Classic Diners and True Taverns in Connecticut
These lists below are both difficult to maintain – and difficult to “complete.” Diners and taverns are slowly disappearing for various reasons. And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic decimated both types of establishments around the country. I can’t define what a “classic” diner is – nor can anyone. At least a true Connecticut tavern
is was defined by state licensing, and there are very few now none remaining. Many of these places have decades of history and I’m sure regulars could provide weeks worth of stories. So I’ll stop yapping and get to visiting.
Connecticut’s last True Taverns*
Uncle D’s Diner, Berlin
White’s Diner, Bridgeport
Triple A Diner, East Hartford
Charlene’s Diner, Griswold
Norm’s Diner, Groton
Shoreline Diner & Vegetarian Enclave, Guilford
Zip’s Diner, Killingly
O’Rourke’s Diner, Middletown
New Britain Diner, New Britain
New Canaan Diner, New Canaan
Windmill Diner, New Milford
Cody’s Diner, New Haven
Tandoor, New Haven
Olympia Diner, Newington
Sandy Hook Diner, Newtown
Blue Colony Diner, Newtown
Collin’s Diner, North Canaan
Pop’s Diner, North Canaan
Family Diner, Norwalk
Post Road Diner, Norwalk
Day Breaks Diner, Plainfield
Main Street Diner, Plainville
Tony’s Diner, Seymour
Laurel Diner, Southbury
Curley’s Diner, Stamford
Elm Street Diner, Stamford
Lakeside Diner, Stamford
Parkway Diner, Stamford
Twin Colony Diner, Torrington
Quaker Diner, West Hartford
Georgie’s Diner, West Haven
Makris Diner, Wethersfield
Orem’s Diner, Wilton
Aero Diner, Windham
Skooter’s Diner, Windsor Locks
The Winsted Diner, Winchester (Closed)
Book Review: Classic Diners of Connecticut
Years ago – probably in 2014 or so – I put together a list of Connecticut’s remaining true taverns. I did so by searching the state’s database of tavern licensees. (You’d be amazed at what information is available there on all sorts of things.) According to Connecticut law, a tavern permit allowed its holder to sell beer, wine, and cider up to 6% alcohol for consumption on the premises with or without the sale of food.
Since I put the list together in 2014, the list dwindled. The pandemic was not kind, and the market pushed a few to move “up” to the café license so they can serve double IPAs and liquor. On July 1, 2020, the state of Connecticut officially phased out the tavern license and forced all taverns to become cafes. In other words, there are no more true taverns in the state. Some of the below still adhere to the tavern ethos, but I’m guessing all serve beer over 6% ABV now. This makes me sad.
Calamari Tavern, Deep River
Gatehouse Tavern, Groton
Grady Tavern, Manchester
Dutch Tavern, New London
Half Keg Tavern, New London
*Sharon Valley Tavern, Sharon
Towne Tavern, Torrington
CTMQ’s Best, Unique, & Historic Restaurants & Foods
Ray Graves saysApril 20, 2012 at 5:42 pm
I am looking for the Devon (CT) Diner. Was near Washington Bridge in 1954…..Could be in Vermont..
Ray Graves saysAugust 23, 2012 at 12:59 pm
The Devon…(Milford)…Diner was closed after 1959. I do not know where it went but I would like know. If anyone knows please email me
Laura saysJanuary 3, 2013 at 11:28 pm
I’m not 100% sure Mickey’s is still open (I live pretty close so I can check). Definitely come out here for the Aero Diner though! We eat there every other week for Sunday breakfast, and since you use omelets as a gauge, I can tell you that they’re very good.
Laura saysJanuary 7, 2013 at 2:06 pm
Checked out Mickey’s Diner (or, I should say, the former Mickey’s Diner) on Saturday. The silver vintage diner is still there, as is the badly peeling Big Boy statue; however, the diner now seems to be a bar extension of a larger building, which is called “Jonathan’s Cafe” and bills itself as “Willimantic’s Largest Dance Club,” not that there’s much competition for that. The windows are full of neon beer signs. I was there at around 11 a.m. so no signs of life were stirring, if the place is at all open and thriving. At any rate, it certainly doesn’t seem the sort of place to take impressionable young fellows for breakfast, so I’d advise you to steer clear.
I do reinforce my comment above about coming out to the Aero Diner at some point, though–that diner’s in good shape, serves good food and is almost always full for breakfast (I can only advise you on Sundays, when I’d say you should come mid-morning, after the early rush and before the church crowd gets out).
jack cratty saysDecember 23, 2013 at 8:37 pm
I’ve recall it was moved to Bellows Falls, VT. Don’t know why. I too have many memories of eating there on Sunday with my dad. Understand it was torched by it’s owner and he was convicted of arson. Trying to confirm. Let me know if you get any info and I will do the same. just email me with your address. Thanks
Anni saysMarch 8, 2015 at 10:32 am
I believe the New Caanan diner was moved to Bellows Falls,Vt and the Devon (Milford) diner is now called Bob’s Diner and is in Manchester, Vt.
James saysOctober 19, 2015 at 12:46 am
No, the Devon Diner was definitely off I-91 in Bellows Falls. A friend of mine and I were riding our Harleys to Canada one night and it got foggy so we got off the highway and through the fog, there was Devon Diner. We stopped in the parking lot but it was closed. We didnt know it moved there so it was a shocker. Thought we crossed over to the Twilight Zone. We got back on the highway and headed north again. lol
That was March, 1976. Dont know if its still there.
Jon Foulkes saysJuly 6, 2017 at 5:35 pm
How about the old Queen Street Diner in Southington, CT, circa 1973? Had eggs, toast and homefries for 50 cents all day. And juke box terminals at the counter and in the booths. Might have been open 24 hours.
Jon Foulkes saysMay 7, 2018 at 10:37 pm
Queen Street Diner was at 72 Queen St. in the early 1970s. Owned by Anthony Mastrianni and leased/managed by Leroy Hall. Vandalized & torched during night of June 5-6, 1974. Mastrianni was trying to evict Hall up until the fire; Hall then gave up and accepted eviction. Probably never rebuilt. Current building at same address was built in 1988.
DEBORAH J Frouge saysJanuary 5, 2019 at 1:52 pm
Devon Diner was in the corner of my stepfathers business the Devon Esso. Fond memories of running their for coffee and sandwiches for the mechanics working on the race car
Brad saysDecember 11, 2019 at 8:07 pm
I’ll do you one better ! S5 on the table players was on the cover of the rolling stones GD. wow were did that come from
I live very close to bellows fall…road trip tomorrow to find out
Arthur Ciccarelli saysApril 27, 2020 at 10:13 am
Requesting any informafion regarding “THE VALLEY DINER” located on the corner of South Main & Lower Baldwin Streets in Waterbury, Connecticut…From the 1940s, and I belived it suffered water damage from the Flood of 1955…Don’t know when it a really did close…
Thank you for your consideration…