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Any Middletown, CT suggestions?

I'm attending a conference at Wesleyan next week, and wonder if there are any chowish destinations locally. I'm not too interested in 'upscale', but are there any cool bars with food or pizza places. Thanks in advance to the New England hounds! BC

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  1. Very unique, kinda groovy, if ya know what I mean.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Td61

      I only ate there once (about 2 months ago) when I was in the area, but I loved this place! Everything was great - especially the sweet potato fries.

    2. On the occasions I've gone there, I've been pretty satisfied with Tuscany Grill.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Lee Gordon

        Don't eat MoCon's (the dining hall) food. For breakfast or lunch hit the newly rebuilt O'Rourke's Diner. Unfortunately, 3 of my favorite places died in the last couple of years.

        1. re: Passadumkeg

          Tuscany grill is good, do they still have pizza? There are/ were 2 good Thai places on the main drag, one got a write up in the NYT. Yes O'Rourkes, is expesive for a diner, but the food is sooo good. We make a detour off 84 when travelling through, just for breakfast at O'Rourkes. Neat story about the rebuild after the fire too.

      2. There used to be a place called Harbor Park, right on the Ct. River. that served good food and drinks, the lower deck was good for light fare,and the upstairs dining room and outside deck,served a little higher priced food,mainly dinners and such.Im sure someone will let US know if they are no longer in business. Have fun! Earle Ct.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Earle

          Drove past there two weeks ago, they looked as though they were open.

          1. re: DonShirer

            Harbor Park is definitely open, but you're paying for the view. The place itself is sleazy (it's owner is a made man) and the food isn't really any good.

            1. re: politico

              "Maratta said he's got plans to create a high-end steakhouse on the second floor of the three-level building, and maintain a casual, 'shoreline-style clam and lobster house' on the ground floor."
              Mayor Giuliano said, "At this stage of the game, we're looking for more quality." News reports, and people, comment that there are fights, loud music and drugs have been problems (not to mention poor food).

              1. re: Scargod

                I eat there about once a year when the weather is perfect and eat outside. Food is passable only, but worth it for the view.

                1. re: germay

                  I think most people go to Harbor Park to drink and listen to bands. It does have a nice view, but that's about it. Think about the fact the place floods yearly--would you want to eat in a place that spends that kind of time under water? I wouldn't and I don't.

        2. Burny,

          Coolest bar by far in Middletown is Eli Cannon's, on the north end of Main Street by the Portland Bridge. Something like 32 beers on tap, good bar food, and a cool atmosphere. Definetly worth a try.
          The bar upstairs a the Firehouse Steakhouse is nice. A pool table, digital jukebox, leather couches. Can't speak for the food, haven't eaten there but drink service is prompt. Firehouse on the middle area of Main Street by the intersection of Main and Washington.
          For pizza, my favorite is Illiano's. There are two in Middletown, but the closest to Wesleyan is on South Main near KFC and Domino's. New York style pizza in a casual atmosphere(old Friendly's building). Hope this helps.


          2 Replies
          1. re: jakeith

            I have to second Eli's for an amazing tap list, and decent (though sometimes pricey) food. Atmosphere is fun, though they are VERY crowded on a Fri/Sat. night (though to be expected at a bar).

            Pizza- I'd go First and Last. A bit expensive, but really really good. Jerry's is also very good, but as mentioned below, nothing to look at.

            I too LOVE some ORourkes. Quite frankly I don't mind spending some dough for good food, and Brian, the owner is a great guy and someone who really truly cares about the NorthEnd of Middletown. Their Steamed Cheeseburgers are cheap and really good- they make their own cheese to put on them, kinda like a cross of homemade mozz. and the flavor of cheddar-ish? Very good.

            1. re: lolaeatspickle

              Agree Eli's is Middletown's coolest bar. I love their cheddar 'n ale soup!

              Forbidden City (Asian restaurant) has a cool bar within the restaurant and lots of funky--and potent--martinis.

          2. All of these places are on Main Street:
            Forbidden City has very different Chinese Food--went for lunch on Wed, and really enjoyed the food. Nice space also.
            The North End of Main Street has Nikita, good bar, burgers and such.
            Pho Mai--570 Main Street--nothing to look at, but the food is really good, and very reasonable.
            Eli Cannons--great bar, great burgers.
            Fiores--excellent italian--limited menu, but they do everything well.
            Caribbean--near fiores--don't know the name, had lunch there a few times, very good, large portions, reasonably priced.
            Personally, I think O'Rourkes is way over priced--but that's just me.
            I would never eat at Harbor Park--definitely a place just for drinks on the river.
            Jerry's pizza on 66 is the best, again nothing to look at, but excellent pizza.
            Illiano's is good also.

            You can easily walk from campus to Main Street.

            Have fun.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ctjane

              Harbor Park is great for drinks on the river - don't bother with the food as mentioned above!

            2. Aside from the First and Last mention in the other post, if you want to spend a little more money, Amici's is nice. Ditto Jane on Illiano's...The one on 66 will usually give you a sample slice while you wait for your order. La Boca (Mexican) on Main is an old stanby. If you can get away for lunch, I highly recommend Order on Court on Court St (no bar, but hey, it's lunch)

              5 Replies
              1. re: BiscuitBoy

                I have heard that First & Last has gone down hill recently, so I would not chance it. Also Harbor Park is fighting with the city to remain. The city owns the place and leases it to them. The new Mayor is trying to get them out now that the lease is over. Nice location though. O'Rourkes is an interesting little stainless steel diner that was recently rebuilt after a fire. They had no or very little insurance and the regulars got together to rebuild the place. I have heard excellent things about Forbidden City and Eli Cannons. These might be your best bet. Jay

                1. re: JayCT

                  I never understood the whole O'Rourke's thing....Dingy little place, you had to wait in line outside, and watch the drunks and hookers walk by you. It burns down and the dope didn't have any insurance. Whaaa! I guess I should stop in and see for myself. There is, however, a clean, spacious diner further up 66 in the Staples parking lot. No bums or panhandlers

                  1. re: BiscuitBoy

                    "No bums or panhandlers" and no O'Rourkes chow! This is no ordinary diner. (Scarman get up real early on Father's Day and let the boss lady treat ya and then weigh in.)

                2. re: BiscuitBoy

                  What about Coyote Blue Tex Mex Cafe?
                  I can't find "Pho Mai" or vietnamese in Middletown on Google.
                  It's "Fiore II Restaurant‎", not Fiores
                  By reviews (inside and outside of CH) give an edge Typhoon (Thai) over Thai Gardens...one non-CH'er reviewer said of Thai Gardens that it was too Americanized and that they did not use fish sauce in their dishes. I have no idea about the validity of this. David, here on CH, says Typhoon makes their own chili pastes.
                  Thanks for all the good info so far! I'm going to hit O'Rourke's for breakfast, for sure. Since I'm a little new to the area, I'm finding it interesting that there is some good food in Middletown and it's not that much out of the way from I-91.

                  1. re: Scargod

                    Coyote Blue is Tex-Mex (so not the real Mexican deal) but tasty in its own right. I'm not wild about their salsa, but they make their own chips (red, yellow, white and blue) and I manage to make a sizable dent in the platter they bring.

                    I'm a fool for their blue margarita (blue from Curaçao)--my dining companion enjoys the house 'rita. They're served in 16-oz. Mason jars with handles and it says right on the menu they won't serve you more than two. I don't think I'd know my own name after drinking two.

                    One night recently when it was crazy busy, we missed a lobster fest night on which they served lobster empanadas (bummer!). Coyote Blue is a fun place, but it's small and they don't take reservations. And even during the week, the place gets plenty busy, which sometimes doesn't fit our schedules.

                    Both recent visits, I had chili enchiladas. This week, I saved half for tomorrow. It's easy to eat the whole thing, unfortunately. ;) My guy had the beef enchiladas this week--last week he had a chicken/beef combo. As you might guess, the beef won in his book.


                    Re Pho Mai, it's a couple of blocks up from O'Rourke's. #39 is my favorite dish there--chicken with lemongrass, onions and peppers.
                    Pho Mai
                    570 Main St.
                    Middletown, CT 06457
                    CASH ONLY!

                    Pho Mai
                    570 Main ST, Middletown, CT 06457

                    Coyote Blue Tex Mex Cafe
                    1960 Saybrook Rd, Middletown, CT 06457

                3. I'll put in another vote for Eli Cannon's, good bar food, great beer selection, and if it is nice out they have a great patio out back.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: EastRocker

                    Don't forget their cheddar 'n ale (I still say it's beer cheese) soup. Yum!

                  2. Eli Cannons is cool.
                    I loved the Russian roulette jalapeño poppers!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Td61

                      the deep fried pickles are a good time too.

                    2. I recently went into a Vietnamese (?) noodle shop at the north end of Main St

                      a dive but great food and cheap!

                      A tibetan restaraunt is my fav when I get up to MT - LITTLE TIBET I think is the name - again
                      north end of Main St.

                      I will put my 2 cents in for ORourkes for breakfast and lunch - -a classic american diner - recently rebuilt after a fire about 2 years ago....

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: few

                        I agree w/ the pho shop, Little Tibet is gone and O'Rourkes is more than a diner, the breakfasts have a gourmet touch that I have never found in a diner.

                      2. thanks for these awesome places. i was worried about finding a cool venue for the celtics. you have saved me from the wesleyan dining hall! burny c.

                        1. As a Wes grad (decades ago) it is fascinating to read this thread. While I certainly won't disparage O'Rourke's for a great breakfast or some steamed cheeseburgers, don't be afraid of McConaughy, for at least one dining hall meal (particularly at breakfast). You enter at the top, the lines are underneath the stairs, and the dining area has HUGE glass floor-to-ceiling picture windows with a lot of light and a view of a historical cemetery. You can't go wrong with eggs made to order, and I sure hope they still have that old-time donut machine that drops them into the oil and flips them before they are glazed and served piping hot. Unfortunately, depending on the size of the conference, the communal dining may be at one of the residence cafeterias instead.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: nosh

                            Mocon is closed. It's been replaced by the new Campus Center.

                          2. If you just want to grab a quick bite, go to the Public Market and try to get some sciaciatta. Their pizza is good, too. My Italian grandmother was a regular shopper there. The olives are also fabulous and probably a third of the price of what you'll pay at Whole Foods (along with everything else).

                            1. You are only 30 minutes from perfection - take a ride to New Haven for a Pepe's Pizza - http://www.pepespizzeria.com/.

                              1. luce at the corner of main and washington has very good italian [amici grill farther down main and mentioned below is a place i would avoid -- not foodie caliber at all].

                                thai gardens on main has really good thai. i agree with others about forbidden city -- had lunch there the other day for the first time and was pleasantly surprised - not typical chinese fare at all.

                                1. Havelli on South Main serves very good, cheap Indian food. Typhoon on Main serves excellent, cheap Thai.

                                  I dislike First & Last's overpriced underperforming pizza with one exception: their spectacular tomato pie.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: politico

                                    I forgot about Haveli! They're super good and if you get the Thali special, you can try almost everything they do (or at least everything they do well).

                                    Japanica is good too if you like sushi- Not the best, but cheap, fresh and good. I do miss the little old men who used to serve you... the stories they used to tell over the sake... made me blush ;)

                                  2. Burny Carbo checking in. Had an awesome breakfast at ORourke's, and watched one of the games at Eli Cannon's, so thanks again for those tips. I was also taken to a pretty great dive bar called Gate Keepers for the cheapest pitchers I've had in a while (this led to a late night trip to a diner that was decidedly inferior to ORourke's, Athenium, perhaps?) Thanks to all CT hounds! BC

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: burny carbo

                                      Did you have the chocolate chip pancakes w/ whipped cream at Athenium? Yum.

                                    2. I have long loved O'Rourke's, but for something completely different -- south Indian vegetarian -- head out Route 9 just south of town to Udupi Bhavan. It's so good that we regularly make the drive up from Guilford. Totally unlike most Indian restaurants in the state. No ambiance at all, but outrageously flavorful and delicious food.


                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: elltea

                                        LOL we regularly drive to Udupi Bhavan from Madison. The food is fantastic and it's also very child friendly. The pakora and dosas are amazing and the curries never disappoint.

                                        At First & Last skip the pizza and try the Chicken Stemperata; crisp fried chicken parts in a savory/sour/salty sauce studded with olives, roasted garlic and pepperoncini - of course you'll want to soak up that sauce with the excellent focaccia. The food at the Guilford location wasn't as good as Middletown the one time we've gone.

                                      2. Eli Cannon's all the way. I'm there at least once a week. Try the cheddar ale soup. Great atmosphere and killer beer menu. Beer Garden is open so hit that up too.

                                        1. I have lived in Middletown for almost 2 years and there is no really good pizza or Chinese food here. You can eat OK pizza at Ilianos, their sicilian pizza has crusts like bread sticks. Jerry's is too heavy. I was spoiled where I used to live. However there are some cool places to eat here and it's got the whole Wesleyan college vibe going on! It's nice to see people come out to eat on weeknights and Saturdays.

                                          Eli's for beer, beer and more beer - food is bar food - nothing special - Wood n Tap in Rocky Hill for burgers and sweet potato fries or if you can go to the original in Hartford - delicious and cooked to order! There's other good eats in Middletown.

                                          Fantastic fresh blueberry pancakes at the Athenian Diner II on Route 66 after your barhopping.

                                          O'Rourke's is a cool place - my husband took his soon there on a Sunday and Brian served everybody in the restaurant fresh brownies from the oven! Comfort food

                                          The Vietnamese place Pho Mai - no atmosphere but great soup!

                                          Forbidden City has good food, great look but a bit pretentious and overpriced - Char Koon in South Glastonbury - same owners and much better although you are in tight quarters

                                          Fiore II - no atmosphere, no bar BUT (just cheap wine and Italian beer) great Veal Parm and garlic knots. A place you can take your mother ( we all have to take her somewhere where she won't complain)- and get good food.

                                          Tuscany Grill is good but inconsistent.

                                          Cantina - had an ewwww meal but other people love it -

                                          Fantastic fresh sushi at Mikados which is in the back of a building on Main Street

                                          The two Thai places are good too!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: PGBNews

                                            Are your objections to Jerry's merely a question of pizza type or actual execution?

                                            There are many schools of pizza-making, notably thin versus thick crust. The distinctive New Haven pizza which I believe is influenced by Amalfi immigrants is largely thin. Providence pizza which is Sicilian-influenced is thick. So it seems is Jerry's.

                                            Have you or anyone else tried the White Sicilian at Jerry's? It is an anchovy-garlic pizza that requires 90 minutes to prepare.

                                            Here is their web-site, http://www.jerryspizzamiddletown.com/...

                                            Jerry's Pizza
                                            885 Washington Street, Middletown, CT

                                          2. NOT ESCA!! See my review elsewhere on this board. We had reservations and waited 55 minutes for a table. Anything else in the world would be better.