When asking folks what they miss most about their lifestyles pre-March 2020, many are surprised to realize it’s mostly the little things. They miss getting together with friends and the simplicity of enjoying a drink after work, somewhere local, where the bartender knows your name.
While we’re far from “back to normal,” more state-wide vaccinations and the approaching mild weather allow for peace of mind via outdoor dining at COVID-cautious establishments. Thanks to a few central Connecticut locals who contributed their votes on how to enjoy a safe night out, below you’ll find a local “Best of” list. Those featured are already starting to pull out the patio furniture.
Dawg House Bar & Grill, 999 Broad St. Meriden. (203)-235-9080
The overwhelming Meriden majority suggested the Dawg House Bar & Grill. A relatively new establishment, Dawg House has quickly become a reputable part of the Meriden community due to their staff, various live music performers, and quick but delicious meals. As soon as they were able to, Dawg House reopened first for take-out and then eventually opened their doors according to state guidelines to provide a comfy, casual backdrop for an evening of fun. Their “Don’t Miss This” menu item is their Buffalo Steamed Cheeseburger Nachos— a new twist on two old classics.
Tap and Vine, 171 Quinnipiac St. Wallingford (203) 774-0660
Tap and Vine takes the “cool and cozy crowd favorite” title this week. With a constantly evolving beer menu and artfully crafted wines available at both their indoor and outdoor bar space, you won’t even have to go back inside to get a refill! Don’t miss their weekly Sunday Brunch. Space is limited, so make sure to reserve early, and try to specify if you’re hoping for an indoor or outdoor experience.
C.J. Sparrow, 908 S. Main St. Cheshire (203) 272-8204
C.J. Sparrow proved to be a favorite even throughout the early days of the pandemic. With heightened sanitation precautions, C.J. Sparrow is one of the fortunate businesses that was able to make it through the darkest days while simultaneously coming out on top with more loyal customers than they started with. At C.J. Sparrow, don’t miss the cheese. All under the appetizer section, you’ll find Fried Smoked Gouda, Baked Brie and Gorgonzola Garlic Bread—any of the three will leave you tempted to order another!
Sam the Clam’s Pub & Grub, 1303 Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike, Plantsville. (860) 621-0522
The hot Southington spot is Sam the Clam’s Pub and Grub. Specifically located in Plantsville, the nautical decor combined with a seafood-heavy menu makes Sam the Clam’s Pub and Grub the perfect stop for anyone looking to recreate the blissful vibe of a water-front clam shack minus the water! Perhaps if you have enough to drink, the brilliant ocean-themed mural on the patio will come alive before your eyes and you’ll truly have yourself a Connecticut beach experience. Don’t miss their rotating specials that change daily as fresh products arrive.
Francesca Fontánez is a Meriden-based journalist, educator, and creative. A graduate of both the University of New Haven and the University of Bridgeport, she is happy to be back in Meriden writing about the city she loves. When she's not helping out in the English department at Maloney High School, she's either exploring the Eastern seaboard for her lifestyle blog (@east_side_vibes_ on Instagram) or working on music for her band, Cessa and The Zach . Email Francesca at firstname.lastname@example.org with tips on what you want to read about next, or just to say hi!