The Draw: Walkable and bikeable
The Vibe: Liberal, young, tight-knit community
It’s impossible to pass through the West End without seeing a pride flag, and Black Lives Matter sign, or copious amounts of “Feel the Bern” stickers. Hartford’s most liberal neighborhood, the West End, is filled with undergrad and grad students, young families, and people who have been West End residents for their entire lives. The neighborhood is filled with some of Hartford’s most historic and beautiful homes, some dating back as far as 1920, but now those homes house students slated to graduate in 2024.
The food scene in the West End does not leave its residents wanting for anything. On Farmington Avenue, you’ll find people getting their caffeine fix from Tisane in the morning and members of the LGBTQ community returning to the bar at night for their specialty cocktails. Next door, Monte Albàn features some of the most authentic Mexican food you’ll find in the city. And around the corner lies The Half Door, one of Hartford’s most cherished Irish Pubs. They host DJs and live music on evenings and weekends, and soccer fans won’t be found anywhere else during the English Premier League season. Farmington Avenue is also home to Ducks on the Ave, a duckpin bowling alley that hosts disco parties and live music on Friday nights and movies on Saturdays.
After grabbing a bite at one of the Farmington Ave favorites, it’s an easy walk to the Spigot Cafe on Prospect Avenue. The Spigot opened in 1952 and was managed by Dave Taylor Sr., and then his son, Dave Taylor Jr. The bar remained cash only until 2019 and still operates under the motto “No crap on tap.” Craft beer lovers will be thrilled with their rotating draft line, featuring local breweries, and whiskey enthusiasts won’t want to leave the bar after seeing their extensive whiskey collection. The bar is packed to the brim on Sundays, with people bringing their dips and ordering wings to be delivered to watch a full day of Sunday Football. Pro tip: Know what you’re ordering when you walk up to the bar. The Spigot’s most seasoned bartender, Johnny will move on to the person behind you if you keep him waiting. Nobody keeps Johnny waiting.
Not far from Farmington Avenue lies Parkville, home to Parkville Market, CT’s first food hall. The market is home to over 20 vendors, ranging from Vietnamese to BBQ and Salvadoran to Italian cuisine. Parkville is also home to The Local, a specialty cocktail bar, and The Grocer, a grab-and-go mini market that has all of your quick pantry and fridge needs. Parkville also hosts various events, including weekly performances on their massive patio on Thursday nights, seasonal events such as Oktoberfest, and drink and food pairing classes. Their outdoor patio is also dog friendly, so be sure to bring your four-legged friends!
Park Street is also filled with restaurants from all over the world. You can get lobster rolls from J’s Crab Shack, traditional Greek pizza from George’s, or all (yes, all) of the meats from Brazil Grill. Our favorite? King and I Thai is a hidden gem on Park. The restaurant only has eight tables and is BYOB. Grab a bottle of wine or some bubbles (prosecco, cava, or champagne are all delicious with spicy Thai food), and dig in!
Foodies who prefer cooking at home to dining out will love the West End Farmers Market. It takes place every Tuesday, rain or shine. Not only do they welcome vendors who carry the freshest produce, cheese, and meats, but they also host live musical performances at each event.
Elizabeth Park straddles the West End of Hartford and West Hartford line. It’s an easy walk or bike ride from any corner of the West End and has Instagram-worthy gardens, a picturesque pond filled with ducks, and regular events during the summer, like outdoor concerts and dance performances On the East Side of the park, the West End Civic Association (WECA) hosts regular movie nights during warm weather and a sled derby during the winter. They also host Porchfest, an event that features musical performances on porches all over the neighborhood.
WECA is super active—anyone moving to the West End should consider becoming a member and meeting all of their new neighbors! They should also check out the West End Living Facebook page. It’s one of the most active neighborhood groups in the city!
One of our favorite things to do in the West End is to simply walk or bike around the neighborhood, and look at the homes. You’ll come across Hartt School students practicing their instruments, families playing with children in their front yards, and fellow residents taking walks with their significant others or fur babies. Be sure to take photos as you explore the West End, and tag @experiencehartford!