Where To Eat And Drink: Groton, Mystic, New London, Noank, & Stonington, CT
When traveling along the quaint southeastern Connecticut shoreline, you’ll come across picturesque coastal New England towns complete with historic homes from the 18 and 1900s that catch your eye with brightly painted doors, historic plaques noting former owners, or picture windows. You’ll surely stop by historic sites such as Fort Griswold, Fort Trumbull, Mystic Seaport, and Mystic Aquarium while sightseeing along Long Island Sound, the Thames River, or the Mystic River.
I’m proud to come from southeastern Connecticut, and each time I’m back visiting family, I love exploring both new to me historic spots (like this hidden gem) and brand new restaurants. And since I’ve had 31 years to eat my way around these shoreline towns, I’ve had ample time to pick out my favorite breweries, cafes, and restaurants.
2 Wives Brick Oven Pizza
My friends had their wedding reception at 2 Wives and we still visit often for good memories. I love their panzanella salad and they have a large selection of gluten free and vegan pizzas.
This is my favorite summertime spot for hot dogs, onion rings, and pink lemon aid. From the outdoor seating, you can also see Electric Boat and if you’re lucky you’ll see a submarine coming in for work.
My favorite spot for ice cream in New London.
Montauk House Cafe***
I’ve not tried the Montauk House yet, but their menu looks great and it’s on my list of places to try the next time I’m in Connecticut. Have you tried the Montauk House Cafe?
Muddy Waters Cafe
I love Muddy Waters Cafe. It is my go-to for a light breakfast and black coffee out with my husband or friends.
This fast-food joint sells great fried chicken and Southern sides likes collard greens, mashed potatoes, rice pilaf, and sweet potatoes. Neon Chicken is great for a night in.
Sweeties Bakery and Cafe***
Another spot on my to-try list: Sweeties Bakery and Cafe is a newly opened bakery that gets great ratings for its cakes, cookies, and cupcakes. I’m definitely going to try this next time!
The Social is a really great bar and restaurant that serves beer from microbreweries and a rotating menu that serves yummy food. I recommend the veggie burger that has a great kick of spice!
For Indian food along the shoreline, I love the Mint Leaf. It serves great Indian food including tasty naan, yummy saag paneer, and great momo (dumplings).
Outer Light Brewery***
I’ve not been to Outer Light Brewery, but I have enjoyed their beer at home. I definitely recommend this local brewery!
By far my favorite place for Italian food in Connecticut. Yum!
4 Roosevelt Asian Bistro
While I’ve never eaten at 4 Roosevelt Asian Bistro, I’ve enjoyed take-out from them a few times. I really like their pho.
Alice in the Village
Alice in the Village is my brand-new go-to spot for really excellent bubble tea—try the lavender bubble tea. My full review will be up on CTBites soon!
Barley Head Brewery***
You know how I love a good local brewery! This is certainly on the to-try list.
Bartleby’s is another great caffeine pit-stop.
B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill
This is the oldest steam powered cider mill in the U.S. A must-visit in-season!
The new, larger space at Bleu Squid is wonderfully bright and the adult grilled cheeses are so delicious. I also recommend the cupcakes!
Captain Daniel Packer Inne (DPI)
This old favorite restaurant is the former home of Captain Daniel Packer. I prefer eating downstairs in the bar area, which is especially cozy when there is a fire in the hearth. The burgers and cheese medallion are amazing.
I’ve written about the Engine Room extensively, so as you’d guess, I recommend a visit to the Engine room no matter the meal.
Friar Tuck’s Tavern***
This is another spot on my to-try list!
I suggest ordering a black coffee and bagel with cream cheese at Green Marble!
While I’ve not had the chance to try the Jealous Monk yet, I’m hoping to get here when I’m back visiting Connecticut in December.
Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant
Unlike Milagro’s, which I described below, Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant serves Tex-Mex at its finest. I have tons of recommendations for Margarita’s, but my top choices are the chimichanga, enchiladas, and sizzling meat plate.
I know it might be a bit funny to include a grocery store in a where to eat guide, but McQuade’s is one of my favorite spots in Mystic. They have an excellent bakery section (I recommend their pie and muffins), great prepared foods, and a nice selection of specialty items, like locally roasted coffee, that make perfect souvenirs.
Mystic Market is a healthy spot for a quick prepared meal to go.
My husband, a local to Mystic, scoffs at eating at the famous Mystic Pizza (from the movie with Julia Roberts), but we grabbed a slice to go when we had friends visiting, and it was pretty good. If you want to also have the Mystic Pizza experience, I recommend grabbing a slice to go and saving ample space for better food elsewhere.
I like Red 36 for date afternoons or evenings on beautiful days. Located on a marina, the outdoor seating at Red 36 has great views of the water and creative appetizers.
Rise is a small breakfast and lunch cafe with great pancakes, tasty coffee, and unique specials. Plan to stop by for breakfast or lunch but perhaps expect a short wait for a table to be available—spend your wait at Bank Square Books.
Samurai Noodle Bar and Grill
For a lunch date, J and I slurped up ramen at the brand new Samurai Noodle Bar and Grill. The depth of the vegetarian broth was surprising and the edamame were very tasty.
Sift Bake Shop
I recently conducted an interview for CTBites with Chef Adam Young of Sift Bakeshop that highlights the incredible bakery and my love for their treats. I highly recommend enjoying their pecan sticky bun during your visit!
Somewhere in Time
This is the perfect greasy spoon breakfast joint with bottomless cups of coffee. I like their French toast.
Vault Coffee + Deviant Donut
Vault Coffee is definitely my favorite cafe for nicely-made espresso-based drinks, but make sure you time your visit on a weekend to treat yourself to the pop-up with Deviant Donuts. Read my full review on CTBites.
Abbott’s in the Rough
For quick fried seafood, Abbots in the Rough is a chill place to hang out with friends over a lobster roll, chips, or fried clams.
Located right on a dock, Ford’s Lobster is a classier version of Abbots in the Rough. J loves their lobster rolls and I really enjoyed the Ford’s Salad.
Milagro’s serves the best creative menu of Mexican food in the area. It is also a romantic spot with only a few tables inside and outside—this was my first date with J!
For breakfast dishes like fluffy blueberry pancakes, endless coffee, and omelets, Noah’s is an awesome spot. It is located right in downtown Stonington Borough, so after stuffing your face with great food, you can enjoy window shopping.
Saltwater Farm Vineyard
Bring your own food and swing by Saltwater Farm Vineyard for a bottle of their delicious, smokey 2014 Estate Cabernet Franc or a tasting.
Connecticut is one of the fastest growing regions for new vineyards in the U.S., so add Stonington Vineyards to your wine tour of the region.
Where else would you suggest eating in southeastern Connecticut? What other towns and cities would you like to see covered?