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Is there ANYTHING good near UConn?

I'm planning on visiting my younger sister in September during her freshman year at UConn, and I'd like to take her out to dinner. Nothing incredibly fancy, but something nicer than the fast food junk they have on campus. Is there anything in that area? It kind of seems like it's in the middle of nowhere. I'm from MA, so I am not familiar with CT at all.

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  1. In Willimantic (about 15 minutes from UConn, down 195) is Main Street Cafe. They make excellent beers (so that's out for your freshman sister!) but have a nice variety of food as well. It resides in an old post office, with high ceilings that are uncommon today.


    2 Replies
    1. re: dugbee

      Thanks, dugbee. That sounds like it might do the trick. I'll check it out.

      1. re: dugbee

        To put my two cents in, I think their beer is nummy, and I love the space. The food, however, can be hit or miss. I can have a phenomenal meal one day
        and be let down, even by the same entree, on my next visit.

      2. There really isn't much out that way. In Eastford (about 14 miles/25 mins away) there is an upscale restaurant called The Still River Cafe. http://www.stillrivercafe.com/ Probably fancier than what you're thinking but might be worth checking out. Even further east (Pomfret) the Vanilla Bean Cafe is probably perfect, but a bit of a drive (about 20 miles/30 mins). They are kind of a gathering spot in that area for live folk music and serve some nice local wines. http://www.vanillabeancafe.com/ They serve brk/lunch/dinner.

        But Sept in that area will be beautiful so if you have the time to make the drive, do it. Across the street from VB is a cute gift shop called Martha's Herbery. South on Rt 169 is an art gallery/tea shop in a big ol victorian called Celebrations.

        The UCONN campus has its own ice cream shop at the dairy barns that is supposed to be very good.

        I googled and came up w/an Italian place called Angellino's on Storrs Rd in Mansfield. Also "Roma" on the same road.

        Go all the way into Putnam and you have a couple of choices. If the Courthouse Grill is still there (I think that was the name of it) I recall it being pretty good....burgers, steaks, sandwiches, good chowder. The people who own Vanilla Bean opened up a place called 85 Main (www.85main.com), a bit more upscale, serves lunch & dinner.

        I've never been, but here is a link to the menu at The Somers Inn: http://www.somersinn.com/menu/

        Also found through googling, no personal rec - the Cosmic Omelet and Hartford Rd Cafe - http://www.hartfordroadcafe.com/ -- http://www.cosmicomelet.com/ Both are in Manchester, between Storrs and Hartford. It seems there's quite a bit going on in Manchester.....Mexican, sushi, etc.

        Good luck!

        2 Replies
        1. re: JaneRI

          See my post for Manchester on the thread for the folks traveling through nerw england...I just left it.

          Note: Cosmic Omlett...no no no..did I say no...

          Hartford Rd cafe...pedestrian but a good place for a beer late at night.

          1. re: JaneRI

            85 main also has a 'late night' menu and stay open to 11:30ish- which not a lot offer in the area

          2. There is a place not very far from the campus, called Cathy Johns, Its a nice sit down and order type place,The meals are not fancy, but usually very good and they serve the best Ice Cream. Its right on Rt.44 at the intersection of Rt. 195. There is a nice place also farther east on Rt.44 They serve meals as well as Pizza. Im not sure of the name but when it comes time to visit your sister some one in her dorm can give you the name. Good luck, Earle

            3 Replies
            1. re: Earle

              My Goodness, is Kathy John's still there?! I thought they were more of the typical New England creamery that serves burgers/sandwiches (ala Shady Glen)?

              1. re: Science Chick

                Yes you are right, They are still there, and your assment of the menu is right on!

              2. I'd recommend Willington Pizza House- on Rt 32 just east of the intersection with 195. That's pretty decent.

                There used to be (still is?) an inn with a better-than-average restaurant in it down 195 on the way to Willimantic, maybe a half-mile past South Eagleville Road. Don't know current status.

                1 Reply
                1. re: dude

                  bidwell tavern. about ten minutes off campus

                2. Chuck's and Margarita's a combination steakhouse/Mexican on Route 32 a few miles north of campus or Altnaveigh, an old New England inn, on Route 195 just south of campus

                  1 Reply
                  1. i will second main street cafe (willimantic brewing company). easily the best microbrewed beer available in connecticut.. and the food is on the cusp of upscale (in terms of brewpubs). try the chicken with garlic walnut breadcrumbs.. ridiculously good.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: goodbyeohio

                      It's been a while since I've had an entree (versus pub food) there. The Cobb salad is excellent as well. There was a time where they had a variety of burger themes. The "Woodstock Wow" burger had blue cheese and Dave's (the owner) homemade "oye vey" sauce. Very hot! You can still get that combo if you ask. Yummy!

                      1. re: dugbee

                        they still offer the oy vey! sauce. ill be there for lunch today, no doubt with some oy vey! chix tenders. that would really hit the spot.

                    2. The UConn area is not a culinary hot spot. Willington Pizza is the one above average place around. Margarita's on RT 32 isn't too bad. Kathy John's is a pretty good ice cream parlor.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Waquoit

                        Agree that Willington House of Pizza and Kathy John's are about the two best places local to UCONN other than the Dairy Bar ice cream cream emporium on campus. I travel between Boston and Conn fairly frequently and as a UCONN alum I visit the campus whenever I get the time. I wish there were more places close to campus, but it's pretty barren in terms of decent food. I usually stop at Reins Deli on route 84 in Vernon which is about 20 minutes from campus and eat there. Not great but decent and it has a good selection of deli style food.

                      2. On North Eagleville Rd., there is a Middle Eastern deli called Sara's Pockets. Everything is always very fresh-tasting and homemade, and you can eat in there or take out.

                        1. As a UConn grad student myself, I find Chang's Garden to be quite good Chinese food - plus, they have a secret menu if you ask for it with more authentic items - you can even order a jellyish dish! That is on 195 towards the south end of campus, in the same plaza as Starbucks. Also, Oriental Cafe II has decent sushi - it's in the same plaza as Friendly's a bit farther down 195. I'll second Sara's pockets. I'm not a big fan of Willington Pizza - I like going to Randy's in Manchester for pizza. Speaking of that, to get to Manchester just hop on 44 west from 195 going north from campus - you'll find a much better selection consisting mostly of chains (your standard Friday's Outback, Chili's, Texas Roadhouse and others), although it is 20 minutes away. That will take you on 384W, where you go to 84E, and before you get on 84 you can take the Buckland Hills exit, where most of the chains are. I hope that helps.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: sodagirl

                            We've lived in the area for 5 years and there are fairly slim pickings. These are our favorites (in order). BTW, Rt. 195 (which is also called Storrs Rd.) is the road that UConn is on):

                            1. Asian Bistro restaurant in the East Brook Mall in Mansfield (they have excellent sushi, sashimi and Benihana-style Hibachi grill; we just took our twin nephews, going into their sophomore year of college, and they loved it).
                            (just over 4 miles from UConn)
                            95 Storrs Rd., Mansfield, CT 06226
                            (inside East Brook Mall, next to Theater)
                            860 456-8316

                            2. Angellino's Italian Restaurant: the best Italian in the area; huge portions so you may want to split things or wrap leftovers
                            (4 miles past UConn to the Big Y Plaza. Angellino's is in the plaza.
                            135 Storrs Rd # A
                            Mansfield Center, CT 06250
                            (860) 450-7071

                            3. Chang's Garden (previously mentioned


                            4. Main Street Café (previously mentioned)
                            Their hamburgers and French Onion Soup are consistently excellent.

                            The UConn Dairy Bar ice cream is the best around. Kathy John's is OK. Love their sweet potato fries but their ice cream is not as good, IMHO, as the Dairy Bar. We also enjoyed Sara's Pockets.

                            1. re: Red Rock Sue

                              Wow, Red Rock Sue and JaneRI, you both have no idea how very helpful your info was on dining in the UConn area. We're planning on driving up from NY to take our freshman son out for his 18th birthday dinner. I think we'll try Angellino's since he loves Italian, but i've kept a list of your other suggestions for the next time(s) we visit the area. Thanks again for taking the time to put together all the info! :)

                              1. re: LauraP

                                Kathy John's has been closed for some time.

                          2. I've been to Altnaveigh a few times and thought it was quite good. The fact that it's not mentioned in this thread makes me wonder if it's still in business. It's not far from UCONN at all and besides good food, the atmosphere in this 1730's house is very nice.

                            1. I know the OP was some time ago, but I will find myself in Storrs in a week or so and appreciate the tips. Is the Fiesta Cinco de Mayo restaurant in Willimantic still in business, and is it worth a visit?

                              1. my niece will be starting uconn in the fall and I'd like to give her a gift certificate for any restaurants/shops within walking distance. Is that Chinese rest. still in the little strip mall across from UConn/the high school? Is it any good if it is still there? My niece is vegan. Thanks for any thoughts/help!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: lenorelenore

                                  Chang's is still there, I'd rank it fairly standard (nothing to rave about) as far as Chinese food goes. Wing Express has Indian food with a reasonable selection of vegetarian options; not sure about vegan. But I'd vote for that over Chang's.

                                  The most flexible option would be extra dollars on the OneCard account, which is usable at a variety of places in/around campus. Though I'm not sure you can get that in a gift-card format, versus just adding funds to the card: