Creative Winter Dining Last Updated: September 2021

Connecticut’s always been a top spot for great al fresco dining during the spring, summer and fall. Now, with the chlly weather and with COVID-19 restrictions in place, restaurants are innovating new ways to keep diners safe and warm for the colder months– and it's making for even cooler dining experiences.
These added safety measures for winter are in addition to the significant measures restaurants have in place, upholding the Connecticut Restaurant Promise. Here are just a few of the new protocols at Connecticut restaurants:

  • Restaurant capacity is limited to to 50%
  • Tables are spaced at least 6 feet apart
  • Parties can be a maximum of 8 people
  • All staff must wear face coverings
  • Patrons must wear a mask unless eating or drinking
  • Enclosed outdoor spaces must comply with strict sanitization and air ventilation protocols. 

Don’t miss this winter’s new, unique, and safe dining experiences — and the chance to support local businesses going the extra mile.  With all locations, be sure to call ahead as this special seating is limited.

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Covered & Heated Patios

To keep you safe and warm, many restaurants are adding heaters and even roofs to their outdoor setups. Enjoy handcrafted cuisine under the covered patio at Oak & Almond or savor fresh seafood under a cozy covered and heated patio at the waterfront Guilford Mooring.

At J Restaurant in Hartford, ring in the holiday season in one of the heated, roofless tents or in one of the heated gazebos. Or, grab your blanket and sit out by one of our Christmas trees, street lamps, and fire pits.

And coming soon: a warm and toasty covered patio at Rebel Dog Tavern in Plainville. After learning their customers preferred outdoor dining during the pandemic, the restaurant began constructing a steel supported roof frame which will include eight radiant patio heaters and even drop-down vinyl walls. Look forward to enjoying breakfast favorites and tavern fare on the covered patio later this winter.

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Heated Tents

Right in the heart of historic downtown Mystic, relish sea-to-table dishes while staying safe and toasty in an outdoor heated tent at Oyster Club. In New Haven find a heated tent, inspired cocktails and bites at 116 Crown, or in Old Greenwich, OG Social Club offers a tent, patio, and heaters to compliment American fare in a historically meaningful location. At Luce Middletown, treat your taste buds to traditional Italian cuisine under a heated tent and ambiance-setting string lights.

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BYOB has taken on a new meaning this season: Bring Your Own Blanket! A partnership between Barker Specialty Co. and the Waterbury Chamber of Commerce is rallying over 50 area restaurants to encourage diners to bring their own blankets when eating outside. In addition to heaters and tents, chow on authentic barbecue while wrapped in your fuzziest blanket at The Stand in Branford. Bring your own blanket to restaurants such as Viron Rondo Osteria in Cheshire, Mix Prime Steakhouse in Woodbury and more. In Westport, a similar blanket initiative encourages diners to bring their favorite fuxxy throws to area restaurants.

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In Stamford, the Sign of the Whale Restaurant offers rooftop igloos with couches and chairs for your comfort. Treat yourself and your friends or family to special menus. Dockside Brewery in Milford has a winter experience like no other. Explore ten individual custom igloo experiences at Dockside's very own igloo park. Located in the waterfront outdoor Biergarten. Each week will we be releasing different experiences.

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Cava Restaurant in Southington, already known for it's lavishly decorated interior, has built a brand-new 2,700 square foot tent to accommodate more guests while adhering to capacity limits for safety. And inside that tent, is the Polar Express! Dine amongst bright lights and sit right aboard the train — you'll never feel closer to the holiday season. Or hop aboard a real vintage locomotive for a four course meal on the Essex Clipper Holiday Dinner Train.

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Fire Pits & Wine

Overlook a stunning 40 acre estate at Aquila’s Nest Vineyards in Newtown, where you can stay safely outdoors and heat up by a fire pit — and delicious warm mulled wine. Alongside your drink, enjoy a tasty selection of charcuterie, cheese, and cruditee boxes.

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Takeout, Delivery & Curbside Pickup

This year, restaurants across the state have become innovative with their take-home offerings — many even offering DIY meal kits. Support local businesses by ordering from the many spots offering takeout, delivery, or curbside pickup.

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Gift Cards

Now more than ever, it's important to #SupportCTbusinesses. One way is to purchase a gift card now to redeem later — or even as a gift for a loved one. Check out gift cards from Connecticut's wonderful restaurants and help keep your favorites in business. Most spots allow for easy online purchases and some offer e-gift cards you can send directly to a gift recipient!