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Feb 18, 2007 06:47 PM

Best restaurants in Hartford, West Hartford?

I'm new to town and am wondering what are the best restaurants in or around Hartford.
My wife and I like almost any type of cuisine, done right. Thanks!

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  1. Good question!
    Ok, people are sure to add to this list and possibly disagree with me but I was born and raised in West Hartford…and these are my favorites…

    Downtown Hartford:
    Vaughn’s Public House on Pratt Street
    Typical Irish pub with excellent fish and chips (get them with the curry sauce!!) and all good things on tap. Tuesdays they have $2 Irish pints all day and that actually extends to some non Irish brews (Boddingtons for example) as well.

    Agave Grill on Allyn Street
    This place is a little small and sometimes a little loud but I love the food and the margaritas are fantastic (no junky fluorescent mix added…just good stuff).

    Max Downtown and Trumbull Kitchen
    These places are 2 of a number of restaraunts owned by the Max Group. Max Downtown is fancy schmancy but the food is awesome as is the staff. For me this is a special occasion place.
    Trumbull Kitchen is hip, with good eclectic food (also a bit on the pricey side). It’s kind of a see and be seen place.

    West Hartford:
    My favorite place is East West Grille. It’s a Lao-Thai place on New Park Ave (can’t find their website though). They also serve a little Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese stuff too. You really can’t go wrong there. Don’t be turned off by the fact that it’s located in an old (and very spiffy/clean) diner. It’s also BYOB. (Closed Mondays!


    Rather than get into the stuff in West Hartford Center, I’ll let someone else list that all out for you. People love going to and eating in WH center but as a native I am kind of tired of all of those places and the atmosphere (seems like really chatty 20 somethings everywhere).

    On an aside…other non super fancy joints….
    Barbs Pizza on Park Road in West Hartford is great….great style of pizza, great toppings. Harry’s Pizza in WH center is also great!
    Quaker Diner on Park Road is open for breakfast and lunch and they just do everything right as far as I’m concerned.
    Plan B burger bar on Park Road….try the sliders! (I wouldn’t wait for more than 20 minutes on a warm day for a table…it’s so small that you’re likely to be waiting outside).
    Lena’s in Hartford on Park Street has the best calzone.
    Tinker’s Seafood across from Lena’s is like a sea-less clam shack. I recommend the hot lobster roll…butter on the side.

    Good luck! Enjoy!

    2 Replies
    1. re: masha bousha

      Thank you so much for the Vaughn's recommendation. I ate their this afternoon and loved it. Great atmosphere, great beer, and great fish and chips! My friend had the meatloaf sandwich and said it was delicious.

      1. re: RCK6

        Now, go to Wood N Tap, part of this restaurant group. I have yet to try Vaughn's, but will definitely do so.

    2. Max Restaurants are typically good (NOT Trumbull Kitchen, mind you), but you also get "the attitude" with your meals. Agave Grill has terrific food, but it is noisy. If that bothers you, would recommend going on a Sunday night! W. Hartford Center has many restaurants, but most of them are pricey and "attitudinal" -- if you get my gist.

      Here's some good ones to consider:

      Mediza in W. Hartford Center - Mediterranean

      Wood N Tap, Hartford, for great burgers/sandwiches/salads;

      Five Guys, Avon, for Burgers and amazing fries. Don't waste your time at Plan B. We can't figure out what the fuss is all about. Pricey, and frankly, not very good.

      Serena's in Simsbury. Great fish -- fresh from Boston -- and Thai food. It is a joint venture between husband and wife. Menu is 1/2 seafood, 1/2 Thai food. Excellent preparations. It has another name, which escapes me, but if you find Serena's Fish Market, you'll find the restaurant.

      Black Eye'd Sally's has been good, although I haven't been there in awhile...

      Hot Basil, for Thai food

      Tapas, for Greek/Mediterranean

      And, if you want to take a drive -- about 45 minutes -- to Harwinton: try the Landing Zone. You'll feel like you're eating at Pancho's from the Right Stuff. It is, literally, in the middle of nowhere and the crowd is not your typical suburban conspicuous consumer. Food is excellent, exotic and interesting! I'm reluctant to mention it because it is primarily filled with locals and I don't want to ruin a great secret!

      Welcome to the area.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mallomarmom

        Serena's other name is Tom Yum Goong and it is fantastic and cheap. (BYOB) My personal favorite restaurants in Hartford are Peppercorn's, which is upscale Italian, Costa Del Sol, fantatic Spanish, great seafood and paellla, and O'Porto, Portuguese and great seafood on the WH/Hartford line right past Prospect Ave across the street from Lena's on Park, previously mentioned and great.

        In WH Center, I like Briccos the best. Max restaurants are fine and I have never had service problems, but my elderly parents have experienced the "attitude." Either way, Max restaurants would not be my first choice, I've tried all of them and feel there are better options for the price, although they are fine. Have heard great things about Hot Basil but have not been. My husband swears by Tinkers and goes all the time for lunch.

        IMHO, avoid Mediza. Had an absolutely horrible dining experience there, frankly one of my top 5 worst ever. 3 out of four entrees terrible... still regret not sending the food back. The only thing worth eating was the pumpkin bread pudding. Yes, we stayed for dessert, but it is a long story.

        There are lots of fantatic options and great little ethnic spots everywhere in the area as well as something new always coming along. Have fun exploring! JB

      2. To fill in W. H. Center there's Brico's, Grant's and Elbow Room- all great food.

        On the cheaper end try Mo's Midtown for breakfast and a cold cut combo or chicken cutlet grinder at Franklin Giant Grinder both in Hartford. Also try the other Franklin Ave Italian places for traditional fare.

        1. Also in WH center is
          Barcelona...tucked in parking lot behind Toy Chest...
          the understated Arugula Cafe on Farm. Ave (Mediterranean)
          Shish Kebab house of Afghanistan on LaSalle Rd
          also...I've eaten at most "MAX" restaurants multiple times and have never gotten "the attitude"... I would try them...
          head down Farmington Ave into Hartford and you'll find

          Tisane..tea, coffee and light eats..
          across the street is Japanese rest ..the name escapes me right now...great octopus salad and sushi/sashimi
          also..mexican, vegetarian Jamaican..and many others on my list to try..

          1. I have not been in many W. Hartford restaurants, but really liked Barcelona (tapas) and Puerto Vallarta (Mexican).

            1 Reply
            1. re: DonShirer

              I have to disagree strongly about Puerto Vallarta...the only good thing there are the tortilla chips...