Where to Eat in Essex: The Best Restaurants and Bars

April 15, 2018 Esmeralda Fenner

Essex is a town in Middlesex County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 6,683 at the 2010 census. It is made up of three villages: Essex Village, Centerbrook, and Ivoryton.
Things to do in Essex

1. Bun On The Run

24 Main St, Centerbrook, CT 06409-1001 Takeout American, Soups Breakfast, Lunch +1 860-767-3395
Excellent
62%
Good
34%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 23 reviews

Bun On The Run

Reviewed By Vetskidog - Murfreesboro, Tennessee

First thing you should know is that this place is open Mon-Fri 7-2:30. They are closed on the weekend and they only serve sandwiches to go. There is no seating anywhere.

I ordered the grilled cheese and soup special which came with tomato basil soup. The grilled cheese was on sour dough (my choice) with white American cheese. The soup was delicious and came in a big bowl to go. My grilled cheese sandwich was ooey gooey just like I like it. My husband ordered the Turkey and Brie panini with a cranberry mayo and spinach. Chips were extra. Both were very good.

Reasonable prices and great service. Check it out.

Side note: surprisingly the cashier did not know they were on TA. When I read some of the reviews, she was awestruck.

2. River Tavern

23 Main St, Chester, CT 06412-1311 Reservations, Seating, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar American, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Dinner, Late Night +1 860-526-9417
Excellent
60%
Good
26%
Satisfactory
10%
Poor
3%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 255 reviews

River Tavern

Reviewed By Anne M - West Simsbury, Ct

Dinner was amazing, we had both chicken and swordfish. The flavor was wonderful, both dishes tender and perfectly cooked. We started with the fresh bread which had a crunchy crust and tender interior. The main courses came out and they were delicious, best swordfish I have had in 10 years. A+++ food and service. We went on Monday night, not crowded.

3. Griswold Inn ~ Dining

36 Main St, Essex, CT 06426-1132 Seating, Waitstaff, Parking Available, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Free Wifi American, Bar, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options Dinner, Brunch, Lunch, Late Night, Drinks SGD 20 - SGD 52 +1 860-767-1776
Excellent
41%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
13%
Poor
8%
Terrible
5%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 440 reviews

Griswold Inn ~ Dining

Located in the “storybook” village of Essex mere steps from the Connecticut River, this 1776 landmark offers three distinct dining experiences. “Historic Dining” is offered in four handsome rooms - The Covered Bridge, The Gun Room, The Library and The Essex Room – where a renowned maritime art collection fills the walls. The Inn’s New England heritage and connection with the sea is apparent in the classic seasonal cuisine offered; diners may enjoy a more contemporary culinary experience in the stunning wine bar featuring tapas-style dining and an extensive selection of wines by the glass; tavern fare is offered in the atmospheric, award-winning Tap Room where lively music rings out nightly. Patio dining is an option May through October, weather permitting. Lunch and dinner served daily, Hunt Breakfast on Sunday.

Reviewed By carriagehouse37 - Mystic, Connecticut

My wife and I chose the Griswold Inn to celebrate our 49th Anniversary. We went for lunch rather than dinner to enjoy the immediate surroundings of Essex, a quintessential New England town. The inn, itself, is fascinating; oldest continuously operating inn in the United States, dating back to 1776. My wife savored the soup of the day (Vegetable Beef) Italian half-sandwich w/ arugula, melted cheese, and Italian meat ($11.00). I ordered a special - Butternut Ravioli w/ feta and toasted nuts ($17.00). The Griswold Mud Pie w/ chocolate crust, topped with chocolate sauce and toasted almonds ($7.50)...DELICIOUS dessert to complement our meal. I wholeheartedly recommend the Griswold Inn; be sure to allow time to survey the historic architecture and decor. Located in Essex, Connecticut (Rt-9) just 15 minutes off I-95 (Exit 69)

4. Liv's Oyster Bar & Restaurant

166 Main St, Unit 4, Old Saybrook, CT 06475-2386 Television, Highchairs Available, Reservations, Seating, Waitstaff, Street Parking, Free Off-Street Parking, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Accepts Discover, Takeout, Outdoor Seating, Parking Available, Free Wifi American, Seafood, Gluten Free Options Dinner SGD 13 - SGD 38 +1 860-395-5577
Excellent
57%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
3%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 253 reviews

Liv's Oyster Bar & Restaurant

Liv's is the brainchild of John Brescio. He is a French Culinary Institute-trained chef who worked at Tavern on the Green and Judson Grill in New York as well as Aux Delices in Greenwich. Liv's is names for the Brescio's young daughter Olivia, a photogenic tyke whose black and white blowups grace the walls. 'The combination of easy comfort and really good food makes Liv's Oyster Bar in Old Saybrook such a find' - The NY Times.

Reviewed By GolfNut1968 - Madison, Connecticut

Tried Liv's Saturday evening. Ordered dinner of scallops, portion is appetizer size and obviously precooked as we were served within 5 minutes after placing order. Wife ordered swordfish which was slightly larger portion but also precooked. Restaurant is noisy, overpriced (a la carte entrees $28 & 29) precooks its meal, service was fine & friendly but would prefer watching a movie at this theatre turned restaurant. Will not return.

5. Essex Coffee & Tea Co

51 Main St, Essex, CT 06426-1175 Takeout, Seating Breakfast +1 860-767-7804
Excellent
75%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
3%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 31 reviews

Essex Coffee & Tea Co

Reviewed By Harley M - Essex, Connecticut

We stop to buy coffee every couple of days in this "Quaint Little Spot". The expresso is perfect and the ice coffee has different flavors that are really great. I had the toasted almond yesterday and it was pure perfection. The muffins and little snacks are always
fresh and very tasty. I love sitting outside and watching the walkers with strollers and dogs. Very charming.

6. Red House Restaurant

158 Main St, Deep River, CT 06417-1715 Takeout, Seating, Waitstaff, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Reservations, Television, Wheelchair Accessible American, Bar Lunch, Dinner, Late Night, Drinks SGD 9 - SGD 28 +1 860-526-2600
Excellent
45%
Good
41%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
4%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 107 reviews

Red House Restaurant

Red House provides an array of food and drink that keeps customers wondering what is coming next. Whether it is seasonal menus, southern bbq, hot trends we keep are customers coming by keeping our ingredients fresh.

Reviewed By laursie10 - Essex, Connecticut

Okay--not a Mexican place and I'm sure el perfecto is not real Spanish. This place is perfect, though! Expected a fun place for a Bloody on Sunday afternoon with passable food. As it turns out, the food is super par, so much so that I'd recommend eating here when you are not distracted by the bottomless mimosas (which are generous and delicious). The moule frites are set apart from others by their meatiness and deliciously spicy broth; the pork wings in their sweet pepper glaze are again meaty and fall off the bone; the smoke and cheese pork sandwich is one of the most delicious I've ever eaten; the homemade green goddess dressing is scrumptious. Add to the fun drinks--including a yum bacon Bloody--the hip but not hipster classic rock vibe and the truly personable, witty staff, and Red House is just as I say: perfect.

7. Dunkin' Donuts

23 Main St, Essex, CT 06426-1135 +1 860-767-0396
Excellent
50%
Good
0%
Satisfactory
50%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 4 reviews

Reviewed By mar w - Pensacola, Florida

Friendly and good service and selection of items. Had breakfast as well as late coffee stop. Always easy to find and parking convenient.

8. The Blue Hound Cookery

107 Main St, Ivoryton, CT 06442-1103 Takeout, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Parking Available, Television, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Accepts Discover, Reservations, Accepts Credit Cards Cajun & Creole, American, Gluten Free Options, Vegetarian Friendly Lunch, Dinner SGD 20 - SGD 26 +1 860-767-0260
Excellent
72%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 106 reviews

The Blue Hound Cookery

cookery and taproom located in the center of Ivoryton across from the Ivoryton Playhouse. Casual dining for lunch dinner and late night. New taproom opened with ct craft beers.

Reviewed By MaureenM129 - Milford

Four old friends and planned to be in the area to attend Norma Terris Theater Wednesday matinee, so I poked around the Internet and found this charming little place. The menu looked so interesting, with cajun and creole options, and a large selection of unique salads, along with much more. We ended up getting two orders of fried green tomatoes and five varied salads, topped with either grilled shrimp, chicken, or flank steak. Dressing on the citrus salad I had was excellent, and my friends were equally pleased with their choices. The fried green tomatoes were the best I'd ever had, light and not greasy. Everything was so good, and the atmosphere was so hospitable that we just had to stay for coffee and desserts, and what desserts!!! We shared creme brulee, bananas foster, and brownie sundae - all very delicious. The pricing was reasonable and a good value, considering the quality of the cuisine offered. The owners couldn't have been more pleasant and welcoming! Wished we lived closer, but I personally will go back again when I'm out that way!

9. Sweet P's

51 Main St, Essex, CT 06426-1175 Takeout, Seating, Street Parking, Free Off-Street Parking, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Free Wifi, Accepts Discover, Outdoor Seating, Accepts Credit Cards Italian, Grill, American Lunch, Drinks +1 860-767-7805
Excellent
60%
Good
20%
Satisfactory
10%
Poor
0%
Terrible
10%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 39 reviews

Sweet P's

Sweet P's, has been established in Essex, CT since 1989. We specialize in gourmet ice cream- Ashley's gourmet ice cream voted Connecticut's best for many years in a row, fresh smoothies made with the pulp of the fruit, hand crafted paninis and soups. Our handcrafted soups afford you the opportunity to enjoy gourmet, restaurant-quality soup at home without spending the day in the kitchen. Enjoy a "night-out" experience Sweet P's also offers gourmet freshly made panini (in Italy panino is a singular and panini is a plural) these are sandwiches toasted to grill-marked crunchiness on an Italian made iron press. Our meats are lean and our chicken is steroid-free/antibiotic free. All panini come with a free option of veggie chips. A complete gourmet lunch box to go :) Are you a local? Come and try us. We guarantee good service,delicious food and a fun time with us. Are you simply spending the weekend or a long vacation in our charming village? Make us part of your adventure and let us add a satisfying experience to your vacation. Our family welcomes you to come and enjoy new Sweet History Established in 1989. Sweet P's, has been established in Essex, CT since 1989 but has been under new management since May of 2014. Sweet P's started initially as an Ice cream and candy shop. Over the years the products vary from penny candies to high end chocolates and different brands of ice cream. As the new owner I have selected to sell Ashley's ice cream. Ashley's Ice Cream is a premium gourmet ice cream that is locally made with Connecticut ingredients. It is truly amazing! Our signature flavor is Essex Mud which is exclusively made for Sweet P's. Customer service is a huge priority for the Sweet P's family! Due to our increasing demand of Panini, we recommend that you call ahead to place your order instead of waiting in line; however, if you are not in a rush and don't mind waiting a few minutes you can simply place your order and take a brief walk, sit in our court yard or even visit the ducks at the docks and by the time you return your order will be ready to your satisfaction. Meet the Business Owner Angelica Business Owner I grew up in a big family with lots of good home cooking. I love to cook but most importantly I like to make quality food. When I was a single mom, I worked full time but I wanted my children to enjoy good food and treats, so finding restaurants or takeout shops with quality food was a bit of a challenge. At Sweet P's, when I see a mother sharing a panini meal with their children it brings back fond memories. I want to provide food that is fast and convenience but not fast food. I have created a menu that I believe is the perfect blend of gourmet quality and value in a simple take-out order without paying the price of a seat down restaurant. If you are visiting Essex Village by car or boat please feel free to stop by and say hi. Smiles and a friendly greeting are free! :) Boaters who wants to cook after swabbing the deck? Imagine eating a fresh panini while in the Connecticut River on the deck of your boat... And why not have some Ashley's ice cream for desert. you deserve it! :) General Information Come down for a lunch, mid-afternoon snack or dinner and try our new Soup & Panini menu with a cup of Essex Mud ice cream. It will blow your mind!

Reviewed By Melonie S - Cranford, NJ

My wife and I stopped in for lunch while we were in route to Providence. We love the quaint and charming downtown of Essex. We ordered the chicken avocado panini and the Turkey cranberry panini. Both paninis were fresh, very flavorful and tasty. The paninis came out by themselves with nothing else on the plate.

Our issues were elsewhere. We waited a long time for our sandwiches. There was only one person making the sandwiches and there were a few people in front of us. There was a lack of snack options to accompany the paninis. They only offered a very unhealthy large bag of chips over the counter. There were no other over the counter options. No pretzels, no other chips, macaroni salad, or coleslaw. They offered pita chips with hummus as a side and carrots on the menu. The prices were high. We spent almost $27 on lunch if you include the 2 waters.

Great location but small inside with only about 4 or 5 tables. Probably more known for their ice cream but as I mentioned the paninis were very tasty. This place must get really busy in the Summer.

10. Scoops Ice Cream Parlor

55 Main St, Centerbrook, CT 06409-1048 Wheelchair Accessible +1 860-767-8491
Excellent
59%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
0%
Terrible
8%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 12 reviews

Scoops Ice Cream Parlor

Reviewed By corrinesdad - Branford, Connecticut

Was downtown Essex, wanted Ice Cream before the ride home. Everything still closed. Drove by Scoops on the way and stopped for Ice Cream. Busy place, Good flavor assortment, good Service, Good Ice Cream !!! And better pricing than Essex or downtown Branford.

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