Best Restaurants in Connecticut – 2023 Last Updated: December 2023

Looking for the best restaurants in Connecticut? There are so many great spots to choose from, so we turned to the Connecticut Restaurant Association for the 2023 nominees of its annual CRAzies Awards. The awards consider hundreds of contenders, select a short list of nominee finalists, and finally, award winners for the best restaurants in each county. In addition to naming the best restaurants, the awards recognize best chefs, best bartenders, best servers, and beyond.

The CRAzies Awards announced the winners at a delicious event on December 4th at Foxwoods Resort Casino. Winners were selected by online public vote and a panel made up of media writers and influencers. 
And the 2023 winners and nominees are...

Hartford County

Restaurant of the Year and Regional Winner: Coracora, West Hartford

Experience the flavor of traditional Peruvian eats in an authentic family-run destination. With all dishes made in-house and without artificial preservatives, Coracora is devoted to high-quality ingredients; a warm and welcoming family-like experience; and top-notch customer service.

Other nominees in the region included:

Union Kitchen, West Hartford

Union Kitchen is a trendy spot with a superb menu highlighting fresh vegetables alongside mains like fennel scented pork belly and honey lavender duck. Along with your meal, expect an expertly curated wine list and creative cocktails from the bar's spirit wall that displays over 450 labels.


The Charles, Wethersfield

The Charles offers exciting cuisine in the historic village of Old Wethersfield — a vintage feel with a modern taste. Set in a restored space, enjoy the award-winning, chic interior you sip exceptionally crafted cocktails and try dining favorites from salmon and lamb sirloin to chicken & dumplings.


Litchfield County

Regional Winner: Materia Ristorante, Bantam

Located in Historic Litchfield, Materia Ristorante offers fresh and seasonal Italian cuisine, distinctive wines, and European hospitality in a charming dining room, with a focus is "la Materia prima". Every ingredient is carefully sourced and seasonally inspired, creating a brilliant menu to delight your palate.

Other nominees in the region included:

Arethusa al tavolo, Bantam

Taste refined, creative dishes crafted from the famous milk, cream, yogurt, ice cream, butter and cheese Arethusa Dairy Farm when you dine at Arethusa al tavolo. Set in what was the Village General store, it is situated next to the Arethusa Dairy store, formally the Bantam Firehouse. 


At the Corner, Litchfield

@ The Corner prides itself in the marriage of artisanal eats and craft beer. Menus are seasonal and the chefs continually update the options at this spot for American fare. Take a bite of favorites such as uniquely seasoned brussels sprouts, chicken wings, braised short ribs, salmon, and beyond – each with a clever name on the menu.


Fairfield County

Regional Winner: Taproot, Norwalk

This hidden gem offers a down-to-earth vibe in an intimate setting. Crafted with fresh, seasonal ingredients, the menu is designed for sharing, and the restaurant operates based on a shared vision that defines the Taproot experience: sustainability, local produce and a bespoke menu.

Other nominees in the region included:

Good Old Days, Newtown

At this cool spot, you'll find strictly salads and pizzas — but expect them to be top-notch. Try killer square and thin & crispy style pies with an exquisite bar program to boot. All in a vintage 70's/80's dungeon basement.


L’Ostal, Darien

L’Ostal is an elevated Provencal restaurant rooted in history and tradition celebrating the cuisines of Southern France and its boundaries. Stemming from the old Occitania language, the word ‘ostal’ refers to house & the warmth of hospitality that encompasses welcoming one into your home. L’Ostal celebrates the traditions of each country through their amazing cuisine as well as showcasing the wine and heritage of indigenous products.


New Haven County

Regional Winner: Strega, Milford

Enjoy Strega, an authentic Italian restaurant, pizzeria, and bar set on a lively corner in the heart of downtown Milford. Expect deep history to be infused in every bite for an authentic Italian dining experience.

Other nominees in the region included:

Hindsight BBQ, Waterbury

Big on barbecue? You'll want to consider Hindsight for a savory feast of all your favorites. Chow down on pumpkin honey cornbread, jerk wings, brown butter burnt ends, and creamy mac & cheese. Then top it off with apple pie empanada a la mode. Truly a flavorful experience!


Tavern on State, New Haven

Award-winning chef Emily Mingrone thinks outside the box with her ever-changing, ever-inventive menu. The creative ambiance comes complete with a flamingo theme (including a signature neon flamingo that lights up the space) and alleyway sidewalk tables.


Tolland County

Regional Winner: Camille’s Wood Fired Pizza, Tolland

Crafted with all natural products from organic and sustainable farms, the pies at Camille's Wood Fire Pizza boast just the right crisp on each crust. But before the pizza, don't miss the amazing small plates, designed for sharing with your crew.

Other nominees in the region included:

Sichuan Pepper, Vernon

Experience traditional Cantonese cuisine at Sichuan Pepper in Vernon. Try tasty bites from chilled scallion ginger chicken and beef brisket noodle soup to classics like vegetable fried rice and chicken lo mein. And don't miss the star of the show: a wide selection of hot pot dishes — the chef's specialty!


Trattoria de Lepri, Ellington

Crafting fresh, gourmet meals from local grass-fed beef, fresh seafood, and seasonal, organic vegetables from both local farms and their very own garden, Trattoria da Lepri takes an environmentally conscious approach to their kitchen. Plus, guests can sip on craft cocktails, local brews, and a large wine selection.


Middlesex County

Regional Winner: The Essex, Old Saybrook

Passion, love, and innovation fuel this locally sourced menu. At The Essex, experience Modern American cuisine that draws inspiration from the land, sea, and deep heritage of the Connecticut River Valley, alongside a legion of international flavors.

Other nominees in the region included:

Grano Arso, Chester

Most known for its to-die-for homemade pasta, Grano Arso boasts high end Italian cuisine made from locally sourced ingredients that are seasonally inspired. Guests will be welcomed with knowledgeable hospitality and a feeling that they are dining right in the chef’s own home. Set inside the former Old Savings Bank built in 1902, this spot is quaint, intimate, and quite the destination restaurant – the old bank vault is even still inside!


Osa, Middletown

Osa specializes in creative local eats. The second venture of Krust (Middletown) restauranteurs Kevin Wirtes and Rich Garcia, this spot serves up mouthwatering wood-fired small plates, bespoke cocktails, whiskey, wine and local beer.


Windham County

Regional Winner: Stone Row Kitchen & Bar, Willimantic

Stone Row Kitchen + Bar offers a great space including a patio level dedicated to "boozing and schmoozing." The menu features homegrown food, and the restaurant works closely with regional farmers, foragers, and fishers.

Other nominees in the region included:

85 Main, Putnam

85 Main is a New American fusion cuisine with casual fine dining set in the heart of downtown Putnam. Created with the goal of offering fresh, quality seafood and steaks along with locally grown produce in an atmosphere one might expect to find in a “big” city, guests can look forward to a fantastic menu plus a full bar, raw bar, sushi bar, patio & wine cellar.


Elizabeth’s Farmhouse, Putnam

Elizabeth's Farmhouse small, intimate restaurant in the quaint town of Putnam. This spot serves up delicious comfort meals from meat loaf and filet mignon to swordfish, short ribs, and chowder. Plus, don't miss their seasonal cocktails!


New London County

Regional Winner: The Port of Call, Mystic

Voted one of the 24 Best Bars in America by Esquire Magazine, The Port of Call is a nautical-themed cocktail lounge and restaurant. Chef Renee Touponce was recently nominated for a James Beard Award; she carefully curates a menu that explores international cocktail culture and maritime cuisine, set in a dazzling ambiance.

Other nominees in the region included:

La Belle Aurore, Niantic

Chef owned and operated, this farm-to-table bistro is one of Niantic's best kept secrets. The locally sourced menu changes monthly, with produce and meat coming from 12 Connecticut farms. Enjoy carefully curated dishes and even seasonal cooking classes.


Via Emilia, Mystic

Get an authentic taste of Italy at Via Emilia, set in the heart of downtown Mystic. Treat your taste buds to house made pasta, seasonal ingredients, and award-winning wine in a stylish atmosphere.


Restaurant Newcomer

Newcomer Winner: 29 Markle Ct, Bridgeport

Set in an eclectic art-filled space, 29 Markle Ct presents a delightful menu using ingredients from local farms within the community of Bridgeport; the restaurant aims to encourage long-term partnerships for small businesses in the city. Enjoy dishes from salt roasted beets and curry dumplings to smoked fried chicken and fried black rice with crab.

Other nominees in the region included:

Esh, Fairfield

Inspired by the culinary culture of Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Morocco, and the Aegean region, Esh reimagines the bold flavor and aromatic spices of Middle Eastern cuisine. Sample unique plates and cocktails in a classy, modern space and let the flavors take you across the globe.


Fire by Forge, Hartford

Fire by Forge is a Pan-American inspired, chef-designed experience that includes a café, full-service restaurant, bar, and catering service. Expect excellent seasonal menus crafted using fresh, local, and sustainable ingredients.


​Hachiroku Shokudo & Saké Bar, New Haven

Hachiroku Shokudo & Saké Bar boasts an amazing menu and an impressive selection of Japanese whiskey and saké — which you can sample by the flight. Get a taste of Japanese culture when you order dishes from Tsumire duck meatballs and smoked ocean trout sashimi to Yaki Kinoko mushrooms and Agedashi tofu.


Trigo Wood Fired Pizza, Willimantic

Trigo Wood Fired Pizza is a "harvest-to-hearth" restaurant serving up seasonal pizzas with local ingredients. Try deliciously inventive pies from the Lemon white pie to the Elote pie, featuring corn, chili, cotija, cilantro, and lime crema.


People's Choice

People's Choice Winner: J. Timothy’s Taverne, Plainville

Can you say legendary wings? J. Timothy's Taverne is best known for their "dirt-style" buffalo wings which have been named the #2 Buffalo Wings in the entire country by the Daily Meal and listed in Food Network's Top 5 Bar Foods. Cozy up in this 1789 tavern and expect a menu that really kicks up the flavor.

Other nominees in the category included:

Elm Street Diner, Stamford

When you want over-the-top foodie creations, head to Elm Street Diner, a premier family-owned diner, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week. This spot specializes in photo-worthy dishes such as their famous milkshakes, homemade cinnamon sugar donuts. WoW Waffle Towers and unique creative brunch options.


Garden Catering, Multiple Locations

What was once the 1970s' Garden Poultry is now a fan favorite catering joint known for its wildly popular chicken nuggets. Order nuggets by the pound! Or try their other specialties from sandwiches and wraps to milkshakes and all-day breakfast.


Rein’s Deli, Vernon

Rein's New York Style Deli-Restaurant has been bringing traditional New York style Jewish Deli fare to Vernon or over 30 years. Try their famous Reubens, smoked fish sandwiches, deli plates, breakfast dishes, and more.


Willimantic Brew Pub, Willimantic

Since 1997, Willibrew (as the locals call it) has been serving up craft brews and bites in a repurposed post office that operated from 1910 to 1966. The award-winning landmark restaurant and pub brewery is located in the cultural town of Willimantic and serves as a popular community gathering place.