1432 Pleasant Valley Rd, Manchester, Connecticut, 06042, United States
Good for: Couples
Almost next to the Courtyard by Marriott, with only TGIFridays Restaurant inbetween. Outback...more
20 Taylor St, Manchester, CT 06040
Good for: Families
Shady Glen: Cheeseburgers, cole slaw, ice cream &...
This place has been locally famous for about 50 years now I think. There are actually 2 locations, the original one (with an expansion) on E. Middle Tpke. out by the Bolton line, and a smaller one in the Parkade on W. Middle Tpke. The atmosphere is your typical local dairy bar with booths & some counter space with those rotating stools kids love (I was always so annoyed as a kid that my parents always wanted to sit in a booth!).
Besides the food described below, they're also well-known for good service & cleanliness. They had the same head waitress for years (like maybe 40?) & if she was there, you could be sure the waitresses were never standing still--if they weren't waiting, they were cleaning. The last couple of times I went in there, she wasn't there, so maybe she's retired finally, & I noticed there was some standing around talking to each other which she would never have allowed. So they're going to have to find another one like her to keep up their reputation, but so far the service & cleanliness are still good.
Also be sure to notice the murals on the walls when you go in--no matter which one you go to--it's all hand-painted. In the background of this picture is the mural at the E. Middle Tpke. location--it's not the original because that's the end of the building they expanded last & the mural wall had to come down. It's still whimsical, but the original had more subtle colors. The painting at the Parkade location is more like that.
The waitresses wear actual waitress uniforms; the guys wear little paper hats & bow ties, just like an old-fashioned soda jerk.
Tip: If you're going by yourself & want a booth, not a counter stool, go at an off time of day like I did--mid-afternoon. At busy times the booths are reserved for 2 or more.
NOTE: they do NOT take credit cards.
Favorite Dish: What they are particularly famous for is their treatment of cheese--whether put on a hamburger or a hot dog, they fry it in such a way that it stands up & curls. (It's hard to describe, just go in & look around, there are bound to be several on tables & you can see what I mean!) It's not cheap ($4.20 for the regular cheeseburger; they also have a large size & a platter), but it's sooo good! In fact, if you just want to experience the cheese on the cheap, you can actually get just an order of fried cheese!
They're also famous for good ice cream--they started out as a dairy making & selling their own, and they still do--downstairs at the E. Middle Tpke location. They have a wide selection of flavors (all hard ice cream) & the hot fudge sundae is the best!
They often have special flavors of pie, ice cream & sundaes for holidays (e.g. pumpkin, mince).
The cole slaw is also excellent and made right there at the E. Middle Tpke. location (it's the sweet, creamy kind, chopped, not the vinegary kind, shredded). And although I haven't had them for a while, their onion rings used to be very good, too--the whole ring of onion kind, not the chopped onion kind.
They also have the cole slaw & ice cream in large containers (quart, half-gallon) in coolers at the front of the store to take home, in addition to getting anything on the menu to go, including sundae toppings & smaller quantities of the cole slaw & ice cream.
I thought so much about this place writing this that I talked myself into going there again & was happy to discover I can still enjoy it even though I can't do the dairy products any more. I had a BLT ($3.85) where the bacon was actually cooked enough for me (I like it almost burnt & always get it undercooked when ordered out), a side of cole slaw ($1.75), water, and the best lemon meringue pie I've had in AGES ($2.50--that they don't make themselves, but they've definitely picked the right place to get it from!); it came to $8.10.Related to:
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This is an historic building in Manchester, which has thankfully recently been restored to its original purpose--to give some cultural events to the local residents. It was originally built by the Cheneys that owned the nearby mills for their employees. Now it is used for small concerts and by the Little Theater of Manchester. It is a simple hall...more
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It's all national chains. If that's what you want, then that's the place to go.
Unique Suggestions: Don't go at peak times like Saturdays & the Xmas shopping season (ESPECIALLY the day after Thanksgiving and the day after Xmas.)
Fun Alternatives: Try some local restaurants:
For casual dining, try Shady Glen (see restaurant tips), or Nullis on Hartford Rd. (Italian).
For fancier fare, try Cavey's on E. Center St. (upstairs, French; downstairs Italian; the French part in particular is known for being quite expensive, so I've never been there), but it has been around for decades, so they must be doing something right.
Manchester Off The Beaten Path
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The bandshell at Manchester Community College has concerts all summer long. There's ample free parking, and the concerts are basically free--they will come around for voluntary donations about half-way thru. They have a variety of styles of music--Coast Guard band, bluegrass, barbershop quartet, jazz. They're of varying quality, but hey--what do...more