Meeting and eating spot maybe near Hartford, CT?
April 6, 2023 5:11 AM   Subscribe

Where should my brother and I eat lunch and hang out? We live a little farther apart than ideal for a day trip. Hartford, CT is about halfway, so it could be a good area to meet, though we’re open to somewhere else too. We’d like somewhere to eat lunch outside, and something else to do.

My spouse and/or his might come, too. We’d like a restaurant that has good outdoor seating for lunch – either plenty of it so we can just show up and not have much of a wait, or else reservable. Assume we’re flexible eaters who appreciate good food of just about any kind and price. If you know a good picnic spot, we might also consider bringing our own lunches – or if you know a good place near the picnic spot to buy lunch to go, that’s great.

Aside from lunch, we’d like to hang out nearby doing a casual… something? Maybe a museum, or botanical garden or nice park, or just a neat neighborhood for walking around, or something else we don’t know to ask for.

Hartford is just over an hour for each of us – coming from New Fairfield, CT and Pelham, MA. So that’s ideal location-wise, but if Hartford doesn’t have what we want and somewhere else does, one or both of us could go a little further.
posted by daisyace to Travel & Transportation around Connecticut (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: West Hartford, CT is an upscale little town with a walkable shopping area/dining street. I like Barcelona Wine Bar for dining. They have an outdoor area but you may want to check weather and call the restaurant to make sure it'll be in use on the day that you plan to be there. Nevertheless, the entire street that Barcelona is on (Farmington Ave) has restaurants with outdoor seating.

In Hartford proper (a 10 minute drive from West Hartford) Bushnell Park (by the grounds of the Capitol building) is a nice park with a carousel that is also nearby the Wadsworth Atheneum art museum. That would be an area you could picnic.
posted by xo at 5:36 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I work in Hartford; feel free to MeMail me.

Pratt Street, downtown, is closed to car traffic and therefore has street dining. It has a good old pub, Vaughan's, as well as Sunberry Cafe, which serves good Korean food (note that Sunberry closed for renovations and was supposed to open at the end of March but I've not been back to see whether it has.) A block away on Asylum is Feng Chophouse, which I've not been to since before the pandemic but which had amazing sushi when last I went.

Park Street, between let's say Park Terrace and Washington Street has great Puerto Rican and Domincan food although I can't remember the names of places to recommend other than Sol de Borinquen bakery.

Keep heading west on Park Street and you'll pass Parkville Market, which is mill or warehouse turned into a pretty nice food court with outdoor seating in the courtyard between it and another warehouse. Lots of variety here but I've never had anything I didn't like.

Just over the line into West Hartford is the GastroPark, a food truck spot with a couple of permanent vendors inside of a building, including a very good bakery called Small State Provisions. There's also a food truck spot called the West Side Square in the west end of Hartford, not far from the Mark Twain House and Harriet Beecher Stowe Center.

A little south, in Old Wethersfield, there is a very nice, rather rustic coffee-and-sandwiches place called Heirloom Market, which is built out of an old seed warehouse called Comstock Ferre. It's picturesque and worth walking around the area if you like early American architecture. (Disclosure: Heirloom Market is owned by some friends of mine.) For finer dining also in Old Wethersfield, check out a restaurant called The Charles, although I don't remember whether they have outdoor seating set up right now or not.

In terms of picnic spots: Bushnell Park is lovely and nearby to downtown Hartford; Elizabeth Park is also beautiful, especially the overlook on Prospect Ave (Elizabeth Park has a cafe called the Pond House which is supposed to be good but I've not eaten at); the Old Wethersfield Green is picturesque as well. You might also picnic on the lawns at either the Stowe Center or Twain House, both of which are worth visiting.
posted by gauche at 5:38 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]

When I was in West Hartford for work a few years ago, the client I was there to see was a big fan of the Max restaurant group. We went to Max's Oyster Bar and Max Burger, and both were pretty good. Max's Oyster Bar is across the street from the aforementioned Barcelona Wine Bar, and there are a ton of other places in that area (Blue Back Square) as well.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:04 AM on April 6

Already mentioned, but the first place that came to my mind was Parkville Market. This is a fun food hall with cuisines from all over the world. There's plenty of seating indoors and outdoors.

If you are looking to do a picnic, Elizabeth Park would be a great spot.
posted by I_carried_a_watermelon at 9:12 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This is great -- there are several here that we could try over time. Thank you!
posted by daisyace at 9:36 AM on April 7

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