With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sad City's Guide To Quick Downtown Lunch

You've just landed a job in downtown Hartford. Most likely you don't live downtown, Possibly you aren't familiar with your eating options at all. You've got one hour before you have to get back to ascending the career ladder, you don't want to waste it and have a crappy lunch, but at the same time, you can't afford to be gone too long lest your boss be checking in. So where do you go? Well head on over to the always handy Sad City Guide section of course. 

Without further ado and not to be confused with our previous Guide To Lunch published in a galaxy far, far away, we present the Sad City Guide To Quick Downtown Lunch!

Ed. Note (All scores are on a scale of 1-6 beers. At some point, we will next review sit down lunches for those downtown power players.)

The Cornerstone Deli:
A real downtown staple, the biggest drawback of Cornerstone is the line can coil to 50 deep between 12 and 1230 at this popular Main Street deli. Offerings are simple and classic, sandwiches on a roll or 8 inch grinder, salads, and pasta specials. Seating is plentiful and despite being swamped, Cornerstone operates with the requisite speed and efficiency to usually get you in and out quickly. The best part? The prices. Cornerstone really can’t be beat price wise and sandwich rolls sell for between $4 and $5 and grinders between $6 and $7.

Five Beers

Also located on Main Street, Subway basically serves as a spillover option for times when the line at Cornerstone is just too long to bear. Kind of like that Mexican place next to Plan B.

Hey, at least it’s not McDonald’s. No need to go into discussion of what the offerings or prices are. There’s a multi-million dollar ad campaign attempting to keep Apolo Ohno relevant that will fill you in on Subway’s offerings.

Two Beers

Max Bibo’s: 

There are two Max Bibo’s located in downtown. One at 250 Main and one at 208 Trumbull. Max Bibo’s posits itself as a gourmet deli and while they certainly have more upscale and fancy sandwiches than Cornerstone, you are going to pay for it. 

We also get really annoyed at the “a la carte” style sandwich menu. Look, we know it’s widely accepted that you add a charge for bacon or avocado, but it is really annoying to have a surcharge on a $7 sandwich for a slice of cheese. Very good sandwiches that could stand to put more in the stomach and take less out of the wallet.

Four Beers


 What can we say about Woody’s that we haven’t already said once, twice, three times already? It is highly recommended that you do not eat here five times a week, but it’s highly recommended that you do stop by at least once a month. Our current favorite is the slaw dog. Besides the decidely unhealthy menu, the only real drawbacks are the occasional long waits and low quality napkins. When eating smothered dogs on a work lunch, one really wants a high quality napkin to keep things under control. (Cash only)

Six Beers

Rose Gourmet: 

A deli on Pratt St, we tried Rose Gourmet for the first time last week. The offerings were plentiful but also a bit confusing. Despite listing over two dozen sandwiches, many weren’t all that different from the others. The pricing of the salad bar was very confusing. We ordered a panini and while it was a good sandwich, it came in a warm pita wrap and was decidedly not a panini. Rose Gourmet seems like it has potential to be a good upscale deli but needs a bit of a reorganization. Give it a shot and see if they can get their footing.

Three beers

 We think we’ve eaten at Quizno’s once and we’re pretty sure it wasn’t in downtown. Nothing particularly memorable, it’s a large chain. Like Subway, passable if you must.

Two Beers

DD’s Gyros & Spuds: 

As big fans of gyros, we were sorry to see Tapas close a few months ago. That leaves DD”s on Temple Street as the last good gyro place in downtown. With lots of options ranging from a simple gyro to entire plates and great sides, we are grateful to have DD’s in downtown. (Cash only)

Five beers

Burger King:
No. Just no. Alright, we will admit they have some really good fries. If you find yourself a little worked over from a night of “power meetings” maybe you can indulge in the fries two to three times a year. That’s it.

One beer

La Petit Chef: 
Neighbor to DD’s on Temple Street, La Petit Chef might have the best sandwiches in Hartford. The food is nothing short of delicious. The sandwiches are remarkable, the salads are excellent, the bread is fresh and amazing, and the dinners are as good as anything you will get at home. Fresh roasted chicken and turkey, this is not only real food, it’s really, really good food.

Quite simply, a brilliant lunch place. If there is any drawback is that the menu isn’t always fully available, three times we have ordered the pork loin sandwich and three times it hasn’t been available. Decent seating. Cash only. Put it in your rotation. Watch for a follow up story.

Six beers


  1. Are DD's and La Petit Chef open past lunchtime?

    1. Don't know how late they are open but DD is open for dinner. If you're a vegetarian or just occasionally eat that way, their vegetarian plate is amazing.

  2. Went to Woody's on your recommendation, definitely a great hot dog joint. I know none of these are in Hartford, but if you guys are ever in these towns and crave a good Woody's-quality dog I recommend Doogie's on the Pike, Frankie's in Waterbury, and Blackie's in Cheshire (cash only). Along with Woody's, these four make up my sacred quartet of hot dog joints in central CT.

    - Go Whale

  3. We don't live or work Downtown but venture down to La Petit Chef for lunch every now and then. It's that good.

  4. Al's Deli on Asylum, 5 dollar subs. Clean place.

  5. Nothing to do with downtown, but you have to check out Chef's dog house in Newington if you want a good dog. Not to mention they have killer frys and some other interesting menu items.

  6. It's all about the chicken Shawarma at Alladin on Asylum Street. You have to try it with hummus and the hot sauce.

  7. There are 2 places I eat lunch at in Hartford First is Cornerstone Deli, the second is Moe's. Where's the love for foodcourt food?

  8. Saigon Kitchen - for the best quick Chinese food downtown. It has been downtown forever with the same people working there since the 80s. It used to be in the Richardson Food Court, now it in the alley down from City Steam (Temple Street). The Seseme Chicken is the best, but offer the usual chinese fare, quick, hot, and cheap with generous portions.

  9. The polish national home has some great food as well. I feel like not too many know about it

  10. dont forget the church and main deli, quality sandwiches, although a bit pricey