Town Green congratulates our 12 district businesses which have been honored by Connecticut Magazine with the "Best Of" title.
For the 20th year in a row Connecticut Magazine has scoured the state to discover, and in some cases, rediscover the best Connecticut has to offer. Here are the district winners in food, drink, fun, leisure and shopping.
(above, sampling award-winning sandwiches at Meat & Co.)
Louie’s Lunch, New Haven, 203-562-5507
Prime 16, New Haven and Orange
Candy Shop: CandiTopia, New Haven, 203-498-0330
As the city that gave the lollipop its name, New Haven knows a thing or two about sweets. It doesn’t get much sweeter than CandiTopia. A fairly recent addition to The Shops at Yale, this bag-your-own candy shop specializes in old favorites and hard-to-find treats. Peanut brittle, Cow Tales, candy bracelets, moon pies, epic jawbreakers, ribbon candy and much more can be found here. The jelly bean selection is also out of this world. And do yourself a favor: try a chocolate s’more from the chocolates case.
Dairy Shop: Arethusa Farm, Bantam and New Haven, 860-361-6600
With two dairy stores, one in the extreme north and the other at the far south, much of the state now has fairly easy access to Arethusa’s artisan milks, cheeses, yogurts and ice creams. All produced at a state-of-the-art farm on South Plains Road in Litchfield, Arethusa’s line is of the highest quality. And, like Thorncrest Farm’s chocolates, it all starts with their cows.
Rooftop Bar: Elm City Social, New Haven, 475-441-7436
There’s something wonderful about a rooftop bar, the way it can lift you up out of the hustle and bustle of city streets and put you in a totally different mind space. While there are undoubtedly other rooftop bars in the state with more panoramic views, Elm City Social’s has a certain treehouse or secret clubhouse feel to it that distinguishes it. It’s a perfect spot for after-work drinks.
Sandwich: Meat and Co., New Haven, 203-776-6328
There are sandwiches, but then there are sandwiches. If that doesn’t make sense, then get yourself to Meat and Co. to understand what we mean. The offerings here are deep, complex takes on classic sandwiches. The Sam Sifton (only available on Tuesdays) will leave you thinking about it for weeks.
Wine Shop: The Wine Thief, New Haven, 203-772-1944
The two New Haven shops (on Whitney Avenue and Crown Street) are curated and the staff is knowledgeable. Don’t know what you want? Ask and you shall receive an education and recommendation for something satisfying.
Performing Arts Venue (Large): College Street Music Hall, New Haven, 203-867-2000
After lying vacant for some 12 years, College Street Music Hall opened in 2015, and over the last two years has built up real credibility as the go-to place for the best artists on tour. Acts that would normally just skip Connecticut on their way between Boston and New York now play regularly. (The Pixies are here this month!) Much of the credit goes to Connecticut’s homegrown booking agency Manic Presents, which has been bringing important musicians to the state for some 15 years.
Nightclub: BAR, New Haven, 203-495-8924
You’re forgiven if the first thing you think of when you hear “BAR” is mashed potato and bacon pizza. You’re not alone. You also won’t be alone if you’re there on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night when a live DJ will help transform a pizza place/brewery by day into the hottest club in the state by night.
Place to Hear Local Bands: Cafe Nine, New Haven, 203-789-8281
It’s known as “The Musician’s Living Room,” and it’s obvious that bands are comfortable playing here, as there are live performances most nights. The intimate setting, just about as big as the average living room, makes it an ideal listening room.
Relaxation Treatment: PuREST Float, Trumbull & New Haven
Billed as the “most relaxing place on earth,” the sensory deprivation salt baths at PuREST Float offer intense relaxation. Alone in the darkness and silence of the private baths, it’s impossible for the noise of daily life not to disappear. A second location in New Haven was recently opened.
Bike Shop: The Devil’s Gear Bike Shop, New Haven, 203-773-9288
A small, friendly shop with an unsurpassed passion for bicycling makes for a great bike-related experience every time you walk through the door. Devil’s Gear is also deeply involved with the community, whether it be organizing events and classes or sponsoring special rides throughout the year.