My choice for a nice place for dinner downtown is Feng Asian Bistro. They also have a hopping happy hour in their bar, probably due to the $5. martinis and great apps at 1/2 price.
Agave Grill has excellent guacamole and Habenero Pork tacos.
For pub style I like City Steam (brew pub) and Vaughn's (Irish pub). Coaches is the choice for a sports bar.
The Sheraton is just across the river in East Hartford. Check out Mickey's Oceanic Grill on Pitkin St, the next street over. Doesn't look like much (a drive-in), but they have an awesome fried fish sandwich.
I think you'll enjoy your food travels here, Flyer. I'm assuming you may have a rental car so I'm including some non Hartford restaurants which are generally only about 15 min - 30 mins away. Here are some suggestions:
Steak: Morton's (Hartford), Flemings (West Hartford). I know they're chains and you've probably been there before but sometimes you just want a nice steak and they're consistently good. Also, sounds like you're on a business trip so someone else will be paying.
Foodie Heaven (lunch): On 20 (Hartford). Inventive gourmet, great view.
Italian: Carbone's (Hartford), Spris (Hartford) Vito's By the Park (Hartford), Bricco (West Hartford), Piccolo Arancio (Farmington), Cugino's (Farmington).
Asian/Sushi: Feng's (Hartford)
Mexican: Monte Alban (Hartford)
Burger: Max Burger (West Hartford), Counter Burger (West Hartford), Plan B (various locations), Joe Pizza (Canton, probably too far for you to go but the best burger imho)
Very good for a hotel dining room: Vivo (Hartford Marriott)
Young, hopping bar scene with good food including top notch Sushi: Trumbull Kitchen (Hartford)
Seafood: Max Oyster Bar (West Hartford)
Other suburban favorites of Chowmensch: Grant's (West Hartford), Bosc (on Avon/Simsbury line in Riverdale Farms, Amelia's (Simsbury), Metro Bis (Simsbury) Cottage (Plainville), Apricots (Farmington).
Look at some menus on-line and then let us know where you ended up and what you thought. Enjoy!
For chowmensch, what a great post! It should be archived for Hartford area suggestions. I am impressed that you spent so much time with it.
I agree with just about everything. A couple of quibbles, Vitos is pretty mediocre. And Morton's, as you said is a chain and boring. Otherwise spot on. The one place you missed, for downtown expense account dining, is Max Downtown, which I like when someone else is paying.
And alas, I don't know the downtown bar scene anymore. I do know that the bar at Max's Oyster Bar in West Hartford was voted best pickup bar in Hartford magazine and is always hopping.