Eat Well for Less, Zagat Style

The Bible of Connecticut eating is coming out Thursday -- and it includes a new section to get the best deals without forking over too much dough.

“Connecticut diners, like people across the country, are looking for great meals that also are great deals,” Tim Zagat, CEO and co-founder of Zagat Survey, said. “Going out to restaurants is a part of our culture, so despite the economic downturn, diners will continue to eat out, but now they are on a hunt for the best for less.”

In Connecticut, half of our meals are prepared outside the house, according to the survey, but we are skimping a little by eating out a little less, eating at cheaper places, skipping apps or deserts and cutting back on booze.

To help us in our quest to save, the all-knowing foodies at Zagat created a new list of restaurants -- “Best Bang for the Buck”.

At the top of the best bang for the buck list is Super Duper Weenie, a Fairfield hot dog joint that surveyors say is “best-in-show.”  Next on that list is the retro-diner Shady Glen in Manchester.  Here's the top five of the list.

  1. Super Duper Weenie, Fairfield
  2. Shady Glen, Manchester
  3. Firehouse Deli 
  4. Layla’s Falafel, Stamford and Fairfield
  5. SoNo Baking Co. in Norwalk

And in proving that users have great taste, Golden Local winner for Best Pizza, Frank Pepe Pizza took home the Most Popular honors.  And the Top Food Ranking went to Thomas Henkelmann in Greenwich.

Not all the places, however, offer deals that you can pay for with just the spare change in your couch, but they are deals none the less.

Jean-Louis in Greenwich, offers a $30 prix fixe lunch and Saint Tropez Bistro in Fairfield and Sole Ristorante in New Canaan have $15 dollar menus.

Believe it or not, Connecticut has the most affordable dining in the region (at $37.71), according to the Zagat survey. It is certainly not cheap compared to the national average: $34.49.  However, you can find a few deals.

Head south to the Westchester/Hudson Valley region and you’ll spend $38.99, in New York City, you’ll spend $40.78 and the average in New Jersey is $39.24.

Ten Most Popular Restaurants:

  1. Frank Pepe Pizza
  2. Barcelona
  3. Cheesecake Factory
  4. Coromandel
  5. Thomas Henkelmann
  6. Morton's
  7. Union League
  8. P.F. Chang's
  9. Ruth's Chris
  10. Carole Peck's

Top 10 Food Rankings:

  1. Thomas Henkelmann
  2. Ibiza
  3. Le Petit Cafe
  4. Cavey's
  5. Jean-Louis
  6. Bernard's
  7. Carole Peck's
  8. Union League
  9. Harvest Supper
  10. Max Downtown

Happy eats!

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