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Have I found quality Mexican in Hartford (gasp!!)???

I ate lunch at Monte Alban in Hartford the other day. I have been meaning to try it and finally got around to it. It is a fairly small place, located in a strip of stores with Tisane (coffee bar) on Farmington Ave, has outdoor seating (bonus), great attentive service, and has a nice ambience inside. You can order off the regular menu but the back of the menu lists the cheaper lunch plates, of which there are only a handful. I had the burrito al pastor. As a lunch special it was $7 and change for the burrito, refried beans, rice, and some delicious corn cake type thing. Very reasonably priced.

The rice was nothing special though that may be my personal bias as I am kind of picky about restaurant rice. The refried beans were as you’d expect, very good and not stiff and awful like the canned stuff. The burrito was delicious, with the pineapple flavor really coming through on the al pastor. Dining companions both had burritos and were happy with them. I checked out Yelp before heading there and saw many people there commented on the fantastic mole, which I will try next time.

My previous favorite location around Hartford for Mexican was El Serape, however this was just as good and in a decidedly better neighborhood.

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Monte Alban Restaurant
529 Farmington Ave, Hartford, CT 06105

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  1. We love Monte Alban, too. The biggest complaint I could make about this venue is it's tough to find parking, but I really enjoy their food. Yes, their mole is quite good, too--as are their gorditas, enchiladas, limonada even...have never had a bad meal at Monte Alban. When we lived closer, we used to go much more often. I'm glad to hear you found this just as good as El Serape as I had heard much positive feedback about that place.

    The "delicious corn cake type thing" is sweet corn cake. I learned how to make it (and like making my own even more), but it's nice and different from what we usually get around here, isn't it? :)

    I like Besito, too, in West Hartford Center, but only had the chance to get there once so far.

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    Besito
    46 S Main St, West Hartford, CT 06107

    6 Replies
    1. re: kattyeyes

      Monte Alban is great but no tequila. Going to Besito tonight which is good but great tequila. Depends on your priorities. But I STRESS as Kattyeyes says the parking situation. If you park in the big lot across the street from Monte Alban you will be towed in less than 1 hour. I had to run out of the place and plead with the tow truck guy to unhook my car. It cost me $148 bucks in cash (only) or he would have taken it god knows where. DO NOT PARK IN THIS LOT.

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      Monte Alban Restaurant
      529 Farmington Ave, Hartford, CT 06105

      Besito
      46 S Main St, West Hartford, CT 06107

      1. re: chrism23

        Thanks for the parking tip, chrism23! We went at lunch and parked on-street right in front, no problem. I can imagine parking being tight in the evenings. And thank you kattyeyes for the corn cake heads up. I have never had anything like it before but it was delicious.

        I do love me some tequila (Patron Silver is my poison), but not at lunch on a work day! I have been to Besito once, and while it was good, I don't feel the need to pay that much for Mexican food regularly. I am a big fan of Mexican food but my tastes run towards the casual and street food variety. I was also pleasantly surprised that the beers were <$4. I think the burrito al pastore was on par with El Serape (though not as monstrous) but Monte Alban gets bonus points for ambiance and outdoor dining.

        I don't know how this place has escaped my radar so long, which is why I wanted other chowhounds to know it was out there!

        1. re: mels

          Monte Alban used to be BYO, so it was even more economical to drink back when. :) If you enjoyed the sweet corn cakes and want to try them at home, google "sweet corn cake allrecipes" and you'll find the one I've been using for years. And as to not at lunch on a work day, I hear you!

          I don't know where you live, but if you get to Middletown, please try Iguanas Ranas in our north end. $2 tacos, kitschy decor (lots of frogs!) and very much the casual/street food vibe you describe.

        2. re: chrism23

          Oooo. Nice to know. Parking here does suck. It seems like every time I go there someone gets the last spot on the road and I have to park in the 'hood. And I HAVE parked in that lot across the street. $148 cash! Outrageous! The tow guy probably took his friends out to Taco Bell that nite!

          1. re: chrism23

            Monte Alban has been our go-to Mexican lately. Outstanding mole, as others have noted.

            No need to stress about parking. There's a lot behind the FedEx/Kinkos building across the street which is designated for use by the patrons of the several nearby Farmington Ave restaurants.

            For good mexican WITH lots of top tequila choices, I'd suggest Coyote Flaco on New Britain Ave. They make a very good margarita.

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            Coyote Flaco
            694 Brooklawn Ave, Bridgeport, CT 06604

            Monte Alban Restaurant
            529 Farmington Ave, Hartford, CT 06105

            1. re: Uncledave

              It's close, but not directly across the street. Excellent tip, though. Haven't tried the mole, so now I'm going to deviate from my usual and go for it!

        3. ditto. I love this place too.

          I'm also a fan of Agave Grill downtown. They have the closest thing to a good fish taco I've had outside of SoCal. Also their refried black beans must be sprinkled with crack, they're that addictive.

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          Agave Grill
          461 Queen St, Southington, CT 06489

          1. Ha! I've been blabbing about this place for a long time here. It's nice to know I'm justified. I'm going to sneak that guacamole home in my purse someday.

            Just kidding.

            1. I keep meaning to go back and try this place but we had such bad food there a couple years ago, I haven't gotten around to it yet.

              On the plus side, I live a few blocks away so parking isn't an issue.

              1. I would try Coyote Flaco. Their mole is excellent and the services is terrific. They also deliver, which is an option I frequently use.

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                Coyote Flaco
                694 Brooklawn Ave, Bridgeport, CT 06604