Comfort Foods and Where to Find Them Last Updated 2/20

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Let’s face it, sometimes we just want food that makes us feel good. Food that provides sustenance and warmth and fuels us to keep going when the days are short and cold. Whether it’s pizza, meatloaf, chicken and waffles, or stuffed baked potatoes, what each of us calls ‘comfort food’ might be different, but they share a commonality, in that they literally comfort us when we need it most.  

I spend a lot of time dining out, and I’ve got a short list of spots I like to visit when my craving for comfort food strikes. Some will be familiar, others maybe less so, but each brings their A game and delivers some of the best ‘comfort food’ in the area.

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J. Timothy’s, Plainville

J. Timothy’s Taverne, or as most of us know it, J. Tim’s, is a local legend of a tavern located in Plainville, CT. From open to close, they pack the house with fans who come from near and far to enjoy their “Dirt” Style Wings. Wings that are fried, sauced, fried, and sauced again. I have to admit, these wings are incredible - and I went to college in Buffalo New York, the birthplace of the Buffalo wing. However, don’t just stop at the wings, because J. Tim’s has a Poutine on the menu that is knock your socks off delicious and really hits the spot when you need food that gives you all the warm and fuzzies on the inside. They start with tots, and layer on a smooth and luscious gravy, cheese curds and braised beef short rib (an available add on). The crunch from the tots, paired with the savory gravy, beef, and cheese is a combo worth the drive, worth the wait, and most importantly, worth skipping the wings...actually, don’t skip the wings, but have both. You won’t have any regrets.

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Republic at the Linden, Hartford

Nestled along a charming, historic street in downtown Hartford, Republic at the Linden has been a go-to spot of mine for some time now. I love the vibe, I love the food, and I love the location. In my book, it’s a triple solid win. They also happen to have one of the best plates of Chicken Parmesan in town; comfort food at its finest. Growing up in a large Italian American household, chicken parmesan feeds my soul, and the Republic's takes me right back to my grandmother's kitchen. Chicken that’s pounded to just the right thickness, breading that’s crunchy but not overpowering, and just the right amount of sauce. All of this gets finished with mozzarella that’s melted to sheer perfection. Served with a side of pasta and garlic bread, this is a comfort food home run.

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Quaker Diner, West Hartford

Quaker Diner is a West Hartford institution. Located in the fun and funky Park Road neighborhood, Quaker Diner has been in operation since the 1930s and retains a lot of charm from years gone by.  This is the place to come when you want downright delicious, no frills food, and to me, Corned Beef Hash, Fried Eggs, Homefries, Toast, and a short stack of Pancakes is a sure fire way to satiate that comfort craving. The seating is first come first serve and the restaurant is small, so be prepared to hang out and wait for a bit during peak times on weekends.

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Sayulita, South Glastonbury

Tacos are more than just a food, they are a way of life, and Sayulita in South Glastonbury puts out tacos that are best-in-class. With perfectly fried chicken atop bacon braised kale, these tacos really hit it out of the park when you are craving some good comfort food. Sayulita is small, so be prepared to wait during peak times, but they have a great bar area (with really good Margaritas), and tables tend to move quickly. Pictured here, Fried Chicken Taco with Bacon Braised Kale & Baja Fish Tacos.

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House of Naan, New Haven

Indian food ranks in my top 5 for favorite cuisines, and House of Naan should absolutely make your list if you are visiting or living in New Haven. Located right in the heart of downtown, and just a few minutes walk from Yale, the restaurant has a hip vibe and a friendly staff. Their lunch special (Monday-Saturday) is one of the best deals around - it’s a $10 FEAST! You pick your protein (I always go with Paneer), pick your sauce (I always go with Korma...HOT!), and pick your appetizer (Papri Chaat).  It’s seriously that easy. Not only that, but it is some of the best Indian food we have had in Connecticut.

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Zohara, West Hartford

I love the food that Zohara serves, and I also love their philosophy of creating meals that are meant to be shared. While most people would not gravitate towards hummus and falafel as ‘comfort’ food, to me, this ranks right up there with food that makes me feel satisfied and at home wherever I am. They are worth the visit on weekends for their Za’tar Chicken and Waffles. A perfectly spiced and crispy pile of chicken sits atop a chickpea waffle, and a warm, slightly sweet and spicy sauce gets poured over top. The balance of sweet, spicy, and salty hits this out of the park and pairs perfectly with a side of market hummus and falafel.

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Bear’s BBQ Smokehouse, Hartford, South Windsor, New Haven, Windsor

Located in the bustling Front Street district of Hartford, Bear’s BBQ Smokehouse has garnered a cult following for those seeking big bold flavors and excellent smoked meat. The Super Spud is the apex of comfort food and will provide sustenance on even the coldest of winter days. A freshly baked potato gets piled high with Bear’s signature mac and cheese, your choice of meat (pro tip: always go with Burnt Ends if they haven’t sold out) and finished with onion, sour cream, cheddar and bacon bits. You may need a nap after, but it will be one happy slumber.

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Savoy, West Hartford

I could eat pizza three times a day, seven days a week, for the rest of my life, and still not get tired of it. I love pizza more than you could ever imagine, and if you have not been to Savoy, you need to run, not walk. With two huge wood fired ovens, Savoy is cranking out some of the best pies in Connecticut, and they aren’t afraid to get bold with their toppings. Their Loaded Baked Potato pie is the perfect winter addition to the menu - with roasted potatoes, bacon, cheese, chives, and sour cream, it’s like a giant potato skin on the most perfectly cooked pizza crust you’ll ever have.