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Decent and/or local chow in downtown Hartford?

I'm going to be in Hartford, CT for the better part of a week (arriving next Tuesday dinnertime, leaving the following Monday lunchtime). I'm attending an event at the arena downtown and staying in that area; I won't have a car, nor will I have a lot of time to take public transit far out of the central area.

Any suggestions on good places to grab a bite -- either lunch or dinner -- *in that area* so I don't have to subsist on chains or arena food? Tips on delis and local markets would also be much appreciated.

I'm from San Francisco, so I'm not looking for anything "exotic" (although when I went to this same event in Reading, PA a couple of years ago a Vietnamese restaurant saved my life!). Good quality basic chow is what I'm after; suggestions for good "East-Coast" pizza and Greek/Middle Eastern food that can be hard to find here would be welcome. I'm a city girl, so don't worry too much about whether the neighborhood is less than nice, as long as the chow is good and I can get there easily. I might have a couple of "fancy" meals -- is there a great brunch place in that area? How about a place for a nice Sunday dinner?

Finally, are there any don't-miss markets (like Reading Terminal market in Philly or Lexington market in Baltimore) that feature local products or local chow?

Thanks in advance for your help -- I promise to report back!

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  1. There are a lot of restaurants within a few blocks of the Civic Center....if that's the "arena" you are talking about.
    here are a few to get you started

    Max's, upscale Chophouse....nice bar area also
    Trumbull Kitchen...younger crowd...varied menu...lively bar
    both are part of the Max group www.maxrestaurantgroup.com

    Black Eyed Sally's....cajun, live music

    Hot Tomatoes...in the train station....Italian

    Bin228....Wine bar with small, good menu...

    Joe Blacks...new place...Irish...a little slow service

    Vito's...on Bushnell Park..Italian

    Mortons Steak House...next to the Old State House

    Peppercorns....Italian...one of my favorites...www.peppercornsgrill.com

    there are a couple of deli type places on Pratt St...across from the Civic Center

    many restaurants in downtown are closed on Sundays...you may have more luck with a hotel

    If you want to take a cab to Franklin Ave there are old school Italian places..Carbones....and many Latin places..Chale Ipenema..Brazilian....La Casona...and others

    1 Reply
    1. re: LenaNE

      I forget a great little place...Tapas on Ann...Greek/Mediterranean...as the name says..its on Ann St...1/2 block from the Civic Center

    2. As for deli's in that area: Max Bibo's on Trumbull right across the street from the Civic Center, and Rose's Gourmet Deli on Pratt Street. Both are good choices.

      You can get middle-eastern at Aladin on Allyn St. which is also relatively close to the Civic Center.

      Agave on Allyn St. is a good choice if you are in the mood for Mexican.

      As for true NY/NewHaven-style Pizza, downtown Hartford will disappoint. You have tons of choices (not just great pizza) if you jumped a train down to New Haven for a day. For instance, if you did that, goto Mahmoons for middle-eastern.

      1. i'd probably split my dinners between bin 228 for light italian fare & great wine, mayor mike's for something hearty and a beer, and vaughan's publick house for great uk pub grub. city steam for lunch or max bibo's delicatessen.

        1. i can vouch for a couple mentioned already...
          trumbull kitchen has great food and a decent wine selection.
          city steam has good food too (their fish and chips is made with salmon and it's wicked tasty) and some decent beer that they brew themselves.
          rose's gourmet deli has a pretty good selection, although it's a bit pricey for what it is.

          1. Let me add a few affordable chowhoundish spots:

            Woody's on Pratt Street for hotdogs and local color

            Aladdin on Allyn St. for good cheap Middle Eastern (try the lamb or the Syrian pizza)

            The Polish American Club near the Charter Oak Cultural Center, a trip back in time, lots of sausage, pierogies, beer, old school vibe.