Another fall semester at Trinity College is around the corner, and needless to say, we students can’t wait any longer. Freshmen, you will soon learn all there is to love about Camp Trin—the beautiful campus, the new independence, the nightlife, maybe not our dining hall food. But don’t freak out.
Hartford is home to some unreal food options: authentic Mexican, legendary pizza and Sunday brunch spots. Here is the ultimate guide to the Hartford food scene, so you’ll know exactly where to look.
1. When you want an epic brunch: Barcelona
Although Barcelona is usually known for their tapas and sangria, this atypical brunch spot is absolutely a must-try. Their brunch dishes are unique and delicious AND they have a build-your-own bloody mary bar. If that doesn’t get you out of bed, I don’t know what will.
What to order: I recommend the classic Barcelona Benedict. Or if you’re in the mood for dessert-disguised-as-breakfast, get the Dulce de Leche French toast. #brunchgoals
Location: 971 Farmington Ave, West Hartford, CT 06107 (Behind bartaco)
2. When you’re trying to be healthy: Robeks
This juice counter is perfect if you’re desperate for a cleanse after a long weekend of drinking. Or if you just want a trendy açai bowl. Don’t forget to take a pic for Instagram before you dig in.
What to order: Definitely get your trip’s worth by getting one of their bowls. The Açai Especial Bowl is perfect for a refreshing and fueling breakfast.
Location: 967 Farmington Ave, West Hartford, CT 06207 (Right in the middle of town)
3. When you wanna grab a slice: Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria
Ok, we lied. Pepe’s only sells their pizza by the pie. But you’ll definitely, definitely eat the whole thing because it’s that good. They aren’t kidding when they say “Best Pizza in America.”
What to Order: The ORIGINAL Tomato Pie. Dine-in or take-out. No matter how hard you try to pace yourself, you won’t have leftovers.
Location: 1148 New Britain Ave, West Hartford, CT, 06110 (Five minutes from campus)
4. When you’re hungover: Effie’s Place
I don’t think I would have survived a few Sunday mornings without this nearby diner. The staff is super friendly, the food is inexpensive, and pajamas are totally acceptable. Effie’s is the cure to any hangover.
What to Order: The Big Breakfast. It’s literally everything you want on the menu for less than $10.
Location: 91 Park Rd, West Hartford, CT 06119 (15 minute drive from campus)
6. When you’re celebrating a birthday: Ichiro
This hibachi restaurant is the best place to go with a big crowd. Chefs are hilarious and the sizzling food is delish. The best part is the sake that you’ll be chugging all night long. Pro tip: make sure to ask for separate checks at the beginning of the night to avoid a chaotic (drunk) exit.
What to Order: If your goal is to drink, definitely order the fishbowl (basically, a giant bowl of sugar and alcohol with a fire flame for special effect). And maybe some sake bombs while you’re at it. Sake Sake Sake Oye Oye Oye!
Location: 962 Farmington Ave, West Hartford, CT 06107
7. When you want to eat outside: bartaco
Ahhh, bartaco. This beachy-chic restaurant serves creative, bite size tacos and festive drinks. When the weather warms up, the front wall comes down and the margaritas come out. Get there early on a nice night, they don’t take reservations.
What to Order: The tacos range from $2.50-$3.50 and fan favorites are the fried oyster and baja fish. For a side, the grilled corn with cotija cheese is a must.
Location: 971 Farmington Ave, West Hartford, CT 06107
8. When you need some southern comfort: Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ
Bear’s is a fast-casual BBQ spot downtown, perfect for when you’re really, really hungry. The smoked entrees, saucy sandwiches, and comfort sides are unbeatable. Plan on not moving for a while after a meal here.
What to Order: Get your tray ready for The Bear Attack—smokey pulled pork, on top of gooey mac n cheese, on top of fresh crumbled cornbread topped with your choice of BBQ sauce. Mic dropped.
Location: 89 Arch St, Hartford, CT 06103
9. When you want real, authentic Mexican: El Nuevo Sarape
This hidden gem offers traditional cuisine like enchiladas, carne asada, and fajitas. If you love Mexican, El Sarape will become a staple in your diet. This restaurant is not in the best part of Hartford, so make sure to go during the day or order take-out.
What to Order: $9 for 3 tacos with rice and beans. Ballin’ on a budget!
Location: 931 Broad Street #1, Hartford, CT, 06106
10. When you want something greasy at 2 am: Goldbergs
Most of my nights out at Trinity have ended with a box of Goldberg’s mozzarella sticks. They’re open in Vernon Social until 2:30 am every night. So whether you’re cramming late in the library or just want some drunk food, this is the place to go.
What to Order: Use your Bantam Bucks to order the loaded fries, mozz sticks, or bagel sandwiches to satisfy your late night cravings.
Location: On campus in Vernon Social Center
11. When you want good Italian: Bricco
You can’t go wrong with a single thing on this menu. Their antipasti, pizza, pasta and entree dishes will make you feel like you’re at the table for Sunday dinner with Grandma. When the weather warms up, their seasonal patio is perfect for a date night.
What to Order: Need need need to order the wood oven baked rigatoni. Or try their classic spaghetti carbonara—it’s the family recipe that inspired the restaurant.
Location: 78 Lasalle Rd, West Hartford, CT, 06107
12. When you need something fast and cheap: Pick & Mix
This fast, casual Korean restaurant is a great option for when you’re sick of your weekly Chipotle runs. Definitely a well kept secret in Hartford, the food is awesome and you won’t spend more than $10.
What to Order: Try the Bi Bim Ba, a create-your-own bowl with a choice of rice or noodles, meat, added vegetables, and sauce.
Location: 1234 Farmington Ave, West Hartford, CT 06107
13. When your parents are paying: The Capital Grille
Take advantage of your parents’ visit with a free meal at the most upscale steak house in Hartford. They serve classic American fare in polished, clubby setting. If they plan on coming for parent’s weekend, make your reservations now! This place fills up fast.
What to Order: The steaks are to die for but I’m also a huge fan of the bar menu. My favorite is the signature burger or the tuna tartare.
Location: 44 Front St, Hartford, CT, 06103 (Parking garage across the street)
So now when you get bored of the dining halls (and trust me, you will) you’ll know exactly where to go. From the big chain restaurants to the authentic local mom and pops, Hartford has it all.