We’re back with our 3rd Connecticut Food Trail (see the cupcake trail here and the chocolate shop trail here). We’re staying local this winter, due to the pandemic, and it’s turned out to be a great time to explore many local bakeries and restaurants. While we know there are hundreds of great spots throughout the Nutmeg state, we’ve researched bakeries near one another and created a trail that would be a fun way to spend an afternoon or whole day. The “Coastal Connecticut” area runs from Branford to Old Saybrook (arguable, you could really start in Greenwich, near the New York border, and follow Interstate 95 right up to Mystic, near the Rhode Island border). Towns like Branford, Guilford, Madison, Westbrook, and Old Saybrook are quintessential New England; tons of family owned businesses, lots of rich history, and plenty of outdoor spaces for hiking, biking, and exploring. Several of the spots we’ve included are located in the center of town, with town greens right in front- perfect for picnicking.
10 Bakeries in Coastal Central Connecticut:
Sweets on Main in Branford makes impressive custom cookies and cakes for any occasion and even offers birthday parties on site (although currently not available during the pandemic). Daily options usually include cookies, cupcakes, macarons, bars, cheesecake, scones, brownies, and cake pops.
We loved the sugar sprinkle cookie, the chocolate chip cookie filled with caramel and sprinkled with salt, and the seven layer bars.
Take home for later: Cookie decorating kits ($25), which include a dozen sugar cookies (themes include unicorns, sports, dinosaurs, and cars), 3 bags of icing and 3 bags of sprinkles- super fun at home activity!
Noteworthy: The shop is currently only accepting online and phone orders 48 hours in advance and pick up from 11am-2pm. The shop is located on Main Street across from the Branford Green, and typically does allow indoor dining and sells hot and cold drinks.
G Cafe Bakery in Branford offers a full menu of hot and cold coffee and espresso drinks, almost a dozen breads made daily, and a wide variety of breakfast and lunch options (sandwiches, salads, tartines, paninis).
We loved the flourless chocolate cookies, sold in packs of 5 (the bakery also makes chocolate chip and cluster)
Take home for later: A loaf of olive levain bread and a linzer torte
Cost: Cookies are sold in 5/$5 packages
Noteworthy: The shop, located on Main Street across from the Branford Green, is open from 8am-2pm Monday through Friday, and 8am-1pm on the weekends. Typically, the cafe offers indoor dining with a few tables and chairs (currently, it’s take out only), and there are a few outdoor tables and chairs. A second shop is located in nearby New Haven.
Love Bakery and Cafe in Branford is both a dine in restaurant and a cupcake shop; they have recently expanded the menu to include cookies. The cafe is currently take out only, but the menu is extensive and delicious- we had a chicken capri panini for lunch. The shop also makes over two dozen types of cakes, and accepts custom orders.
We loved the peanut butter blossom cookies, sold in packages of 10/ $10
Take home for later: The cupcake menu is very impressive, with over 2 dozen flavors offered each day. We HAD to get a brownie bottom cupcake and Oreo cupcake- so good! Gluten free cupcakes are also available.
Cost: Cookies are $10/10 pack and cupcakes are $2-$2.50 each
Noteworthy: The shop is closed on Sunday and Mondays, and open 11am-6pm Tuesday through Saturday for lunch and early dinner. Currently take out only.
Hen and Heifer in Guilford is a Parisian style cafe offering the most beautiful looking (and tasting!) pastries, as well as coffee cakes, pancake mix, and rice pudding kits, all to make or bake at home. Drinks include coffees and teas.
We loved the Moroccan spice shortbread heart cookie and the salted caramel toffee cookie
Take home for later: Milk chocolate ginger cookie, rice pudding jars, and opera cake
Cost: Items range from $4-$12; cookies were $4-$9 (speciality Moroccan spice shortbread)
Noteworthy: The shop is open Thursday through Saturday from 12pm-5pm and Sunday from 12pm-2pm and is take out only (there are typically only 2 small cafe style tables inside the shop).
Cilantro Specialty Food in Guilford offers a variety of prepared foods, coffees, and baked goods. Both breakfast and lunch options are offered, including quiches, scones, muffins, and bagels; paninis, salads, and sandwiches.
We love the macaroons and key lime cookies.
Take home for later: Homemade pastas; tuna and chicken salads; soups.
Cost: Macaroons are $3 each (large) and cookies, cupcakes and brownie range from $2-$4/each.
Noteworthy: The shop is open 7am- 5:30pm each day and is located across from the Guilford Green. Typically, there are a few tables and chairs available for dine in, but they are currently take out only.
Marketplace at Guilford Food Center in Guilford is the perfect spot to find a treat for every palate and everyone. Offerings include a full deli and butcher shop (so many sandwich options), grill (burgers, hot dogs, and paninis), a made to order salad bar, a large charcuterie section, and bakery and cafe (cookies, cakes, muffins, and HUGE slices of crumb cake). There is a great kids lunch option for $8, which includes a burger, fries, and juice box. The marketplace also includes a small grocery section with household necessities.
We love the MASSIVE M&M cookie (and the chicken parm panini, and kids meal for lunch)
Take home for later: Crumb cake and chocolate croissants
Cost: Cookies are under $2 each and HUGE
Noteworthy: The Marketplace is closed on Tuesday and open from 7am-4pm Wednesday through Monday. Currently, only outdoor dining is available (but indoor dining is expected to return) and restroom facilities are available. The Marketplace is located across from the Guilford Green, a perfect spot for a picnic.
Meriano’s Bake Shoppe in Madison is known for their cannoli truck (and for good reason- the cannolis are delicious!), but their bake shoppe is also filled with Italian cookies, cupcakes (huge!), and cakes. Opened in 1988, Meriano’s was the shoreline’s first full line bakery.
We loved the marble square cookie and traditional Italian cookies.
Take home for later: Peanut butter filled cannolis
Cost: Cupcakes ($3.50), Italian cookies ($15/pound), marble square cookies ($3), cannolis ($4)
Noteworthy: The shop is closed on Monday, open from 10am- 6pm Tuesday through Friday, closing at 4pm on Saturday, and open 9am-1pm on Sunday. Check the schedule for the cannoli truck location.
Still Delicious Bakery in Westbrook is an allergy friendly bakery that offers gluten, corn, and nut free baked goods. In additional to traditional cookies, cakes, and breads, the bakery also makes pizza crust, breads, and pies.
We love the oatmeal apricot and cranberry granola cookies and the chocolate lava cookie cake.
Take home for later: A loaf of freshly made bread, eclairs, and muffins made with bananas, blueberries, or cranberries.
Cost: Six pack cookies/ $10, cookie lava cake $5, bagels 4/$10, and muffins $3/each
Noteworthy: The bakery is only allowing curbside pick up during the pandemic. Guests may order online or call ahead (allow 30 minutes). Curbside pick up is between 10am-5pm on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday and 9am-4pm on Saturday.
Dagmar’s Desserts in Old Saybrook is home to Dagmar Ratenspeger, who emigrated from Germany and opened her shop in 2007, is most famous for her Bavarian Stollen, which is sold by the slice, quarter, half, or whole pie. The shop also serves hot and cold drinks, and a different soup and sandwich each day.
We loved the Stollen cookies ($1.75), and coconut almond macaroons ($2.50)
Take home for later: One of the dozen of varieties of tortes and strudels; linzer and espresso cookies by the dozen ($12)
Noteworthy: Closed on Sunday and Monday, the shop is open from 10am-2pm Tuesday through Friday, and 9am-4pm on Saturday.
Pursuit of Pastry in Old Saybrook has a massive on site bakery, making everything from bagels and danishes to cakes, cookies, hot cocoa bombs and homemade chocolates (so many delicious looking truffles). Part of the store (that typically includes in cafe dining) is devoted to local artists and handmade gifts.
We loved the Valentine’s Day themed sugar cookies and oatmeal raisin cookies.
Take home for later: Hot cocoa bombs and magic bars
Cost: Cookies are $1.85-$2.50 each
Noteworthy: The shop opens at 8am each day and closes at either 2pm or 3pm. No indoor dining allowed during the pandemic.
How we “research”: Three of our favorite sources for researching anything Connecticut related are CTVisit.com (the official state tourism website), CTBites.com (THE resource on all things food related), and ConnecticutMagazine.com (a magazine I have subscribed to for years, full of info on a great variety of topics)
For more fun in Connecticut, check out our top 30 list of things to do and our list of 32 places to eat, and check out our CT food trails: cupcakes, chocolate shops, hot dogs, crepes, tacos, and bakeries. And follow along on our adventures on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.