700 coalhousepizza.com
L&D, Daily
Coal has fired the ovens in Naples, Italy, for almost 500 years, and that is exactly how it’s done here, too. Except the pizza names are different: Queen Bee, Misterioso, Smokestack Lightning, Knock Me a Kiss, to name a few. Want something else? How about salads, sandwiches, ribs, wings, burgers and dogs plus seventy-two craft beers on tap.

28 Columbus Park Trattoria
205 MAIN ST., 203-967-9191 columbusparktrattoria.com
L, Mon–Fri.; D, Mon.–Sat.
Enter and you know there’s some really special Italian food simmering in the kitchen—for the past thirty-two years! We’ve tried everything, and nothing has ever failed to impress. The cured meats and cheese are a wonderful place to start your eating adventure. Then the homemade or dry pasta, fish, poultry, veal, lamb or beef, or how about some fiery hot cherry peppers as a side? Monday or Tuesday, wine bottles are half-priced.

29 Coromandel
68 BROAD ST., 203-964-1010 coromandelcuisine.com
L&D, Daily
You’ll find all the Indian dishes you would expect plus so much more, including a menu of flavorful low-fat offerings. Be sure to order one of the dozen breads, from traditional naan to one stuffed with with hot peppers. It’s a huge menu that takes time to peruse. At lunch, just bring your appetite and enjoy the buffet.

30 Cotto Wine Bar + Restaurant
51 BANK ST., 203-914-1400 cottowinebar.com
L&D, Daily; BR, Sat.–Sun.
Since the name of this Roman outpost starts with wine, we will too: More than 400 labels. As for food, plenty of shares. You can choose casual—paninis, pizza, pasta—or formal, with offerings like tuna steak or chicken scarpariello. At brunch, try the dirty bird wrap; visit to find out what it is. Mangia!

31 Crab Shell
46 SOUTHFIELD AVE. 203-967-7229 crabshell.com
L&D, Daily
This restaurant has been attracting fans to Stamford’s waterfront since 1989, long before there was a Harbor Point. It’s lively and crowded year-round. In warm weather, it’s all about eating al fresco, at the water’s edge. The menu is heavy on fish, although there’s plenty offered to satisfy landlubbers. And for boaters, there are slips to park your boats.

32 Del Frisco’s Grille
101 BROAD ST., 203-890-9601 delfriscosgrille.com/stamford
L&D, Daily
A fun, large, trendy locale with perfectly designed acoustics so you don’t have to shout. Start with Food to Fight Over, and include cheesesteak eggrolls in your order. Look for daily specials, like chicken pot pie or baby back ribs. Whatever you do, leave room for the dessert, especially the coconut cream pie that’s at least five-inches high. You’ve been warned!

33 Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
845 CANAL ST., 203-517-3272 dinosaurbarbque.com
L&D, Daily
It’s big, noisy, fun and the place to bring the kids because no matter how loud they are, their noise blends in. They do barbecue right here—flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth meats and poultry. Choose one, or pick your own combo. If you’re a group of four to six, consider the $69.99 family meal: whole chicken, full rack of ribs, a pound of pork or brisket, three sides and corn bread.

34 Elm Street Diner
463 ELM ST., 203-325-1141 elmstreetdiner.com
B, L&D, Daily

35 Eos Greek Cuisine
490 SUMMER ST., 203-569-6250 eosgreekcuisine.com
L&D, Tue.–Sun.

36 The Fez
227 SUMMER ST., 203-324-3391 fezeg.com
L, Thu.–Sat.; D, Tue.–Sat.
Moroccan-inspired food. Open mic Tuesdays with half-priced wine bottles. On the weekend, live entertainment. Belly dancing with karaoke. It’s clear the rule is to have fun here, while sampling some flavorful fare. If you’ve never tasted this Mediterranean cuisine, come with friends, order lots and share dishes like caramelized cauliflower, hummus with avjar (roasted red pepper purée), any of five different kabobs, or the tagine (stew cooked in an earthenware pot).

37 Fiesta on Main
249 MAIN ST., 203-323-4300 fiestaatlantic.com
L&D, Daily
Recently relocated from Atlantic Street, it’s a favorite with locals who want generous portions of authentic Peruvian cuisine at terrific prices. Order anything with their spicy aji sauce, because their version is one of the best around. That goes also for anything from their new pisco bar.

38 F.I.S.H.
245 BEDFORD ST., 203-724-9300 fishstamford.com
L&D, Daily; BR, Sun.
The owners know how we like to eat, as the menu is divided into five “dinner” options—raw bar, salad, appetizers, Naked Fish, modern comfort food—to match your appetite. Any combo is encouraged, but be sure to try the Naked Fish. First, choose any of eight filets; have it pan-seared, grilled or blackened; top it with any of eight sauces; and crust it with five options. Now that’s what we call having a choice!


DECOR

SIT & STAY

A restaurant’s INTERIOR DESIGN contributes so much to a visitor’s dining experience. Here, professional decorator, Carey Karlan, tells us what works in these popular spots.

FLINDERS LANE | open since 2017
“There is an exciting, slightly edgy loft-like vibe here from the moment you walk in the door. The soaring ceilings, use of multiple industrial light fixtures and open volume of space give this a hip downtown feel.”

  • “The Bentwood style chairs have a modern flair when lacquered in a dark stain.”
  • “The whimsical neon signs soften the industrial look.”
  • “The simplicity of the solid wood bar grounds you while you have full vantage of the kitchen.”


MADONIA
| open since 2009
“There is a very soothing feel to this space. It’s about simplicity and natural materials that give it a clean and contemporary look. Pairing metal with wood on chair backs and brushed fabric cushions with crisp white table linens give it a want-to-stay-awhile feeling.”

  • “Texture and patterns play off one another with the parquet panels that frame the wall sconces. Using shades instead of drapes on the windows allows for natural light to drift in.”
  • “These are not your grandmother Chianti bottles. Instead, they are a more chic way to enhance the lighting.”
  • “Brown on brown really works here and acts as a blank canvas for the oil painting with lively scene that richly comes to life.”


PRIME
| open since 2016
“You feel transported to another place when entering this bar area, which has this hip, yet retro, vibe. It’s all about bringing the outdoors in. I love the subtle details that are counterbalanced, like a driftwood ceiling paired with black and white bistro tile flooring and shutter paneling.”

  • “Mixing of materials occurs seamlessly with a marble topped bar juxtaposed with stainless bar stools that are softened when a black runner is put underneath. These sculptural, mid-century open stools [also] allow the client to be the focal point instead of the furniture.”
  • “Using menswear fabrications on banquets and awning striped fabrics on chairs punctuated with ceramic lamps gives it a clean, breezy look.”


CAPITAL GRILLE
| open since 2008
“This space exudes all the warmth, masculinity and quality of a traditional eating club without any of the stuffiness that can be associated with it.”

  • “Lighting on the table adds to the formality but also lends a little intimacy to the conversation.”
  • “A little layering of patterns on the carpeting gives it a more modern menswear take.”
  • “The few surprising portraits provide a refreshing modern twist to a time-honored style that comforts and empowers.”

Editor’s Note:
Pictured to the left is a portrait of Harriet Beecher Stowe. In the nearby bar, patrons will find portraits of Mark Twain and Jackie Robinson.


Carey Karlan
| careykarlan.com
Award winning interior designer and principal of the Stamford-based firm, Last Detail. For more than twenty years, Karlan has creating timeless interiors around Fairfield and Westchester Counties. Karlan is the 2017 A-List Award winner of the Kids’ Bedroom category.


40 Flinders Lane
184 SUMMER ST., 203-323-3137 flinderslane-nyc.com
D, Daily; BR Sat.–Sun.
This Aussie restaurant made its mark in NYC, and thankfully, our city caught its eye. The 5 to 7 p.m. daily happy hour is a good time to check it out, with $1 oysters and $6 wine/cocktails. The eclectic food is a mix of modern Australian influenced by Southeast Asian, British, Greek and Italian. Feeling adventurous? Try Feed Me at $55 each. The chef chooses four courses; you sit back and enjoy.

41 Fortina
120 WASHINGTON BLVD., 203-703-9080 fortinapizza.com/stamford
L&D, Daily
Chic and noisy, big windows, lots of wood, and usually crowded, making this a lively place to be. There’s pizza, always a good bet. But the starters are where many get lost. Fried meatballs. Pickled veggies. Fried mozz. Arancini. Also lots of pasta choices, and entrées like grilled half chicken and wood-roasted branzino. Dessert? The brown butter bread pudding with maple mascarpone.

42 Gaucho
78 W. PARK PL., 203-595-5666 gauchostamford.com
L&D, Daily; BR, Sat.–Sun.

43 Granola Bar
700 CANAL ST., 203-883-0304 thegranolabarct.com
B&L, Daily

44 Harlan Social
121 TOWNE ST., 203-883-8000 harlansocial.com
L&D, Daily

45 Hudson Grille
128 BEDFORD ST. 203-883-8600 hudsongrillect.com
L&D, Daily
This modern American spot has a vibrant bar scene, lovely dining room and, during warm weather, enjoyable al fresco eating. Start with crispy fish tacos or the truffle fries, and then move on to the chipotle-spiced chicken breast, lobster roll or the prime burger topped with Vermont cheddar and bacon. Want something really different? Three words: Pecan Peach Manhattan.

46 Judy’s Bar & Kitchen
927 HIGH RIDGE RD. 203-890-9999 judysbarandkitchen.com
L&D, Daily; BR, Sun.
Tabouli Grill’s little sister, and like most siblings, these two are polar opposites. Chef/owner Judith Roll decided our city needed authentic Southern comfort, and that’s what you’ll find here: House-smoked meats, massive sandwiches (how about that chicken and waffle!), and low-country suppers such as shrimp and grits, Cajun catfish stew and fried chicken. Make a reservation for Sunday brunch; one look at the menu and we bet you’ll be back for more.

47 Kashi
131 SUMMER ST., 203-890-9995 kashijapanese.com
L, Mon.–Sat.; D, Daily
If you like Japanese food, check out this newbie. A great time to begin is happy hour, when you can enjoy signature rolls and appetizers with your drink of choice. If you’re on a budget, they offer deals Monday through Thursday, like Tuesday’s two signature rolls for $20. The menu is huge; in addition to sushi, rolls and sashimi, there’s teriyaki, tempura and hibachi.

48 Kiku Sushi
1074 HOPE ST., 203-609-0388 stamfordkikusushi.com
L, Mon.–Sat.; D, Daily

49 Kona Grill
230 TRESSER BLVD. 203-324-5700 konagrill.com
L&D, Daily
This national Asian/American chain knows how to do happy hour, with specialty drinks and twenty-eight appetizers at reduced prices. There’s even a gluten-free menu. It’s modern and busy, with an open kitchen that provides entertainment. Consider starting with the non-Asian smoked gouda fondue served with pretzel and granny smith apple bites. Then move on to sushi, and call it dinner.

50 Kotobuki Japanese Cuisine
457 SUMMER ST., 203-359-4747 kotobukijapaneserestaurant.com
L, Mon–Fri.; D, Daily
This old-school Japanese joint has been here for twenty-seven years; many say here’s where they tasted their first sushi. Consistently good food with a sake list that will impress. Presentation is perfect, and we cannot help but order some of the special rolls, like Swampy (spicy tuna and cucumber wrapped inside out with seaweed salad and spicy caviar) and Dynamite (raw scallops and masago with spicy mayo).

51 Le Pain Quotidien
711 CANAL ST., 203-883-1774 lepainquotidien.com
B, L&D, Daily
In Europe, a day without fresh-baked bread is unheard of, so the translation of this café’s name—the daily bread—makes perfect sense. At breakfast or brunch, enjoy a croissant, eggs, oatmeal or granola, or choose from an assortment of gluten-free muffins. Lunch? it’s all about soups, salads and tartines. Afternoon coffee or tea? Pastries and tarts, charcuterie and cheese, and maybe a slice of quiche. It’s a comfy, sweet place to take a break.

52 Little Buddha
2270 SUMMER ST., 203-356-9166 littlebuddhact.com
L&D, Daily
This Thai location across the street from Ridgeway is small in size, but makes up for it with large portions of authentic food. An interesting starter is Cauliflower Manchurian in a lightly tangy sauce. Larb Chicken is a must if it’s offered, and this does not disappoint—nicely spiced chicken with mint and red chilies. Also, Duck Ga-Prow (chilies, garlic, onions, peppers, mushroom and basil) is simply wonderful.

53 Lorca
125 BEDFORD ST., 203-504-2847 lorcastamford.com
B, L&D, Daily

54 Lucky’s Classic Burger & Malt Shop
290 BEDFORD ST., 203-978-0268 luckysclassic.com
L&D, Mon.–Fri.; BR, Sat.–Sun.
Like milkshakes? Got them. How about spiked ones? Got them, too! Monday through Friday, 3 to 7 p.m., it’s happy hour, with appetizers and beverages offered. During warm months, the fun moves outside. As for the main menu, it’s what you would expect from a soda fountain—burgers, hot dogs, mac & cheese, salads, tacos and quesadillas.


STIR IT UP

Mix masters unveil their most popular COCKTAILS, all served during happy hour, with dinner and late into the night

HARLAN SOCIAL | open since 2012
121 TOWNE ST., 203-883-8000 harlansocial.com
L&D, Daily; BR, Sun.
This trendy spot in Harbor Point is doing something unique and smart: a reverse happy hour Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights, 9 p.m. to closing, with its own menu and half-priced drinks. A great idea, but we say you go for lunch and dinner too, because the refined gastropub menu is worth repeated tastings. Charcuterie boards, inventive appetizers and artisan cheeses add to the gourmet experience. Did we mention they offer one of the best burgers in town?

  • Made with Prosecco, St. Germain and bitters, it’s no wonder the Rosy Cheek is so popular.
  • Tito’s Vodka is the key ingredient in the Dirty Pickle, mixed with a splash of olive juice and garnished with pickled green beans.


CASK REPUBLIC
| open since 2013
191 SUMMER ST., 203-348-2275 caskrepublic.com
L&D, Daily; BR, Sun.
It’s a bar, but the food is way above others in this class, with trendy meat and cheese boards, small plates, wood-fired flatbreads, salads and main courses. For a decadent beginning, try the Gorgonzola fondue and the Bavarian soft pretzel, or the Korean BBQ Wings. With entrées that include slow braised short ribs and Pan-Seared Freebird Half Chicken, this is comfort-food central. Oh, and here you have another contender for the best burger in town.

  • The 191, a Bulleit Rye and Aperol cocktail that is named after this location’s address on Summer Street
  • The Curtain Call, a blend of Redemption rye, Fernet Branca, Licor 43 and simple syrup


TABLE 104 OSTERIA & BAR
| open since 2016
299 LONG RIDGE RD., 203-388-8898 table104stamford.com
L, Mon.–Sat.; D, Daily; BR, Sun.
All wood, grays and browns, it’s chic and comforting, plus easy parking makes it an inviting location to visit instead of driving by on your way home. Here you will enjoy a Tuscan vibe, both in atmosphere and food—crusty bread and rich olive oil, charcuterie and cicchetti, pizza and pasta. What you order is up to you, as you can’t go wrong in this cozy hot spot. Bonus? The portions are huge!

  • The 104 Negroni Americano, Bulleit Bourbon, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, Campari. “We barrel-age this cocktail in-house in a small bourbon cask,” says managing partner Walter Cappelli, “This process makes it smoother and easier to enjoy.”
  • Fried olives, served with a harissa sauce, are one of the most popular items on the starter menu.

55 MacKenzie’s Bar & Grill
970 HIGH RIDGE RD., 203-322-9888 mackenziesstamford.com
L&D, Daily
This is the place in Stamford where everyone knows your name. It boasts a wonderfully friendly staff, a well-stocked bar and rocking burgers and fries. But there’s more—typical bar food, soups, chowders, sliders and all kinds of salads. Plus eight flatscreens, which makes the late-night bar menu, available until midnight, a must.

56 Madonia Restaurant and Bar
1297 LONG RIDGE RD. 203-322-8870 madoniarestaurant.com
L&D, Tue.–Sun.; BR, Sun.
Magical Mediterranean fare is the experience at this chic restaurant just north of the Merritt. Fresh, seasonal ingredients are the focus, all perfectly cooked and seasoned. Many entrées can be ordered as a small or large plate, encouraging sampling that is perfect for smaller appetites, too. From pasta and risotto to steak and salmon, the menu is varied and lovely.

57 Mexicue
15 HARBOR POINT RD. mexicue.com
With three sisters in NYC, this yet-to-open location on the site of the former Paloma will serve a bold mix of Mexican and American barbecue. You’ll find offerings like pulled pork tacos, spicy brisket enchiladas, burnt ends chili burritos and pulled pork with green chili queso. The drinks, with a big focus on bourbon and tequila, are bound to make dining so much more interesting.

58 Misto
1092 HOPE ST., 203-998-7296 mistostreetfood.com
L&D, Daily
It bills itself as “Italian Street Food,” and that means pizza—New York, Sicilian and gluten-free styles—arancini, pizza fritta, meatballs, stuffed pepper, kebabs, to name a few. You’ll also find salads with a build-your-own option, pasta and sandwiches, and for kids, Italian fare plus all-American offerings, like burgers and chicken fingers. Be sure to step next door for some gelato and espresso.

59 Navaratna
133 ATLANTIC ST., 203-348-1070 navaratnact.com
L&D, Daily
This vegetarian outpost knows how to transform vegetables, lentils and rice into substantial fare. Mulligatawny soup is a treasure; pair it with chole bhatura (deep-fried soft bread) and you have a hearty, healthy meal. Or try a curry, like spicy paruppu urundai kulambu (steamed lentil balls) from the South, or chana masala (chickpeas, onions and tomatoes) from the North. The staff is super friendly, knowledgeable, and if you have a dietary restriction, fast to help you out.

60 Noir Stamford
225 SUMMER ST., 203-323-2711 noirstamford.com
D, Tue–Sat.; BR, Sun
This cozy French bistro could be smack in the middle of Paris. It’s tiny—only thirty-four seats—but if an intimate dining experience is what you’re on the lookout for, this is your place. The menu is small, with enough variety to appeal to all. Start with the assorted cheeses and cured meat plate; a small plate, like mussels; and a flatbread. Plenty more available, like burgers, sandwiches, steak, fish and chicken choices.

61 Olio Restaurant
934 HOPE ST., 203- 817-0303 oliostamford.com
L, Wed.–Fri.; D, Tue.–Sun.; BR, Sat.–Sun.
Olio is that casual, lovely place every neighborhood needs. Comfortable. Friendly. Great food. They call dinner supper! If you’re in the mood for soup, sample theirs. Or try the crispy octopus or the coconut sugarcane prawns napped with guava tomato jalapeño jam. Each entrée sounds so inviting it is almost impossible to choose, although the pan-roasted sea scallops are perfection and the roasted chicken a delight.

62 Pellicci’s Ristorante
96 STILLWATER AVE. 203-323-2542 pelliccis.com
L&D, Daily
Happy seventieth birthday Pellicci’s! There is something for everyone here–from traditional Italian fare like ravioli, lasagna and gnocchi, to steaks, chops, chicken and veal. At $20.95 each, the Original Family-Style Dinner is a bargain: green salad, cherry pepper salad, baked chicken and potatoes, penne and ricotta, and sausage and peppers. When you go, wish them happy birthday from us.

63 Pieology
230 TRESSER BLVD. 203-388-7669 pieology.com
L&D, Daily
Pizza lovers rejoice! This new fast-casual location is for the pickiest among us. Order any of their Crowd Pleaser creations—hello fire-grilled BBQ chicken—or better yet, opt for the Custom Pies option. It allows you to pick your crust, sauce, cheese, protein and fresh vegetables in whatever combination your heart desires. There are no rules so go lean or pile it on, as creativity is strongly encouraged.

64 Plan B Burger Bar
230 TRESSER BLVD. 203-964-8353 burgersbeerbourbon.com
L&D, Daily
Burger aficionados take note: They grind their beef twice daily. Here they serve eleven different varieties of beef burgers, plus eight no-beef-here, some with pork and sausage, others with veggies and fish. If burgers are not your thing, no worries: There’s lots more. The B also stands for bourbon and beer, again with lots of choices. It’s friendly, the service is good, and it’s perfect for the whole family.

65 Prime
78 SOUTHFIELD AVE. 203-817-0700 restaurantprime.com/stamford
L, Mon.–Sat.; D, Daily; BR, Sun.
Bring your happy-time wallet and be prepared to be wowed. There’s a raw bar and a seafood bar. There’s sushi, made by chefs you pass on your way to your table. There’s surf and there’s turf.  And steaks and chops, made richer with eight enhancements—crusts, cheeses, butters and sauces. And there are sides, too. But leave room for dessert, like the S’mores Sundae and chocolate fudge cake.

66 Quattro Pazzi
269 BEDFORD ST., 203-324-7000 quattropazzi.com
L&D, Daily
This bi-level Italian trattoria is a comfortable, friendly place that does food well. If salad calls, ask for shaved brussels sprouts with buratta, kale, cranberries, butternut squash, carrots, beets—and add chicken, salmon or shrimp to make it an entrée. Their fresh pasta dishes never fail, and any can be made with gluten-free pasta. And we haven’t even gotten to the main course, a wonderful mix of fish, chicken, veal and beef.


GOING GLOBAL

More than ever, Stamford restaurants are offering authentic menus and serving dishes from ALL CONTINENTS. Here are just a few to check out for a taste of the real thing.

FRANCE CHEZ VOUS
Elegant, authentic French, served in a bistro setting that makes you want to shout “c’est magnifique.” Comfort defines the food—hello French onion soup! Order a la carte or check out the prix fixe dinners (appetizer, main and a glass of wine); at $25, they are a steal. The $20 prix fixe brunch comes with a mimosa or Blood Mary. And don’t skip the coffee!

188 BEDFORD ST., 203-540-8770 chezvousbistro.com
L&D, Daily; BR, Sun.


Greece
EOS
There’s something for everyone at this contemporary joint, but if you want to feel like you’re at an island café, start with the garithes (grilled shrimp with olive oil and lemon) and follow it with the yiouvetsi, braised lamb shank with creamy orzo, a light tomato sauce and grated cheese. Opa!

490 SUMMER ST., 203-569-6250 eosgreekcuisine.com
L&D, Tue.–Sun.


ARGENTINA
GAUCHO
A genuine South American steakhouse serving a typical menu that is heavy on beef, with some pasta offered. Our suggestions? Start with empanadas and follow with The Argentine Mix Grill: skirt steak, short rib, sweetbreads and black sausage plus two sides—go with rice and steamed asparagus.

78 W. PARK PL., 203-595-5666 gauchostamford.com
L&D, Daily; BR, Sat.–Sun.


ETHIOPIA
TEFF
Named after a fine grain grown in East Africa, Teff serves an authentic menu of tibs (sautéed dishes) and aletchas and wats (stews, mild to spicy). Whether you lean vegan or favor meat, injera, a gluten-free crepe is served with each course.

113 W. MAIN ST. 203-998-7474, teffstamford.com
D, Wed.–Sat.


JAPAN
KIKU SUSHI
No frills here, just close-to-perfect Japanese cuisine (with a smattering of Thai). Start with either the yellowtail jalapeño or tuna avocado salad. After that, share a special roll, followed by a selection from the sushi and sashimi menu. Why? Those in the know say Kiku’s fish is the freshest around.

1074 HOPE ST. 203-609-0388 stamfordkikusushi.com
L, Mon.–Sat.; D, Daily


67 Rascal Flatts
230 TRESSER BLVD. 203-388-7485 rfrestaurants.com
L&D, Daily
A whole lot of country recently came to the Stamford Town Center. The Nashville playlist—heavy on the trio’s songs—and the menu are all-American. Love the Shared and Snacks, like Southern-style pickles, chicken corn chowder and avocado crab toast; salads, like kale or potato; big plates of grilled salmon, ribs, brisket or chicken and waffles; and desserts like Nutella doughnuts, all hard to pass up.

68 Remo’s Brick Oven Pizza Co.
35 BEDFORD ST., 203-973-0077 remospizza.com
L&D, Daily
We know it has pizza in its name, but a meal here should begin with the Gorgonzola bread and grilled calamari. Then move on to a salad, pasta or entrée like chicken parm or sausage and peppers. Or just have pizza, fresh from their brick oven, prepared with lots of topping choices. If you can’t decide which one to order, try the Four Seasons, with each pie quarter seasoned with a different topping.

69 Riko’s Pizza
886 HOPE ST., 203-614-9999
170 SELLECK ST., 203-674-8970
rikospizza.com
L&D, Daily
Both locations serve up thin-crust pizzas—eight specialty pies, and the have-it-your-way pie—with twenty-six topping choices; eleven salad pizzas, for those who want both; a huge salad selection; and four different kinds of wings. Whatever you order, leave some room for the Reese’s peanut butter pie—it’s better than it sounds, if that’s possible.

70 Riviera Maya
20 SUMMER ST., 203-588-9400 rivieramayact.com
L&D, Daily
Ready for fun? Mariachi bands on Fridays. Happy hour 4 to 7 p.m. nightly except Saturday, with half-priced drinks and specially priced appetizers. Or order all manner of Tex-Mex favorites—quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas and chimichangas, or combo platter with a little of everything. The house specialties are extensive—steak taquitos, chiles rellenos and mixed tamales—plus the paellas, vegetarian dishes, grilled items and seafood selections are a welcome surprise.

71 Siena Ristorante
519 SUMMER ST., 203-351-0898 sienastamford.com
L&D, Mon.–Fri.; D, Sat.
Calming and lovely, this Italian ristorante has been a nice place to visit for more than two decades. White tablecloths, great service, generous pours, and then there’s the food—tasty! If octopus is your thing, try their grilled version; fans tell us it cannot be topped. Mains feature chicken, veal, pork, beef and fish, and pastas are homemade or imported. Order a la carte or the three-course prix fixe, a real bargain.

72 Sign of the Whale
6 HARBOR POINT RD. 203-883-8282 signofthewhalect.com
L&D, Daily; BR, Sun.
It’s fun, busy, and the rooftop bar is where sun revelers go to hang out. The food is a step above traditional bar fare, and includes whipped ricotta, blistered shishito peppers, fig and prosciutto pizza, crab cake or Cuban sandwiches. Fave sides of spaetzle, corn and peas, or garlic Parmesan fries are bound to tempt you back. Sunday brunch offers bottomless mimosas and peach Bellinis, and a whole bunch of specialty shots like Jameson and butterscotch schnapps with a chaser of OJ.

73 Table 104 Osteria & Bar
299 LONG RIDGE RD., 203-388-8898, table104stamford.com
L, Mon.–Sat.; D, Daily; BR, Sun.

74 Tabouli Grill
59 HIGH RIDGE RD. 203-504-8888 tabouligrill.com
L&D, Daily
Small, casual and comfortable, this is the place to go when craving Israeli and Middle Eastern fare. Lots of vegetarian options, which are always appreciated. Newbies could be intimidated by the offerings, but the staff understands and is always willing to explain what tahini, tabouli, masabacha, lebneh, shawarma, shawafel and foul (hummus with fava bean) are all about.

75 Tawa
487 GLENBROOK RD. 203-359-8977 tawaonline.com
L&D, Daily; BR, Sat.–Sun.
Chef/owner Kausik Roy was a precocious child who refused to eat some of his family’s traditional food, finding it soggy and slimy. He reworked those recipes and now makes them into memorable meals. The lunch buffet is a steal, while the weekend “grand” buffet is all you need to eat that day. Of course, there is always a la carte. As for the staff: They sure know how to make you feel at home.

76 Teff
113 W. MAIN ST., 203-998-7474 teffstamford.com
D, Wed.–Sat.

77 Tengda Asian Bistro
235 BEDFORD ST., 203-353-8005 tengdaasian.com
L&D, Daily
Eat in. Take out. Whichever. But if you’re jonesing for Chinese and Japanese—with some Thai offerings thrown in—this is for you. Huge pieces of meat (no skimping here) napped with perfectly seasoned sauces make the Chinese fare extra special. You can order rolls in the traditional log shape or hand-rolled in a cone shape. And everything is so very fresh.

78 Tigín Irish Pub
175 BEDFORD ST., 203-353-8444 tiginirishpub.com
L&D, Daily; BR, Sat.–Sun.
A Bedford Street mainstay for years, where the scene is lively, no matter the time. Check it out on Fridays, when burgers are buy-one-get-a-second half-price at lunch, (same deal at dinner for fish and chips). You’ll also find traditional Irish food like boxty (potato pancake wrapped around a filling), shepherd’s pie, corned beef and Irish breakfast all day. Soccer fan? You’ll find your match playing here at any of eight flatscreens.

79 Villa Italia Ristorante & Bar
26 MILL RIVER ST., 203-348-7742 villaitaliastamford.com
L&D, Mon.–Fri.; D, Daily
Old-school Italian, complete with white tablecloths, a very attentive staff and food just like nonna used to make. All your old friends are here: fettuccine carbonara, lasagna Bolognese, penne vodka, fried calamari, meatballs and arancini. But there are some surprises, too, like roasted beets and goat cheese salad, vegetable lasagna, lobster ravioli and gluten-free penne.

80 Volta Gelateria Creperia
30 SPRING ST., 203-883-8841 volta.us
L&D, Daily; BR, Sun.
Like most Americans, this place is a hybrid, part French, part Italian. The stars of the menu are savory and sweet crepes, and gelato, but there’s more. Sandwiches, wraps, soups and salads. In addition to great food, Sunday brunch includes bottomless mimosas or Bloody Marys.

81 World of Beer
18 HARBOR POINT RD. 203-290-4317 worldofbeer.com
L, Mon.–Fri.; D, Daily
Of course you come here for the beer, but the tavern fare menu is special, too. Must haves: German pretzel with a house-made beer cheese, or the tavern tater topped with the beer cheese, jalapeños, bacon, scallions and sour cream. Want more? There’s flatbreads, sliders, dogs, greens and sandwiches to appeal to all. The place to be for football Sundays.

82 ZaZa Italian Gastrobar
122 BROAD ST., 203-348-2300 zazagastrobar.com
L&D, Mon.–Sat.; BR, Sat.–Sun.
The name is the initial draw, but it’s the food that makes fans. The menu is large, and the best place to start is with a sampling of mozzarella or meatballs. They also offer Italian tapas, salads, pastas, pizzas or entrées. As for brunch, the Italian cheese gravy fries with Bolognese and burrata is decadent; wash it down with a mimosa, Bellini, champagne, Bloody Mary or sangria.

 

 

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