Cuisine & Ethnic

NEW RESTAURANT

The Cottage


Photograph: Julie Bidwell

The new standard for restaurants: perfect ambiance; attentive and knowledgable service; a tantalizing menu matched by what is served; and a creative, confident chef who agonizes equally over the big picture and small details. That’s why local foodies know The Cottage is the golden goose. Westport cleverly attracted Chef Brian Lewis to a petite restaurant that is the antithesis of his soaring talent. “The ability to cook my heart out here has been one of the greatest highlights of my career,” he says. “Our amazing guests define who we are and have been fully supportive of me, and my incredible team, in shaping the cuisine at The Cottage into our very own culinary expression.” Wild Nettle Sacherri, Wild King Salmon in Cedar Paper and the Cottage Burger with gruyere, sriracha aioli, millstone pickles, bacon and onion jam illustrate the not-so-humble menu.

256 Post Rd. E., Westport, 203-557-3701; thecottagewestport.com


STEAK

The Capital Grille

With locations across the country, why does The Capital Grille feel so at home in Stamford? We think it has to do with their obsession with serving great steak. Yes, they have fantastic starters and refreshments, but our readers hold the menu in one hand—eyeing the Filet Mignon and Bone-in Dry Aged New York Strip—and a Best of the Gold Coast medal in the other. In-house butchers hand-carve the  steaks to ensure the best possible texture and flavor, because there is nothing like that singular moment of the first bite—and it’s perfection. (See also “Best Service.”

230 Tresser Blvd., Stamford, 203-967-0000; thecapitalgrille.com


SEAFOOD

The Whelk

Westport is having an affair—it is totally smitten with Chef Bill Taibe and his every culinary thought and action. The evidence is found in his seafood restaurant, The Whelk. Located in the heart of Saugatuck, along the river, the attractive place serves up fresh New England favorites, like clams, lobster and crab, and a selection of intriguing new twists, like Brook Trout with collard greens, sunchoke and whipped buttermilk, and Seafood Stew with fregula, Calabrian chilies and garlic. Despite occasionally reaching for a food dictionary, our readers sense the down-to-earth vibe—even as the standards of Taibe and his talented crew are sky high. (See also “Creative Menu.”)

575 Riverside Ave., Westport, 203-557-0902; thewhelkwestport.com


SPECIAL OCCASION/DATE NIGHT

Artisan at Delamar

Love elevates one’s senses. Colors are brighter and food tastes glorious. So, set the mood for that special occasion or date night by heading to the folks who understand the art of food: Artisan at Delamar. This restaurant is sophisticated and serene like the French countryside. The fine French cooking transitions you from the fast lane of your busy day to the many splendored indulgences of timeless good taste. The preparation and plating are thoughtful. Consider the Crispy Duck Breast with whipped parsnip, sunchoke, foraged mushroom and sour cherry sauce. The stage is set for romance; just show up and enjoy.

275 Old Post Rd., Southport, 203-307-4222; artisansouthport.com


CREATIVE MENU

The Whelk

Our readers love the seafood at The Whelk. It’s everything one hopes for when one gets the urge to crack open a lobster or land fresh mackerel on the dinner plate, but the wizards at this restaurant also lure diners to the deeper waters of culinary creation. Can you imagine any other place serving up Union Jack Oysters with gin, crème fraîche and roe or Orange and Onion Salad with marcona almonds? You can still get your burger or squid ink cavatelli, but you could also eye that shrimp and grits dish. (See also “Seafood.”)

575 Riverside Ave., Westport, 203-557-0902; thewhelkwestport.com


BEST SERVICE

The Capital Grille

What happens in the kitchen seems like the most important thing for a satisfying meal. After all, if you’re craving steak, tuna or Chilean sea bass, your mind is fixated on what will be on your plate. However, going out for a meal is also about the environment—how it looks and how you’re treated by the staff. If your standards for the meal are matched by how you are welcomed, seated and attended to as a guest, then our readers politely suggest you give The Capital Grille a chance to impress you. (See also “Steak.”)

230 Tresser Blvd., Stamford, 203-967-0000; thecapitalgrille.com


OUTDOOR DINING

bartaco


Photograph: Julie Bidwell

Sometimes you crave the beachy feel, but without the sandy feet. Get all the benefits of a shoreline party—creative, fresh tacos (perhaps fried oyster or sesame ribeye tacos?), corn on the cob, refreshing cocktails and a view—without having to tap sand out of your shoes at the end of the night. Instead, just take in the breeze and sit back on the patio at bartaco, where you can enjoy good company in a casual gathering—along with guac and chips, mahi mahi ceviche, and a round of Oaxaca spritzes.

20 Wilton Rd., Westport, 203-222-8226
222 Summer St., Stamford, 203-323-8226
bartaco.com


HOTEL RESTAURANT

l’escale

When company comes into town, you want to impress them with all of the glories of Greenwich. There are many viable options, but l’escale restaurant and bar located at the Delamar Greenwich has conveniently assembled everything that shows off perfect Greenwich style. Guests find fine dining, wonderful sunset views and excellent service all in one place. Sometimes you just want to treat yourself, whether in the form of a Chicken Chasseur with fingerling potato, mushroom, parsnip and pearl onion, or Grilled Lamb Chop with minted pea purée, bacon, pearl onion and fingerling potatoes or an excellent French wine. Escaping the everyday has never been so easy. (See also “French.”)

500 Steamboat Rd., Greenwich, 203-661-4600; lescalerestaurant.com


WINE LIST

Barcelona Restaurant & Wine Bar

Not all of us were born with a nose and palate for fine wine, yet we know when we like something. Thankfully, Barcelona, with its extensive selection of wines from Spain and South America is here to serve. In fact, it lays claim to one of the largest Spanish wine programs in the United States. We wouldn’t be surprised if our readers enthusiastically enjoyed researching Barcelona’s nearly 400 wines before handing over the gold for favorite wine list. (See also “Tapas Menu” and “Spanish.”)

222 Summer St., Stamford, 203-348-4800
4180 Black Rock Tpke., Fairfield, 203-255-0800
barcelonawinebar.com


TAPAS MENU

Barcelona Restaurant & Wine Bar

Andy Pforzheimer and Sasa Mahr-Batuz founded Barcelona in Connecticut and have since opened multiple locations, including in other states. The tapas craze continues, and Barcelona is the center of the magic. Good thing, because they busily do all the prep work that goes into creating a fun night out, with good food and wine, so you don’t have to worry about anything—except which tapas you’re going to order (so many good choices). (See also “Wine List” and “Spanish.”)

222 Summer St., Stamford, 203-348-4800
4180 Black Rock Tpke., Fairfield, 203-255-0800
barcelonawinebar.com


WEEKEND BRUNCH

The Chelsea

Does anyone think of Sunday as the start of the week? No, and for good reason—you just want to coast and recharge. Ease into the day with Sunday brunch at The Chelsea in Fairfield. The toughest part is deciding what to order. For example, French toast with maple bacon, pomegranate seeds and cinnamon mascarpone, the Chelsea Scramble with caramelized onions, crispy bacon and cheese topped with fried onions and a side of home fries, or Puffy Tempura Fried Waffles with butterscotch bananas, molten chocolate and a scoop of maple gelato.

12 Unquowa Pl., Fairfield, 203-254-8200; thechelseaff.com


VEGETARIAN / HEALTH FOOD

b.good

With locations along the East Coast, b.good has been winning over fans by keeping things simple: real food fast. That means grain bowls with kale, sesame carrots, Brussels sprouts, flavorful chickpeas, pepitas, local eggs and a tomato vinaigrette; salads with red leaf lettuce, oranges, grapefruit, avocado, pistachios, goat cheese and fennel in a snappy lemon-mint vinaigrette; and fruit smoothies.

1460 Post Rd, Fairfield, 203-292-8970; bgood.com/fairfield


AMERICAN

Match


Photograph: Jeff Kaufman

We think of Match as a great place to have a fun night out—a party place. But our readers reminded us to hold up; Match is also a fantastic place for a meal that is unapologetically American. These days that means globally inspired dishes and cooking techniques. Consider the osso buco simmered for eight hours or the crispy skin fillet of wild king salmon over soft honey-semolina polenta, charred zucchini and crispy fried blossoms with sour cherry sauce and a California cherry salad. Not exactly meat and potatoes. Also, check out the carpetbaggers with local oysters and wash it down with a selection from the wine, beer or cocktail menu.

98 Washington St, Norwalk, 203-852-1088; matchsono.com


ASIAN FUSION

Kawa Ni

You crave Japanese cuisine, but can’t jump on a plane right now? Destination: Westport, where you’ll find Kawa Ni. This Izakaya-inspired restaurant is about as authentic as you can get on these shores. The communal tables and bar seat only fifty, a remarkable fact considering its popularity. It draws in guests with its welcoming attitude and obsession for exotic options, such as Tofu Packets, with crab, sushi rice, yuza tartar and pumpernickel (this combo wouldn’t have occurred to us), and smoked bone marrow, clam tsukemono, bonito, robotayaki—all of which had us jumping onto Google. But this we know: 1. Sake is good. 2. Kawa Ni opens food horizons. (See also “Japanese.”)

19A Bridge Sq., Westport, 203-557-8775; kawaniwestport.com


FRENCH

l’escale

It’s no secret that the French take food very seriously. And we’re lucky enough to have a seat at their very chic Greenwich table. Diners give the gold for French cuisine to this restaurant for its authentically prepared dishes, including Bouillabaisse Provancale— branzino, monkfish, scallop, rock shrimp, mussels saffron potato, rouille croutons—and dishes that appeal to the French way, such as Fjord Islands Salmon a la Plancha with cauliflower purée. All of the food is accompanied by a fabulously curated wine list. And, of course, there are not-to-be-missed desserts like the house-made profiteroles. So if you’re in the mood for a Parisian excursion sans passport, head over to l’escale. (See also “Hotel Restaurant.”)

500 Steamboat Rd., Greenwich, 203-661-4600; lescalerestaurant.com


ITALIAN

Café Silvium

Brothers Nick and Vincenzo Petrafesa’s southern Italian trattoria from the Apulia region serves up such favorites as freshly made pasta (the chef’s specialty is the cavatelli), veal, fish and chicken, and delicacies, such as venison, wild boar and rabbit. While the restaurant is noted for its friendly inclusiveness, it has a menu that is impressive to even the toughest foodie at the table. Linguine Nere con Capesante and Fettuccine al Mascarpone are a couple of examples of the serious dishes that are served with a smile. Desserts, made daily, are a must. Consider the Zuccotto di Ricotta, sponge cake soaked in Strega, filled with sweet ricotta, chocolate chips and almonds.

371 Shippan Ave., Stamford, 203-324-1651; cafesilviumct.com


JAPANESE

Kawa Ni

We would like to say we’re surprised by our readers’ choice for the top slot of Japanese restaurants in Fairfield County, but we had a suspicion that Kawa Ni would get the nod. They just have this magical mixture of good food and environment that envelops its guests. The devotion to authenticity and to pushing boundaries is part of the winning formula. Perhaps the Maneki-neko good-luck cat is just for good measure. (See also “Asian Fusion.”)

19A Bridge Sq., Westport, 203-557-8775; kawaniwestport.com


SUSHI

Pink Sumo Sushi & Sake Cafe

Gold Coasters are hooked on Pink Sumo Sushi & Sake Cafe. To the uninitiated, the restaurant might be hard to find, being somewhat subterranean. But once you find it and try it, we think you’ll dive in, just like our voters. It’s just plain cool. Plus, it offers options you’d expect in Japan but didn’t think you’d be able to get so close to home. The menu is huge for such a little place, kind of like the big flavor that comes from tightly wrapped bite-sized sushi. The many cocktail and sake options make us think that it’s a public service to mention happy hour runs from 3 to 6 p.m. daily. 

8 Church Ln., Westport, 203-557-8080; pinksumoct.com


MEXICAN / LATIN FUSION

Bodega Taco Bar

To understand Bodega Taco Bar, and why it’s just so cool, you should read how the owners describe their roots: “We were into this ‘escapism’ thing and wanted to keep the ball rolling.” So they did their homework and went eating in Brooklyn. What they brought back to Fairfield was a reminder to do what you love. You do you, and others will dig it. Lucky for us, what Bodega loves is creamy avocados, fresh lime, cold beer, and lots of braising, roasting, marinating, stewing pork, seasoned beef, and spicy chicken. Have it your way—paltos, tacos, ensaladas, tontas and so on. It’s all good—just like the sense of humor and welcoming attitude here. To find the popular food truck, head to their website.

980 Post Rd., Darien, 203-655-8500
1700 Post Rd., Fairfield, 203-292-9590
bodegatacobar.com


SPANISH

Barcelona

Barcelona Restaurant and Wine Bar always finds a top spot on the Best of Gold Coast CT. It has more than 400 wines on the menu and a roster of chefs serving up creative dishes that the whole table will want to share. The owners are proud of the selections and the atmosphere they have created, but mostly, they’re glad they created happiness. People have fun here, and that’s why they return again and again. (See also “Wine List” and “Tapas Menu.”)

222 Summer St., Stamford, 203-348-4800
4180 Black Rock Tpke., Fairfield, 203-255-0800
barcelonawinebar.com


INDIAN

Coromandel Cuisine of India

Put down the salt. When you’re at Coromandel Cuisine of India, you have a world of spices, seeds, herbs and more, expertly blended for a mouthful of flavor. No matter what dish you choose—Phaal Gosht (lamb with chilies, onions, tomatoes and spices), Kori Nilgiri (chicken with herbs and spices in nilgiri sauce), or Bombay Aloo Gobi (potato, cauliflower, tomatoes, curry leaves, and herbs and spices) —you’ll enjoy a world of taste. Turn up the heat or smooth it out. Equally important is that the restaurant is contemporary and bright, not like you’re visiting some theme park eatery. You’ll never miss the salt shaker.

68 Broad St., Stamford, 203-964-1010 25 Old Kings Highway N., Darien, 203-662-1213
17 Pease Ave., Southport, 203-259-1213
See other locations at coromandelcuisine.com


CHINESE

The Little Kitchen

Thank you, dear voters, for acknowledging that Chinese food is not best out of a little white box. One visit to The Little Kitchen, so named for its humble beginnings as a takeaway, will prove that the best way is at a big table, surrounded by family and good friends, and digging into flavorful dish after dish. While you can still get your old favorites, you will be delighted that they are impressively upgraded in taste and appearance. The digs, with dramatic red accents, handsome tables and cool lighting, and a popular curved bar, are also elevated.

423 Post Rd. E., Westport, 203-454-5542; littlekitchenwestport.com


THAI

Rainbow Thai

Good things come in small packages. Proof is in Rainbow Thai, tucked into a corner of the Saugatuck area of Westport. Year after year, it wins our Best Of award for Thai food. Our voters are its loyal fans and are willing to spread the word about the gem. Equally impressive is the number of dishes from which to choose. The menu is extensive, as in multiple options for curries, noodles, rice, wok specials, soup, salad and so on. Get a head start with the many options on the appetizer list, before diving into the entrées. The variations of onion, bell pepper, ginger, snow pea, ginger and so on is all but a promise that what you crave will be available to you. Call it a rainbow of options.

5 Bridge Sq., Westport, 203-557-9000
rainbowthaict.com


GREEK

EOS Greek Cuisine

Once again, EOS Greek Cuisine wins. Maybe it’s the authentic Greek preparation of lamb, octopus, sea bass, chargrilled chicken and such; maybe it’s the restaurant’s friendly staff; or maybe it’s the people-watching location and crisp, contemporary décor. Whatever the secret combination of winning factors, this family-run restaurant celebrates its heritage in the best possible way: through its food and hospitality. When you’re there, consider ordering the Moussaka with its layers of zucchini, eggplant, potatoes, tomato meat sauce and béchamel cream or a light Prassinos Pyrgos Salad with fresh baby spinach, dill, feta cheese, sesame seeds, phyllo cracker, and honey balsamic vinaigrette. Finish off anything you eat with a bite of traditional baklava or Portokalopita.

490 Summer St., Stamford, 203-569-6250; eosgreekcuisine.com


MEDITERRANEAN

Layla’s Falafel

Omnivores and vegetarians may not agree on what’s for dinner, but they can agree on where to go: Layla’s Falafel. Here, the Lebanese food is plentiful, tasty and super fresh. So while one of your friends goes for a grill specialty, perhaps Lamb Shawafal or Chicken Kabob, another one goes for the falafel sandwich or baba ghanoush—and everyone agrees on the stuffed grape leaves and creamy hummus. The portions are generous, too. Come as you are. But if you can’t make it in, you can place your order online for delivery.

926 High Ridge Rd., Stamford, 203-461-8004
245 Main St., Stamford, 203-316-9041
2088 Black Rock Tpke., Fairfield, 203-384-0100
laylasfalafel.com

Markets

FISH MARKET

Fjord Fish Market

Photograph: Julie Bidwell

You work on the big fish tale you’ll be share with your guests as you light up the grill. Let Fjord Fish Market take care of providing the actual fish you’ll serve (they don’t mind if you take the credit; fisherman’s code and all that). They care more about offering their customers premium, responsibly sourced seafood. The only catch is a good one: Their offerings come from open water and low-density pens raised on a diet similar to what fish have in the wild—without antibiotics or artificial growth hormones. They do the work, you take the credit; it’s a win-win for you.

158 East Putnam Ave., Cos Cob, 203-661-5006
22 East Ave., New Canaan, 203-966-2200
1015 Boston Post Rd., Darien, 203-202-9473
1835 Post Rd. E., Westport, 203-255-9331
fjordfishmarket.com


GOURMET TO GO

Palmer’s Market

You go, Gold Coasters—you’re busy but not about to sacrifice good taste. That explains why you chose Palmer’s Market as your go-to for Gourmet to Go. This local, family-owned market understands what you crave, namely, fine, imported and local foods that are prepared to meet the highest expectations. Approaching nearly 100 years, and certainly five generations, this family-owned and -operated market knows what you want in every department, from meats and cheeses, to baked goods and produce. If you haven’t been, get going and be prepared to join the other fans of Palmer’s.

264 Heights Rd., Darien, 203-655-2077; palmersdarien.com


GOURMET GROCERY

Citarella Gourmet Market

So, you love spending time in the kitchen? Great! We know where you’ll pick up all of the ingredients for your world-class meal—Citarella Gourmet Market, of course. From meats and fish to produce and cheese, it has the freshest offerings of everything you could be on the hunt for. And yes, there are even prepared dishes (just in case, like us, you need a backup plan). This family-run business, with seven markets, in Manhattan, the Hamptons and Greenwich, has been around since 1912; they know exactly what you need to prepare restaurant-quality meals at home, whether you do all of the work or none of it at all.

600 West Putnam Ave., Greenwich, 203-861-6900; citarella.com


HEALTH FOOD MARKET

Whole Foods Market

Investing in smart food choices is part of the Fairfield County mind-set, and the Best Of votes tell us that Gold Coasters are heading in droves to Whole Foods Market to stock up on the essentials (and a few indulgences) for the pantry and fridge—and maybe even a quick boxed takeaway lunch from the hot bar. It makes sense; this enormous market has nearly everything today’s foodies need to keep to a Paleo, gluten-free, nondairy, vegan, and/or low-carb eating plan. There’s a world of healthy food choices beyond carrot sticks, and it seems nearly every choice is here.

90 East Putnam Ave., Greenwich, 203-661-0631
150 Ledge Rd., Darien, 203-662-0577
399 Post Rd. W., Westport, 203-227-6858
350 Grasmere Ave., Fairfield, 203-319-9544
wholefoodsmarket.com


WINE SHOP

Harry’s Wine & Liquor Market

Seventy-six years and counting…Harry’s Wine & Liquor Market has been devoted to providing its customers with lots of choices in wines, spirits, beer and more. The staff’s experience has been aged like the fine wine stocked in store. In Harry’s, you’ll find not only a massive selection, but also suggestions for making choices that are right for you. Pour forth. You leave the shop with a great find in hand and a smile. You could say shopping here raises your spirits.

2094 Post Rd., Fairfield, 203-259-4692; harryswine.com


LIQUOR SHOP

Total Wine & More

You want what you want—which means, you want it all. That explains why Total Wine & More won your vote for best liquor store. It has thousands of choices of wine, beer, spirits and more, aisle after aisle. If you’re not sure, or just want to try something new, stop by the wine-tasting bar to experience a new option. If you’re ready to learn more, sign up for an in-store class on your favorite beverage. By the time you’ve made your selection, you’ll be raising a glass to the store.

380 Main Ave., Norwalk, 203-840-0007; totalwine.com

Sweets

DESSERTS

DiMare Pastry Shop


Photograph: Andrew Sullivan

Fairfield County sure is sweet on DiMare. Aside from winning best bakery, the family-owned bake shop also won for best desserts in Fairfield County. Imagine everyone’s smile when you bring out a fresh fruit tart or cheesecake or arrange a variety of biscotti alongside the coffee. And though not technically a dessert, we suggest the cheese and fruit Danish. (See also “Bakery.”)

1245 East Putnam Ave., Riverside, 203-637-4781
12 Largo Dr. S., Stamford, 203-967-2253
dimarepastry.com


CHOCOLATE SHOP

Chocolate Works

Chocolate! Now you’ve got us sitting up and giving you our full attention. This is one of the moments that we editors love—our voters surprise us. We haven’t been to Chocolate Works, and we love to check out new places, especially when chocolate is involved. So we are all over this. It’s the first location in the state for this franchise; it is a candy store that encourages guests to mold, decorate, dip and otherwise customize their chocolate experience. Have a party, stop by for an event—check it out. Like we said, there’s chocolate.

25 Old Kings Hwy. N., Darien, 203-202-7067; chocolateworks.com


CUPCAKES

Forever Sweet Bakery

How did cupcakes come about? Sure, they’re cute, but they also tackle the issue of making sure that no one is getting more cake than anyone else around the table. Well, the humble cupcake has evolved with elaborate decorations that rival the attention lavished on cakes—at least at Forever Sweet Bakery cupcakes get the royal treatment. Fanciful, beautiful designs will delight all of your guests, equally. Individual  cupcakes can be topped with little graduation caps or miniature bow ties or served in a group arranged as a sweet bouquet of roses. Everyone’s happy!

4 New Canaan Ave., Norwalk, 203-939-9600; sweetendingsbakery.com


FROZEN YOGURT

16 Handles

The great thing about 16 Handles is that whether you know exactly what you want—Blackberry frozen yogurt topped with fresh fruit and coconut flakes—or you have absolutely no idea, you will find plenty of options. Plus, the frozen yogurt flavors range from classics with a twist, like Midnight Tahitian Vanilla, to choices you wouldn’t have dreamed of, like AriZona Lemon Iced Tea Sorbet. The toppings—dry, fruit or a sauce—range from birthday cake bites to plump blueberries. If you can dream it, you can pull it together.

219 Bedford St., Stamford, 203-817-0707
1300 Post Rd., Fairfield, 203-292-9841
16handles.com


ICE CREAM/GELATO

Saugatuck Sweets

It’s high summer, and it’s hot. Our voters know a good way to cool off: head to Saugatuck Sweets. With two locations—one waterside in Westport, the other in downtown Fairfield—the shop serves up shivery treats. Ice cream cone in hand, take a seat right outside the shop and expect to see lots of happy faces as your friends and family enjoy their treat. Now,  just chill for a moment. (See also “Candy Store.”)

575 Riverside Ave., Westport, 203-642-4615
28 Reef Rd., Fairfield, 203-292-8550


CANDY STORE

Saugatuck Sweets

Every once in a while you want a treat. Good thing Al DiGuido, owner of Saugatuck Sweets, is always sweet. For one, his store has bins loaded up with colorful pieces of candy—the old-time favorites, alongside the newest gummy design that today’s kids want. Everyone loves being able to fill the sack with their own personalized mix of sweets. For another, he’s one of the good guys, regularly engaging in community philanthropy with Al’s Angels, and inspiring others to give back, too.  (See also “Ice Cream/Gelato.”)

575 Riverside Ave., Westport, 203-642-4615
28 Reef Rd., Fairfield, 203-292-8550


BAKERY

DiMare Pastry Shop

Winning year after year after year, it is far from a shock to see DiMare take the top spot yet again. We wonder, do they still celebrate their win with a cake? After all, they are there for others’s big events, including weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and graduations. If there’s a reason to cheer and gather round a table, our voters seem to say that a DiMare cake will be in the center of things. Luckily, this full-service bakery does it all: cakes, cupcakes, cookies and more. (See also “Desserts.”)

1245 East Putnam Ave., Riverside, 203-637-4781
12 Largo Dr. S., Stamford, 203-967-2253
dimarepastry.com


COFFEE SHOP

Lorca

For a little coffee shop, Lorca gets big buzz. Founded by Leyla Jenkins, the shop is rooted in a love for the flavors and style of Spain, where she grew up—yet via Brooklyn, where she was located before opening in Stamford in 2012. She did her research, traveling to Seville to learn how to make authentic churros, and worked at a local coffee bar to learn the art of artisan coffee. Our voters appreciate the effort, and hand Leyla and her dedicated baristas the gold. The place has funky “floating” white-birch booths and wall murals over whitewashed bricks, appealing to dreamers who are also doers.

125 Bedford St., Stamford, 203-504-2847; lorcastamford.com

Casual

LUNCH SPOT

Valencia Luncheria

Who wants to go to Venezuela? OK, I’ll make travel plans, but you have to do your part: research the food. Your best bet is Valencia Luncheria in Norwalk. Although a small place, it’s bright and cheerful, and the food options will exceed your expectations. Imagine steamed mussels a la Veracruz with garlic bread and French fries or chicken hash with chorizo, poblano, fried eggs, potatoes, corn, peppers, onions, cheese and jalapeño. And what a deal; the prices are set for what you’ve got floating around in your beach shorts.

164 Main St, Norwalk, 203-846-8009; valencialuncheria.com


CAFE/BISTRO

Méli-Mélo

Things are simply nice at Méli-Mélo. Bright, cheerful and breezy, like the healthy food options this cafe serves. Part crêperie, part juice bar, diners at this cafe can indulge like the French: good ingredients, good preparation, good company. Sip on fresh smoothies or enjoy a toasted ciabiatta with tomato, roasted pepper, brie, bacon, mesclun and dressing (among many other sandwich options). And don’t miss out on a perfectly prepared crêpe with a number of filling options.

362 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, 203-629-6153; melimelogreenwich.com


HAMBURGERS

Flipside Burgers & Bar


Photograph: Julie Bidwell

Middle of the day, deep into the evening, you’ll find a good-time crowd at Flipside Burgers & Bar. It’s easy to see why when you take your first look at the menu—we’re talking coconut shrimp, BBQ sliders, mac ’n’ cheese, and lots and lots of sirloin (or chicken/veggie/turkey) burgers. The toppings are like Willy Wonka wild—pepper jack, cabbage and red pepper slaw, spicy mango sauce and onion strings for the Caribbean Burger or gorgonzola, caramelized onion and apricot chutney for The Blue Burger. Inventive, delicious and deeply satisfying, they come with your favorite sides. If that’s not enough, consider the drink menu—hoo-ya! “Casual” may be the vibe, but the burgers are seriously good.

1125 Post Rd., Fairfield, 203-292-8233; flipsiderestaurant.com


HOT DOGS

Super Duper Weenie

If you’re going to call your business Super Duper Weenie, you’d better be good—and these guys are. The food starts with the basics—hot dogs and burgers—and elevates them with yummy, made-from-scratch relish and other toppings. The hot dogs are split and grilled, just like they should be, and tucked into a soft bun. Then go crazy: sauerkraut, bacon, mustard, sweet relish and raw onion, or maybe Cincinnati-style chili, cheddar cheese and chopped onions. Add fresh-cut fries and the only other thing you’ll need are a few napkins.

306 Black Rock Tpke., Fairfield, 203-334-3647; superduperweenie.com


PIZZA

Colony Grill

What’s the secret to winning gold in the pizza battle? Relaxed atmosphere, pitchers of cold beer, big TVs for the big game and tasty pizza. At Colony, it’s check, check, check and check. What Colony doesn’t do is over-complicate matters; they do one thing, pizza, and do it very well. Its thin-crust pizza comes in one size, twelve inches, with gold-standard toppings, like sausage or cherry peppers. Its secret? Hot oil. Since 1935, Colony has been a go-to.

172 Myrtle Ave., Stamford, 203-359-2184
515 West Ave., Norwalk, 203-866-5252
1520 Post Rd., Fairfield, 203-259-1989
36 Broad St., Milford, 203-876-1935
colonygrill.com


RIBS/BARBEQUE

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que


Photograph: Andrew Sullivan

We know you can rock a perfectly tailored business suit or strut in designer shoes, but at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, it’s all about getting in touch with your inner caveman. Roll up your sleeves and get down to work on your wood-grilled, house-cured fave, perhaps brisket or pulled pork, or go whole hog with a full rack of ribs or a half bird. Plus, this place has all of the essential extras: BBQ caramelized onion, Swiss, house-cured pickles and BBQ mayo. The urban vibe is irresistible, and the live music is a major atmosphere-boosting bonus.

845 Canal St., Stamford, 203-517-3272; dinosaurbarbque.com


BAGELS

Liz Sue Bagels

Think finding a good bagel is difficult? Chewy yet firm with a soft inside. Easy. Want it in a variety of toppings? No problem.Liz Sue Bagels is sitting back, arms crossed, nodding—and its freshly made bagels are waiting for you hot from the oven. Liz Sue’s got this. Not all bagels are created equal. Gold Coasters buy the best by the baker’s dozen here because they’ll get exactly what they’re hoping for each and every time. Simple.

63 High Ridge Rd., Stamford, 203-323-4611
120 New Canaan Ave., Norwalk, 203-849-1322
lizsuebagelsinc.com


DELI

Firehouse Deli

Why is everyone lining up like it’s a fire drill? They’re just waiting in line at the Firehouse Deli. Housed in a historic building in downtown Fairfield, it serves crowd-pleasing hot and cold sandwiches, including wraps. Consider the city/country appeal of the Backyard BBQ (grilled chicken, BBQ sauce, caramelized onions and cheddar) and the New Yorker (roast beef, melted mozzarella, tomato and mayo). In other words, you have classic deli sandwiches alongside upscale options. On a nice day, take your chicken salad or beet salad outside to enjoy watching families, shoppers and students strolling around town. 

22 Reef Rd., Fairfield, 203-255-5527; firehousedelifairfield.com


FOOD TRUCK

Melt Mobile

It was all fun and games as Fairfield County discovered the appeal of food trucks—how awesome to just pull over and pick up something yummy—but then, one day, we fell hard for one in particular: Melt Mobile. Our voters started wishing the food truck had a fixed location so they could always get their warm, cheesy fix. Alas, they head online to find out where the truck is located. If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, know that the offerings at Melt Mobile are anything but basic. We’re talking artisanal breads, imported cheeses, organic meats and produce, all in combinations that make our tummies growl like an engine, and we need our fuel.

Check online for daily specials and schedules. meltmobilect.com


DINER

Elm Street Diner

No one can resist those three little words: All. Day. Breakfast. It’s a can’t-miss to offer eggs and bacon at 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. But Elm Street Diner doesn’t win best diner just for its anytime-you-want-them, any- way-you-want-them eggs. It wins for all of the menu options, from light salads and soups to hearty paninis and meatloaf and pasta. Seriously, if you can dream it, Elm Street Diner can probably make it. (See also “Breakfast.”)

463 Elm St., Stamford, 203-325-1141; elmstreetdiner.com


BREAKFAST

Elm Street Diner

Breakfast. OK, now that we have your attention, let’s get into the details. Details like Virginia ham steak and eggs with potatoes and toast; spinach and feta omelette; the California Benedict (avocado, Canadian bacon, tomato, poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce on a toasted English muffin), or pancakes, waffles and French toast with the options stacked high, sweet and delicious. Now do you believe that Mom was right? Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. (See also “Diner.”)

463 Elm St., Stamford, 203-325-1141; elmstreetdiner.com

Bars

WINE BAR

Harvest Wine Bar

Photograph: Julie Bidwell

For the owners of Harvest, life is wine. This gorgeous restaurant (one in Greenwich, a second recently opened in Westport) is juicy with wine—some 300 options. If it started as a grape, it’s probably here, after passing the taste test of the experienced owners. While the restaurant is known for its wine bar, it does also serve delicious dishes.

372 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, 203-869-4080
36 Railroad Pl., Westport, 203-221-0810
harvestwinebar.com


HAPPY HOUR

Washington Prime


Photograph: Tom McGovern

Wind down the day by raising the roof. Washington Prime, in historic and hip SoNo, is fun—and it all kicks off with happy hour every single day from 4 until 6 p.m. You can choose appetizers from the raw bar and swish it down with wine, beer or signature cocktails. You’re smiling already, aren’t you? Just imagine following it up with dinner, perhaps ahi tuna or chicken scarpiello, or, if you make a love connection at happy hour, a porterhouse for two?  (See also “Restaurant Bar.”)

141 Washington St., Norwalk, 203-857-1314; washingtonprimect.com


PUB

Tigín Irish Pub

If you want to make friends, cheer riotously for your team in the big match, and appreciate the unique hospitality of an authentic Irish pub, get yourself to Tigín in the heart of Stamford. We’re fairly sure it’s a magic portal to Dublin. One step inside, you’ll be ordering a Guinness and chips. Let the classic dishes, elevated to today’s standards, such as wild-caught North Atlantic cod or Shepherd’s Pie with a side of kale and barley salad. What’s the craic? Maybe trivia on Tuesdays, the game on Saturday, brunch on Sunday. This is destined to be your favorite gathering place.

175 Bedford St., Stamford, 203-353-8444; tiginirishpub.com/stamford


RESTAURANT BAR

Washington Prime

It seems that when Gold Coasters are parched for drinks and fun, they think of Washington Prime. The restaurant bar takes the gold for best happy hour, and returns for a second round to take the restaurant bar category. We credit the upscale environment, awesome friend-making opportunities and extensive wine, beer and cocktail list. Hot evening? Maybe a refreshing Cucumber Lemonita (Iceberg Cucumber Vodka, fresh lemonade, San Pellagrino Lemonata float). Bad day? Smooth out fist-making tension with a powerful Bourbon Smash (Old Forester Bourbon, lemon, mint and simple syrup). (See also “Happy Hour.”)

141 Washington St., Norwalk, 203-857-1314; washingtonprimect.com


SINGLES SCENE (UNDER 35)

Brother Jimmy’s

You know that old saying about meeting “the one” when you stop trying? Brother Jimmy’s was designed to help you do that. Stop wringing your hands about finding a partner and dig into the hot bar scene and napkin-drenching BBQ. This isn’t posh food, nor does it pretend to be—rather, it strips things down to unfussy hot wings, buffalo chicken sliders, nachos drenched in BBQ beans, cheese, sour cream and more. You’ll be having so much fun, you’ll look your best without even trying. Even if there isn’t a love match, you’ll fall for the charms of Southern-style ribs.

112 Bedford St., Stamford, 203-504-8123; brotherjimmys.com


SINGLES SCENE (OVER 35)

Spotted Horse Tavern


Photograph: Tom McGovern

We bet you’ll love Spotted Horse Tavern and find like-minded diners who agree  on qualities that make a good local tavern. That alone could set the stage for a spark between you and a certain someone across the central bar. Forget chasing; let the lucky in love find one another at an establishment that is lively, attractive, upscale yet not pretentious—as well as appreciates a well-made South Beach Royale (Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, fresh lime, pure cane syrup, Prosecco and basil) as much as its pan-seared diver scallops. Would you like to join us?

26-28 Church Ln., Westport, 203-557-9393; spottedhorsect.com


OUTDOOR BAR

Sign of the Whale

At Stamford’s only rooftop bar, you’ll have a vantage point from which to see the city. This 10,000-square-foot restaurant/bar/rooftop beer garden is breathtaking for the views, but order the “Tidal Wave” drink (Old Man’s Orange Potion, for one, is Smirnoff Orange Vodka, Triple Sec, OJ and Sprite) along with a serving of Ahi Tuna Tacos, and you’ll only have eyes for what’s on your table.

6 Harbor Point Rd., Stamford, 203-883-8282; signofthewhalect.com


SPORTS BAR

The Blind Rhino

A blind rhino is something we would normally avoid or call in a professional to handle. But The Blind Rhino, with caps, is a totally different animal—it’s a sports beast. If you love immersing yourself in the big game, head here and challenge yourself to watch all of the twenty-eight TVs. You will never miss a big play again. (See also “Big Game Day.”)

15 North Main St., Norwalk, 203-956-7243; theblindrhino.com


BIG GAME DAY

The Blind Rhino

The big game day should be all about fun, a chance to kick back and root for your team. The Blind Rhino sets the scene for just that perfect moment. In a laid-back atmosphere, order up wings, Rhino Sliders, maybe Mahi tacos to start; then if things are looking good on the TV (that is, your team is winning), stay for a Rodeo Burger (pepper Jack cheese, onion rings, buffalo BBQ sauce on a pretzel bun) with a thirst-quenching selection from the “Draft List,” including more than twenty beers on tap. Really, no one loses here.

15 North Main St., Norwalk, 203-956-7243; theblindrhino.com


GIRLS’ NIGHT OUT

Barcelona

When the girls head out to have fun, they’re looking for a big ol’ break from the everyday, so they head to Barcelona. Inside this restaurant and wine bar, they are given all of the creature comforts they need to blow off steam. Try new wines from Spain, share plate after plate of creative tapas, and talk too much and laugh too long. (See also “Tapas Menu.”)

222 Summer St., Stamford, 203-348-4800
4180 Black Rock Tpke., Fairfield, 203-255-0800
barcelonawinebar.com


BEER SELECTION

The Ginger Man

When you’re feeling decisive, head to The Ginger Man. You’ll have the daunting task of selecting from their menu of pale ales, lagers and stouts. Go heavy, go light, go classic or add some unexpected raspberry accents—it’s all at The Ginger Man. It’s earned a reputation as the go-to place for beer lovers who also like burgers and fries in an upscale though unstuffy vibe.

64 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, 203-861-6400; gingermanct.com


MICROBREW

Half Full Brewery

Something optimists and pessimists can agree on: Half Full Brewery can make any day better. It’s a good idea to learn, or at least appreciate, beer-speak. You’ll have a fine choice as well as a tasting room to pursue your research in the name of flavor. Check in to see what events are coming up around the bend—perhaps a food truck? This place was founded on a dream, took root during treks in South America, and reached new heights on travels throughout Europe. The full lesson: Life should be lived with passion. What makes you happy? We think you’ll discover it halfway through your pint. Cheers!

43 Homestead Ave, Stamford, 203-658-3631 halffullbrewery.com


MARARITAS

bartaco

We admit to loving bartaco, too, and not least of all for the margaritas. Born of the beach cultures of Brazil, Uruguay and southern California, bartaco feels right at home along our shores. Whether you go for a Bartaco Margarita or a mango version, you can expect it to be strong, fresh, sweet and salty, just like the wonderful attitude of the restaurant/bar. (Also see “Restaurant Bar.”)

222 Summer St., Stamford, 203-323-8226
20 Wilton Rd., Westport, 203-222-8226
bartaco.com


MARTINIS

Match

A good martini, some might argue, is the one right in front of you. Point taken. But when you sip on one at Match, your eyes will be opened to a world of flavor and snap. Of course, Match is well-known for its wines, “bubbles,” beers and cocktails; it’s just sometimes you enjoy challenging a mixologist to create, arguably, the perfect drink.

98 Washington St., South Norwalk, 203-852-1088; matchsono.com

Fashion

GALA BLACK-TIE ATTIRE

Mitchells/Richards


Photographs: Julie Bidwell

Certain social gatherings call for your best look. So when you’re deciding on what to wear for the event circled in red on your calendar, stop by Mitchells or Richards. Your in-store personal style advisor will help you pick the outfit that is perfect for you, head to toe. Whether you’re going daring and contemporary or refined and classic, you can be 100 percent certain that you will be in style and capturing the right kind of attention. Mitchells and Richards, sister stores in Westport and Greenwich, respectively, work tirelessly to put the best pieces from top designers around the world into the hands of style-savvy clients. You’ll be treated like family, but look and feel like royalty at the event.

Richards, 359 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, 203-622-0551
Mitchells, 670 Post Rd. E., Westport, 203-227-5165
shop.mitchellstores.com


JEANS

B Chic


Photographs: Julie Bidwell

If you’re in the mood for a tearjerker, forget about a Ryan Gosling movie. Just imagine your favorite jeans getting wrecked by a spill or a tear. Devastating. Jeans are the definitive wardrobe essential, and we all have our favorite pair—always fits and looks good. B Chic understands, which is why our voters think of the boutique as the top spot to pick out a new pair. Perhaps one exactly like you had before, or maybe a pair of cropped jeans. When you find something good, like a shop with in-style jeans, stick with it. (See also “Costume Jewelry.”)

78 Old Ridgefield Rd., Wilton, 203-210-7037; bchichct.com


COCKTAIL ATTIRE

Lord & Taylor

“Cocktails at 7 p.m.?” Of course! What’s better than cocktails on a summer evening…. Oh, wait, what to wear? Fret not. Jump in the car and head to Lord & Taylor. Women and men will find outfits that suit the occasion, whether dockside or the big house up on the hill. Ladies, you’ll have a party trying on dresses, such as the Marchesa Notte Ombre Flutter Dress or the sleek Calvin Klein Side Cutout Gown (What? You do Pilates?). The, pair it with the best shoes, bag and jewelry and perfect it with the right shapewear (maybe you skipped one or two classes…). The next invitation for drinks is an easy yes. The fun starts with the shopping.

110 High Ridge Rd., Stamford, 203-327-6600
5065 Main St., Trumbull, 203-374-5700
lordandtaylor.com


MEN’S SHOES

Lord & Taylor

Once upon a time, women were the ones to repeatedly circle the options in the shoe department; men had their favorite, and that was that. But the door to the shoe closet has busted open, and inside, at Lord & Taylor, shoppers find many options that appeal to men, too. You’ll find plenty of street and athletic sneakers, as expected, but also boots, loafers, oxfords, boat shoes, Chukkas and more—in so many personalities that you’ll find more than one to build out your fashion statement. You’ll also be comfortable enough for another lap around the shoe department. (See also “Cocktail Attire.”)

110 High Ridge Rd., Stamford, 203-327-6600
5065 Main St., Trumbull, 203-374-5700
lordandtaylor.com


WOMEN’S SHOES

Stuart Weitzman

If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, women’s best gal pal is Stuart Weitzman. After all, the famous shoe designer does the impossible: creates a shoe that’s perfect for every outfit, every occasion. We said it couldn’t be done, but this shoe wizard dreams up stilettos and pumps for weddings and galas, flats and sneaks for the streets—and you should see the NearlyNude suede sandal in soft blue that would power you up for the next board meeting. The variety is gorgeous, and each pair flatters and feels good.

120 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, 203-622-5036; stuartweitzman.com


WOMEN’S FASHION

Saks Fifth Avenue

This summer, the streets of Fairfield County are aflutter with white tops, black accents and touches of colorful floral prints. But maybe you’re quite sure you want to stick to your favorite shade of blush or nautical navy? Not to worry. Saks takes the Gold Coast vote for women’s fashion, and offers plenty of options (at Saks as well as at its new Collective located just across the street). On the way to the changing room, you may even spy a few more options to try, perhaps an emerging designer. Finding your look here is all about choice.

205 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, 203- 862-5300; saksfifthavenue.com


MEN’S FASHION

Brooks Brothers

A lot has changed since 1818, when Brooks Brothers opened its first store (technically, D. H. Brooks & Co., before his sons joined the business). Its history, interwoven with monumental transitions in America, is one of classic fashion, designed, created and sold with pride. Today, its reputation remains as snazzy as the buttons on its suit blazers. Crisp oxford shirts, linen button-ups, trousers, belts, ties and all the essentials to pull together a look for him that is distinctive, drawn from a heritage of style and customer service.

100 Greyrock Pl., Stamford, 203-359-2300
987 Boston Post Rd., Darien, 203-656-1825
136 Main St., Westport, 203-226-7678
brooksbrothers.com


TUXEDOS

Camillo’s

Men, you often hear: “All you have to do is show up.” Yeah, not true. You have to show up looking as dashing as a movie star. So while you may prefer to stay home and watch the game, there’s an event to attend. You tell us that you find your winning look at Camillo’s. The shop has plenty of options for tuxes and all the accessories that you need to be photo-op ready. All you have to do is show up, at Camillo’s that is.

155 Main St., Norwalk, 203-849-1466; camillotux.com


DESIGNER BOUTIQUE

Copious Row

When you find a boutique that stocks the fashionable styles that you love time and again, you know you have found a gem. Our fashion-savvy Gold Coasters lay the laurels on the head of Copious Row, a women’s boutique with high-end designer clothing, accessories and jewelry. Each piece is hand-selected for the shop’s loyal clientele. Consider the gorgeous houndstooth silk dress made in Italy or the drapey Cape blouse as white and soft as a summer cloud. The baubles, handbags and sunglasses just finish off the look to polished perfection.

86 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, 203-340-2720; copiousrow.com


LINGERIE

Soleil Toile

You caught his eye, and you know he adores you for your sparkling wit and your great sense of humor. But sometimes it’s fun to remind him about all of your assets. Find body confidence at your lingerie specialists, Soleil Toile in New Canaan and Westport. The shop has an astonishing selection of fine lingerie from the brands that set your heart fluttering, making it easy to find something you desire, and hard to pick just one or two. Why choose? Beyond the romantic lingerie, Soleil Toile is also your go-to for practical undergarments that make your clothes fit, and therefore flatter, you better.

44 Elm St., New Canaan, 203-966-2887
14 Post Rd. E., Westport, 203-454-8688
soleiltoile.com


DEPARTMENT STORE

Lord & Taylor

We know you’ve been counting your daily steps, so may we suggest that you rack up the numbers at Lord & Taylor? You can get in a bit of exercise while also keeping up to date with today’s fashions. We all work out to look and feel our best; this department store does its part in that effort by bringing in stylish clothes, handbags, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, sunglasses, scarves, swimwear and so much more. Your outfits show off all your fitness hours to your best advantage. Plus, you can pick up a few styles for the whole family. (See also “Cocktail Attire”)

110 High Ridge Rd., Stamford, 203-327-6600
5065 Main St., Trumbull, 203-374-5700
lordandtaylor.com


TEEN FASHION

B Chic

Today’s teenagers are tomorrow’s fashion royalty. They have learned from the best—the moms of Fairfield County. Plus, they find plenty of age-approriate and appealing options at B Chic. After more than ten years in business, the Wilton boutique is approaching its teen years, and we think they will fly through them with style. After all, they know what the emerging generation is seeking: on-trend blouses, jeans and more that make a statement.  (See also “Jeans.”)

78 Old Ridgefield Rd., Wilton, 203-210-7037; bchichct.com


SWIMWEAR

Everything But Water

Designer swimwear is definitely something to splurge on. If ever there was a time to look your best, to show off all those hours at the gym or glow of countless green juices, it’s poolside or along the shoreline. Lucky Gold Coasters have found Everything But Water, a lovely boutique in Greenwich that knows fashion isn’t relegated just to dresses and tops. High style also refers to bikinis, one-pieces, cover-ups and rompers as well as bags, sunglasses, sun hats, jewelry and footwear. For women who love to show a little sun-kissed skin and good taste, sunny days are here again.

84 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, 203-622-1878; everythingbutwater.com


ACCESSORIES

Anthropologie

Sounds like the news is out! Our voters chose Anthropologie as the best place to get accessories, and voting was probably done before the ribbon was cut on the wholly new store in downtown Westport. It no longer has just a shoe section—it’s been opened up to a whole department. And then there’s the earrings, hats, handbags, scarves and all the extras, including beauty, to complete your look.

59 Post Rd. E., Westport, 203-221-0015; anthropologie.com


EYEWEAR

Optical Alternatives

The best thing about great eyewear is that you can actually see properly. Your vision is important not just when you’re leaning back in your comfy chair reading your favorite magazine, but also when you’re sharing the road, especially zippy I-95, with your fellow drivers/Indy-car racers. Our readers tell us Optical Alternatives is the best place for good fit (no pushing frames up on the bridge of your nose) and right prescription (no second-guessing what you’re seeing), as well as style (which is what the rest of world sees).

2480 Black Rock Turnpike, Fairfield, 203-372-2010; opticalalt.com


CONSIGNMENT

Roundabout Designer Closeouts & Consignments

When you bought it, you swore you were going to lose those last ten pounds, but, somehow, it didn’t happen—and the beautiful dress that is just so “you” still doesn’t fit. You have to let it go—to Roundabout Designer Closeouts & Consignments. Not only will you free up space in your closet, you’ll make a little money or find something new that is “really you” (plus, it fits). Roundabout’s selection includes high-end designer fashions, handbags and shoes that you love (Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton). That saying, “Give to get”? We think it was about consigning.

48 West Putnam Ave., Greenwich, 203-552-0787
606 Post Rd. E., Westport, 203-227-4334
roundaboutcouture.com


TAILOR

Ted the Tailor

When you see women dressed to the nines at the party and they’re huddled together, perhaps you wonder what they are talking about. Truth is, the conversation is about Ted the Tailor. Because, after all, the key to a great outfit is making sure it fits you properly. Ted has earned a reputation for all the right nips and tucks, for your clothes.

2 Church St., Greenwich, 203-869-5699 

Jewelry

ESTATE JEWELRY

Peter Suchy Jewelers


Photograph: Bruce Plotkin

If you have a passion for the craftsmanship and style of earlier days, you know exactly where to go for your jewelry needs: Peter Suchy Jewelers. He shares your appreciation for vintage and antique jewelry and offers a stunning selection of Art Deco, estate and Edwardian pieces in his boutique and through his website. Choose from fun accents, like the Tiffany & Co. Bee Pin in silver and 18K yellow gold, or a heart-stopping, she’ll-say-yes sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring.

1137 High Ridge Rd., Stamford, 203-327-0024; petersuchyjewelers.com


LOCAL JEWELRY BOUTIQUE

Steven Fox Jewelry

Looking something sparkly and eye-catching, as well as meaningful? Out voters head to Steven Fox Jewelry to find gorgeous gems and expert help when making a selection. The pros at this boutique know a great deal of thought and emotion go into selecting a piece of jewelry. They help customers think about what they want to express with their jewelry and then offer suggestions. More than personal taste, they share their years of experience and deep knowledge of each and every piece in the store. Also, the in-house master jeweler can make fittings and repairs using laser technology and traditional techniques by hand.

8 Lewis St., Greenwich, 203-629-3303; stevenfoxjewelry.com


WOMEN’S WATCHES

Manfredi Jewels

Since 1988 this boutique in Greenwich and New Canaan has been carrying attractive fine timepieces. The selection is from the best of the best: Breguet, Glashutte Original, Audemars Piguet, Franck Muller and some thirty other brands that reveal the expertise of boutique owner Roberto Chiappelloni. Shopping at Manfredi is a treat in and of itself. Not only do its clients enjoy the sophisticated style of the boutique and the expert help they receive when making a selection, they also know that timepiece- enthusiast Chiappelloni personally chooses each fabulous piece. 

121 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, 203-622-1414
72 Elm St., New Canaan, 203-966-8705
manfredijewels.com


MEN’S WATCHES

Betteridge

Watch enthusiasts know style is timeless, and they appreciate dedication and expertise learned over the years. That’s why when looking for a watch for him, they head to the family-owned jewelry store Betteridge. It was founded in 1897 and opened in Greenwich in 1952. Today, it’s run by Terry Betteridge, a fourth-generation jeweler, and his children, Win and Brooke. They know that you’ll want to look through your favorite watch designers here, and make a selection that you can pass down to the next generation.

239 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, 203-869-0124; betteridge.com


SELECTION BY LOCAL DESIGNERS

Mitchells/Richards

Family-owned Mitchells in Westport and Richards in Greenwich knows a few things about what Gold Coasters want; in short, they want the best fashions and jewelry from the best designers around the world. They also know that some of the best are close to home. When you review the jewelry cases, you’ll find high-end lines from top names as well as selections from local designers, such as Genevieve Lau. (See also “Gala Black-Tie Attire.”)

Richards, 359 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, 203-622-0551
Mitchells, 670 Post Rd. E., Westport, 203-227-5165
shop.mitchellstores.com


DESIGNER JEWELRY

Copious Row

Gold Coasters have spoken without saying a word. Their statement, found in drop earrings, floral cuffs, and gold pendants lets people know their attitude in a glance. So they give the gold for designer jewelry to Copious Row, who offers a selection of statement-making pieces, like emoji necklaces to eye and lip rings to the more demur 18K yellow gold empy-cage drop earrings and white-enamel skinny deco bangle. Whether you want to be cheeky or classic, you’ll find something that speaks to you. (See also “Designer Boutique.”)

86 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, 203-340-2720; copiousrow.com


COSTUME JEWELRY

B Chic

By “costume jewelry,” we mean the quick-and-easy bits of silver and gold that add a sparkle to your outfit. So you might head into B Chic with every intention of grabbing a new pair of white jeans for the weekend, but quickly realize that you need earrings, a necklace and a few other glittery extras, too. (See also “Jeans.”)

78 Old Ridgefield Rd., Wilton, 203-210-7037; bchichct.com

Beauty + More

WOMEN’S SALON

Noble Salon


Photograph: Julie Bidwell

Curly and frizzy or fine and flyaway, hair presents a challenge each morning, and it is a huge part of how we present ourselves to the world. Noble Salon obsesses about it, and isn’t that what you want in a salon? The stylists and friendly staff here can tackle the cut that’s perfect for you and the moment, and advise you on special treatments, like color or conditioning, then polish it off with expert styling. You’ll leave the salon looking for the camera, and feeling like your better self.

848 High Ridge Rd., Stamford, 203-322-8483; noblesalon.com


MEN’S SALON

H Salon

Combing through the many, many options for hair salons, men may be tempted to simply retreat to the barber shop they’ve been visiting for just as many years. But our readers would advise them to give H Salon a shot. They’re betting that men will enjoy the friendly attention they get when they enter the salon, and, just as important, they’ll love their new cut. More than ever, men are opting for individualized styles and trying expert coloring, hair treatments and a range of multitasking hair products. The options are endless. Lots of choices and all worth it. Looking good, gentlemen; we look forward to seeing your post-salon photos on Facebook.

2060 Post Rd., Fairfield, 203-255-0798; hsaloncolorcutdesign.com


COLORIST

The Color Café

Maybe you’re covering the gray or maybe you’re just in the mood for something different—swing by The Color Café to find your new best friend: a talented colorist. Talk about the options that will work for you, whether it’s trying a whole new color (blonde for summer, perhaps), adding fresh face-framing highlights (we all need a lesson in lightening up) or digging a totally new look (embrace your wild side and go for that color you’ve been considering for years). The master colorists here are all trained in the latest trends and techniques, which should reassure you that when you leave with a new look, you’ll be turning heads for all the right reasons.

23 Benedict Pl., Greenwich, 203-769-1929; colorcafestudio.com


BLOW OUT / UPDO

H Salon

We love a big event—a gala fundraiser, a graduation, a wedding, dinner with the in-laws—as much as the next person, but that’s only because we learned where the beautiful people are getting their hair done: H Salon. We’re not experts in what to do with our hair. Sure, we live with it day in, day out, but sometimes, like for that big day, we need help with styling. The pros at H Salon are ready and able to delight you with a perfect blow out and/or updo that renews your faith that a girl’s best friend is actually her hair—and hairstylist. (See also “Men’s Salon.”)

2060 Post Rd., Fairfield, 203-255-0798; hsaloncolorcutdesign.com


DAY SPA

Noëlle Spa

Even warriors need a touch of TLC occasionally. That’s why our Gold Coast voters championed Noëlle Spa for Beauty and Wellness. Hair, spa, health and healing treatments and therapies here remind you of your softer side and the practical and luxurious reasons to indulge in head-to-toe pampering. Put yourself in a spa pro’s hands and see what magic can be done for mind, body and soul with a massage, facial, makeup application, hair styling and more. You’ll leave the spa ready to take on the world.

1100 High Ridge Rd., Stamford, 203-322-3445; noelle.com


FACIAL

Celia B. Waxing & Skin Care Clinic

Those who get facials regularly will tell you that they make a big difference in the appearance of their skin. Our readers are turning to Celia B., where they can choose a facial that is suited to their unique concerns: firming, sensitive skin, collagen, deep cleansing, and so on. They even have an option for teens as well as an intraceuticals oxygen facial (to treat the fine lines, premature aging and dark circles that come from, among other stressors, raising a teen). (See also “Waxing.”)

181 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, 203-861-6850; celiabskincare.com


MASSAGE

Massage Mavens

Maybe you’re a weekend warrior at the gym, maybe you’re chasing your two kids around, maybe you’re just human. We all need pampering and massage therapy now and again. Massage Mavens works to boost your relaxation and circulation while easing muscle tension. They work out knots, elongate shortened muscles and break down possible scar tissue that inhibits athletic performance. Choose from a list of services. Even better,  a licensed professional will do the work in your own home or office.

203-340-2518; massagemavens.com


MAKEUP STORE

Sephora

Yes! A cosmetic store where you can try colors, lotions and scents; learn application tips that are suitable to your needs; and find a wide range of respected brands. Whether you’ve been doing your own makeup for decades or just starting out, you’ll find trusted products here. Plus, there’s plenty of help, so you’ll never feel like you are lost and on your own, whether you’re looking for ways to improve your makeup, skin care or hair, or pick up essential tools that help perfect your look. Makeup shopping is fun again.

75 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, 203-422-2191
100 Greyrock Pl., Stamford Town Center, 203-388-3824
5065 Main St., Westfield Trumbull Mall, 203-373-7344
Other locations at sephora.com


MAKEUP ARTIST

Shealeen Worby of H Salon

There are times when you should ask yourself: Am I doing this right? Very good question. Even if you think you know your way around a mascara wand and colorful liquid eyeliner, it’s worth asking an expert for his or her opinion. Our Gold Coasters trust Shealeen Worby at H Salon. This makeup artist can help you learn a new technique, consider which products are best for you, and take over and create the ideal look for your big event.

2060 Post Rd., Fairfield, 203-255-0798; hsaloncolorcutdesign.com


WAXING

Celia B. Waxing & Skin Care Clinic

Waxing may not be something we like to talk about, let’s face it. But when it’s done right, you’ll never have to talk about it. Celia B. is the go-to place for your specific needs. Try microblading your eyebrows (a small bit of color lasts for about a year) or bodysugaring (a gentle alternative to waxing)—two new treatments you’ll want to talk about with your friends at Celia B., of course.

181 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, 203-861-6850; celiabskincare.com


MANICURE + PEDICURE

Azena Nail Spa

It’s said that you can learn a lot about people from their shoes. But do you know what else they notice? Those who have perfectly polished fingernails and toenails. Somehow, this extra step makes a big impression, giving you a boost in confidence to put out your hand to shake on a big deal or put your best foot forward when heading out to a party. Our readers hot step it to Azena Nail Spa for just the right color and polish.

1080 Post Rd. E., Westport, 203-221-9299
2268 Black Rock Tpke., Fairfield, 203-330-8886

Weddings

BRIDAL GOWNS

A Little Something White Bridal Couture

A Little Something White Bridal Couture is the wedding and bridesmaid dress shop with a big role in your wedding. It’s here, at this appointment-only bridal salon in Darien, that you’ll find a beautiful selection of couture gowns. These are the kind of dresses that have filled your dreams since you were a girl. Now that the big day is approaching, you finally get to choose the dress that is right for you and your love story. Count on a calm, positive experience as you are guided through the options. (See also “Bridesmaid Dress Boutique.”)

1292 Boston Post Rd., Darien, 203-309-5110; alittlesomethingwhite.com


BRIDESMAID DRESS BOUTIQUE

A Little Something White Bridal Couture

On a bride’s big day, she is surrounded by people who have been by her side throughout her courtship. Together, they have seen love bloom. That’s why every bride wants her bridesmaids to feel her love for them, too. They serve an important role in the wedding ceremony and support the bride during the happy occasion. Find beautiful bridesmaid dresses at A Little Something White Bridal Couture. Enjoy the selection, and the royal treatment.  (See also “Bridal Gowns.”)

1292 Boston Post Rd., Darien, 203-309-5110; alittlesomethingwhite.com


WEDDING RINGS

Betteridge Jewelers

A wedding band is a powerful symbol in marriage. For two people in love, creating a life together, the band is far more than a piece of jewelry—it’s a tangible statement of their commitment to each other. The style of the band is a personal expression of their relationship. A couple heading to Betteridge will find a range of styles, all elegant, in yellow or white gold, or platinum.  (See also “Men’s Watches.”)

239 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, 203-869-0124; betteridge.com


WEDDING PLANNER

Ashley Douglass Events

You may be the most organized, in control, creative, decisive, high-style person on the planet, but our readers might suggest that for your big day, go with a wedding planner. They tip their hat to Ashley Douglass Events, who can handle the many decisions that go into one of the most important events of your life. Whether you want to celebrate your union with a regal, fully formal reception or a friendly country affair, you’ll express it best with a pro at your side to help find the right venue and attend to the scheduling and vendor communications.

34 East Putnam Ave., Greenwich, 917-748-6281; ashleydouglassevents.com


WEDDING GIFTS

Williams-Sonoma

Getting married is about a new life together—and that takes espresso makers and high-quality blenders. As couples think of what they need to set up their new home together, Williams-Sonoma is stocking the shelves with pots, pans, dishes, glasses, aprons, basters and more than a few other essentials. Finding a wedding gift is easy, but it makes the selection tough when all of the professional-quality cookware, utensils and small appliances are appealing. This store was founded in 1956, so advice, based on experience and passion, is plentiful.

Stamford Town Center, 100 Greyrock Pl., Stamford, 203-961-0977
136 Main St., Westport, 203-221-8667
See other locations at williams-sonoma.com


WEDDING REGISTRY

Bed Bath & Beyond

When you’re newly married, you’re building a life together. That means either: (A) Lots of separate trips to Bed Bath & Beyond for bed sheets, throw pillows, table linens, grills, vacuum cleaners, small appliances and more than a few other household staples; or (B) A wedding registry at the store. They make it easy and fun, and have plenty of options to suit your style, whether traditional, contemporary, spalike comforting or summer-loving coastal. Your wedding guests will appreciate the ease of finding just what you want, too.

See all locations at bedbathandbeyond.com


WEDDING RECEPTION VENUE

Longshore

The only waterfront event space in Westport, Longshore also happens to boast the most photograph-inspiring sunsets and romantic moments in the county. Our readers chose it as the best wedding reception venue, and their choice reveals their most romantic side. Longshore has incredible views and seaside breezes. Your guests will be all eyes on you and your spouse, of course, but they might also appreciate the marriage of lush grounds and gardens, water and coastal harbor and expansive sky. Some places are special.

260 Compo Rd. S., Westport, 203-226-3316; innatlongshore.com


WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

Melani Lust Photography


Photograph: Melani Lust

Photographer Melani Lust has caught the eye of our readers. When she’s not on assignment for our magazine, she’s likely out capturing the most tender moments of a couple’s wedding day. Calm, confident and sincere, Lust has proven to be a talented artist, who finds the right moments, both big and small, that preserve one of the biggest days in a couple’s life together. Her romantic side comes out in every shot.

203-454-5878; melanilustphotography.com


WEDDING CAKES

Sweet Lisa’s Exquisite Cakes

Your wedding cake should taste as good as it looks. Whether you have something in mind, or don’t quite know where to start, you’ll find help at Sweet Lisa’s Exquisite Cakes, which will bake up and decorate a cake you and your guests will love. Gold Coast couples say they get the advice and attention they need to make a sweet choice.

3 Field Rd., Cos Cob, 203-869-9545; sweetlisas.com


WEDDING FLORAL DESIGNER

McArdle’s Florist & Garden Center


Photograph: Todd Shapera

Flowers are important in a wedding. The centerpieces on the tables, the swags on the seating at the ceremony, and, of course, the bride’s bouquet. Go with arrangements that include many different flowers or champions your favorite one, you can’t go wrong with the experienced pros at McArdle’s in Greenwich. Respected and trusted, they’ve proven their creativity and good taste throughout the years.

48 Arch St., Greenwich, 203-661-5600; mcardles.com


WEDDING INVITATIONS/STATIONERY

J Papers

J Papers, a small boutique shop in Greenwich, is in love with paper—and they delight in creating wedding invitations, announcements and thank you notes, as well as new fine personal stationery for Gold Coast couples. They know the luxury invitations and papers send the first impression of any gathering or sentiment. And they know what they’re talking about—they are celebrating ten years in business.

100 Bruce Park Ave., Greenwich, 203-769-5104; jpapers.co


WEDDING DJ/LIVE MUSIC

James Daniel Entertainment

A wedding has a lot of moving parts that have to work together—flowers, food, invitations, dresses, cakes, rings, and on and on—and one of the most delightful essentials is music. James Daniel sets the mood, from the sentimental father-daughter dance, the heart-tugging first dance, and the joyful celebration of all the guests, the dance floor is set with just the right music.

125 Bedford St., Stamford, 203-969-2400; jamesdaniel.com

Home

OUTDOOR FURNITURE

Patio.com


Photograph: Gloster Furniture

Psst…it’s safe to come out. The weather in New England is fine, and very few pleasures beat the moments  spent with friends and family on the back patio, either poolside or up on the deck with that gorgeous view you paid a mint for to have as a backdrop. Patio.com supplies the chairs, tables and accessories that make lounging and parties more comfortable. Choose teak, wicker, iron—the styles vary to suit every taste and need. Founded in 1984 by Westporters, the shop and online site offer choices that will have you relaxing in moments.

600 East Putnam Ave., Greenwich, 203-869-3084 58 Largo Dr., Stamford, 203-353-9663
919 Post Rd. E., Westport, 203-222-1620
See other locations at patio.com


FURNITURE STORE

Lillian August


Photograph: Julie Bidewell

Shoppers at Lillian August have only one choice: good style. But each shopper can define what that style is, because there are numerous collections, each with a personality that is vibrant. Go traditional or urban chic or country farmhouse—or a combination thereof if you’re a mix master. It’s your home, and Lillian August is the local destination to help fill it with furniture and décor that tells your story. Sofas, chairs, tables, lighting, vases, artwork, rugs and more, including outdoor furniture. Turn to the store’s top-notch interior design services to help you pull together your favorite pieces, fabrics and colors. The flagship Norwalk store is enormous and invigorating—have a good time shopping.

26 East Putnam Ave., Greenwich, 203-489-3740
32 Knight St., Norwalk, 203-847-3314
85 Water St., South Norwalk (outlet), 203-838-0153
lillianaugust.com


HOME ACCESSORIES BOUTIQUE

Splurge

You try to be so good, but every once in awhile you just have to splurge—maybe it’s a throw pillow or a pretty tray that you just know your guests will compliment. Join your fellow Gold Coast shoppers and home lovers at Splurge in Greenwich. The shop has items from Julia Knight, Mariposa, Beatriz Ball and more. You know the power of one little addition to a home, the final touch. Splurge is devoted to finding the best pieces from which to choose. This is a gift shop, too, so treat a friend, treat yourself.

39 Lewis St., Greenwich, 203-869-7600; splurgegifts.com


CONTEMPORARY FURNISHINGS

Crate & Barrel

Stylish kitchenware, furniture, dinnerware, outdoor lighting and more at the fresh and contemporary-leaning Crate & Barrel. Reimagine a seating area to kick back after a long day or a chic new dining room set to entertain close friends long into the night. Gold Coasters’ pick for top contemporary furnishings has all the house trimmings—pillows, candles, dishes, frames, vases, lighting, etc.—that complete a look to fit your lifestyle and reflect your personal flair.

1200 Post Rd. E., Westport, 203-222-9500; crateandbarrel.com


ANTIQUES/VINTAGE STORE

United House Wrecking

Fuel up, home shoppers—you’re headed to the hunting grounds that is United House Wrecking.  What began in 1954 as a humble demolition company is now a treasure trove of furniture, architectural salvage, lighting fixtures and garden statuary that are well short of their prime. Craving something completely unique? You’re in the right place, because you’ll never be quite sure what you’ll find among the more than two acres of displayed items. High-end or entry-level, the price points cover the whole scale, as is the case with styles—traditional next to contemporary next to downright unusual but amusing statement pieces. Ready, set, go shopping.

535 Hope St., Stamford, 203-348-5371; unitedhousewrecking.com


LUXURY IMPORTS

Dovecote

Next time you’re abroad, enjoy the scenery and adorable shops. If you spy a little something—from an accent table to decorative statuary to flashy mirror or sedate and cozy throw—leave it be, because Sarah Kaplan has something even better. She’s the owner of Dovecote—a home decor and jewelry boutique in Westport—and Gold Coast design-minded homeowners are accustomed to finding unique furnishing there. The arrangements in the store exhibit the appeal of mixing vintage and contemporary and global influences in a fresh, modern way.

56 Post Rd. E., Westport, 203-222-7500; dovecote-westport.com


RUGS

Safavieh Home Furnishings

Ralph Lauren, Christopher Guy, Tracey Boyd, Jean-Louis Deniot. We suspect we have your attention now. Such designer lines are all found at Safavieh. While the store has a huge selection of furnishings, from sofas to chandeliers, by name-drop-worthy brands, the rugs are scene-stealers in their own right. They come in every style, including traditional, vintage and contemporary—and all are high quality to last for years. Consider a transitional rug, which revives traditional looks with vibrant colors and finishes for a twist today’s homeowners crave.

230 Atlantic St., Stamford, 203-327-4800; safaviehhome.com


LINENS

The Linen Shop

Setting the dining room table for a holiday meal, setting out pretty guest towels, even the daily shower or slipping into bed after a long day are regular events that are elevated to a mindful ritual when you indulge in the luxury of high-quality linens. The Linen Shop knows that something utilitarian becomes pampering with fine fabrics for table, bath and bed. The luxury linens and home furnishings at this bright and airy forty-three-year-old boutique in New Canaan are the best of the best. Selections from here make every day special.

21 Elm St., New Canaan, 203-972-0433; thelinenshopct.com


CHINA

Hoagland’s of Greenwich

Eighty years ago, in 1937, Hoagland’s opened its doors and embarked on a journey to become an indispensable part of Greenwich. Through the years, the store has served as the place for engaged couples to select their china, as well as a destination for anyone who likes to entertain at home in style. Perhaps a traditional family pattern for lovebirds just starting out, and a return visit in a few years for a second set of china with a contemporary flair for confident hosts and hostesses. Hoagland’s has a range of styles and expert advice to make a selection.

175 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, 203-869-2127; hoaglands.com


APPLIANCES

Aitoro

What would we do without home appliances? Dishwasher, grill, refrigerator, dryer and air conditioner, and on and on—our homes run on them every single day. And these days, appliances are getting as much design attention as furniture and home accessories. Consider the options at Aitoro. This local family-owned store has the brands—such as Sub-Zero, Wolf, Bosch, Whirlpool and Sony—that outfit the best homes in Fairfield County. The selection is huge for every room and every budget, to not only keep your home running like a well-oiled machine, but also a daily pleasure (check out the TVs).

401 Westport Ave., Norwalk, 203-847-2471; aitoro.com


FLORIST

McArdle’s Florist & Garden Center

The power of flowers is astonishing. They make joyous occasions that much more special, and somber ones more bearable. With their natural beauty and fragrance, flowers have a way of affecting us, and no one understands that better than McArdle’s. The flower shop and garden center create arrangements that perfectly suit the occasion—whether for celebrations, remembrances, or expression of love and gratitude. McArdle’s offers expert advice.

48 Arch St., Greenwich, 203-661-5600; mcardles.com


GARDEN CENTER

Sam Bridge Nursery & Greenhouses

Sam Bridge Nursery was founded on forty-eight acres that, since 1686, have been used only for agriculture. From this fertile soil burst forward lush plants, bushes, grasses, flowering trees and more. Walk the grounds to enjoy a relaxing shopping experience that feels like a garden tour. After, head inside the nursery to choose from a wide selection of plants and gardening extras, including pots, hangers, work gloves, decor, hoses and essential tools. Creating beauty may be natural, but it also takes work and experience—something the pros at Sam Bridge know.

437 North St., Greenwich, 203-869-3418; sambridge.com


LIVERY SERVICE

Hoyt Livery

Perhaps it has escaped your notice, but some people in Fairfield County and beyond have been complaining about distracted drivers. Something to do with texting… Anyway, you certainly don’t have to choose between your phone and driving a car—call Hoyt Livery. Sit back and relax while someone else takes the wheel and gets you to the airport, the office or your home after a night out. You’ll be safe and on time, and, who knows, maybe get extra work done.

21 Cross St., New Canaan, 203-966-5466; hoytlivery.com


STORAGE FACILITY

Westy Self Storage

Which comes first: stress or clutter? Our experience says that where there is one, there is the other. So, it follows that if you move all those wonderful things that you simply can’t live without to a Westy Self Storage unit, you will notice a decrease in your blood pressure. When you desperately want that extra “thingamabob,” you can just go get it. Westy is a longtime winner in this category, for its ease, multiple locations, cleanliness and customer service, which also decreases your stress level.

80 Brownhouse Rd., Stamford
50 Keeler Ave., Norwalk
65 Danbury Rd., Wilton
2070 Kings Hwy., Fairfield
855-417-1284; 
westy.com


AUTO REPAIR SHOP

Pray Body Shop

You did your best to zig and zag, and yet that bad driver still found a way to hit your car. It may wreck your day, but it doesn’t have to damage your car permanently. Make your way over to Pray Body Shop, a family-owned and -operated auto-collision repair shop that works on all makes and models. Since 1982 Pray has been listening to your pleas to fix the car and repair damage from fender benders as well as annoying dings. The car returns to you polished to perfection.

336 Elm St., Stamford, 203-359-3025; praybodyshop.com


CAR WASH

Splash Car Wash

Once cars started to become individualized, in small and major ways, people started to notice (read: judge) one another’s vehicles. Sorry, but it’s kind of true. So you can keep your car’s reflection of your good taste and attention to detail true by pulling into one of the nearby Splash Car Wash locations. Opt for a quick wash or go for the complete package, “The Works,” for a wash and all the extras. Taking care of your car goes beyond tune-ups; it’s also how you drive it and where you go for regular washes.

1-888-697-7527, see all locations at splashcarwashes.com


COOKING CLASSES

Sugar & Olives

If you’re a foodie, you’ve been to Sugar & Olives. It was the number of Best Of votes that gave you away. You know, then, that this place is a popular eatery, private venue space and just about anything you need, provided it has to do with good food. Being a fan of the place, you probably also know that you can learn its culinary secrets with a cooking class. Relaxed and very friendly, with a secret ingredient (good humor!), the environment is ideal for home cooks who want to add zing to their culinary skills.

21 Lois St., Norwalk, 203-454-3663;  sugarandolives.com


PERSONAL CHEF SERVICES

Marcia Selden Catering & Event Planning

Well, Gold Coasters, consider us impressed. When you choose a personal chef you shoot high: Marcia Selden Catering & Event Planning. You can hire the accomplished team to cater any event, of course, but did you know that they will make for your ready-to-serve dishes that are delivered right to your door? Just order online. Of course, you’re preparing to polish your cooking skills, but, it’s wise to have an emergency back-up plan, trust us.

65 Research Dr., Stamford, 203-353-8000; marciaselden.com


DRY CLEANER

Fabricare Cleaners

Whether it’s your investment piece or a favorite shirt, some clothing is special. So when you bring it to the cleaners, it shouldn’t feel like you’re holding your breath, throwing the dice and hoping everything will be OK. You should know you’re handing off your clothing to a pro. Such is the case with Fabricare Cleaners. Our Gold Coasters don’t just bet on it, they voted on it. Plus, Fabricare Cleaners delivers.

312 Heights Rd., Noroton Heights, Darien, 203-655-3381
5 Holmes St., Norwalk, 203-229-0001
2130 Post Rd., Fairfield, 203-256-2725
fabricarecleaners.net

Fitness

FITNESS STUDIO

Orangetheory Fitness

You love a high-energy workout, but you could use a push from a trainer and motivation from a group of fellow fitness fans. Check out Orangetheory Fitness. In a studio setting, and working in a group, you move among treadmills, rowing machines and floor work (with balance balls, hand weights, TR-X and such) in each session. Plus, you’re guided by an instructor. You know if you’re on target by watching your heart rate on a monitor (Hint: You’re working for the fat-burning “orange” zone).

205 Main St., Norwalk, 203-883-6070
645 Post Rd. E., Westport, 203-883-9262
525 Tunxis Hill Cut Off, Fairfield, 203-883-8220
orangetheoryfitness.com


GYM

Underground Fitness

It’s not stress, heartbreak or a mountain of chores to do. It’s just that you want to work out at 11 p.m., 7 a.m. or maybe 2:15 in the afternoon. Go whenever, why ever, at Underground Fitness in Stamford. The place is open 24/7 to help you pursue your fitness goals (avoidance goals, whatever). Lift weights, sprint on a treadmill, dance with your Zumba group class. There’s plenty to keep you busy as you clear your thoughts about everything else.

473 Hope St., Stamford, 203-569-3640 undergroundfitnessct.com


WATER SPORTS: BOARDS AND BOATS

Downunder


Photograph: Bruce Plotkin

While engines and sails are powerful and fun ways to move a boat, there’s something uniquely wonderful about using one’s own muscles. Downunder understands. It is devoted to getting people on the water. Take lessons, join a tour, compete in a race, rent a kayak or paddleboard or sign the kids up for summer camp. Don’t miss the shop, with all of the gear and apparel that suits the surfside lifestyle.

157 Rowayton Ave., Rowayton, 203-642-3660
575 Riverside Ave., Westport, 203-956-6217
downunderct.com


BARRE

The Bar Method

Long, lean, strong. Who doesn’t want a body like that? OK then, get that belly to the bar, because transformation starts at The Bar Method in Fairfield (and soon Westport). In this bright, clean studio, participants in small groups are guided through a series of small, precise movements that have big results on fitness and muscle shape—not to mention a boost to one’s confidence. An instructor keeps an eye on every detail, so you’ll never have to wonder if you’re doing things right.

85 Mill Plain Rd., Fairfield, 203-259-8825; fairfield.barmethod.com


YOGA STUDIO

Yoga for Everybody

Breathe. How many times do people tell you to just breathe? It has a way of settling your thoughts and emotions. Practicing yoga will help you not only breathe and re-connect, but also stretch, reach and realign. Gold Coasters say they turn to Yoga for Everybody to practice yoga in the studio or improve their teaching in the training facility. This down-to-earth, independently owned and operated Kripalu-affiliated studio welcomes all levels with classes seven days a week—so breathe easy.

27 Unquowa Rd., Fairfield, 203-254-9642; yoga4everybody.net


CROSSFIT

CrossFit Stamford

For people who topple tires, the members at CrossFit Stamford seem awfully happy with their gym. This place took gold as the best place for the challenging, results-driven workout. You’ll build willpower and push yourself physically—and just when you’re tempted to throw in the towel, you’ll catch sight of yourself in the mirror lifting that weight, jumping atop the box, pulling on the rower, doing another round of push-ups—then keep going. CrossFit Stamford has a way of asking more of you, and getting it.

75 Selleck St., Stamford, 203-569-2906; crossfitstamford.com


SPINNING CLASSES

SoulCycle

With a crisp white, super clean, streamlined studio, SoulCycle sets the stage for riders to focus on one thing: spinning that flywheel and keeping up with the instructor. Climb, sprint and sweat your way to fitness at this indoor cycling studio for forty-five minutes of confidence building. The lights drop, the heart rate zooms and you find balance—thanks to a mix of physical training and inspirational affirmations from the instructors.

266 Mason St., Greenwich, 203-653-7685
372 Post Rd. E., Westport, 203-683-7685
soul-cycle.com


PILATES

Westport Pilates

Offering mat and reformer classes, private, duo and trio sessions, Westport Pilates practices the strength-building, flexibility-producing series of movements that bodies love. It’s been open since 2005 and offers state-of-the-art equipment that gives you big results for your work. The studio is airy and pretty. The workouts are tough. Your muscles will quiver with effort, and you’ll see soon enough that Pilates works.

420 Post Rd. W., Westport
1015 Post Rd. E., Westport
203-227-7969; westportpilates.com


GOLF EQUIPMENT

Golf Galaxy

Whether dreaming of that green blazer or just hoping to avoid familiar mistakes, golfers are  perfectionists. That makes winning best place for golf equipment quite the honor. Golf Galaxy topped the leaderboard by offering options to address every possible tweak to your game that will result in that dream round. Clubs, balls, shoes, bag, apparel and every accessory you could ever need; plus, its lessons, fittings and repairs attend to the variables that prevent the dang ball from falling in the hole.

595 Connecticut Ave., Norwalk, 203-855-0500 golfsmith.com


DANCE FITNESS

Connecticut Dance Center

Despite numerous and sometimes compelling claims, you don’t have two left feet. It just feels that way. The pros at Connecticut Dance Center can prove it to you and help you find your moves in hip-hop, jazz, tap, ballet and contemporary dance training. In the company’s packed schedule of classes, find plenty of options for kids and teens, or consider private lessons.

76 Viaduct Rd., Stamford, 203-569-3131; ctdancecenter.com


SPORTS GEAR STORE

Darien Sport Shop

Darien Sport Shop has a reputation for carrying stylish clothes, but shoppers in Darien and surrounding towns know it also has an impressive selection of sports gear. The shop shows its serious side with tons of lacrosse equipment (shoulder pads, sticks, bags, gloves and so on), but it has a lighter side, too. Try something new, like archery, Beamo, Mega Bounce Ball, sport disks, croquet, bag toss and other lawn and summertime games. 

1127 Post Rd., Darien, 203-655-2575; dariensport.com


BICYCLE SHOP

Pacific Cycling & Triathlon

Gold Coasters like to win. Period. So when it comes to training for a cycling event, they trust Pacific Cycling & Triathlon to equip them well. The shop is packed with some of the best cycling products in the world, and its staff can set you up with gear that’s right for you, whether you’re a newbie or this side of semi-pro. Its fitting service will impress you. Enjoy the chase, but even when you’re rolling along in the slow lane for fun, the right bike makes it that much better.

984 High Ridge Rd., Stamford, 203-504-8960; pacificsbr.com


FITNESSWEAR

lululemon athletica

Working out eases stress, builds strength, increases flexibility—and is a great excuse to wear the cool fitness clothes at lululemon athletica. Whatever sport you’re into, you’ll find tights, shorts, tanks and socks you need here—and be the envy of everyone in your class. Perfect form comes with practice; perfect outfitting comes with experienced shopping.

151 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, 203-622-5046
91 Main St., Westport, 203-227-1378
shop.lululemon.com

Entertainment

PERFORMING ARTS

Stamford Symphony

Take the edge off of life with the beautiful and inspired performances of the Stamford Symphony. The ensemble of musicians also perform with such orchestras as the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet, American Symphony Orchestra and New York Pops. They also have programs that introduce classical music to young people and perform private fundraising concerts. Be sure to experience the spirit-raising symphony at The Stamford Center for the Performing Arts’ Palace Theatre, where sound fills and elevates the whole auditorium.

263 Tresser Blvd., Stamford, 203-325-4466; stamfordsymphony.org


LIVE MUSIC SPOT

Fairfield Theatre Company

You may love a certain band, but you’re not such a fan that you’re willing to drive into New York to see them. Why would you when FTC is right here in Fairfield? Even better than its great location (near the Post Road, I-95 and the downtown train station), the nonprofit center for the arts brings big names to its venues, StageOne (225 seat) and The Warehouse (640 seats). Get up close to the artists, famous singer/songwriters, jazz musicians, rock-n-rollers, and other artists.

70 Sanford St., Fairfield, 203-259-1036; fairfieldtheatre.org


LOCAL ROCK BAND

Tangled Vine

For nearly a decade, Christine Tambakis, Kevin Totoian, Andy Abel and Nick Saya have been infusing their band, Tangled Vine, with all the goodness of rock ’n’ roll. They play all the popular tunes that get people up and dancing, forgetting about their worries and enjoying the moment. Singing along adds to the fun.

tangledvine.com


LOCAL COVER BAND

The Short Bus

Some funky emerging bands might challenge your sense of music, but there are times when you simply want to hear good ol’ songs that you know by heart. The Short Bus knows those tunes and is happy to play them for rowdy, good-time crowds. These are the songs that get Gold Coasters showing off their dance moves.

theshortbus.com


MUSIC LESSONS

Fairfield School of Music

Our voters say their top choice for music lessons is Fairfield School of Music. Vocals, wind instruments, piano, strings, horns, percussion—they all require a lot of practice to master, not only proper technique but also real expression. Yes, one has to do the warm-up exercises and become fluent in reading music, but this school also teaches winning performance qualities.

338 Commerce Dr., Fairfield, 203-690-1888; fairfieldschoolofmusic.org


PERFORMING ARTS VENUE

Alive@Five Stamford Downtown

“Taking it to the streets” takes on a new meaning when it comes to Alive@Five Stamford Downtown. In this case, it’s about the big-name bands you’re psyched to see and hear perform—and probably never thought it’d be outdoors in downtown Stamford. So close! The summer concert series will include (save the dates): CeeLo Green, Rachel Platten, Plain White T’s, Phillip Phillips, Dionne Warwick, Ziggy Marley, Sugar Ray, Kool & the Gang, The Four Tops and more. Concerts take place Thursday evening, 5 p.m., at Columbus Park (ages 21 and over only, so bring ID); $10–$15.

Columbus Park, Stamford; stamford-downtown.com


RADIO AM

WSTC / 1400

Serving the Stamford and Norwalk areas, WSTC is based in Stamford and owned by Sacred Heart University. Tune in for music, talk and news.

Listen at tunein.com/radio/WSTC-1400-s22986


RADIO FM

WFOX / 95.9
The Fox

The rock you know and have long loved, served up with hosts that help you keep things way less than serious. Laugh, relax and enjoy the songs you can’t help but sing along to, such as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself,” Journey’s “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’,” and countless others that make up the soundtrack to our lives.

959thefox.com


RADIO PERSONALITY

Ken Tuccio / 95.9
The Fox

Weekdays from 6 a.m. until 10 a.m. is Fairfield County’s commuting “hour,” as we try to crawl our way down I-95, the Merritt or the Post Road. Chill and tune into “First Thing Fairfield County” with Ken Tuccio on The Fox, 95.9 FM. A Connecticut native—and Norwalk bar lover—Tuccio has built a long roster of interviews of fellow residents. He brings his gift of gab to the show and calls on his interviews to inform his table-talk-like commentary, each morning in between classic rock songs. You just might find yourself hoping the drive is a few minutes longer.

959thefox.com


ART GALLERY

Bruce Museum of Arts & Science

The gorgeous Bruce Museum was originally built in 1853 as a private home. In 1858, Robert Moffat Bruce (1822–1909), a wealthy textile merchant and member of the New York Cotton Exchange, bought it, and in 1908 generously gave it to Greenwich. Today, accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, it is a world-class museum that shows equal interest in fine art, natural history and science. Check out its website for the many exhibits and events that take place at “The Bruce.”

One Museum Dr., Greenwich, 203-869-0376; brucemuseum.org


MUSEUM

The Maritime Aquarium

As a coastal community, we are naturally drawn to the wonders of the water. The Maritime Aquarium in the heart of Norwalk is the top destination for anyone who has ever wondered about the life of a shark or hermit crab. There are so many ways to explore sea life at this amazing museum, from hands-on touch tanks, to dramatic aquariums for jellyfish, sea otters and all manner of fish, as well as special exhibits and demonstrations, the popular IMAX theater and even lighthouse and sunset cruises in the warmer months.

10 North Water St., Norwalk, 203-852-0700; maritimeaquarium.org

Family Life

TOY STORE

New Canaan Toy Store


Photographs: Garvin Burke

Going to the toy store should be fun. Kids know this, of course, but Mom and Dad might need a reminder, and New Canaan Toy Store couldn’t do a better job of it. Located in beautiful, calm New Canaan, it’s an easy stroll to the shop, where the family will find a wide selection of toys—from the highly educational to the purely silly. The shelves are packed with dolls, construction toys, board games and lawn games, puppets, first musical instruments, puzzles, Hula-Hoops, figurines and more. Some are classic, some are brand new and trendy. Let the kids explore and haul back the perfect find for childhood happiness.

94 Park St., New Canaan, 203-966-2424; newcanaantoystore.net


PLACE FOR CHILDREN’S PARTIES

Great Play

Well, well, things certainly have changed. Have you seen where you’re kids are having their parties these days? Hope your little one gets an invite to one at Great Play. The gym training/party space offers award-winning programs that develop children’s motor skills, sport skills, fitness and coordination in an interactive space—and it’s a blast. While little ones burn energy, older kids develop athletic skills and confidence. Don’t miss that interactive part—when your child throws a ball at the screen and it lands in the bucket, the image reacts. Kids toss and kick balls, jump with coaches, swing and slide and have fun learning.

2000 West Main St., Stamford, 203-978-1333; greatplay.com/stamford


FAMILY-FRIENDLY RESTAURANT

Chip’s Family Restaurant


Photograph: Chip’s Family Restaurant

Kids love classic American food, from a pile of fluffy pancakes in the morning to meatloaf and mashed potatoes in the evening. The thing about Chip’s Family Restaurant is that it loves to give kids lots of choices—especially for pancakes. Its “Build Your Own Pancakes” means buttermilk or whole wheat batter and then every topping a kid could dream up: pecans, chocolate chips, banana and apple slices, blueberries, cinnamon, caramel chips and so on—just not all at once. Plus, they make a few suggestions, with combinations such as German Apple: sliced apples cooked inside buttermilk pancakes and topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar and a side of raspberry purée sauce.

525 Tunxis Hill Cut Off, Fairfield 203-332-3370, see all locations at chipsrestaurants.com


CHILDREN’S CLOTHES

Groove


Photograph: Julie Bidewell

Today’s kids, tweens and teens know what’s what—and they want stylish clothes and fun accessories. Their dream destination is Groove in its expanded shop in Westport and in its second, recently opened New Canaan location. Both are filled with the bright, happy and cool dresses, rompers, PJs, Ts and leggings for the younger set. They also have essential camp supplies—sure, shower caddies, laundry bags and bus bags—alongside funky finger spinners and poppy-colored nail polish. (See also “Baby Store.”)

115 Elm St., New Canaan, 203-920-1700 420 Post Rd. W., Westport, 203-557-8111; grooveforkids.com


BABY STORE

Groove

There is nothing like dressing a baby—everything they wear is just so cute. Groove stocks adorable playsuits, onesies, dresses and even newborn hats—like strawberry and unicorn—that will have new parents diving for their cameras. Don’t miss the adorable toys and accessories, like bibs, too. (See also “Children’s Clothes.”)

115 Elm St., New Canaan, 203-920-1700 420 Post Rd. W., Westport, 203-557-8111; grooveforkids.com


KIDS’ FITNESS/SPORTS TRAINING

Chelsea Piers Connecticut

Whether your child knows exactly which sport he/she wants to do, or is busily exploring all of the options, they will love Chelsea Piers Connecticut. This enormous facility has training and equipment for most any sport that a kid would want to try: soccer, swimming, basketball, gymnastics, skating, ice hockey, volleyball, lacrosse, tennis and on an on. It has youth leagues, classes, camps and even drop-in sessions for its trampolines, batting cages, Parkour, Gaga (dodgeball in a hexagon-shaped pit), track and Splash Zone (complete with colorful, loopy slides).

One Blachley Rd., Stamford, 203-989-1000; chelseapiersct.com


MUSEUM

Stepping Stones Museum for Children

Stepping Stones Museum for Children is so popular that it seems like a requirement for Fairfield County parents of young children (ages ten and under). Its secret is the hands-on exhibits that act as total fun zones. Colorful, bright and cheerful, the museum allows kids to be free to touch, jump, make noise, crawl and, most of all, discover. The million-dollar Energy Lab, with its raceway powered by water, is always a huge hit. Parents will have so much fun seeing their children exploring‚ in sections for age-appropriate learning, that they’ll find a chance to relax.

303 West Ave., Norwalk, 203-899-0606; steppingstonesmuseum.org


CHILDREN’S HAIRCUTS

Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids

At Sharkey’s Cuts kids enjoy a wash, cut and blow-dry as much as the salon’s gaming stations, balloons, lollipops and kid-appealing chairs. Tweens and teens even get their own section, so they can enjoy getting glam with nail art, updos and makeup lessons. The salon meets kids at their stage, helping them relax in a salon setting and leave confident in their new cut, blow out or styling.

1568 Post Rd. E., Westport, 203-557-8700; sharkeyscutsforkids.com


NANNY/BABYSITTING SERVICES

Nannies As Needed

Sure, it takes a village to raise a child, but perhaps for Fairfield County moms and dads, just having an extra set of helping hands would be enough. We hear they’re calling in Nannies As Needed, LLC. This service provides professional staff who are screened in a comprehensive interview process and then matched to the best placement. Choose from temporary, short-term or emergency coverage.

203-874-4939; nanniesasneeded.com


ART CLASSES

Silvermine Arts Center

Founded more than a century ago, in 1908, Silvermine Arts Center is an essential destination for artists. Its courses and workshops are as well respected and attended as its exhibitions. While children ages four to twelve may want to try the Summer Art Studios & Workshops to explore the creative process, techniques and necessary materials, they can also find programs during the school year.

1037 Silvermine Rd., New Canaan, 203-966-9700; silvermineart.org


COLLEGE PREP COURSES

Carnegie Pollak

No one is born knowing how to crush the PSAT, SAT or ACT. It takes prep work, strategy, test-taking skills and confidence. That’s why our voters told us Carnegie Pollak aced their test of providing college-prep courses. They arrange for award-winning instructors to cover material in multi-session courses or a two-session all-out sprint to test day.

136 Old Stone Bridge Rd., Cos Cob, 203-352-3500; carnegiepollak.com


KIDS’ MUSIC LESSONS

Fairfield School of Music

Wind, brass, strings, maybe percussion or voice; children can learn and polish their abilities at Fairfield School of Music. Talented and dedicated teachers cover all of the essentials, including lessons, workshops and performance recitals. (See also “Music Lessons.”)

338 Commerce Dr., Fairfield, 203-690-1888; fairfieldschoolofmusic.org


BOOKSTORE

Barnes & Noble

It’s high summer, which means one thing: beach reads! Finally, it’s the time of year to jet to the closest Barnes & Noble and pick out your favorite book to dive into at the shoreline. For some that means chick lit, for others a mystery, for others a political thriller (and, sure, a few of you like the history of economics, but who are we to judge?). At this shop, readers of all types will find a great selection of fiction and nonfiction, best-sellers, longtime classics and niche works with impact. Moreover, there are plenty of options for music and gifts and special author appearances. The kids love to explore the children’s section.

1076 Post Rd. E., Westport, 203-221-7955; barnesandnoble.com


PET SUPPLIES/CLOTHING

Earth Animal

Our furry best friends are so good, so sincere, so cute that their owners love to provide the best food and pet supplies for them. Of course, clothes may not be essential, but they can be simply irresistible. Earth Animal is stocked with all-natural food, vitamins, treats, natural flea-and-tick remedies, toys, beds, leashes, brushes and other necessities. No one said owning a dog would be tidy; they need stuff. The shop started in 1979 with a commitment to natural products for pets, and has found a loyal clientele ever since. You can count on great customer service, too, with helpful suggestions, tips and advice.

606 Post Rd. E., Westport, 203-222-7173; earthanimal.com


DOG GROOMER/PET SPA

The Bark Club

This modern and chic pet spa is a dog’s best friend. Dog owners love it, too—and they know their best friend will be treated well. This full-service grooming salon, founded by Mark and Angela Castellano, is cage-free and by appointment only, so each dog gets individualized attention. Doggies go in scruffy, come out fluffy and happy, having received the royal treatment, including bath, blow dry, nail trimming, ear cleaning, aromatherapy, teeth brushing and even massage, among other choices. The space is clean  and organized, perhaps not a little unlike your own favorite spa.

193 East Ave., 2nd Fl., Norwalk, 203-354-4491; thebarkclubct.com


VETERINARIAN

The Veterinary Cancer Center

Nothing can prepare a pet owner when a beloved pet faces a health crisis. But they can be sure that they’re making a good decision by consulting The Veterinary Cancer Center, a state-of-the-art facility and the largest stand-alone veterinary comparative oncology center in the country. Veterinarian-owned and -operated, it again wins the trust of our Gold Coast voters.  Your beloved pet will get advanced care and will be treated with tenderness. You can count on being fully informed about the treatment options.

129 Glover Ave., Norwalk, 203-838-6626; vcchope.com


LOCAL HOTEL

Delamar Greenwich Harbor

High standards, über posh, an informed sense of style and luxury…right this way. Delamar Greenwich Harbor’s whole raison d’être is to indulge its guests in a moment in time without the rougher edges of life. With a deep bow to refinement and elegance, Delamar has hotel rooms with private balconies that overlook the picturesque harbor. They are handsome and incredibly comfortable with flat-screen televisions and Bulgari bath products. Enjoy the good life from the moment you pull up and step into the beautiful lobby; perhaps take in a massage at the spa or sip a cocktail outdoors in the summer breeze. Life here is good, which just goes to prove something most of us already know—the best is usually somewhere close to home.

500 Steamboat Rd., Greenwich, 203-661-9800; delamargreenwich.com