Part of the reason I love where I live so much is the mix of big and small businesses. There is some level of hoity-toityness (we have two Whole Foods and two Chipotles, which is kind of awesome yet pretentious at the same time), but at the other end of the spectrum are perfectly charming shops, creative restaurants and little things to see. Some of my favorite local restaurants…
J. Rene Coffee Roasters – Tucked away from West Hartford Center on Park Road, this is the best place for when I want a break from Starbucks, or a really pretty cappuccino with a grilled banana-and-nutella-on-a-croissant sandwich.
Customers have a choice of how they want their coffee brewed…french press, siphon pot or cremex. The decor is lovely…big wooden tables, unique light fixtures and plenty of seating. And you can see the equipment they brew the coffee with.
Treva – In the middle of bustling Farmington Avenue, next to a CVS, is this enticing Italian spot that features my absolute favorite happy hour in town. My friend and I make dinner out of it about once a month, and it never disappoints. They have a selection of $3 and $5 appetizers, including out-of-this-world mussels, bruschetta with hangar steak, Tuscan fries (drizzled with truffle out and dusted with Parmesan…in a word, WHOA), and caprese salad. They have discounted wines and beer, and a full dessert menu. The affogato is sublime. A word of warning: this place is almost always busy, so come early for happy hour or make a reservation for dinner.
Harry’s Pizza – Who could guess the best pizza in town would be next a Big Y in a strip mall? When I moved over the summer, I bribed two of my friends to help me with boxes and shuttling them over to my new place, and rewarded them with pizza from here. I was curious…could a pizza place really be the best-reviewed restaurant on Yelp, in town full of fine dining? The answer is a resounding yes. The kitchen does close in the middle of the afternoon, so only slices of certain pizza are available for lunch. It’ll still be delicious, I promise. They just opened up a second location in the Center, but this one strikes me as more charming.
Max Burger - Hands down, my favorite restaurant in the state. I always tell myself I’m going to get something other than a burger, but I never do. Every burger on the menu is different and decadent. I have yet to try their boozy milkshakes, which I am putting on my list of VERY IMPORTANT THINGS I MUST DO SOON. Here is evidence of the decadence: the Beadle Burger, inspired by former ESPNer Michelle Beadle.
In addition to the burgers, the fries are top notch, and you have a choose of regular, sweet potato or eggplant fries. The pickles are house-made and are the first thing to leave my plate. Gotta get those veggies to balance out the beef, ya know?
Half Door – The best brunch in town is at an Irish gastropub in a slightly shady part of town, on the Hartford/West Hartford line. It’s part of the allure, really. They feature a specialty cocktail each Sunday, along with inventive options like Scottish eggs benedict, and a green eggs and ham sandwich.
I want to make an effort this year to buy more from local boutiques and shops. I like the idea of supporting the businesses and people where I live. What are your favorite local finds?
PS I am off to San Francisco for the week to visit my best friend, and CAN NOT WAIT to visit some of the great local restaurants (recommendations welcome!). And of course, visit with my friend, her husband and their new puppy. I’ll definitely be writing about it when I get back, and posting pictures on Twitter along the way.
This post was inspired by a prompt from Doniree Walker. Want to be inspired, too? Click here to for more details. Note: I’m an affiliate of Doniree’s, because I think she’s fantastic. I wouldn’t vouch for something that I didn’t think would help you, too