Hartford is the capital of Connecticut and one of the nation’s oldest cities, established in 1635 and named for one of its first settler’s English hometowns.
Many of the buildings from colonial settlements still stand today. Additionally, Hartford is home to some of the nation’s oldest cultural institutions, including Trinity University, the oldest public art museum, and the oldest newspaper.
Of course, business dinners, friendly happy hours, and intimate dining experiences have equally refined and tasteful restaurant options. Restaurants in Hartford run the gamut of cuisines from American to Japanese and cater to any occasion, no matter how casual or formal.
The best restaurants achieve their popularity for numerous reasons that encompass the quality and taste of food served, the hospitality and attentiveness of the staff, and the ambiance of the dining space. Based on these criteria, we’ve chosen where to eat in Hartford for you to try for your next meal.
No matter what kind of food you’re in the mood for or how fancy or informal you want your dining experience to be, our list of the best restaurants in Hartford has something to satisfy your mood and your tastebuds.
Best Restaurants in Hartford
- Carbone’s Restaurant
- Max Downtown
- Black-Eyed Sally’s
- Feng Chophouse
- Sorella Restaurant
- Trumbull Kitchen
- Agave Grill
- Arethusa al tavolo
- City Steam Brewery Cafe
- Muse Paintbar & Eatery
- Rizzuto’s Restaurant and Bar – West Hartford
- Brio Italian Grille – Westfarms
- J Restaurant and Bar
- Bear’s Smokehouse
- Artisan Restaurant, Tavern, and Garden
588 Franklin Ave, Hartford, CT 06114
Phone: (860) 296-9646
Carbone’s Restaurant is an upscale Italian restaurant in Hartford’s Southend that remains in the original building. The original opened in 1938. Family-owned by generations of Italian American Hartford natives, Carbone’s Restaurant has two other sister restaurants, including an Italian Steakhouse and a casual Italian eatery, all of which are delicious Hartford staples.
Carbone’s servers often prepare starter salads or elaborate desserts tableside, making your dining experience unique and entertaining. Our favorite entrée is the swordfish Milanese with creamy polenta. However, you can never go wrong with a classic pasta dish like tortellini Genovese or Lobster and shrimp Fra Diavolo.
185 Asylum St, Hartford, CT 06103
Phone: (860) 522-2530
As indicated by its name, Max Downtown is a modern upscale chophouse located in the heart of downtown Hartford, catering to business professionals and the hip, young adult crowd. The sleek, clean design of the newly renovated interior mixed with a lively, bustling atmosphere has earned Max Downtown awards such as Best for Business Entertaining and Best Power Lunch Spot.
Max Downtown has an extensive wine and spirits list with expert mixologists making delicious and creative cocktails for happy hour and top-quality bottles to accompany a delicious meal. We recommend a New York Strip steak with cognac peppercorn cream and parmesan-crusted spinach gratin.
350 Asylum St, Hartford, CT 06103
Phone: (860) 278-7427
You can find southern hospitality and down-home southern cooking in the northeast at Black-Eyed Sally’s. Located in downtown Hartford, Black-Eyed Sally’s has been serving sumptuous southern-style dishes for over twenty years.
The atmosphere at Black-Eyed Sally’s assumes a juke-joint feel, as you can enjoy barbecued goodness while you watch live jazz, blues, or Afro-Latino music.
Fridays and Saturdays are the best days to enjoy live music, and you can see the next month’s line-up on their website. It’s hard to choose just one favorite dish, but if we must, it’s a tie between the Pig Out plate and the southern fried chicken with mac & cheese and collard greens.
93 Asylum St, Hartford, CT 06103
Phone: (860) 549-3364
Feng Chophouse is an upscale Japanese Sushi, Sashimi, and Steakhouse that prides itself on providing a world-class dining experience with warm hospitality, the freshest, most high-quality cuts of meat and fish, and a refined and modern atmosphere.
The head chef offers a twenty-item tasting menu labeled Omakase, meaning “trust,” that gives customers an all-encompassing sampling of the chef’s favorite dishes. The quality of the fish, coupled with the exquisite presentation, makes a meal at Feng an exceptional experience.
901 Main St, Hartford, CT 06103
Phone: (860) 244-9084
Sorella Restaurant is a casual and affordable Italian restaurant with the best wood-fired pizza in Hartford. Located in the heart of downtown, Sorella has a great outdoor seating section on the historic Pratt walking street. You can dine al fresco or order delivery from a delicious and highly customizable menu.
Sorella uses locally sourced ingredients and makes its pasta and pizza dough from scratch. We recommend ordering a housemade pasta dish and a wood-fired pie to share. You can build your own pizza, but Sorella’s pizza menu offers incredible options. Take, for example, the Figgy Piggy, a white pizza with fresh figs, prosciutto, and balsamic glaze.
150 Trumbull St, Hartford, CT 06103
Phone: (860) 493-7412
Can’t decide between a burger joint, Chinese food restaurant, or classic Italian kitchen for dinner? You don’t have to because Trumbull covers every cuisine on their vast and varied menu.
Trumbull Kitchen is a hip, all-inclusive restaurant that caters to tastes and dietary preferences of every kind, offering full gluten-free and vegetarian menus that represent every culture on the map.
On their menu, you’ll find traditional Mexican dishes like queso fundido, gorditas, “street corn” salad alongside Japanese tempura, southern-tyle BBQ pulled pork sandwich, and four cheese ravioli.
100 Allyn St #1418, Hartford, CT 06103
Phone: (860) 882-1557
If you’re looking for a positive and authentic Mexican food dining experience, head to Agave Grill for Sunday brunch, lunch, happy hour, or dinner.
They have an extensive margarita and tropical cocktail menu centered around their wide variety of tequila offerings. There’s nothing better than fried tortilla chips and made-to-order guacamole to accompany a refreshing, tangy Passionfruit margarita on the rocks.
For an authentic taste of Mexico, try the sizzling steak fajitas served with refried beans, rice, pico de gallo, guacamole, crema, and grilled peppers and onions.
Arethusa al tavolo
828 Bantam Rd, Bantam, CT 06750
Phone: (860) 567-0043
Located on a beautiful Dairy Farm in Hartford’s countryside, Arethusa al tavolo is an authentic farm-to-table dining experience. Using fresh dairy products exclusively from the 350-cow dairy farm on which it lies, Arethusa al tavolo also uses local produce to create a seasonally rotating menu that is fresh, complex, and inventive.
Try the walnut-crusted beets with Arethusa blue cheese, pickled fennel, endive, shortbread for starters, and the American red snapper with garden parsnips, fava beans, asparagus, and summer vegetable pistou for your main dish.
City Steam Brewery Cafe
942 Main St, Hartford, CT 06103
Phone: (860) 525-1600
If you’re looking for a casual, fun, and boozy night out with friends and family, City Steam Brewery Café is the spot for you. City Steam Brewery is a pool hall, brewery, full bar, and restaurant. They brew, bottle, and can a wide variety of beers on site with a massive selection of house-made and foreign beers on tap.
Their food menu has all the classic bar fare, including giant yeasty pretzels with hot mustard, big flat-top burgers, pizza, and a killer four cheese mac n cheese with panko breadcrumbs and fried onions, and an option to add pulled pork or bacon.
77 West St, Simsbury, CT 06070
Phone: (860) 651-5500
Perhaps the most picturesque restaurant on our list, Millwrights, lies in a beautiful countryside setting inside a rustic yet refined wood and stone building. The building has an open floor plan, high vaulted ceilings, and ceiling to floor windows that reveal a giant pool and waterfall surrounded by lush green woods.
They make new American fusion dishes with fresh, locally sourced ingredients from the surrounding Connecticut farms. Their menu is meat and fish heavy but has a wealth of fresh vegetable dishes to accompany or garnish the main event. Try the smoked Osso Bucco in Pomodoro sauce with basic cavatelli and parmesan cream.
100 Trumbull St, Hartford, CT 06103
Phone: (860) 899-1350
Located at the northeastern end of downtown Hartford’s giant Bushnell Park, Salute is hearty Italian comfort food at its best. The atmosphere is warm, cozy, and inviting with leather and wood furniture and accents.
Order a big steaming plate of fresh pasta a la vodka or ragu Bolognese, and don’t forget to enjoy it with a generous pour from their vast selection of reds, whites, and sparkling wines, or their famous and unique Espresso Martini.
Muse Paintbar & Eatery
69 Raymond Rd, West Hartford, CT 06107
Phone: (888) 607-6873
For the best date night with friends or significant others, head to Muse Paintbar to drink wine and nibble on yummy bar snacks while you summon your inner artist together. The artists at Muse studios will guide you with enthusiasm, passion, and lightheartedness to create a genuine work of art while you drink and socialize with your friends or partner.
Rizzuto’s Restaurant and Bar – West Hartford
111 Memorial Rd, West Hartford, CT 06107
Phone: (860) 232-5000
Located in a lively and highly trafficked shopping district in West Hartford, Rizzulo’s has a unique and varied Italian menu with a modern twist on classic favorites.
They stand out with their extensive antipasti selection of small plates that are great to order and share before the main meal is served. Our favorites are the fresh burrata with strawberry agrodolce, the mussels with sherry, garlic, chile, and the housemade meatballs.
Brio Italian Grille – Westfarms
325 W Farms Mall, Farmington, CT 06032
Phone: (860) 561-8866
Located conveniently in Wesfarms Mall, Brio Italian Grille is a family-friendly, budget-friendly Italian restaurant with lunch, dinner, and brunch menus that satisfy sophisticated and juvenile palates alike.
Their brunch menu is especially noteworthy with a delectable Italian coffee, and cocktail menu along with Italian takes on American breakfasts like the Bistecca Alla Romano.
J Restaurant and Bar
297 Washington St, Hartford, CT 06106
Phone: (860) 527-7764
If it’s a nice day out, consider heading to J Restaurant and Bar. With an enormous patio in Hartford and a full Italian American menu with salads, pasta, artisanal pizzas, burgers, and sandwiches, J Restaurant is a great place to enjoy a low-key, relaxing, and casual meal with family, friends, or business associates.
The tuna salad is delicious, and the eggplant parmesan comes traditionally or as a self-contained hot sandwich.
25 Front St, Hartford, CT 06103
Phone: (860) 785-8772
You don’t have to be south of the Mason-Dixon line to find great Barbeque. Bears Smokehouse covers all of Hartford’s barbeque needs, with all the staple fix-ins to boot.
Try a rack of baby back ribs, brisket, and Texas kielbasa sausage with a side of coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, and freshly baked cornbread. Wash it down with an ice-cold beer or cider from a large selection of foreign and domestic brews.
Artisan Restaurant, Tavern, and Garden
1 Memorial Rd, West Hartford, CT 06107
Phone: (860) 937-2525
Artisan Restaurant, Tavern, and Garden is where the beauty of nature and the art of cooking and plating combine to create a truly divine dining experience. Artisan owners deem the restaurant casual, fine dining, and chic-rustic. All plates utilize the on-site garden’s fresh herbs and vegetables on their colorful and immaculately plated dishes.
The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating in a cozy country-style dining room or the courtyard surrounded by vegetable and flower gardens. The menu changes daily according to the daily harvest, catch or cut.
After reading through our list of the best Hartford restaurants, you’ll definitely be ready to try out some delicious Connecticut cuisine.
If the restaurants on this list don’t strike your fancy, try out some of our other articles for everything from steak to sushi to family dining.
Did we leave a restaurant out of this list? Make sure you leave us a comment and we’ll check it out.