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Mar 15, 2009 01:09 PM

Top Hartford kitchens

Hi all,

I'm thinking about moving to Hartford, and a big consideration is the local food scene.
I am not a prima donna. I'll eat off a sawdust floor if the food is good and worth it.

That said, I do have some things that I love, namely:
1) Local and seasonal cooking all year round
2) Great wine (especially Oregon Pinots) and Munich beer
3) A _cheese_burger that makes you drool with sweet potato fries
4) Thin pizza with primo tomato sauce
5) Clam and lobster rolls

With that in mind, can you recommend your favorites for lunch and dinner? I'm lucky enough that price point really isn't an issue - only the tastiness level.
I've already been intrigued by Bin 228, Chowderpot IV, and the Grant's mini-empire.
Where else?

And, isn't there an amazing place that is usually lunch only but sometimes does chef's dinners downtown in one of the highrises? I know I heard about it and even went to the website, but I was foolish and didn't bookmark.

Your suggestions are welcome! If you ever need for Philadelphia or Chicago, don't hesitate to ask. And, I will absolutely put my findings on the board after I come back later this week.


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  1. The place you may be thinking of is "ON20" in the Hartford Steam Boiler Building; they were only open for lunch and in the last few years expanded their menu to include dinner:

    There are many Chow-ish eats in the immediate Hartford area, here are some of my personal favorites: (the list is small, I know I am forgetting alot of places that will surely be mentioned by other posters)

    Firebox (local and seasonal);
    Trumbull Kitchen (part of the Max's empire
    )Costa Del Sol
    Feng Asian Bistro

    The Grant's mini-empire is located in West Hartford, which is a very popular area with a nice mix of retail and restaurants. In addition, there are a number of towns surrounding Hartford that are worth checking out.

    Best of luck on your decision to move!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Meesch70

      Firebox is immediately on the list. You've just upped my excitement about eating in town by 1000%. I'll let you know what I think. Thank you!!

    2. Bin 228 is great. Grant's and Bricco are delightful places (although Bricco can be loud). However, you must have caught Chowder Pot on a very, very good night to place them in such good company.

      Of all places, we've been really happy with the Ruth's Chris on the Berlin Turnpike. Everything is full of flavor there, and they get everything right the first time.

      At lunchtime, One State Street Cafe (on the fifth floor of One State Street; the same building that houses On20, mentioned in another post) is a cafeteria but oh-so-much-more; the food is fantastic and a superb value.

      Carbone's is great for consistently good Italian food served in ginormous portions. The service is excellent. The prices are a bit high.

      The greater Hartford area is far from being a gastronomic wasteland. Stay tuned to Chowhound and to the local food press and you'll discover more delightful places to dine.

      1. Burgers w/sweet potato fries at Plan B, Hook and Ladder Restaurant and Max Burger opens in early April. Pizza - I prefer Pepe's branch in Manchester but the Harry's, Luna, and Barb's in West Hartford along with First and Last are good. Clam and lobster rolls go to Tinker's

        1. Forget the Prima donna stuff. I have spent most of my life in the Hartford area before moving to Boston. I have always been amazed at all the inexpensive ethnic eating adventures Hartford holds. Here are a few that I remember
          Vietnamese (Pho) Park St.
          Thai, Park street a little white house set of the road. used to be a butcher shop or try the converted diner on New Park ave.
          Portuguese, Park ave.
          Tapas, New Britain ave.
          Great Mex @ Coyote Flaco,
          Italian Franklin ave.
          There is every style of pizza in Hartford from the old style bakery thick to thin at Harry's
          Tinkers for fried fish

          enjoy it
          chow for now

          4 Replies
          1. re: louds911

            i believe that the little white house on Park Street is "The King & I."
            Cosmos International & Tangiers are both on Farmington Ave in Hartford--they are grocery stores but also do great tasty lunches for takeout.
            are you thinking of moving downtown, or outside the city a little bit? Hartford doesn't have a grreat mass transit system (compared to what you're used to), so you will need a car to get to a lot of the places mentioned.

              1. re: rudysmom

                rudysmom, you're absolutely right--it's The King & I on Park St. It changed names a couple of times since we've been going there, but I like it, too!

                OP: I'm not a lobster roll afficionado, but my mom is in a BIG way. For her favorite lobster roll, hit up Lobster Landing in Clinton, CT. It's not open yet (I don't think), but will be soon.

              2. re: louds911

                I had one of my BEST dining experiences at a Portuguese restaurant on Park Ave in Hartford...and being a global foodie - it ranked up there !

              3. Hi all,

                Okay, I only got to a couple of places, one of which was in New Haven, but that was Amtrak's fault and not mine.
                So, with that said, here's my experience.
                Had pizza in New Haven at the original Pepe's. Crust = A+. Tomato sauce could have been a little tangier. Too greasy for sure. Also had the white pie with clams, and it was good but at heart I'm a sausage and mushroom girl. Here again, crust was excellent. I'd go back and order something different. Sorry!
                Had dinner at Firebox. Solid 2 stars in my world. If you like spicey, gotta get the house margarita with the jalapeno infused tequila. Yum! The oysters were super fresh and well shucked. Would have like a bit more bite to my cocktail sauce via horseradish, but that is a personal preference. App was good - barley risotto with beets. Wanted a) more beets and b) more salt. Dinner was day catch halibut. Melted leeks were really standout. Halibut was perfectly cooked and pan fried if a little too salty. Mentioned it to kitchen. Outstanding ice cream that was Toscanini's (in Cambridge MA) yumminess. That is highest of ice cream compliments.

                Got a good sense that there is a real food scene, if you seek it out. And, also, that tasty, tasty ethnic food abounds if you are willing to get out of your car and not be too shy about neighborhood. I'm both, so that bodes well.

                Now, is there a local Chow group that gets together? That would be great!
                Thanks for all the help - I'm feeling good about this possible move!

                5 Replies
                1. re: zoehaynes

                  Glad your experiences were positive! You ARE right; there is a real food scene here if you are willing to venture into various neighborhoods.

                  I have not seen any posts regarding a local Chow group on this site; but it would certainly be fun!!

                  1. re: Meesch70

                    that is an awesome's always interesting and fun to actually meet the people that you correspond with online. let's do it

                  2. re: zoehaynes

                    For local chow groups, check out and consider a dining group at
                    Signup is free, and you can connect with like-minded souls for everything from kayaking to fine dining. I believe there's a dining group in the greater Hartford area that meets with some frequency. You can do a search for "dining" in the Hartford area that should produce some viable options.

                    1. re: moskey

                      The Wooden Tap has GREAT GREAT GREAT burgers and sweet potato fries. My wife and I just moved closer to RI but often come down to hartford to eat there. Plan B is also very good. They have steamed burgers which are a bit different in texture but good flavor. The King and I Thai is the best thai in the area with Hot Basil a close second. New Haven has even better thai. Pizza is everywhere. Max's Oyster Bar and Max fish are good for a sit down seafood dinner or lunch. Great Happy hour at Max Oyster. Try City Fish for a quick and fresh fish and chips. Also the Corner Pug( around the corner from hot basil) has a great beer battered fish. Vaughn's Public House and Agave are also staples of mine.

                      1. re: Lausten14

                        Gotta say, the battered fish at Corner Pug is nothing compared to the fish and chips at Vaughns. I won't even order it at C-Pug anymore because it's just not on par w/ Vaughns.
                        I do LOVE C-Pug though, for other things like beer and that amazing pulled pork sammich.