Repurposed Spaces—Unique Restaurant Experiences in Connecticut Last Updated 11/19

Ever dined in a jailhouse? (As a visitor, of course.) How about brunching in a fire station? Booking a fine dinner in an old schoolhouse? You can in Connecticut. Foodies can indulge themselves at an historic mill, a post office, even a gas station. Inventive restauranteurs have transformed all sorts of landmark venues into showcases for fine food, whether it’s a brick-oven pizza, fresh seafood, farm-to-table fare, or a classic hamburger (We invented it!). Next time you dine out, just look at the amazing places you can dine in:

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Engine Room, Mystic, Restored Lathrop Marine Engine Building

Within the walls of this historic site, Lathrop machinists manufactured oil and gas engines from 1897 through World War II. Today, Engine Room features craft beers on tap, the area's largest bourbon selection, craft cocktails and wine, and a menu of locally sourced, creative American comfort food—with a focus on America's most beloved dish, the burger. Its sister restaurant, Oyster Club, is located right down the road. Swing by their Treehouse for another unique experience.

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Present Company, Tariffville, former textile mill

In the 1860s, they produced fine fabrics in this intimate brick building. Today, Present Company serves the finest farm-to-table American fare.

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The Station Restaurant, Naugatuck, restored train station

Constructed in 1910 in grand Spanish Colonial Revival-style, this iconic building closed in the 1960s. Today, it’s been transformed into an ornate restaurant that accentuates the features of the original building—and serves up tantalizing seafood, chicken, steak, pasta and gluten-free favorites.

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The Stand, Branford, former gas station

Originally a full-service gas station, now it’s a filling station for folks with an appetite for authentic barbecue, local produce and community-building.

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OKO Kitchen, Westport, former firehouse

From 1931 to the 1980s, these brick walls were headquarters of the Vigilant Hose Company, firefighters protecting the community. Today, OKO Kitchen offers an innovative take on traditional Japanese food and sushi. 

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Market Place Tavern, Litchfield, former jail

Overlooking the Litchfield Green, Market Place Tavern serves its patrons in one of the oldest penal facilities in the state. The jail, the oldest public building in town, was built to hold British prisoners during the War of 1812. According to the restaurant, “the jail cells overlooking the three-story bar are still intact, as are the bars on the windows that face the Litchfield Green."

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Millwright’s Restaurant, Simsbury, former mill

The Hop Brook Mill, built in 1680 and now Millwright’s home, was a grist and sawmill in the village of Simsbury. The mill is now an award-winning restaurant that offers sophisticated New England cuisine. Treat your tastebuds to more of Chef Tyler Anderson's cuisine with a bite at Porrón & Piña, a Spanish inspired restaurant and wine bar in the historic Goodwin Hotel in Hartford, CT.

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The Library Wine Bar & Bistro, Wallingford

Once Wallingford’s first public library, this restaurant combines the essence of historic downtown Wallingford with the old-world traditions of Portuguese and Mediterranean cuisine. Built in 1899, it was restored back to its classic, architectural beauty by the Gouveia family of Gouveia Vineyards, Wallingford, CT.

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Tavern at Graybarns, Norwalk, former textile mill

The tavern hosted Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher on their honeymoon and received frequent visits from Hollywood heartthrob Spencer Tracy. The building began as a textile mill in the early 1800s, became a speakeasy in the 1920s, and then transformed into an inn. True to its history, Graybarns on the Silvermine River has remained the ideal setting to unite city slickers, international travelers and the local community over food and libation, relaxation and leisure.

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The Courthouse Bar & Grille, Putnam

During the early 1900s, this building was the home of justice. It’s now home to an eatery that serves hand-carved steaks and seafood, and prepares everything from scratch. Located in the heart of Putnam’s Antique District, you’ll find the menu and atmosphere designed with a courthouse and antique theme in mind.

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Crown & Hammer Pub, Collinsville, former freight station

Tucked in the center of a quaint New England town, this intimate restaurant serves delicious American fare in the historic Collinsville Train Depot—part of the iconic Collins Axe Factory complex. It takes its name from the symbols on the company’s logo.

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Schoolhouse at Cannondale, Wilton

This Victorian-style schoolhouse was built in the early 1870s. Eventually, June Havoc, the Hollywood and vaudeville star, purchased it for $1 and moved it to Cannondale. You’ll find old photos of the schoolhouse and students lining the walls—as well as a menu that has consistently earned Diner’s Choice Awards.

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Union Street Tavern, Windsor, restored firehouse

Union Street Tavern offers a relaxed and casual atmosphere in the revamped 1927 Windsor Fire Company firehouse. The restaurant brings a classic mix of new and old together into a charming and stylish American eatery.

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Willimantic Brewing Co., Willimantic, former post office

From 1910 to 1966, this stately building was an active post office. Since 1997, Willibrew (as the locals call it) has been serving up craft brews. The award-winning landmark restaurant & pub brewery is located in the heart of northeastern Connecticut’s Quiet Corner.

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Foundry Kitchen & Tavern, Sandy Hook, former general store

This relaxed, upscale pub is housed in a brick veneer that was home to Newtown's first general store. The original Red Brick store first opened in 1908—and legend has it that one of its frequent shoppers was Marilyn Monroe.

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Plan B Burger Bar, Simsbury, former train station

Built in 1875, the single-story, Italianate-style brick building was once the Simsbury Railroad Depot. Now, pull in for exceptional pub fare with distinctively delicious meats.

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Ordinary, New Haven, former tavern—for starters!

This New Haven tavern is anything but ordinary. Dating back to 1659, it’s been a tavern, inn, bookstore, general store, and hotel. One of the tavern’s most famous overnight guests was a 43-year-old General George Washington, who rested there on his way up to Cambridge to lead the Continental Army. While not a full-blown restaurant, menu items include burgers, charcuterie, grilled cheese and bar bites. Conde Nast Traveler named it one of the “Greatest Bars in the World.”