So you’ve googled “hartford vs west hartford” or “hartford vs east hartford” and landed here. Or maybe you’ve always been genuinely curious: what sets Hartford apart from East Hartford and West Hartford? For those new to the area or visiting soon and looking for answers, we’re here to clear up the great mystery of the multiple “Hartfords” so you, a new or potential Central Connecticut resident (or visitor!) can get an idea of what’s what and where’s where! Read on to learn more.
On the east bank of the Connecticut River, directly across from Hartford, you’ll find the town of East Hartford. Quieter than its western counterpart, East Hartford is home to over 51,000 residents and offers a little bit of everything: picturesque trails and walking paths along the river, a golf course and club, restaurants and breweries, shopping, and more. Plus, it's also where Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium is located, the home field for the UConn Huskies football team.
Arguably serves up one of the best lobster rolls in the state. We’re not joking. Yes, it’s situated in between mechanic shops and it’s the last place you’d expect to get some of the freshest fast-food-style seafood in the area, but we promise you it’s got charm and a menu worth bragging about. In the summertime, people flock to Mickey’s and enjoy their food while sitting on the hood of their car in the parking lot. It’s worth going just to see that alone!
With a name like Carmine’s, you know it’s about to get as authentically Italian as possible. A scratch-made menu with all the staples you know and love: calamari, risotto, ravioli, carbonara, plus pub menu faves like wings, crispy brussels sprouts, burgers. Seriously, it has everything. They also have happy hour deals every day of the week from 3:00pm–7:00pm and all day on Mondays. The best part about Carmine’s? Live music every single night.
Obviously nothing goes harder than a 24-hour diner with a seemingly endless menu. Perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner and the occasional 1am visit (usually prompted by one too many cocktails— not that we’re judging!), Triple A Diner is an East Hartford staple and not to be skipped if you’re a big fan of greasy and delicious diner food.
Part of Riverfront Recapture, Great River Park is on the East Hartford side of the Connecticut River and is the perfect destination for a day of recreation and fun with family! We’re talking picnic areas with charcoal grills, a playground, walkways—all the makings of a great park. Plus, it has a 350-seat amphitheater that hosts live musical performances throughout the warmer months!
Humacao might just be cooking up some of the best Puerto Rican food in the whole state and they’re right in East Hartford! Their expansive menu has a huge selection of Puerto Rican favorites like mofongo, Churrasco steak, empanadas, and so much more. Come hungry because you will want to try a whole bunch of things.
West Hartford is like the suburb that wants to play dress up as the trendy, bustling downtown, and it’s doing it pretty well (if we say so ourselves). With a large center of mixed-use developments, the “WeHa” center and surrounding neighborhoods are full of New England charm. It offers tons of restaurants—a handful of locally-owned or restaurant group-run spots as well as a few chains, plus a variety of places to shop, all mixed in with residential apartments. Beyond the center, there are other areas of the town worth exploring, including Bishops Corner, Corbin’s Corner, and Elmwood Center.
The vibe at Zephyr’s Street Pizza feels very much inspired by the skateparks of the 90’s, except more grown-up. Its interior features skateboard-deck decor and a front row seat at watching the pizza chefs make the ‘za in real time. Zephyr’s has one-of-a-kind seasonal pies inspired by cuisines from pretty much anywhere (ex: the “Silly Cheesesteak” is a pizza based on Philly Cheesesteaks). The owner and head chef, Dante Cistulli, is no stranger to the area—former places of work include Savoy Pizzeria and Millwrights. Definitely worth checking out.
Frida is an unassuming gem in the heart of the Elmwood neighborhood in West Hartford. Exceptional Mexican food made with only the freshest ingredients plus delicious cocktails. If you’re looking for a spot that serves fresh and delicious margs and gives a basket of chips and salsa upon entry, Frida is your spot. Pro tip: they’ve got a great selection of mezcals if you’re into making your drinks smoky!
Coracora feels like stepping into a restaurant in Lima. This Peruvian spot is serving up traditional dishes and is getting continual recognition from food critics everywhere —including James Beard nominations! Great for dining in or getting takeout, Coracora is definitely a one-of-a-kind gem in the West Hartford area.
Hot chicken done right and fast. Birdcode is the spot for hot chicken sandwiches and tenders that really kick up the heat. It’s feel-good greasy food that completely explodes in flavor and spice upon the first bite. Our favorite menu item? The Naughty Neighbor: a bed of crinkle fries, tenders, vinegar slaw, and their famous Comeback sauce (which is so good, we promise that you’ll do exactly that.)
Mark our words—J. Rene Coffee will be one of the reasons that you’ll become a coffee snob. Their coffee will ruin other coffees for you. Your cold brew obsession will never be the same. Fair-trade coffee beans roasted in house and brewed with the utmost care and attention to detail, J. Rene is bringing excellence and craft to each cup of coffee, latte or cold brew.
Hopefully, this one needs no introduction at all but…Hartford is, well, the capital of our great state of Connecticut and after a bit of clarification about West Hartford vs. East Hartford above, you should probably understand the gist of things. As you may already know, Experience Hartford is all about promoting all things Hartford: the culture, the community, the businesses, the people, the events, the vibes—everything.
We’re diving deep into every neighborhood, so you can use us as your roadmap and friendly tour guide around every part of the city. When visiting or living in Hartford, you’re bound to check out its neighboring Hartford(s) (shout out East + West) but we’re mainly focused on shining a spotlight on everything this awesome city has to offer—even the hidden gems that exist without social media and the internet.