Travel: Danbury, CT – Restaurants f/Emily from That Nerdy Fitness Mom

Today’s blog is a collaboration with my friend Emily from That Nerdy Fitness Mom! In 2013, she forced me to play a terrible Jurassic Park video game for her amusement and documented it on her old gaming blog.  Unfortunately, because the internet never forgets, you can find that collaboration here, (and thanks to the Wayback Machine, my trauma is now renewed.)  She kindly offered to review some of her favorite local restaurants, along with the promise of never making me play bad video games ever again.

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The good thing about Danbury is that there is never a shortage of places to eat!  Of course, since it’s a city, there will be your chain restaurants like Chili’s, Red Lobster, Olive Garden and Buffalo Wild Wings, but when you’re exploring new places, you definitely want to check out the local places.

Thankfully, due to Danbury’s diverse population, there’s a little bit of everything.  There’s Middle Eastern, Brazillian, Ecuadorian, Japanese, Indian … the list goes on, if you know where to look.  Not to mention the great pubs and American restaurants that also make up Danbury’s diverse culinary treats.

tasteofdblock

Every September, Danbury holds its “A Taste of Danbury” food festival, put on by City Center Danbury, (Danbury’s community partnership that promotes events and business downtown,) which I definitely recommend attending, if you want to try a little of everything.  The 2018 Taste of Danbury was held on September 7-9, but as of this writing, the 2019 dates have not been announced.  Located on the Danbury Green (Ives Street,) it’s a kid-friendly community celebration featuring family entertainment, games, live music and of course – food trucks, featuring local food from all over the world.

And speaking of Ives Street …

Two Steps Bar and Grille – 5 Ives Street

Situated in a historic firehouse, Two Steps has been family owned and operated for nearly 30 years.  Though originally focused on Southwestern American cuisine, they’ve since shifted to more traditional American faire, such as Slow Roasted Pork Shank, Fresh Grilled Salmon and BBQ Baby Back Ribs.  Two Steps leans a little toward the moderate side as far as pricing, but you do get what you pay for.

twosteps
The historic firehouse.  (Photo by Two Steps)

A personal favorite is the “Big Danbury Titan Burger,” named after the now-defunct minor league hockey team, the Danbury Titans, who used to occupy the Danbury Ice Arena, located around the corner from Two Steps.  The Titan Burger is served on a Brioche roll with lettuce, tomato and red onions, with your choice of additional toppings such as cheddar, swiss, jack cheese, feta, American cheese, gorgonzola, bacon or mushrooms.  (I’m particularly fond of medium rare with cheddar, feta, lettuce and red onions.)

The appetizers tend to be a little on the pricey side, with the only items under $10 being the cup of chicken & white bean chili and the grilled vegetables, but the higher priced ones are quite nice.  (I recommend the Crispy Duck Legs, Fresh Cold Water Crab Cake or Cajun Calamari.)

On top of the restaurant, there is also a bar, which offers some pretty decent Happy Hour specials.  Check out the Happy Hour Menu below:

Happy.Hour.Flyer-c2b236bf

Something else that Two Steps offers, aside from holiday dining events, are cooking classes and wine tastings.  Hosted by Owner/Chef Tom Devine, classes cost $45 and he walks you through dishes like Grilled Gulf Shrimp wrapped with Pancetta over angel hair with a casino butter and Steak Aioli, both of which are featured in the upcoming March class.

 

La Mitad del Mundo – 275 Main Street

lmdm

For those interested in South American (Ecuadorian) cuisine, there’s La Mitad del Mundo, (I could only find a link to their Facebook page, as the website listed directs to an Ecuadorian travel website.)  Nestled on the corner of an alley (that coincidentally leads directly to Two Steps,) at 275 Main Street, I was first introduced to La Mitad del Mundo by my mom, who’d been there with my uncle a couple months prior.  The menu is absolutely massive, to the point where I had a lot of trouble choosing, however, I ultimately chose the beef and tripe platter, since I’d never had tripe before.  (I also must apologize – I don’t speak Spanish and for the life of me, can’t remember what the platter is called and I can’t find a menu online.)  When my food arrived, I was not at all disappointed.  It was absolutely delicious and it felt like I’d sat down at a family dinner table than at a restaurant.  Remember when I said “you get what you pay for” when describing Two Steps’ appetizers?  Well, with La Mitad del Mundo, you get what you pay for and then they also give you enough to take home and feed the family for the rest of the week.  To say that the portions are “generous” is like saying a cruise ship is “just a boat.”

La Mitad del Mundo’s prices, compared to the portion size, are completely reasonable, if not a little low, which is always a plus, especially if you’re traveling on a budget (and like leftovers.)  The atmosphere is cozy and almost homey, and the staff are all incredibly friendly.  You can tell they’re proud of their food and they absolutely should be.

La Mitad del Mundo is one of those “In Plain Sight” places that you might not notice, or even overlook while traveling in Downtown Danbury, but definitely worth a visit.

Next up are three of Emily’s favorite places in Danbury!

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pippas
Photo Credit: Danbury News Times

Pippa’s Sports Cafe – 114 South Street

Pippa’s is a cozy sports bar with phenomenal food!  It’s the home of my favorite wings, with flavors including garlic parm and garlic teriyaki.  Their sandwiches and wraps are both filling and delicious.  And there’s nothing like paring a meal with curly fries! – Emily

Pippa’s has been a South Street staple as far back as I can remember.  Though they consider themselves a sports bar, taking a look at the menu, to me, says otherwise.

Though the faire is similar to that of Two Steps’, Pippa’s leans more toward standard pub food – burgers, sandwiches and wings, which, when you want something good, fairly priced and in a fun atmosphere, it’s where you want to be.

Kibberia – 93 Mill Plain Road

kiberria
Photo credit: Danbury News Times

My all-time favorite Middle Eastern spot, and there are plenty!  Spicy falaffel and spicy hummus will make anyone with a craving for hot stuff happy.  But, there is nothing like their chicken shawarma salad in a crispy pita bowl, with tahini dressing.  Filled with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, pickles and a healthy servinc of chicken shawarma, the salad is sure to disappear! – Emily

I’m going to be perfectly honest; despite being a hummus fiend, my experience with Middle Eastern food is woefully lacking, so I’m really happy that Emily was able to recommend Kibberia.  Looking over the menu, the prices are more than reasonable and each item has a description to help Middle Eastern food newbs (like myself) make a delicious decision.

Koo Restaurant – 29 E Pembroke Road
Kusulyn – 7 Backus Ave (Danbury Fair Mall – Lower Level under the Food Court)

 

koo
Photo Credit: Greenwich Times

Staple Sushi spot.  Affordable rolls.  Whether it’s a special roll or simply a California roll, all sushi is fresh and scrumptious.  My go to – Spicy Crab and Spicy Girl roll.  They’re always happy to give me spicy mayo on the side.  Not into sushi?  Their lo mein and pork gyozo are fabulous choices! – Emily

Though I was initially hesitant to put these two places on the list because I wanted to do non-chain/franchise restaurants only, Koo and Kusulyn (owned by the same people,) were the two restaurants that came up most often when asking my friends what I should add.

Having eaten at both, I definitely have to agree with Emily.  Koo, being a larger stand-alone building, has a larger selection and their prices are the same as the smaller sister location in the Mall (which will be covered in the next post,) which is what I’m more familiar with.  Koo offers Mongolian Hot Pot, Korean BBQ and Sushi, on top of more familiar Chinese and Japanese dishes.

Koo’s location, however, is kind of a trek to get to and a little difficult to find, so make sure to double-check the directions prior to heading out, as GPS/mobile reception can be a bit spotty leading to that area of Danbury.

kusulyn

Kusulyn is what I consider “Koo Lite.”  It’s a smaller location and located directly under the Food Court in the Danbury Fair Mall, nestled between Red Robin and Men’s Wearhouse (Side Note: I really hated having to type that terrible pun out.)  It’s a cute little place, with friendly staff.  The prices are slightly lower than Koo’s, and the menu is smaller, primarily offering Japanese dishes.  Though they do offer hibachi items, those are prepared in the kitchen, as the restaurant is too small to accommodate a grill with seating area.

Whenever it comes to Japanese food, my recommendation will always be Unagi/Unagi-Don (Freshwater Japanese Eel,) and Koo/Kusulyn offers their Unagi Don Entree (served with Miso Soup or Salad,) for $25, thus making it a “sometimes treat” for me.

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This post was super fun to write and (especially) research!  Thank you very much to Emily, over at That Nerdy Fitness Mom, who hopefully, will be making more appearances here as I drag her around on adventures!

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