The flames at Prime American Grille have escaped the kitchen. Not only do they live inside the sizzling-hot grill, they also exist atop flickering candles and inside the dining room's roaring fireplace. Flame-kissed rib-eye and new york strip steaks arrive at tables coated in house-made peppercorn, gorgonzola, or mushroom-and-onion sauces. Chefs also bolster their menu with ocean-fresh seafood, pizzas, pastas, and sandwiches. Bottles of wine litter a massive rack inside the restaurant's dining room, which boasts a warm color palette, dark woods, and strategically placed mirrors that make the space feel airy and light, like a helium balloon filled with tossed salad. On the weekends, Prime American Grille pulses with live music from DJs and bands, and each night, diners can sit at the full bar to watch sports on seven flat-screen televisions.
Zafra refers to the term harvesting sugarcane, which is one of the main ingredients in rum. And Zafra Cuban Restaurant knows rum, stocking its shelves with more than 300 different types of the liquor. Guests can drink rum mixed into mojitos and martinis, or sip the libation straight. While the rum selection is impressive, Zafra is also known for its cuisine, nabbing top honors from the OpenTable Diners? Choice award for Cuban food. Chefs tuck mango chicken into housemade empanadas and serve ceviche inside a coconut shell. Cuban entrees include guava-glazed salmon and grilled flank steak slathered in a chimichurri sauce. Another Cuban tradition occurs every Sunday night, when high-energy beats fill the restaurant and guests can spin and dip their way through salsa routines and games of tag.
Joker's Wild Comedy Club's stage showcases comics drawn from both the national touring circuit and the local scene. The intimate venue, which recently replaced its space-hogging booths with brand-new seats, features headlining comedians who fill Thursday–Saturday evenings with laughter during 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. shows. On Wednesday night, fledgling funny folk strive for their five minutes of fame at open mic night. Joker’s Wild also runs its own School of Comedy, where budding comedians can chase their dreams of cracking up audiences and keeping glasses of water on a stool. The club’s full menu of pub food mutes growling stomachs with appetizers and entrees for patrons hoping to perfect an onion-ring spit take.
Since 1974, Viva Zapata’s interior has cloaked diners in rustic comfort, complete with brick walls and wooden beams from a 200-year-old barn. A suit of armor stands guard at the eatery’s entrance, scaring away door-to-door jousters but allowing all others to enter the softly lit dining area bedecked with Mexican tapestries and antiques. Candlelight flickers across wooden tables that support homemade enchiladas, burritos, and marinated steak flanked by grilled peppers and onions. Baskets of complimentary peanuts beckon guests to throw spent shells on the ground as they did in the days before legumes grew naturally in prepackaged canisters, and barrel lamps at the bar illuminate a selection of domestic and imported beers and freshly concocted margaritas.
A combination corner bar and haute cuisine restaurant, Christopher Martin's Restaurant and Pub keeps it local with cheeses from Colchester, ice cream from Milford, beef from Barkhamsted, and beers poured right behind the bar. A neighborhood fixture for more than a quarter century, the eatery's seasonal menus reflect their commitment to freshness and their unflagging creativity. Whether splitting orders of butternut-squash ravioli or creamy goat-cheese medallions in the dining room or clinking glasses of local brews over seafood pot stickers in the pub area, guests get a flavorful taste of New England living.
Although The Hitchin' Post Tavern is nestled in New England, cowboys and cowgirls flock to the southwestern bar and grill to feast on a menu of American favorites with a south-of-the-border twist. When they’re not eating, guests can dance while bands play rock classics and modern hits. During themed nights, such as the Hoedown, partygoers dressed in their finest cowboy hats and overalls can imbibe dozens of beers on tap, in a bottle or can, or loaded with other extras at the full bar. The bar also pours wine, shots, and martinis, such as the espresso and the Sugar Cookie, which can take the place of after-dinner coffee and dessert.