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Tiara Tyson dished up soul food at the Main Street, Torrington, restaurant opened by her sister last August: Tequanna’s Soul Food and Sweets. Photo by Cynthia Hochswender

Until It’s Safe to Travel, There Is Exotic Take-out Food


My friends are all making plans to travel the world again in the coming weeks. I’m still waiting until COVID-19 is less of a thing, so my travel plans for the moment mainly include forays to Torrington, Conn., which my daughter and I consider to be as exciting (in our lives) as Paris, France.

There is always shopping and errands to be done in Torrington  but, to make your visit to the Big Town feel more exotic, why not pretend you’re on vacation and just get something exotic to eat?

If you’re like me, you probably aren’t keen on sitting down to dine yet; but there are several excellent options for take-out that you can explore.

Tequanna’s Soul Food and Sweets

If you’re driving through the center of town to get to, for example, Five Points Gallery or the Warner Theatre or the mall with Staples and TJ Maxx, you are likely to pass by a tiny little storefront on Main Street (next to the historic Howard’s storefront, which is now a bookstore). In the middle of that row of storefronts is Torrington’s first soul food emporium, called Tequanna’s Soul Food and Sweets.

When Tequanna Tyson opened her restaurant last August, according to an article in a local newspaper, there were lines down the street and people crying when they saw the food choices. I stopped by late on a Thursday afternoon and it was fairly quiet. Tequanna was out of town and her sister, Tiara, was running the steam table while their mother, Regina Tyson, cooked in the unexpectedly large kitchen behind the dining area.

Tiara and her mother were very friendly and were happy to show all the foods hiding beneath steel lids on the steam table. As Tiara lifted the lids, the scent was mouthwatering.

Regina said that the most popular dishes are the ribs and collard greens (a rib dinner is $12). You can also get pulled pork, mac and cheese, “rasta pasta” and more; the menu is posted on Facebook daily (www.facebook.com/Tysonfamilysweets) along with the restaurant hours, which are basically noon to 9 p.m. three days a week, noon to 7 p.m. three days a week, closed Mondays.

YiaYia’s Greek Kitchen

My friend Wendy, who is an exceptional cook and a fussy eater, has been raving about the new YiaYia’s Greek Kitchen, owned by a young Greek couple who offer the classics of their native country’s food repertoire, but with some healthy modern updates. The spanakopita (spinach pie) for example is made with spinach, leeks, Greek cheese and homemade phyllo dough. There are dips including hummus and the yogurt-based tzatziki (which in this version includes fresh goat’s milk). Of course there is gyros (lamb or chicken). But unexpectedly there is saganaki, which is the most exciting dish to order at the Greek eateries in my hometown of Chicago: They light it on fire as they serve it to you and exclaim, “Ooopa!” There is no such combustible excitement at YiaYia’s but it’s still delicious.

Get the menu and directions at www.yiayias.net. But, be warned that this tiny restaurant in the back of a small strip mall is very hard to find. At the edge of its strip mall is a Smoke Toke shop (don’t judge this extremely cute little restaurant by its less stylish neighbor).

Vientiane Thai

If you know me, then you’ve probably sampled the excellent Thai food at Vientiane Thai in the Stop & Shop mall on High Street. This restaurant has been open now for many years and is very clean and delicious. It’s always busy — which of course also means that the food is very fresh.

My daughter and I generally order one of the curries with a side order of the sticky rice. I also love an item from the grill portion of the menu, listed very simply as “steak.” It comes with chili sauce but I suggest you order a side of the peanut sauce that comes with the satay sticks. Satay of course is one of the standards of the Thai menu, as is pad thai; both here are excellent.

I could go on and on but check their website at www.torringtonthaicuisine.com and know that you pretty much can’t go wrong with anything you order here.

Banana Brazil

If Torrington is not exotic enough for you, consider taking a trip to one of the four Banana Brazil restaurants, in Danbury, Waterbury, Hartford and Meriden, Conn.

You have to enter the shops to order, but you will be rewarded with authentic South American grilled meats and side dishes. If you can, eat at the restaurant while the meats are hot. To find their locations and see some photos, go to www.bananabrazilgrill.com.

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