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Top 5 Places to Eat Downtown on a Budget

For the past few weeks, I have been enjoying myself and going out to eat inexpensively, and Downtown. I have been trying to compile a list of the best of the best while taking price into consideration.

The most important thing to remember about downtown Hartford and saving money, is happy hour. Pay attention to who has what for happy hour and when. You can find great dinner and drink deals during the week if you just watch what time you go downtown. This list offers a variety of happy hours, late night menus, and who has the best deal around the clock.

5. Koji

17 Asylum Street, Hartford CT

Koji has a variety of things to eat, great drinks and opens up pretty early in the afternoon so you can have a late lunch or dinner there. While the atmosphere is a lot like a lounge, it might not be the most comfortable place for families. The menu is vast and they even offer a full menu for lunch hours. The style of cuisine is Japanese and the value is great. The lunch menu offers appetizers that will cost you no more then $8-9.00 each however most of them fall into the $5-6.00 range. The prices are similar for the lunch portions of traditional Japanese cuisine, sandwiches and sides. Lately they have been offering the same menu for dinner/late night and are working on creating a different menu for dinner. Happy hour is between 4pm and 7pm Mon-Fri, and the appetizers are half price. If you're looking to drink beer or sake, you do not want to miss happy hour here, where it's 10 cent beer drafts and $5 sake martinis.

4. Dish

900 Main Street, Hartford CT

Dish offers American cuisine in a really cool, a little more dressy, environment that is lots of fun. Initially, I didn't think it was the most inexpensive place to eat, but the food is great. The place always brings in a mixture of families, couples, a younger crowd and a corporate crowd. There is a full bar with happy hour specials and they have a separate lunch and dinner menu. Their best deals are offered during lunch and you want to get there before 4pm, because that's when happy hour starts. Their happy hour is great but it's really just drink deals and bar food, unlike Koji that combines their full lunch menu with their happy hour.

The lunch menu has a lot of options but I think the best part is that if you really want an excellent meal for a great deal you can just stick to appetizers that are priced no higher then $9 (with the exception of the $11 calamari). They combine American appetizers and Italian, as they do with their sandwiches.

Dish does have a dinner menu but don't plan on sticking to a budget if you go there during the dinner hours. This place has amazing food but if you don't want to spend too much, the lunch menu is the dea bargain.

3. Black-Eyed Sally's

350 Asylum Street, Hartford CT

Black-Eyed Sally's has similar prices (maybe a little less expensive) than the other two on the list, but they offer very unique food for the area. They have a lunch (11:30-4pm) dinner (4pm-10pm) menu and they also have a full bar that is opened after dinner. They have full meals for lunch between $8-12.00 and appetizers ranging from $4 and up to $10.00. I think the best part about Black-eyed Sally's is the Luisiana themed cuisine and atmosphere. You can get catfish, shellfish, gumbo, and the list goes on. Everything here, except a few burgers, is Cajun cuisine and it is all incredible. I would say the prices are about average, a little more expensive for dinner, but it's hard to beat the flavors. They specialize in BBQ ribs and chicken.

Another great thing about this place is that they have live music sometimes. You can check their schedule on the website. Most artists start playing around 8-9pm (when the menu gets a little more expensive).

2. Bocca Rossa

940 Main St., Hartford CT

About 10 feet down the road from Dish on Main Street, you can walk to Bocca Rossa's. I love this place because it's small and intimate but it's also a lounge, bar and restaurant all in one. There is a full bar, and booths to sit and eat at. Their prices are about average, but the real deals are during their happy hour. They offer great reasonable priced panini's and other Italian cuisine for lunch, starting at 11:30am. If you go on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday between 4:30 and 6:30 for happy hour, you will find the best deals. It doesn't get too crowded in there and you can sit at the bar, or in a booth. The deals are amazing. This is a wine bar, so they always are deals on the wine and they have a huge variety of wines to choose from. They do have a full bar though, so there's a lot to choose from. All the appetizers at happy hour are just $3 which is perfect for mixing and matching. They also have a happy hour drink menu with $3 drafts, and $5 wine, as well as $4 martini's.

If you are a big fan of wine, you might want to go on a Tuesday night where you get 50% bottles of wine under $50. I did this once and the service was great, a few friends and I had a fresh glass of wine every time we finished one.

1. Feng's

93 Asylum Street, Hartford CT

Like Koji, and Dish this is another one that has multiple locations. The deals are the same though.

Feng has a full bar, large dining and offers a lounge. The best deals are going to be on the late night menu but it's very late, and starts around 10-11pm depending on the night.

Feng is extremely versatile depending on the hour you show up. It's a really nice place to sit with a group of people or your family and have dinner during their dinner hours. It's also fun during late nights.

It is a Japanese themed restaurant so all of the cuisine is Japanese and they specialize in their Sushi, which is amazing and reasonably priced. The most popular rolls are between $4.00 and $10, but go up from there. The late night menu offers a large variety of Sushi rolls all at half price. So an $8 roll is now $4. They open at around 11:30am have do have a lunch menu until 4pm. The lunch menu isn't as expensive as the dinner menu, and they also offer these Sushi combos for really good prices. The items on the menu are very low priced for what they are.

I have to give Feng the number one spot because you can go there at all hours, out with friends or with family and enjoy a great Japanese meal. The prices and the quality of the food are very hard to argue with.


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