I'll be spending 3 days in Downtown Hartford, probably staying at the Holiday Inn Select. I plan to visit Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe houses, the Wadsworth Atheneum, and otherwise probably spend my time downtown around the capitol. I'm looking for restaurants with good food, not super expensive. I like Indian, Chinese dim sum, and all other Asian except Japanese; Peruvian and all Latin; Cuban; Jamaican; Spanish; Greek and Mideastern; and plain food, liked baked potatoes, grilled fish and steak. Also need some breakfast recommendations.
Just reporting back on the Hartford visit: Tapas on Ann was excellent for lunch, busy but I got a counter seat, had tasty chicken shish kebobby thing in very good pita. Went to an excellent Afghan Restaurant in W Hartford on the night my friend had a car; really enjoyed everything we had there, and great service, not too bad pricewise considering. Black Eyed Sally's, however, was disappointing; nice folks & decent music, good location for evening downtown, but the food was way too blank and unauthentic for my tastes, and service was highly disorganized.
My favorite places downtown are:
1. Agave. Even when it's crowded the staff has always been friendly and professional. The food makes me happy. I get a taco platter and if I'm with a group we get the guacamole.
2. Vaughans. It a nice pub style place. Again friendly people and good food. One of the few places that is open Sunday afternoon. I just found out that Agave and Vaughn's are owned by the same people. Makes me think that they know what they are doing.
3. Black Eyed Sally's. It's right next to the Holiday Inn. Pretty good BBQ style food. I like their gumbo.
4. Hot Tomato's. Also next to the Holiday Inn. It's a step up in price but I always have a good time there. I like the Giabatto.
Don't like: Trumbull Kitchen. Overpriced and pretentious
I'll back up Jestner's Jamaican recommendations, Carls bbq and Peppers. There is also a Peppers in East Hartford on Burnside Ave. I would add Scott's Jamaican Bakery to that list as well.
For Peruvian try Goal International 395 franklin avenue. There is a Brazilian place across the street that I have heard good things about too. More Peruvian food can be found at Piolin on 417 New Britain Ave. Also further down Franklin avenue is ay chihuahua they have Mexican food and they were having rock en espanol concerts on the weekend, I don't know if this is still happening.
If you have time take a drive down Park Street through the Frog Hollow and Parkville neighborhoods. Park Street is a shopping destination for the Latino community of CT. All the merchants on that street taxed themselves extra and are using that money to repair the street/sidewalk and eventually they have plans to have a free trolley that will run the length of park st to downtown. You will find Brazilian, Puerto Rican, Cuban, etc... You could start out at El Mercado 704 Park St, there are a bunch of food stalls there you can grab some snacks, Dominican, Mexican, Colombian, and some others.
Here is a map with some restaurants to try in the Parkville section of the city:
I hope you have a great time in Hartford. Let us know how it went :)
Thanks for the recs. I should have made clearer--other than taking a bus to the Mark Twain/Harriet Beecher Stowe area, I expect to be right in downtown Hartford, as I will not have a car.
Is the Peruvian, Puerto Rican, or Tibetan downtown? Does anyone else have any downtown suggestions, including for breakfast (near the Holiday Inn Select)?
If you are staying at the Hilton on Trumbull Street (don't know if its the "Select" or not) - then here are some additional options.
All the downtown choices mentioned in my post above still stand. But we will delve further into the downtown/financial district section.
For more expensive (and thus perhaps lunch to save the cash) - the more upscale-type places are Max Downtown, Trumbull Kitchen, Vito's by the Park, Feng's, Peppercorn's. Out of those, I'd say you won't go wrong at Max Downtown. My experience at Feng's wasnt that great, Trumbull Kitchen is fine if you peruse the menu and like their influence to food. Its owned by the same group ( www.maxrestaurantgroup.com ) as Max Downtown. I actually think I've been to Max Downtown so much that I'd rather go to TK at this point - but for a first time thing, and considering the choices - I'd definitely recommend Max Downtown over the other mentions as its very consistent.
You can definitely goto Woodys if you like hotdogs. Walk down Pratt Street, and either up a noticable alley on the north hand side of the road, or walk down Pratt, north up Main and enter right past the Quizno's on the left hand side.
I haven't heard anything terrible about Morty & Mings which is part of the Hilton. I've heard its fine. I've never been there - but at least I haven't heard anything horrible so that might be worth a try unless someone has better knowledge.
Another option down Pratt Street is Vaughan's Public House. An Irish Bar/Restaurant.
I personally wouldn't bother with The Russel on the corner of Trumbull & Pratt. I went there the other day and wasn't thoroughly impressed. Not many people in there at all - and my fish tasted almost like it had been purchased prebattered.
I'm not really sure of any good breakfast options in the immediate downtown area. I don't want to recommend McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Burger King & ABP (and actually, my worst downtown breakfast was from ABP where the oatmeal was ultrasoupy, undercooked, etc.). I am under the impression that you can get breakfast sandwiches at Max Bibo's - but I'm not 100% sure and have never heard anything about that.
Unfortunately, there isn't a strong residential base in the financial district/downtown Hartford, and so, besides little need for breakfast options, the ethnic choices are also not in that immediate area, and are typically to the north, south and west which would require a bus ride or taxi.
Also, I don't know how much is open on the weekend. So if you are planning to come over a weekend - you might find a pretty quiet city unless there are events going on. Same seems the case at night - where all the workers filter out to the suburbs, and the city becomes more or less vacant.
Alright. I'll give some names of things to look into for good, affordable food options:
For Indian: I'd recommend India Oven, 280 Park Rd, West Hartford ( www.indiaovenct.com ) They deliver - although I don't know how far out the radius goes.
For other Asian, I think CT has good Thai. One option around Hartford is a very solid Thai restaurant in Bloomfield, called Thai Palace ( www.thaipalacecuisine.com ). Another idea - how about Afghani food which you can get in West Hartford @ Shish Kebab House (www.afghancuisine.net)
For Jamaican - I'd suggest either Carls BBQ in East Hartford @ 285 Silver Lane (right off 84), or Peppers in Bloomfield @ 291 Cottage Grove Rd in a shopping plaza.
For Downtown Hartford - I'd say Tapas on Ann is a cool place for Mediterranian influenced food (www.tapasonline.com), Woody's or Roscoes ( www.roscosbigdog.com ) for hot dogs, Black Eyed Sallys (www.blackeyedsallys.com) for cajun/bbq styled food, and Max Bibo's (across from Civic Center on Trumbull St), Cornerstone Deli on Main St which is closer towards the Museum, or Rose Gourmet Deli (on Pratt St which is a brick road running perpendicular from Civic Center, off Trumbull St) for a sandwich.
Breakfast I'd go with Mama Roux's in Cromwell (www.mamarouxskitchen.com) or, if thats out of reach, Mo's Midtown, 25 Whitney St, Hartford CT (turn north off Farmington Ave a little before the West Hartford line).
There are tons of other places, from Peruvian to Puerto Rican to Tibetan - its just a matter of how much discovering you have time to do.
rosco's is currently closed... will be reopening in the spring
will just add one thing: for indian, the best in the area is priya in rocky hill.. http://www.hartfordpriya.com - phenomenal dosas and vindaloo.
and finally, if you are downtown, you must try some of the house brewed beers at city steam. they currently have an innocence double india pale ale that is off the charts. http://www.citysteambrewerycafe.com
Reporting back on my (delayed) visit: I went to Black Eyed Sallys on Asylum, Tapas on Ann, and Shish Kebab House of Afghanistan in W Hartford. The last was best, excellent intereting food, very nicely served in pleasant surroundings, and not really too bad pricewise considering the milieu and area. Tapas was quite good too, though the name is misleading--it's more Greek than tapas. Black Eyed Sallys was a fun place but the pulled pork was way too bland and northern, and the jambalaya a friend had was also not the real McCoy.