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Check out these new restaurants across Connecticut, from a Latin-influenced eatery by an internationally-renowned chef in Greenwich to a "pay what you can" social enterprise restaurant in Hartford.
Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten opened Happy Monkey, his new Latin-influenced eatery, June 24 on Greenwich Avenue. The menu features shareable snacks, small and large plates, crudos, salads and tacos complemented by sangrias, margaritas and tequila.
At Happy Monkey, guests can expect some signatures from Vongerichten’s popular ABC Cocina in Manhattan, like arroz con pollo and grilled maitake mushroom with goat cheese and Fresno chiles. Vongerichten said guests have so far enjoyed a Gulf shrimp “aqua diablo” crudo dish with banana and almonds, a squash blossom quesadilla, sweet pea guacamole with sunflower seeds, heirloom tomato salad and all of Happy Monkey’s tacos, with fillings like crispy fish, shrimp with spicy citrus peanut slaw and roasted mushroom with sour cherry mole and mint.
376 Greenwich Ave., 203-405-5787, @happymonkeygreenwich.
Haven Hot Chicken opened its second location June 18, offering crispy fried chicken and “not-chicken” (fried cauliflower) in five different spice levels, ranging from no-heat "country" to "Haven" ("for the hot head.") Menu items include sandwiches, tenders, sliders and chicken and waffles, and sides like fries, creamy vinegar slaw, garlic-dill pickles, mac and cheese and banana pudding. A snack list features sliders and fried cauliflower nuggets.
Like its original New Haven restaurant, the Orange location is also geared toward takeout, offering curbside pickup and delivery through UberEats.
550 Boston Post Road, 203-590-2223, @havenhotchicken.
Ami Beach and Mark Shadle recently opened G-Monkey, a "plant fueled" fast-casual concept, in late June, with a menu of vegan burgers and sandwiches, salads, soups, bowls and decadent desserts.
The new concept is a spinoff of their popular G-Monkey food truck, featuring some of the mobile eatery's most popular items, and their former G-Zen restaurant in Branford, which closed in April. Specialties include several versions of their housemade black bean burger, grilled cheese sandwiches with housemade vegan cheeses, loaded sweet potato fries, “raw tacos” on romaine leaves with walnut-based meats and sweets like raw truffles, cheesecake and avocado cacao mousse.
625 New Park Ave., 860-937-5457, @gmonkeyfastfood.
The owners of La Isla, husband-and-wife pair Leli and Darcus Henry, opened the restaurant because they wanted to bring homemade Puerto Rican food to Hamden. The menu features popular appetizers like empanadas, papas rellenas and alcapurria (with plant-based options for vegetarians) and entrees like pernil, tostone cups stuffed with codfish and beef, chicken and codfish stews.
2779 Dixwell Ave., 203-891-5170.
TOUS les JOURS, a French-Asian bakery café chain, recently opened its first Connecticut location. The bakery offers a daily variety of breads, pastries, cakes, pies, doughnuts and other sweet and savory baked goods. Signature items include its Cloud Cake, a delicate sponge cake filled with assorted whipped cream flavors, and other authentic French-Asian baked goods include milk bread, macarons and croissants.
831 Chapel Street, 203-745-5639, @TousLesJoursUSA.
SHIRO Dessert, UConn student Sabrina Yang’s new eatery, offers desserts and beverages rooted in East Asian culture, with specialties like Korean sponge cakes, mille crepe cakes and Hong Kong bubble waffles. Drinks include fruit and milk teas, fruit ades, yakult (fermented dairy probiotic drinks), coffee and tea, with toppings like tapioca pearls, fruit jelly and mango popping boba.
172 Bedford St., @shirodessertusa.
Pearl, a sleek new wine spot on Branford’s lower Main Street, offers more than two dozen red, white, orange and sparkling wines by the glass, along with specialty cocktails, raw bar items and cheese and charcuterie. A selection of small plates features champagne-poached shrimp cocktail, salmon tartare with fried wontons, corn fritters, scallops with white gazpacho and grilled beef kushiyaki.
1140 Main St., 203-208-1329, @pearlwinebar.
Gather55 is Hartford’s first “pay what you can” restaurant. The concept was spearheaded by Hands on Hartford, a local non-profit that works on projects for underserved communities in the capital city.
Gather55 takes the place of a traditional soup kitchen, promising food from a rotating host of professional chefs with a space designed to bring together Hartford residents of varying socioeconomic backgrounds.
55 Bartholomew Ave., 860-728-3201, facebook.com/gather55.