Residing in the historic building that was once the Taft Hotel, Richter's Café invites locals to revel in old-fashioned charm. Sate a thirsty throat by sipping a glass of high-end bourbon or scotch as you chat with friends, or sample some of Richter's 13 beers on draft, available in a half pints, pints, and signature 32-ounce half yards, which are served in 18-inch glasses. The food menu sports an array of crisp salads, tasty sandwiches, fresh-grilled burgers, and handcrafted soups to prevent unused teeth from retracting further into the mouth to write sad songs with tonsils.
At City Steam Brewery Cafe, the owners concoct some of the area’s finest beers, scoring “best of” awards from Hartford magazine and Connecticut Magazine. They also brew potent batches of laughter inside their 200-seat comedy show-room theater. Ensconced in the historic Brown Thomson and Co. building, which was the state’s largest department store in 1877, Brew Ha Ha once was known as the Last Laugh Comedy Club, where fledgling unknowns such as Ray Romano and Kevin James vied for laughs in the smoky rathskeller of a restaurant.
Reborn in 1997 under a new moniker, the standup speakeasy keeps its calendar packed with nationally touring comics and local joke slingers. During shows, guests can toast with mugs of handcrafted beer and make edible sculptures of their favorite comedian using menu’s custom burgers, pizzas, and omelets.
Adam Sainsbury, the renowned executive chef at Monster B's Bar & Grille and one-time apprentice of Master Chef Michael Schlow, concocts timeless entrees of American fare as counterparts to a menagerie of more than 200 beers. Diners can soar into the great saucy yonder with an appetizer of Monster B's wings ($10.99), which roost atop carrots and celery in three variations: mild, medium, and Don't Be a Hero. A barbecue combo ($20.99) aligns a half rack of slow-braised baby back ribs with half of a slow-roasted chicken, creating a more savory, smoky hybrid than a hunky fireman statue made of s'mores. Guests can pilot forks through a breadcrumb-cloaked platter of twice-baked mac 'n' cheese ($11.99), or chomp on the chili cheeseburger's half-pound ground Angus sirloin patty capped with cheddar and signature chili ($11.99).
Hailed by none other than the New York Times for eclectic dishes that combine “a homey touch with a dash of originality,” The Pine Social throws a sophisticated spin on traditional American comfort fare. Chandeliers cast a soft glow on tables situated side by side within the tavern-like restaurant and lounge, which anchors its menu on free-range meats, ocean-fresh fish, and locally sourced produce. The kitchen’s homemade sausage and slow-braised beef short ribs are not to be missed, based on their own merits as well as their shared ability to whet palates for the dessert menu’s warm apple spring rolls. Sips of aged scotch and spiked, hot apple cider thaw jaws frozen agape at the tavern’s dark-stained walls, rustic wooden accents, and plush furnishings. Light from high-definition TVs glints off the bar’s full-service spirits station, beside which guests can treat their ears to music that pours forth from live bands on Thursday and Friday nights.
Since 1986, wine experts at GrapesWine.com have dutifully tasted and compiled a handpicked selection of domestic and imported fine wines. Their easy-to-navigate site aids patrons with recommendations, including a list of the best wines under $20. Rotating picks of the week, hand selected by the shop's proprietor, John Caplan, include a vast array of reds, whites, rosés, ports, and dessert and sparkling wines, all of which hail from across the globe, from California to South Africa. Aspiring connoisseurs attend popular wine tastings, led by knowledgeable taster Jim Winston as he recounts the flavorful notes and fragrant bouquets of countless varieties. In-state customers can create a case of favorites and take advantage of free shipping or pick up at a later date.