Last updated on December 1, 2022 by Wandering our World
Named after the Nehantic Native Americans who were the first inhabitants here, the charming coastal village of Niantic is the perfect destination for a laid-back vacation or day trip.
Whether you’re driving through or planning on staying a while, this quaint seaside town will really draw you in. There’s plenty to do with museums and Greek revival homes to take in, alongside hiking in the Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve. And luckily there’s a great selection of restaurants in Niantic, CT, so you can work up an appetite here safe in the knowledge that good food is just a few minutes away.
Most of the activity in this town can be found along Main Street, which is a laid-back stretch of road featuring some lovely restaurants that offer great views of the bay and some wonderful local seafood.
If you’re new to the area, and not sure what to try, then we’re here to help!
Below are some of our favorite restaurants in Niantic, CT. Let’s get started!
Our Favorite Restaurants In Niantic, CT: Great Food, Views & Fun!
1. Skippers Seafood Restaurant
A popular Mom n Pop restaurant that specializes in seafood.
Founded in 2003, Skippers is a simple no frills counter serve establishment with a bright blue nautical theme. There’s sailing memorabilia on the wall, from oars to fishing nets and life buoys. And we think you’ll love the quaint vibes this place gives off.
Seating is standard diner fare with comfortable chairs and tables. But the real draw, however, is the patio by the water where they’ve set up picnic tables so you can dine while watching ships sail by! How awesome is that?
What Skippers does, it does well, and that’s fried seafood. Here you’ll get the freshest locally caught fish and shellfish deep fried to that wonderful crisp golden brown.
The fried strip clams are an absolute must have and come heavily recommended. They’re served with French fries, coleslaw and tartar sauce. Everything is prepared to order and the portion sizes are massive, so bring your appetite!
The warm lobster roll is also a perennial favorite – fresh caught lobster on a buttered toasted roll. Their Skippers House Special of Fish & Chips is also a real crowd-pleaser here! But if you want something lighter, they have an array of soups and chowders to choose from too – in particular we recommend the New England clam chowder.
There’s a BYOB concept here too, so you can carry your own beer and wine from the liquor store next door. That, coupled with the fantastic seafood, easily makes Skippers one of the most popular restaurants in Niantic, CT.
You typically won’t have to wait too long for your food, even with everything being prepared to order, so just place your order, grab a seat and wait for your number to be called. They have a second outlet in Old Saybrook too. Hours of operation are from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. all days.
Address: 167 Main St, Niantic, CT 06357
2. La Llorona Progressive Mexican Cuisine
A family run restaurant that does traditional Mexican fare with a twist.
La Llorona is named after an Aztec legend, and they’ve garnered many plaudits from Connecticut magazines for their different and inventive take on Mexican fare.
There is a great festive atmosphere inside celebrating Mexican heritage thanks to their over the bar mural and wall paintings. In fact don’t be surprised if a Mariachi band serenades you while you dine! This festivity even extends to the outside where fairy lights make beautiful patterns over the ample seating.
The owners here believe in Food Art, where they bring together flavors and combinations using only fresh ingredients and traditional spices.
With that the case, why not start your meal off with the chips and salsa flight. You’ll be torn between salsa verde, chipotle salsa, pineapple salsa and arabol salasa. You can even add some queso fundido for some cheesy goodness.
We’ve also heard good things about the burrito dela casa or house burrito which comes with your choice of fillings from vegetarian to asada. Go for campechano which is a choice of three meats for a burrito that is quite the mouthful! Trust us they are huge. Make it even more delicious by smothering it in one of their signature sauces.
The Margaritas served here are also excellent and really hit the spot, so this is a great place to have a party and unwind!
The servers are very warm and friendly, and efficient too. You are unlikely to have to go through much of a wait for tables, though it’s sometimes difficult for them to seat parties of more than four together outside.
With such great food, and that special atmosphere, it was easy to add La Llorona to our list of the best restaurants in Niantic, CT.
Address: 13 Hope St, Niantic, CT 06357
3. Café Sol
Healthy organic eats with vegan options in a super friendly cafe.
Sol is the Spanish word for sun and this café is built around that theme of energy which is life in its most organic form. The energy is really reflected in the café’s quirky yet homely interiors, as well as the simple paintings that hang from the bright yellow walls. There’s even a lovely patio with tables surrounded by flowers and greenery if you wish to dine outside and have the actual sun over your head!
A specialty locavore café, this place strives to use the freshest, organically grown, locally sourced ingredients. They even alter their suppliers based on what’s the best ingredient available.
Clearly a lot of thought goes into the preparation of their food, and there are plenty of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options on the menu. So if you follow those lifestyles, this is a great place to dine.
In particular, locals and tourists flock to this place for the breakfast sandwiches which are really well put together. The ‘Brian’s Bagel’ is a stand out, featuring a NYC bagel with hummus, cucumber, organic ground flax and chia seeds. Even their simple oatmeal is a hit and comes in quite a large portion.
Cafe Sol do sandwiches too, which are prepared with Boar’s Head cuts and everything from the hoagie (which is absolutely delicious) to the reuben that they call the ‘trueben’, is worth a try.
The staff are really friendly here, and you can tell that they really care about what they do. You should definitely drop in for a healthy fresh bite of organic fare.
This café is open from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. all days of the week.
Address: 346 Main St, Niantic, CT 06357
4. Lillian’s Café
A cheery restaurant with large patio serving American classics, plus a raw seafood bar.
Located in the heart of downtown Niantic, Lillian’s is a bistro that celebrates fresh, local produce.
The interiors themselves are warm and inviting with reds and browns and creams working together to bring the place together. Seating is simple wooden furniture with a bit of a rustic feel – its sure to make you feel at home.
But what really draws people to this place is the large patio outside where they’ve set up a number of tables for you to enjoy your meal in the fresh Niantic air.
Food wise, the raw oyster bar is what really makes this place one of the must-visit restaurants in Niantic, CT. Enjoy these little gems from the ocean with some shallots and a squeeze of lime. So fresh!
The spicy wild Pacific white shrimp are also something that keeps people coming back for more. These large Pacific shrimp are sautéed in garlic and white wine, then served with brie stuffed dumplings and red chile sauce.
The cocktails here are exceptional too, so the bartender must be doing something right! Make sure you grab one while waiting for your meal.
Service is very accommodating and they do feature gluten free options on the menu which is always an added bonus.
Hours of operation are from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. all days except Sunday when they are closed. So make sure you get your fill on the remaining days!
Address: 374 Main St, Niantic, CT 06357
5. Family Pizza Restaurant
A family run pizza joint that also serves Italian staples.
You’ll instantly be transported to a quaint Italian cafe the moment you enter Family Pizza thanks to the Italian food and down to earth charm.
Nothing is overdone and everything is simple and classic, from the seating to the lighting. Intricate ceiling lights complement the simple café style wooden furniture, and they do have an outside seating area if you wish to dine al fresco. This is a really great place to get together for occasions and that shows as many locals flock here for special days.
Family Pizza does its best to provide home-cooked food using the freshest ingredients and that really shows too. They sell their classic cheese pizza and pepperoni pizza by the slice, so if you just want a quick bite then that’s a great option.
But it’s the specialty pizzas that really draw the eye. The Athena is a great vegetarian option, featuring spinach, fresh tomato, feta and cheese. While the seafood pizzas (of course!) are also a great highlight, featuring toppings ranging from scallops and clams to fried fish.
The bases are also available gluten free, so you don’t have to worry if you’re allergic. The rest of the menu features hot and cold grinders along with Italian standards such as parmigianas and pastas.
The family atmosphere here creates a great vibe and the service reflects that as it’s warm and welcoming. Drop by as a group to make the most of your time here and enjoy their hospitality.
This restaurant is open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. all days.
Address: 233 Main St, Niantic, CT 06357
6. Main Street Grille
A popular burger and seafood restaurant with patio and stunning sea views.
This bright well lit restaurant has plenty of space to sit, but what you should really spring for when dining here is their massive outside seating area. Several iron chairs and tables are strewn about with umbrellas so you can dine whilst taking in the panoramic ocean views! Seriously, those views are amazing, as you can take in the whole bay.
Main Street Grille has been voted previously as one of the top three restaurants in Connecticut so it’s little surprise they’ve made our list of the best restaurants in Niantic, CT.
They also serve one of the best lobster rolls in New England. So, it stands to reason that you should sample one! A quarter pound of lobster meat on a brioche roll, served hot or cold along with a side of fries of coleslaw. We’ve heard the fries here are spot on – being crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside – so they’re worth trying too.
Of course, there’s a plethora of seafood options to choose from, with everything from battered haddock to scallops. The scallops are locally sourced from Stonington and baked with a buttery crumb, and the portion size is quite substantial!
The rest of the menu features sandwiches, burgers and pasta. They even have a full bar where mixologists are churning out some inventive treats.
Service here is great, and is attentive too without being overbearing. And despite everything being prepared to order, the food doesn’t take too long to reach you.
For heavenly food with a heavenly view, head on over to Main Street Grille. Hours of operation are from noon to 8:00 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.
Address: 252 Main St, Niantic, CT 06357
7. Charlie’s Place Restaurant
An easy going restaurant serving American classics and Greek fare.
Charlie’s is a family run establishment started by veterans of the industry, with the owners having operated restaurants around Connecticut since 1974!
Charlie’s itself has been in operation since 1992 and the interiors of the restaurant are lively and warm. Large windows allow for plenty of natural light so you can take in all the energy of this bustling establishment. You have your choice of booths and tables here, but you can also pull up a chair by the pantry or choose to dine under the sun on the patio outside.
There are separate menus here for lunch and dinner, and the number of options available is massive, so definitely take your time choosing. And you can’t have a restaurant in Niantic without having a seafood menu, and Charlie’s is no different with plenty of fried seafood and even lobster rolls on offer.
We heartily recommend the shrimp or scallop scampi which comes with linguini, shrimp or scallops sautéed with garlic, spinach, tomatoes and wine.
If you’d like something a bit more substantial, you could also spring for one of the burgers or sandwiches which are honestly quite big.
Service is quick and efficient and the owners appear to always be around for a quick chat. They also have a full bar which is a bonus!
This is easily one of the best restaurants in Niantic, CT. Hours of operation are from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. all days except Monday when the restaurant is closed.
Address: 26 Main St, Niantic, CT 06357
8. The Black Sheep
A classic lively Irish pub with food and entertainment.
The Black Sheep exudes old school charm with its rustic interiors. The hardwood floors, tin ceiling and brick walls really lend to the stylish feel of the place. Luckily there’s plenty of seating options to choose from too – you can sit by the mahogany bar, or pull up a cozy chair by the fireplace. There is outdoor seating available in the summer months too.
There always seems to be something happening here as well, from live music to happy hour specials, so don’t miss out!
As for the food, the Lobster BLAT is out of this world, coming with perfectly crispy bacon, field greens, avocado, tomato and of course lobster salad.
They do great sandwiches too, and those come with a side of fries which can be subbed out for sweet potato versions or a salad. The bangers and mash are also a great go to pub classic, with pork sausages, homemade mash, baked beans and onion gravy.
And if you’ve got a sweet tooth, this restaurant has you covered with their fresh made in house selection of desserts. Add all that to the full bar, occasional live entertainment and you’ve got a great watering hole with some amazing grub! There’s no doubt this is one of the liveliest restaurants in Niantic, CT.
This pub is open from 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Address: 247 Main St, Niantic, CT 06357