Feel-Good Food – Deliciously Healthy Dining Spots in Connecticut Last Updated 5/19

We’re excited to welcome a new CT Ambassador, Ari Laing of Well Seasoned, a blog dedicated to eating beautifully, while capturing the joy of discovering new ways to cook and elevating the dining experience through amazing photography. Here’s her take on some of Connecticut’s most inspiring fresh-and-local dining destinations.

There’s a whole movement on eating fresh, local ingredients making waves across the states. But how do you make those ingredients stand out? I’ve set out to discover restaurants in Connecticut that not only highlight local vegetables, dairy, and proteins, but also provide healthier options across a variety of unique and inspiring dishes. Food that not only looks good, but makes you feel good too. Whether you’re a local resident looking to explore both familiar and hidden gems, or you’re simply passing through, be sure to check out these foodie finds for some creative and inspiring healthy dishes.

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Claire’s Corner Copia, New Haven

If you are driving anywhere near New Haven, you absolutely must make time to stop into Claire’s Corner Copia. It’s owned and run by the charming Claire LaPia, who makes all her patrons feel as warm and welcome as if they were family. She cooks like it, too.  An omelet at Claire’s is not just an omelet. It’s a combination of local, organic eggs (cracked to order!), fresh vegetables that have never seen the inside of a freezer, and a level of skill that take her omelet over the top. Claire repeatedly told me that Juana, one of her beloved chefs, makes the best omelet you’ve ever had. After a brief moment watching Juana make my breakfast, and then later upon taking my first bite, I’d have to agree. Freshness abounds, and it readily comes across in their food. I highly recommend rounding out your vegetable-forward breakfast with a slice of her famous Lithuanian coffee cake which was, in a word, heaven. 

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Good News Restaurant, Woodbury

Walking into Good News Restaurant in Woodbury is like stepping into Chef and owner Carole Peck’s home. There are multiple dining rooms, each one a little different tin terms of tables, paint, decor, etc. But the vibe throughout the restaurant is the same — this is Carole’s space, and she’s about to treat you to something delicious. All of the dishes at Good News Restaurant are made to highlight the freshness of the ingredients. A daily soup of farro with peas and parsley gremolata was the perfect first taste of spring, while a beet salad with avocado, peas, cucumbers, and horseradish chive cream offered the most lovely contrasting textures. Between the crunchy vegetables, creamy avocado and cheese, and fresh crisp micro greens, each bite was better than the last. The restaurant has a full bar, but if you’re looking to keep things light, ask for one of their signature mocktails — mine tasted of fresh watermelon! As always, no meal is complete without a little something sweet to round things out. Carole is making a vegan chocolate cake with raspberry sorbet that is a light, yet seemingly indulgent way to end the meal. 

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Back 40 Kitchen, Greenwich

Local, organic, vegetable-forward dishes. This is what comes to mind when I think of the menu at Back 40 Kitchen in Greenwich. That’s not to say that they don’t serve meat — they do! — rather that they don’t let the meat dishes outshine the veggies. Chef Ian Vest has created a menu that feels both fresh and exciting. The grain salad with quinoa, broccoli, pepitas, and goat cheese was anything but ordinary, while the jack fruit tacos offer a unique vegetarian entrée for those looking to branch out and try something new. The black bean and beet burger is not to be missed. It’s topped with a crunchy fermented veggie slaw that adds both texture as well as contrast to the earthy burger. And the side salad? Hardly an afterthought. It’s lightly dressed, slightly sweet, and the perfect accompaniment to keep the burger from feeling too heavy. Wash it all down with one of their house-made mocktails and leave feeling completely satisfied. 

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The Stand Vegan Café, Fairfield

While The Stand used to be known for their juices alone, they are now a pioneer in Fairfield County boasting themselves as “the new vegan”. They offer a variety of breakfast options, from broccoli and tofu quiche (paired with a light arugula salad topped with fresh citrus), grain bowls, and of course, their famous juices and smoothies. Later in the day, cozy up at one of their tables in the warm, sunny dining space to enjoy a fan favorite: grilled tempeh reuben. Definitely save room for dessert! Chef Jenna McPartland is baking up a variety of vegan and gluten-free treats to satisfy any sweet tooth, including homemade chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, and muffins! 

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21 Oak, Manchester

If I had to sum up 21 Oak in one phrase, I’d share that both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike will leave feeling totally inspired. Chef Shawn Dickensheets is creating vegetarian dishes that offer an all-around unique experience for diners, starting with their striking presentation and finishing through with wonderful contrasts of texture and flavor that will make you excited to eat plant-based meals. When I began looking over the menu, I was immediately drawn to sweet potato scallion cakes with sautéed vegetables. The avocado herb crema makes the dish! But I was most blown away by Chef Shawn’s macro bowl, a mountain of crunchy vegetables served over brown rice with a vibrant miso carrot dressing. It was so far from ordinary that I found myself unable to put my fork down. Do yourself a favor and be sure to order one of their house made lemonades, customizable with over 20 flavor add-ins, including pomegranate, coconut, and the lavender pictured here. It’s easy to see why this plant-based restaurant is the destination of choice for so many hungry guests. 

 

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The Sweet Beet, Granby

Located on a quiet street in Granby, The Sweet Beet is home to healthy meals that are all vegan, free of gluten, soy, peanuts, dairy, eggs, and GMOs. Chef Heather Dougherty is not only making it easy to drop in for a quick lunch, but also to bring food home for later. The restaurant has an entire wall of refrigerator cases prepped with ready-to-eat meals for the whole family. Feeling thirsty? Order one of their fresh pressed juices while you wait for your meal. Heather’s favorite is the turmeric infusion featuring carrots, red apple, beets, turmeric, and lemon. Don’t forget to grab one of the many beautiful desserts they’re baking up daily, including an assortment of mini cupcakes, chocolate truffles, and the most beautiful donuts. And with a little notice, you can even order special occasion vegan and gluten-free custom cakes! 

Wherever you’re headed in the Nutmeg State, keep these restaurants in mind as you search for healthy, local food that will leave you wanting more!

About Well-Seasoned: Ari is a Connecticut-based mom, food photographer, stylist, recipe developer and the force behind the Well Seasoned blog. Her stunning work has been featured on websites for major brands as well the Today Show, Town & Country Magazine and Pop Sugar online. Follow her on Instagram@wellseasonedstudio.