Waterfront Outdoor Dining in New London

The season for al fresco dining is upon us! If you’re looking to enjoy a good meal with a great view, New London’s waterfront is the destination for you. From a casual lunch to a steak and seafood dinner, allow us to recommend some of our favorite local places for outdoor dining at its finest.

City Dock Restaurant/Oyster Bar

Well-known Connecticut restaurateur Frank Maratta has done it again! His vibrant new City Dock Restaurant /Oyster Bar on Customs House Pier is a unique concept: the walk-up bar and kitchen occupy specially-outfitted storage containers which are brought out to the dock each spring and then removed for storage during the winter.

The colorful seating area on the dock projects 120 feet into the water at the mouth of the Thames River. Customers have the ultimate view of the busy river traffic on all sides, a breathtaking horizon, and perhaps even the Coast Guard training vessel “Eagle” on a run or the Block Island Ferry pulling in at its dock.

City Dock offers an array of ice-cold raw bar items and a comprehensive menu featuring fresh local seafood and our twist on New American classics along with specialty cocktails, dozens of canned beers & Seltzers, wine and frozen spiked slushees.

On the Waterfront

This New London favorite recently got a facelift, including a beautifully expanded outdoor patio area. The new patio is the perfect spot to spend a summer afternoon, or evening, thanks to the dreamy café lights, neon lighted sign and tropical vibes. With stunning views of the Thames River and a marina full of boats below, the atmosphere can’t be beat, except perhaps by their delicious food.

On the Waterfront is a family-owned restaurant run by Stash Schiavone and his son, Chef Anthony Schiavone, and they even have their very own in-house baker, Jordan Pezzello, who makes out-of-this-world homemade cakes and other specialty baked goods. On the must-try list is their Seafood Tower, Lobster Tacos, Lobster Mac & Cheese, or any of their decadent pasta dishes. For dessert, you really can’t go wrong with any of their delicious cakes (like Pistachio or Oreo Cream) – so make sure you save room!

Besides great food and drink, On the Waterfront also offers live music and private parties, making it a great place to celebrate a special occasion, whether with a few friends for a night out, or with a larger group in a more private setting.

Image Credit: onthewaterfrontnl

Hot Rod Café

Their motto is “Wings, beer and atmosphere” and that pretty much says all you need to know. This lively spot just across from the water on Bank Street has a beautiful deck overlooking the Thames River, and a fun vibe with good food (award-winning wings!), good beer (24 on tap!) and live entertainment.

Owned by Rod Cornish and with the famous Chef Carlos cooking things up in the kitchen, this New London staple is equally great for family dinners and adults-only nights out. Besides wings, their ever-changing menu includes burgers, seafood, and seasonal specials. They have plenty of good beer, as well as frozen drinks and cocktails too. And if Rod and Carlos look familiar to you, you may just recognize them from their online video series, “Winging It! Cooking With Carlos and Rod.”

Image Credit: hotrodcafenewlondon

Muddy Waters Café

The perfect spot for breakfast, lunch, or “just a coffee,” Muddy Waters recently expanded their outdoor patio to give patrons even more room to enjoy the sunshine, water views and trainspotting from their back deck. Located in an historic building on Bank Street, Muddy Waters is a neighborhood favorite where regulars gather to eat and chat, grabbing an egg sandwich or fresh-baked pastry or muffin for breakfast, or homemade soup, a hearty sandwich or the famous “Love Salad” for lunch. In the winter months, their cozy couches and indoor seating is perfect for snow day hot cocoas, but in the summer, make sure you take advantage of the outdoor seating, complete with cool new seating and all!

Image Credit: muddywatersnewlondon

Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock

Did you know that the hot lobster roll was founded right here in Connecticut, and is now commonly referred to as “Connecticut style?” Whether your team hot with butter or team cold with mayo, Captain Scott’s is your place to satisfy your crustacean cravings.

The hot lobster roll is the most popular item on the menu, which is served drizzled with warm butter on a toasted roll with a side of coleslaw, but other close seconds include their homemade clam fritters, their chowder, both New England (creamy) and Rhode Island (clear) and their fish and chips.

Located a bit off the beaten path on Shaw’s Cove, Captain Scott’s offers seasonal dockside dining on their expansive deck, which includes waterfront picnic tables and a covered pavilion. They also do takeout and recently added a food truck to cater events. While the locals have been coming for years, the secret is officially out on this New London Landmark, with customers coming from all over the Tri-State area and New England to enjoy the freshest seafood around. Although the lines can get long during the summer months, diners don’t seem to mind, especially if they’ve followed the BYOB policy and brought a beverage or two to help pass the time. There’s also plenty to see, as the boats come in and out of the marina and the occasional train whips by.

Named after Captain Thomas A. Scott, a former ship captain, master diver, and engineer whose marine construction company built the Race Rock and Ledge Light lighthouses, this family-owned spot celebrates 25 years in business this year.

Image Credit: Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock