Get Out! Chow Down Outside

Even though it's a tight squeeze into those teeny weenie bikinis, now is the perfect time to enjoy Connecticut's weather and chow down outside!

Before the temperature drops, put the top down and take a drive, county by county, to Connecticut’s best outdoor restaurants.

Hartford County

Apricots Restaurant, Farmington

Settled nice and snug alongside the banks of Farmington River, this old trolley barn turned restaurant and pub offers an impressive variety of options, from New Zealand rack of lamb to Hartford County's best chicken potpie. Take your pick between the casual indoor pub, elegant white table clothed hall or the open outdoor patio. With a stunning view of the Farmington River, Apricots certainly gives its clients a perfect combination of beauty and taste. 1593 Farmington Ave., (860) 673-5405

Grants Restaurant, Bar & Patisserie, West Hartford

Conveniently located in lively West Hartford Center, Grant's Restaurant offers a perfect union of French and Italian cuisine. Sit out front and people-watch while enjoying the famous black Angus Gorgonzola encrusted filet mignon. Be sure to save room for a sweet treat! Connecticut Magazine named this hot outdoor spot “Best Deserts.” Although you might not leave with a tan, you'll definitely have that happy summer glow! 77 farmington Ave., (860) 236-1930

Litchfield County 

The Hopkins Inn, New Preston

What do you get when you combine panoramic views of Lake Waramaug, Berkshire's rolling hills and breathtaking vineyards? You get the amazing old country Hopkins Inn and its unbeatable contemporary Austrian dishes like Wiener Schnitzel and Roast Duck à l'orange. On a starry night, relax on the flagstone terrace and eat your way across the Atlantic all the way to Austria. 22 Hopkins Road, (860) 868-7295

Tolland County 

 Altnaveigh Inn, Storrs

Located just south of the University of Connecticut, the Altnaveigh Inn has everything! Whether you want to romance your college sweetheart or plan a private party, each of the three distinct dining areas offers a charm of its own. This restored 1730s home is quaint but their food bursts with flavor. Try the foie gras appetizer and the Bouillabaisse. It'll warm your heart like the summer sun outside. 957 Storrs Road, (860) 429-4490 

 Windham County 

Jessica Tuesday's, Putnam

Diners love this family-owned sandwich café where fresh salads, homemade strawberry lemonade and a picturesque deck provide for lots of fun in the sun. If summer travels are taking a toll on your pocket, Jessica's Tuesday's is a great bargain. The tilapia taco wrap will make you want to come back every day of the week (not just Tuesdays!) 35 Main St., (860) 928-5118 

The Vanilla Bean Café, Pomfret

Get a big group of friends together and take a summer road trip to The Vanilla Bean Café, where they can seat up to 130 people at a time! They have a special summertime menu, including gazpacho and homemade chili, and the freshest daily specials. With live entertainment, and succulent entrees you may have just found a summer fling for your taste buds!  Rt 169, Rt 44 and Rt 97, (860) 928-1562

Fairfield County

Splash, Westport

When your day of splashing on the beautiful Connecticut beaches comes to an end, venture out to a new type of splash - the restaurant! The music and patio bar overlooking the Long Island Sound give diners that cool summer breeze. Voted “Best” of New England’s waterfront dining by the Food Network, Splash’s enticing Asian-American fusion and unbeatable raw bar will be a pleasant break from the all of those summer barbecues. 260 Compo Road South, (203)454-7798

New Haven County

The Place, Guilford

For a rather unexciting name, The Place is anything but dull with its wide variety of fish, oysters, steak and mussels. Situated in a small clearing in the woods with tree stumps for seats, there is no dress code here! Don’t feel like changing your clothes after a summer scuba dive? Wetsuits are more than welcome! The food is the freshest and everything is cooked to order. So pull up a stump and don’t forget to BYOC -- C, for cushion, of course., 891 Boston Post Road, (203) 453-9276

Middlesex County

Cuckoo’s Nest, Old Saybrook

In a town where fish houses come in dozens, switch it up at Cuckoo’s Nest, where rustic charm meets fiery food. This 200-year-old barn is known for, well, everything! There are tons of options including Mexican, Creole and Cajun options. So head on out to the patio and admire the canopy of branches above you while enjoying the award-winning nachos and famous sangria. 1712 Boston Post Road, (860) 399-9060

New London 
Seamen’s Inne, Mystic

Enjoy the sweet taste of summer at this trendy local restaurant overlooking the Mystic Seaport. With great appreciation for local homegrown food, you’ll discover the best New England clam chowder and half-shell oysters with sherry-honey vinaigrette. It's also known for its brunch. Put away your pail and bucket and make sure you see its magnificent harbor. Trust me, it’s worth it.  105 Greenmanville Avenue,  (860) 572-5303 

Did we leave anything out? What's your favorite outdoor dining spot?

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