An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Jul 9, 2014
10:05 AM
The Connecticut Table

Best Connecticut Places to the Watch World Cup With Great Food, Drinks

Editor’s Note: We’re adding more Connecticut dining venues that are World Cup obsessed to the end of this story as the matches roll toward the final, but a few new additions had to go on top:

As the World Cup Ends, a Brand New Hotspot for the Last Games:
Eli's Tavern in Milford, an Urbane Gastropub

Eli’s on Whitney in Hamden comes up a bit later in this story as a prime spot for watching the intense drama from Brazil, but we had to add the newest outpost (three weeks old) in the growing (but locally-owned and passionately operated) Eli's empire—Eli's Tavern, located in a historic building on curving, quirky, charming Daniel Street, just off the green in a thriving and happening Milford center.

Here's the website summary:

Eli's Tavern, the newest addition to the Eli's Restaurant Group, is a New York City style gastropub, serving tavern food with a modern flair! The urban style restaurant features an eclectic menu including local daily seafood specials, sandwiches, burgers, grilled flatbreads, crisp fresh entree salads and delicious desserts. Our bar features 20 micro brews, 18 wines by the glass and specialty craft cocktails with fresh juices. Whether you are having a business meeting, meeting friends or going on a special date, Eli's Tavern is the place to be!

We went for lunch July 11 and were wowed by the talent of chef David Brooks, a Culinary Institute of America graduate who did an internship at the legendary Le Bernardin in New York City.

Brooks prepares all the proteins (think meat, chicken, even lobster) in the sous-vide method, which yields the most tender bites you've had while retaining and enhancing flavors.

There's a bounty of small bites on the menu, burgers, an awesome lobster roll, flank steak, crabcakes, Chilaquilas (shown at the top), a traditional Mexican dish sometimes called "Mexican lasagna", Philly Egg Rolls (shown above), and so much more—along with 18 craft beers on draught, others in bottles, 20 wines by the glass and a whole menu of creative craft cocktails made from fresh chef-prepared ingredients (Look for a full story on Eli's Tavern early next week.)

Best of all for World Cup fans, not only is one side of the bar lined with big-screen TVs above that are showing all the matches, but behind that are elevated booths that offer a bit of intimacy in the happily wide open space, while also affording the best view of the TVs. And one of them can seat upwards of 15 people. (Check out Eli's Tavern on Facebook.)

For the consolation game with Netherlands vs. Brazil July 12 or the big final with Germany and Argentina July 13, Eli's Tavern is the place to be—or, in the spirit of this story, one of Connecticut's bounty of places to be for the World Cup, as you'll see if you read on.

Whatever Your Team, Try the Luck of the Irish at Molly D'Arcy's in Danbury

In this World Cup, a traditional Irish pub is neutral territory of the best kind, with a recipe devoid of a national stake in the outcome but blessed with a passion for fútbol, a legendary gift for conversation, hearty comfort food and, of course, lots of Guinness.

Molly D'Arcy's in Danbury is an open-arms-welcome venue that's showing all the World Cup matches as part of its Irish hospitality.

Folks online praise the shepherd's pie (above), the potato leek soup, the fat burgers and "delicious, awesome" fries (left, as part of fish 'n chips), along with the always festive, sometimes happily boisterous atmosphere.

After all, is there really a better place to watch great soccer than a true European pub, especially an Irish one?

Vitals: 39 Mill Plain Road #A, (203) 794-0449, mollydarcy.com.

Argentina vs. Netherlands in an Argentinian Steakhouse

Tango Grill Argentinian Steakhouse in Stamford may have World Cup fever that's more personal than the big-screen-TV variety, but with the national team being in a semifinal with Netherlands July 9 and vying for  a spot in the finals against Germany, but here's an insider's secret (obtained with a simple phone call) about this upscale venue, known for its juicy steaks, South American wines and tapas: It has a couple of (small) TVs and the World Cup matches are on.

In a bit of serendipity, today's game starts at 4 p.m., which makes it prime time for tapas at Tango:

Our tapas options are a great choice for you and your friends to enjoy great food at small sharable portions or for a romantic dinner made for two. Tapas are ideal for sharing and allow you to try a large variety of dishes in a single meal.
Tapas are not the only romantic feature to Tango Grill. For a romantic night out, you can stop at Tango Grill from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. for our wine and tapas bar offerings. We have paired our wines to perfectly complement many of our tapas plates that awaken the taste buds!

Here's the description of Tango online:

Tango Grill is the only high end Argentinian steakhouse in Connecticut. To us this means authenticity, assurance and rigorous attention to obtain the finest quality ingredients at source. This dedication ensures that every time you visit us, you experience the true essence of Argentine life. Its food, its wine, its culture and importantly the passion of the people.

Call it a hunch, but we've got a feeling that after what happened to Brazil, the Argentinians will be more motivated than ever to make sure a team from South America is in the finals for a World Cup playing out in South America—making Tango the place to be.

If we're wrong and the Dutch prevail, then before the final match Sunday at 3 p.m. you'll want to get online and discover Connecticut's specialty Dutch food shop, The Dutch Epicure Shop in Litchfield, or visit in person starting Wednesday, when the shop reopens. Read more about the shop in The Litchfield County Times, and check it out on Facebook.

Vitals for Tango Grill: 700 Canal Street, 203-325-3773, tangogrillstamford.com

Watch Brazil vs. Germany
In Authentic Brazilian Restaurants

In anticipation of the huge semifinal match between Fifa World Cup host nation Brazil and Germany at 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 8, we went looking for some authentic Brazilian restaurants in Connecticut that are showing the matches. Two immediately stood out in terms of soccer fever, tasty homegrown cuisine and authenticity—Pantanal Restaurant & Churrascaria in Bridgeport and Taste Of Brazil in Norwalk.

Judging from the photos on the Facebook pages of each restaurant, fans enjoy watching the matches in the same spirit as players like Neymar, "Hulk," Silva and David Luiz play "the beautiful game."

If you want to watch Brazil play for a spot in the finals alongside Brazilian fans, while enjoying real Brazilian food and libations, these are the places to seek out.

Vitals: Pantanal Restaurant & Churrascaria, 215 Frank St., Bridegport, (203) 335-1071.

Vitals:Taste Of Brazil, 67 Main St., Norwalk, (203) 840-1919.

Watch Germany vs. Brazil
In an Authentic German Restaurant

Let's start with this Facebook post in advance of the Germany-USA game from the new Alpenhaus Restaurant just off Connecticut's longest town green in welcoming New Milford center:

Our sister publication, The Litchfield County Times, recently published a story on Alpenhaus, which opened like this:

.... stepping into The Alpenhaus Restaurant it is as if a person has been whisked into a little corner of Germany, complete with traditional food, drinks, and a European ambience.

This was the goal of owner Manuela Dürre-Young, who closed down her former restaurant, Café Little Europa in Brookfield in 2011, because she had “outgrown” the space. She said that she ran the café for five years but the space was too small and she ended up having to turn customers away frequently when there wasn’t enough room for them.

 
“They can really enjoy their time and pretend like they’re in the Alps in Germany [rather than New Milford],” Ms. Dürre-Young said.

She said Alpenhaus translates to “Alpine House” and the restaurant serves authentic German cuisine and it features what she calls a Steinbock Tavern, or a sort of indoor beer garden.

Imagine watching potentially the biggest game in recent Fifa World Cup history for Germany over dishes like these:

Bretzel mit Senf   —  $3.50 (mit Käsesosse $2 mehr)                                                                                                
Pretzel with  mustard (add cheese sauce $2.00)

Kartoffelpuffer mit Apfelmuss  —  $7
Potato pancakes with apple sauce

Strammer Max $10.50                                                                                                                                                 
Smoked German Prosciutto with a fried egg on top on a
hearty slice of bread (open faced)

Bratwurst Sandwich —  $8.50                                                                                                                                      
One bratwurst with sautéed onions, Sauerkraut and
mustard on a pretzel roll

Schweineschnitzel Sandwich —  $10.50                          
Porkschnitzel topped with mustard, Sauerkraut                             
on a pretzel roll                                                                                                                                    

Strasbourgburger  —  $12                                                           
Ground beef, smoked German prosciutto, Boursin
cheese, sautéed onions, on a Pretzel bun

Schlemmerburger —  $13                                                       
Ground beef, sautéed onions and mushrooms, bacon,
cheddar cheese and our special remoulade                                   
on a pretzel bun

Can you think of a better place than Alpenhaus for the big game? Well, East Side Restaurant in New Britain is equally worthy; see below.

Vitals: 59 Bank St., (860) 799-5557, alpenhausct.com

U.S. Women's Team Watches Men Defeat Ghana in Hartford

On Monday, June 16, as the U.S. Men’s National Team defeated archrival Ghana 2-1 in dramatic, nail-biting fashion, a special group of supporters rooted for the men and enjoyed a gourmet dinner at a popular and highly-regarded Hartford restaurant.
The fans? None other than the U.S. Women’s National Team—the entire team, including star forward Alex Morganwhich is in Connecticut for a game Thursday at Rentschler Field in East Hartford against France, ahead of World Cup qualifying that begins in October.
The restaurant? Dish Bar & Grill.
As owner Dan Keller tells the story, a manager for the women’s team called about a month ago to make the reservation, without revealing who it was for.
The day before the big “Group of Death” game for the U.S. team, Dish learned who its special guests would be, and was asked to keep mum.
The women’s team members arrived about 20 minutes before the game started, watched the action in the bar (above) and had a full meal, leaving just after the game ended. (Keller noted that the players didn’t have any alcohol, in case anyone wondered.)
“A lot of the girls were in their uniform shirts,” said Keller, who was thrilled with the team’s visit and the results of the men’s game.
Dish has big-screen TVs in its bar and is showing all of the World Cup games. Making the equation of watching at Dish a four-star one, the restaurant serves classic American food—think comfort food—with contemporary twists. (Above, a shrimp dish from Dish's Facebook page. Right, seafood ceviche, a fitting dish for a World Cup in Brazil.)
Vitals: 900 Main St., (860) 249-3474, dishrestaurantgroup.com.

Now back to the original story:

World Cup 2014 got underway June 12 in Brazil, and whatever you think of the U.S. Men’s National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s pronouncement that our side can’t win it all, (especially after the team defeated Ghana 2-1 on July 16) or his decision to leave longtime star player Landon Donovan off the final roster, this fútbol (soccer) conclave is the biggest sporting event on the planet—and this is your opportunity to catch the fever of  “the beautiful game” through a European style of enjoyment that translates so well to the Connecticut landscape.

In countries that live and breathe soccer, watching World Cup matches is a communal activity best done in bistros and cafes where the food and the libations are every bit as good as the action on the pitch (field).

Without further ado, for your dining and viewing pleasure we offer a list of Connecticut hotspots where the World Cup will be on big-screen TVs and artisan beer, fine wines and creative cocktails will accompany everything from awesome burgers to thin-crust wood-oven pizzas and fine dining entrees.

Note: This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive or a best-of hierarchy, and the order isn't an indication of favorites. And we're still adding places; in fact, after publishing intially we were scolded on Twitter for not including great soccer pubs. If we missed a spot you love, or if you discover a place where soccer and great food come together, let us know. We’ll check them out and add them to this story before a champion is crowned in Brazil. The new additions are being posted at the end.

Enjoy!

Plan B Burger Bar, Multiple Locations

Plan B is a burger connoisseur's paradise that takes its craft beer and bourbons, and everything else, very seriously—without sacrificing any sense of fun in the casual-upscale environment. The World Cup will be on TVs live at this hotspot, which, conveniently for Connecticut residents, has locations in Milford, West Hartford, Simsbury, Glastonbury and Stamford.

To whet your appetite, here are the burger specials running through June 15 in West Hartford—the Throw Down (shown here); all-natural beef patty topped with blue cheese, tomatoes, raw onions, bacon, jalepenos, fresh chips and blue cheese sauce ($13.99)—and in Milford: Beef Florentine Burger; all-natural beef patty, swiss cheese, bacon, egg, caramelized onion, garlic mayo, spinach and garlic on a bread pudding bun. ($15.99)

Vitals: planbburger.com

Cask Republic, New Haven and Stamford

With more than 50 beers on tap at both the Stamford and New Haven locations, you’ll definitely be able to find a brew in the style of whatever country you are cheering for. From Belgian Sours, to German Witbier, to French farmhouse ales and American craft beers, Cask Republic almost literally has it all. And for hungry soccer fans, the menu is full of mouthwatering options.

As we wrote in our May feature on the bar: “It is owned by Christian Burns, a French Culinary Institute graduate who worked under celebrity chef Bobby Flay at the Bolo Restaurant in New York. Burns’ culinary flare shines through at his pubs, which offer nifty high-end cuisine that is light years away from stereotypical bar food.” If you’re in the mood for appetizers order the cheese platter and ask your bartender or waitress to suggest a beer pairing that will go well with the cheese served. All World Cup games will be broadcast at the tavern, which will be offering international food, beer and drink specials all tournament long.

Vitals: 179 Crown St., New Haven, (475) 238-8335. 191 Summer St., Stamford, (203) 348-2275caskrepublic.com.

Eli’s on Whitney, Hamden

With 18 high definition TVs, this laid-back neighborhood bar is the perfect bar to watch the World Cup without missing any of the action. Billed as “the place where everybody knows your name,” Eli's is where you can join the friendly locals and cheer on the U.S. team while enjoying some finally crafted American cuisine, burgers, steaks, salads, enticing appetizers and more. Leave work early (tell your boss you’ve caught World Cup fever) and catch an afternoon soccer game on Friday to take part in Eli’s famous free happy hour, which features drink specials and a free buffet with pasta, a carving station, cheese and veggies and fried appetizers. Eli’s Friday happy hour actually lasts two hours (oh yeah!) and runs from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

2392 Whitney Ave., Hamden, (203) 287-1101elisonwhitney.com.

East Side Restaurant, New Britain

Forget for a moment that Team USA is in a group with Germany in the first round of the tournament and get decked out in your best lederhosen (because your second best lederhosen just won’t cut it); then head on down to East Side Restaurant to cheer on Team Germany while enjoying some authentic German cuisine and drink. The restaurant’s website says, “Step inside and you will be immediately enchanted by the warm Bavarian atmosphere and friendly staff outfitted in traditional German attire.” Menu items include a mouthwatering assortment of bratwursts, knockwursts, German sausage, schnitzels and sauerkraut. There is also a beer garden with sightlines leading to the TVs and an assortment of Deutschland beers (served by the liter) available on tap. “We’ll be coordinating drinks that feature Germany and whatever countries are playing that day,” says Lisa Cascone, bar manager at East Side Tavern. “It's going to be a great experience.”

Vitals: 131 Dwight Street, New Britain. (860) 223-1188eastsiderestaurant.com

Rizzuto’s Restaurant & Bar, Multiple Locations

If a taste of Italy is what you crave, check out the Stamford branch of this made-in-Connecticut group of restaurants, which also has locations in Bethel, West Hartford and Westport; so pick the one nearest you, as all of them are great. In the large bar you can watch various games on multiple TV screens while enjoying the finely crafted cuisine the venue offers. Try the brick oven pizza, or enjoy the selections at the granite antipasto bar.

1980 West Main St., Stamford, (203) 324-5900rizzutos.com.

The Atlantic, Danbury

If you want to eat delicious and affordable Portuguese food while cheering on Cristiano Ronaldo and Team Portugal, try this hidden gem in Danbury. The bar connected to the restaurant is small but there’s plenty of room to kick back and watch the game on a big TV. While you’re watching the game here you can sip restaurant made sangria (we recommend the white), and dig your fork into an assortment of steak and seafood dishes with Portuguese flare, including rice, codfish, paella, and the delectable Bife na Pidra, or steak on a stone—a delicious cut of meat brought to your table still being cooked on a sizzling slate of stone.

Vitals: 176 Osborne St., Danbury, (203) 778-8999restaurantatlantic.com.

 

Backstage, Torrington

If you’re cheering on the U.S. team, and for the moment don’t want to chow down on the cuisine of a World Cup rival, try the classic American menu at Backstage in Torrington. It's laid-back bar and restaurant where you can enjoy a soccer game while consuming some excellent eats and enjoying a pick from a wide assortment of craft beer. As Connecticut Magazine restaurant reviewer Elise Maclay wrote in her review: “Backstage is passionate about three things: music, beer and food. With a connoisseur collection of domestic brews, a menu ranging from wings to lobster potpie, halibut and steak, this functional, focused, no-b.s. bistro in Torrington next to a vintage theater that gets acts like Diana Krall and Steve Martin delivered a dining experience so pleasurable it negated the notion that you have to go to a big city to enjoy yourself big-time.”

84 Main Street, Torrington, (860)489-8900backstageeatdrinklive.com.  

Vaughn’s Public House, Hartford

You know Vaughn’s is great place to enjoy hearty pub fare like Shepherd’s Pie and Guinness Lamb Stew—with pints of Guinness, of course—when you click on the website and there’s a pop-up announcing a Connecticut soccer club match being featured at the pub.

It’s a classic Irish pub with all the essentials, and innate soccer DNA; what else needs to be said?

Vitals: 59 Pratt St, (860) 882-1560, irishpublichouse.com

Bar Rosso, Stamford

Bar Rosso is “a stylish dining and gathering destination that celebrates the art of Italian food and wine” where the menu “is designed around a simple philosophy – good food that satisfies all of the senses.”

The special on the menu right now? It’s World Cup 2014. Bar Rosso is showing games live on a big-screen projector. Even better, for the tournament it’s offering specials from noon to 5 p.m. (a timeframe that wraps in when lots of the games are being shown) that, for example, includes a Margherita pizza or burger with a beer for $15. And there’s always the terrific regular menu to consider.

Vitals: 30 Spring St., (203) 388-8640, barrosso.com.

 

Willimantic Brewing Company

It’s not unreasonable to think that you might want to hoist a pint (or two) while watching a game. Willimantic Brewing Co. offers a “world cup” of sorts, with many hand-crafted, fresh-brewed selections having international flair: European Special Bitter (an unfiltered E.S.B. featuring English Maris Otter, wheat, and chocolate malts then hopped with Polish Junga and Lublin); G’Day IPA (an unfiltered India Pale Ale brewed with 2 Row, Rye, Caramel 15 malts, fresh sliced kiwis, and hopped with New Zealand Galaxy and Loftus Ranch hops); and Certified Gold (a bright golden ale balanced with Munich malt and Goldings hops). You’ll also find more than 20 craft beers (imported and domestic) on tap. There’s also a deep menu that ranges from steaks, pasta and seafood to burgers and wings.

Vitals: 967 Main St., Willimantic, (860) 423-6777wilibrew.com

Wood-n-Tap

With seven locations across Connecticut, Wood-n-Tap offers something that you will not be able to get from the games themselves: predictability—you know that you will always be able to find a location fairly close by! You also know that you’ll have a solid menu to peruse (from bourbon sirloin steaks and swordfish to bison burgers and chicken marsala, plus apps aplenty), there will always be plenty of drink choices (including microbrews like Blue Moon Beligan White and Newcastle Brown Ale), and that no matter how hungry you and your friends think you are, and even if the game goes into overtime, you will never be able to finish a full order of the monster nachos.

Vitals: Hartford, Farmington, Southington, Rocky Hill, Vernon, Orange, Wallingford, woodntap.com.

Max Fish, Glastonbury

This excellent seafood restaurant and bar will kick off World Cup festivities on Thursday, June 12, with a four-course dinner featuring Brazil (the host country) inspired food and cocktails. The party will continue all tournament with Max Fish inviting guests to try a Caipirinha, Brazil's national cocktail this drink is made with  cachaca (a popular Brazilian style of distilled alcohol), muddled lime and sugar. Max Fish’s acclaimed seafood menu also features a wide assortment of dishes made from fresh catches that are often locally sourced. Also look for World Cup action at the long list of other great Max restaurants in Connecticut.

110 Glastonbury Blvd., Glastonbury, (860) 652-3474 maxrestaurantgroup.com/fish

Stanziatos, Danbury

The TVs are small at this artisan craft pizza joint and beer bar, but if you want to get a taste of “La Dolce Vita” while cheering on Italy or convince your significant other that an evening/afternoon of watching soccer can actually be romantic, look no further. The flour for the individual size pizzas is imported form Naples, Italy, then heated at 800+ degrees in an Italian-made wood fired oven. The result is a smoky slightly charred (in a flavorful way) crust that is crunchy on the outside, yet flaky and airy on the inside. Beyond the pizza, there’s a curated line-up of craft beer on tap. The bar never orders full size kegs, so the beer is always fresh and the offerings change almost daily.

Vitals: 35 Lake Avenue Ext., Danbury, (203) 885-1057stanziatos.com.

Insider’s Splurge: The fairly new restaurant Post 154 in Westport is also said to be offering menu and drink specials during the World Cup and has a big bar area adjacent to the patio.One foodie insider said “it’s areally great place to watch games for those in the know.”

Vitals: 154 Post Road East, (203) 454-0154, Post154.com.

Our fellow food lovers at OmNomCT also posted a story about great places to watch the World Cup and dine well in Fairfield County. Check it out.

OK, here come the additions to make this story richer, deeper and more broadly reflective of World Cup watching and eating havens across Connecticut:

O'Tooles Irish Pub, New Haven

O'Tooles hit our radar when the pub Tweeted about being next to the city's World Cup soccer village.

We checked out O'Tooles' website and, wow, it looks great, from the food to the atmosphere and more. It's run by an Irish duo, and yes, it's big into World Cup soccer.

Vitals: 157 Orange St., (203) 562-7468, otoolesforapint.com

 

 

 

We also got a tip on Twitter that McCoy's Pub in Stratford is a prime soccer bar with good food. Vitals: 2399 Main St., Stratford, (203) 870-8688, mccoy'spub.net.

Tigin Irish Pub, Stamford

Judging from its Twitter stream and Facebook page, Tigin is one of the most happening soccer/great food and drink spots in Connecticut.

"Our menu goes beyond the typical pub grub with a range of high quality Irish, pub and new tavern favorites made all made from scratch," Tigin says on its website. "New snack and sharable dishes accompany sandwiches, entree salads, big plates and desserts." It's been a while, but we've enjoyed Tigin's hospitality a few times in the past, and in addition to loving this "real" Irish pub, we're remembering those bold, rich gastropub flavors—and now craving them once again, of course.

And, you know, watching soccer with the Irish and Irish in spirit is as about good as it gets.

Vitals: 175 Bedford St., (203) 353-8444, tiginirishpub.com.

Capriccio Cafe, Stamford

"Starting June 12 through July 13th, Capriccio will have 4 Outdoor TV’s with LIVE GAMES !!!!," the website announces. "Bring your favorite Jersey’s to all the Soccer World Cup Games !!! Outdoor Dining available ! No reservation needed."

Just before noon Friday, the cafe known for its pizzas, paninis, pastas and other "Italian delights" (see the Capriccio menus) backed up the invitation on Twitter:

And when the sun shines, it looks like the place to be.

Vitals:189 Bedford Street, Stamford, (203) 356-9819, capriccio-cafe.com

Artisan Restaurant, Southport

Artisan just tweeted an invitation to come and watch the World Cup at this fine dining haven in the Southport section of Fairfield, and that's an invite that promises to marry great soccer from Brazil with truly fine food. (Below, a lamb burger from Artisan's Facebook page.) Here's the description from the website:

The menu at Artisan encourages you to eat well and experience cuisine influenced by the rhythm of New England's seasons and farmstead offerings. While the menu rotates on a quarterly basis to reflect local offerings, some signature appetizers stay on the menu all year long. Our New England Seafood Chowder is such a dish: the rich, creamy broth is poured  table side over bits of shrimp, crab, oyster, and scallops, accompanied by house-made fennel oyster crackers. Another year round favorite are our chilled Thimble Island CT Oysters & Cape Cod hard shell clams served with with a zesty black pepper mignonette and a few pieces of Artisan fresh baked bread. Our Tuna Crudo takes on different accoutrements as the seasons change, from grapefruit and avocado in the summer to an eggplant and chickpea chutney in the cooler months. 
Our entrees offer a diverse and delicious selection of proteins that range from pink hued and beautifully marbled Berkshire Pork Chops, to tender duck breast cooked a la plancha, to our mouth watering bone-in dry aged Strip Steak, to perfectly pan seared Diver Scallops glistening in a bacon gastrique. The Artisan Pot Roast is a local favorite that makes an appearance on the menu just as the cold starts to creep in, and is the perfect dish to warm up a chilly New England night. And in summer, we make way on the menu for Mediterranean inspired Mussels, served with our unbeatable duck fat french fries. 
The Tavern Menu is crafted to include lighter fare and more casual dishes for laid back dining with no reservations needed. The items on the Tavern menu reflect Artisan's core desire to be at once accessible and excellent; for example, our "1946 Blend" Burger, features Kobe brisket, Angus rib cap, and boneless short ribs, and is topped with a smoked  cheddar cheese sourced from a local cheese maker. The Tavern menu also showcases Chef Kieffer’s contemporary approach to New England favorites with classic dishes such as Mini Lobster Rolls, served on brioche buns with a side of coleslaw, and Cod Fish and Chips served with Artisan tartar sauce.

Vitals: 275 Old Post Rd., (203) 307-4222, artisansouthport.com.

Local Kitchen and Beer Bar, Fairfield

We just remembered adding Local to our best burgers in Connecticut story and the thought struck that it probably had all the elements to also make it a prime World Cup viewing venue.

And we were right. It only takes a couple of minutes on Local's website to see that a place that's passionate about artisan beer and American comfort food is exactly the kind of hotspot we're highlighting here—and one look at the sleek bar with the big-screen TVs seals the deal.

Local's "About" section online says:

Welcome to local kitchen and craft beer bar, Fairfield's newest hot spot.
With over 30 craft beers on tap, you'll be sure to get a unique experience at this social kitchen.
Local has great food and atmosphere with interactive menus on iPads to add to the experience.
Discover local kitchen and beer bar.
Cheers.

Take a look at the food shown here, and the place, and then make plans to please your palate as you watch  (some great soccer.

One note: It's "silent sidelines" at Local, which is showing the soccer matches without the sound on, which only means you can watch with passion while also talking to, and hearing, the folks sitting next to you.

Vitals: 85 Mill Plain Rd., (203) 955-1919, fairfieldlocal.com.

Ted's Montana Grill, Hartford

We know from chatting with him that Ted Turner has been passionate about sailing and Major League Baseball; maybe the drama of World Cup soccer also interests him?

Whatever the case, Turner's new Ted's Montana Grill on Front Street in Hartford seems like another spot to get some great food and watch the matches from Brazil.

The great food part we can vouch for first-hand; the bison burgers at Ted's are amazing. (Left, bison nachos; below, the Avalon burger.)

In terms of prospects for prime soccer viewing, we called Ted's and asked if the games are being shown. After a caution that there's one TV in the cozy bar area, the answer was that if anyone asks, sure.

At this shiny new spot in Hartford, the food is good enough to justify making the effort to request World Cup viewing.

Enjoy.

Vitals: 35 Front St., (860) 692-1167, tedsmontanagrill.com

 

Spotted Horse Tavern, Westport

This Tweet from the Spotted Horse Tavern in Westport is music to our culinary World Cup ears:

From the team behind the Gray the Gray Goose Café in Southport, the Spotted Horse Tavern "is a neighborhood respite where folks gather over great food and drink. Housed in Westport's historic Sherwood House (circa 1808), the design is modern in its interpretation, with a nod to the historic building’s colonial past. The menu is in keeping with our local food movement but we don’t beat you over the head with it. Organic, clean, distinctive flavors find their way into each dish by way of unique ingredient combinations and thoughtful preparations, and favorite comfort foods are left to speak for themselves."

We can easily see pairing a great beer or red wine with this menu item: steak frites with a red wine-shallot reduction and Parmesan fries. Dress up your order with some chic looking seafood (above), or dress it down with a burger Parisian-style (right).

Any way you slice it, the Spotted Horse Tavern happily has World Cup fever.

Vitals: 26 Church Lane, (203) 557-9393, SpottedHorseCT.com

Baró, Fairfield

Trolling back through our Twitter Connecticut dining list on the morning of Sunday, June 22,  we found another great spot for watching the World Cup while enjoying fine food, Baró in Fairfield, a tapas bar and restaurant  featuring tempting Latin American and Caribbean cuisine.

We should have known sooner, of course, as Baró was honored for Best Latin American cuisine in our 2014 Readers' Choice Restaurant Awards. The "About Us" section describes "a lively celebration of craft cocktails, Latin flavors and Spanish wines."

If that sounds good, the photos of the food will have you heading to Baró to see a World Cup game, or just to enjoy the sizzle of dining in the spirit of Brazil 2014.

To top it off, the restaurant tweeted that it was offering $1 oysters, all day, every day. (Above, 'Queso Frito' fried farmers cheese with tomato & oregano sofrito, from the restaurant's Facebook page, and below, a Cubanito sandwich.)

Vitals: 1229 Post Rd., (203) 292-9560, baroct.com.

If you're looking for other hotspots in Fairfield County, specifically the Stamford area, What's on the Menu has a web page devoted to where the World Cup is being shown and what the specials and promotions are at those venues.

Flanders Fish Market & Restaurant, 
East Lyme

This is the perfect World Cup viewing discovery for the arrival of summer. We included Flanders in our July feature on great casual roadside food for summer travels in Connecticut and then clicked on the website to find that this fish- and shellfish-lovers paradise is also a Brazil 2014 hotspot.

Whether you love lobster, fish-and-chips, fried clams, or other super-fresh seafood, Flanders is legendary all over Connecticut. Getting cozy in the bar with some craft beer or wine and seafood is definitely a g---o---a---l!

We just excerpted a tiny section of the Things to Share menu and already our mouths were watering:

Calamari 12.5

Traditional Style -

fried, side of marinara sauce

Parmesan Style -

fried, sautéed with olive oil, banana peppers, Parmesan cheese

Sicilian Style -

fried, sautéed with olive oil, banana peppers, Parmesan cheese, spicy Italian sausage, tossed with marinara sauce

Sliders 8 each

choose tuna or lobster salad

TUNA: fresh tuna, wasabi mayo

LOBSTER SALAD: shucked lobster, mayonnaise, lemon

Mussels Formica 11

Atlantic mussels, one pound,

steamed, white wine & garlic butter sauce

Steamers MP

Maine steamers, one pound, clam broth, melted butter

Colossal Crab Cakes 7 each

baked golden brown with a touch of butter

Cappy’s Shrimp 15 sautéed with oil and old bay, served with homemade tortilla chips

Vitals: 22 Chesterfield Road, East Lyme, (860) 739-8866, flandersfish.com  

La Boca, Middletown

La Boca is located in Middletown's restaurant district, offers more than 20 craft beers, and features all of the staples of a good Mexican restaurant, along with more ambitious dishes such as Osso Boca (above right).

On top of all that, La Boca has put out an invitation (below) for everyone to celebrate the World Cup with the friendly, welcoming folks who congregate at the restaurant and bar.

What more needs to be said?

Vitals: 337 Main St., (860) 347-4777, labocaonmain.com

Best Connecticut Places to the Watch World Cup With Great Food, Drinks

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