The Route 202 Tavern is gearing up for its first anniversary.

The family restaurant opened last June just over the Washington town line on Route 202.

“I think it’s great,” said customer Tom Tazza of Washington Depot, who has become a regular. “The food is amazing and on par with other restaurants nearby.”

Owner Oscar Lopez, who has 21 years of experience at a local establishment, branched out on his own last year to open the family restaurant.

His daughter, Monica, who holds a degree in hospitality management, also works there.

The Route 202 Tavern is housed in the building that served as home of the longtime, popular Chuck Wagon, a mom and pop-style restaurant that attracted many local residents.

Lopez renovated the building and enhanced the patio seating, expanding the dining area during summer and fall.

The restaurant’s new, open feel is welcoming to patrons, who can be seated in the cocktail area on one side of the restaurant or in the main dining area.

A number of photographs of local scenes grace one of the walls.

Last year, the full-service patio dining drew many customers, in part due to its proximity to the river that winds along the restaurant’s banks.

“People had drinks by the river, and kids played while they waited for food,” Oscar Lopez said.

A number of events, such as baby showers and the like, have been celebrated in the new space.

Tazza praised the restaurant for the staff’s professionalism, quality of food and overall experience. “I haven’t had a meal I didn’t like,” he said.

Salads are among Tazza’s favorite meals, especially those with Cajun/blackened chicken.

“I think they have the best burgers between Litchfield and New Milford,” he said.

Lopez said that all the food is fresh and “cooked to order,” desserts are made in-house and several local brews are offered.

Eventually, local cheeses and vegetables will be incorporated into the cuisine.

The menu features a variety of appetizers, such as pan-seared crab cakes and chicken wings and macaroni and cheese, and a variety of soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches and wraps and pasta dishes.

Among the entrees are shepherd’s pie, New York strip steak, a pork plate, country fried chicken, burritos and more, while seafood dishes include shrimp and andouille skewers, seafood jambalaya and more.

Daily and nightly specials are available, as well as weekly specials.

Prime rib and fajita nights are among the most popular during the week.

Happy hour runs Mondays through Fridays from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays all day.

Brunch is offered Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., a decision made to accommodate customers who now patronize the tavern but missed the brunches of the former restaurant.

“We very much enjoy going there,” said Cathy Lambert of New Milford. “They are a family-oriented restaurant.”

Lambert described the food as “scrumptious … always delicious.”

“I don’t think enough people know about it,” she said. “It’s the best-kept secret in New Milford.”

Lopez said he welcomes feedback and is open to making requests.

He is also slowly bringing in some of his own family recipes.

The restaurant, located at 295 New Milford Turnpike (Route 202), is open Mondays through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the spring. In the summer, the restaurant will be open an hour later each day. For more information, visit or call (860) 619-0808.