Hartford is another one of those towns that folks may roll their eyes at, but, once you've worked here, you'll very much look forward to going back. An ideal situation for an actor, with housing for both Hartford Stage and TheaterWorks right downtown, blocks from the theatres and rehearsal spaces, everything you need is in walking distance, and these bars and restaurants, whose kitchens stay open late and offer fantastic late-night Happy Hours, will be thrilled when your company walks in the door. Toss in some beautiful museums and drives in the country as well, and, I promise, you'll have an absolutely lovely time here.
Max Downtown's Happy Hour will only be an option for you on a Monday, but, oh, what a Monday treat it will be. This place became a day-off ritual for my cast. Located right around the corner from Hartford Stage and TheatreWorks actor housing, the $1 oysters are absolutely astoundingly fresh and delicious, and their martinis are killer, and their small plate options for $4 include their Filet au Piovre Slider, their Sweet Potato Fries, and their General Tso's Shrimp as well as $5 wine and cocktails and $3/$4 beer options. So get the gang together and use your day off well.
Cityplace I, 185 Asylum St, Hartford, CT 06103 HAPPY HOUR: Mon- Fri 4PM- 7PM HOURS: Mon- Thurs 11:30 AM - 10PM Fri- Sat 11:30AM- 11PM Sun 11:30AM- 9PM maxrestaurantgroup.com
Agave Bar and Gill
Agave Bar and Grill, located just a few blocks from Hartford Stage and TheatreWorks, should be on your list for solid late night food and drinks with the company. This astoundingly friendly staff is happy to push some tables together and split checks, and the entrees here are generous, affordable, and tasty. Pair with a house-cocktail and you will be set for the night (they are heavy handed with the pours here.) Plus their Happy Hour on weekdays in the bar is a steal with $3 beer, $4 wine and house margarita, as well as $5 tapas plates like House Guacamole and Pork Flauta.
Salute is directly across the street from actor housing (are you starting to get the picture how much fun working here will be?), and this lovely little Italian place may feel a tad bit corporate from the outside, but the staff is thrilled to see you and serve up generous pours and portions for your company. Open late, take advantage of them for a nightcap post-show or come for Happy Hour on a weekday in their bar area or on their patio, which looks out onto the park and is ideal in warmer weather. They offer $4 drafts, $5 house wines, $5 martinis, or snacks like Jumbo Lump Crab Cake ($6), Flatbread Specials ($6), or Sweet Potato Ravioli ($5.)
100 Trumbull St, Hartford, CT 06103 HAPPY HOUR: Mon 3:30PM- close Tues- Fri 3:30PM- 6:30PM (Bar and Patio) HOURS: Mon- Sat 11:30AM- 12AM Sun 4PM- 12AM salutehartford.com
Trumbull Kitchen, part of the Max Restaurant group, is the absolute A #1 option for late-night, post-show drinks and nosh when working with Hartford Stage Company. Literally on your route from the theatre to actor housing, this late-night kitchen offers filling, delicious options with a welcoming staff, who are happy to split checks and accommodate a large group that will want to mingle. They really could not be more friendly here. With a late-night Happy Hour on weekdays that offers affordable, ever-changing options like Mini Stout Bites with angus sirloin, guinness beer, and bacon ($2.99), Irish Cheddar and Ale Pub Spread ($1.99), and Moroccan Chicken Bastilla with almonds, phyllo dough, and cinnamon ($2.99) as well as drink deals like $5 beer, wine, and cocktails, you will be thrilled to have such a great spot for cast decompressing.
Vaughan's Public House has a Tuesday night special you cannot miss. $3 drafts all evening long. Known for their perfectly poured pint of Guinness and a great soundtrack that never inhibits conversation, this unassuming, gem of a pub is right around the corner from Hartford Stage. It's worthy of a trip any day of the week, with its spacious digs that allow for easy company mingling, and a weekday Happy Hour menu that includes $4 drafts, $4 well drinks and $5-$6 snacks. However, if you're going out anywhere on a Tuesday night post-show, you're out of your mind not to come to Vaughan's.
The extensive wine menu at adorable Bin 228 Wine Bar will leave you a little breathless. They offer 55 wines by the glass and even more by the bottle at this locally owned and operated establishment, and, despite a heavy emphasis on Italian reds, there really is something here for everyone. So chat with your bartender or waitress to find the perfect glass for you and pair with some delicious sharables like their burrata, or a couple of their housemade bruchettas, and/or paninis, and this will be a classy and delicious night out indeed.
228 Pearl St, Hartford, CT 06106 HOURS: Mon- Thurs 11:30AM- 10PM Fri 11:30AM- 12AM bin228winebar.com Sat 4pm- 12AM Sun CLOSED
Black Bear Saloon
Black Bear Saloon is open longer and later than most places in town making it an ideal "let's have one more" option for your cast and crew. This spot is unpretentious and incredibly affordable, ideal for a bottled craft brew or a somewhat mysterious jello shot.
Side Bar, located in the beautiful Goodwin Hotel downtown, is a lounge that offers a wide range of classic and innovative cocktails in a chic, ambiantly lit atmosphere. Only open until a mysterious "last call", this is probably a better bar to try on a weekend than an off night if you're going post show, but go you should for a perfectly delicious cocktail in a soothing and serene watering hole.
Goodwin Hotel One Haynes St, Hartford, CT 06103 HOURS: Tues- Sat 4PM to last call harlanbrasserie.com
Sarah's Coffee House
I need to recommend Sarah's Coffee House on two levels. First off, it offers delicious coffee in a large brightly lit space with copious seating, making it ideal for script work or emailing. However, this coffee shop also deserves your business because it supports direct trade by sourcing organic Arabica coffee beans directly from farm families and co-ops in order to guarantee just practices and to support smaller coffee farmers. So, for all the reasons, spend time at this place, located just around the corner from actor housing.
Blue State Coffee also gets a shout out. A little further away from actor housing, it too has lots of room to sit and get work done in addition to delicious coffee, tea, and lattes. Blue State has the added bonus that it is open late (for a coffee shop!), which can sometimes be a life-saver if you have trouble focusing on work in actor housing as I sometimes do.
777 Main St, Hartford, CT 06103 HOURS: Mon- Sat 7AM- 8PM Sun 8AM- 8PM bluestatecoffee.com
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
Founded in 1842, The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art is a beautiful structure and an impressive art museum. Located close to the actor housing, this museum houses over 50,000 works of art that are beautifully and thoughtfully displayed. This museum will be a peaceful respite if you need to wander and be inspired, and, even though admission is $15, it is absolutely worth it. With a celebrated collection of Hudson River School paintings, in addition to some incredible Andrew Wyethe and Georgia O'Keefe pieces, this museum blew me away.
600 Main St, Hartford, CT 06103 HOURS: Mon- Tues CLOSED Wed- Fri 11AM- 5PM Sat- Sun 10AM- 5PM wadsworthatheneum.org
Connecticut State Capitol Park
Right across the street from Hartford Actor Housing, Connecticut State Capitol Park is a lovely and large park that is home to family activities, impressive statues celebrating Hartford's rich history, a brilliant view of structures like the capitol building, as well as large open spaces if you just need to lie down and soak up some sunshine and outdoors.
I needed to give a shout out to this locally owned and operated wine and liquor store, Spiritus. Located a hop, a skip, and a jump from actor housing and offering affordable deals on good bottles, let this be your go-to spot and support local.
220 Asylum St, Hartford, CT 06103 HOURS: Sun CLOSED Mon- Wed 10AM- 7PM Thurs- Sat 10AM- 8PM spiritus.com