Wesleying Unofficial Orientation Series: BCBernstein Eats Middletown

dogbench

You might not realize it yet, but Middletown is a really good place to eat. People actually travel from far away to eat here. Here are my top picks for places to spend your real dollars at. Chow time under the cut:

BCBernstein’s Middletown Restaurant Picks

Prices are on a $ to $$$ scale, click on the restaurant titles for websites, directions, and menus.

Chef’s Palate

A hidden gem inside the Middle Oak office building, Chef’s Palate is a company subsidized cafeteria that’s open to everyone. This means you can get a hearty sandwich, a side of macaroni or salad, and a drink for under eight bucks. It’s also nice to be reminded that many people who work in Middletown don’t give a shit about Wesleyan.

Price: $
Highlights: tons of sandwiches
Walking Distance From Campus?: Yes

Cromwell Diner/Athenian II

It’s after 3am on a Friday night, you’re still awake, and you’re starving. Everything on campus is closed – even Mamoun’s falafel cart. What do you do? Luckily, your sober friend happens to have a car – that means it’s diner time. “Let’s go to the Athenian!” ze suggests. “Err… how about the Cromwell Diner,” you counter. General consensus among my friends is that the Cromwell Diner is cheaper and more delicious for 24/7 food, though it’s a little further to drive. However, there’s plenty of room for debate – and Athenian’s milkshakes are unrivaled. — Mad Joy

Price: $$
Highlights: you don’t starve to death
Walking Distance From Campus?: No

Eli Cannon’s

Well known for its amazing selection of beers, the loud bar atmosphere contains some pretty decent food. You can get any of the many burgers vegetarian, or if you’re a hot dogger, two chili dogs with fries are $9.50.  There’s also a variety of quesadillas and salads. The beer shines above it all though, and Eli’s is consistently recognized as having one of the best beer selections in the state.

Price: $$
Highlights: drinks
Walking Distance From Campus?: Yes

Ford News Diner

Ford News is O’Rourke’s in a parallel universe — pretty cheap, simple, and fast. Omelets are greasy but that can be key if you’re just hitting your first hour of sobriety. See if you can make friends with the staff… because if you can, that usually means extra food and your picture on the wall. I took some friends from out of town here once, and as we were getting our picture taken, a guy sitting next to us whipped out his cell phone, took a picture of us too, and then turned around and continued eating.

Price: $
Highlights: #1, #4, #5
Walking Distance From Campus?: Yes

Haveli India

Hot and heavy, Haveli is a traditional Indian restaurant in a charmingly strange old inn about ten minutes from campus. I always get a country club feel from this place, which is awesome since I’m eating Indian food. The buffet is always a winner, well stocked and fresh, and is the best buy for a student that’s footing the bill.

Price: $$$
Highlights: appetizer plate, curries and tandoori duh
Walking Distance From Campus?: No

Edit: Iguanas Ranas Taquiera

This fairly new Mexican place has great burritos, massive tortas with homemade bread, and solid tacos. Tacos are only two bucks each so you can mix and match the many kinds. Everything is freshly made, and the relatively small menu is a good indicator of the quality of the food. $8 gets you a torta that is enough for two meals and a snack.

Price: $$
Highlights: tacos, burritos, salsa
Walking Distance From Campus?: Yes

Illiano’s Italian Pizzeria

Illiano’s has two locations in Middletown, although I’ve only been to the one on 66. The pizza is great, arguably even better than Jerry’s. The white pizza with garlic and broccoli fills you up fast, “makes your eyes bigger than your mouth” in the words of Ian Staub and Ronald Reagan.  Illiano’s is also exciting because they give you a little bit of something while you wait, even if your food is to go.  One time I saw a guy refuse the pre-meal offering, and the cashier looked a little hurt.

Price: $$
Highlights: white pizza, calzones, lots of slices
Walking Distance From Campus?: No

It’s Only Natural

Also well known, ION is an amazing vegan/vegetarian option.  I think for a lot of people, ION is a gateway drug into the world of creative and flavorful meatless cooking. The bread, veggies, and salads are first rate. If you’re 21 or got a good fake, there’s half off organic wine and beer on Mondays and Tuesdays, and two dollar pints from 4-6 during the week. You can also buy a “vegetarians taste better” thong, if that’s something that would make you laugh.

Price: $$-$$$
Highlights: sweet potato fries, carrot miso spread, ION burger, cajun tempeh
Walking Distance From Campus?: Yes

Jerry’s Pizza of Middletown

Another excellent pizza place in Middletown, some people even prefer it to the bigwigs down in New Haven.  Hit up Nonna’s Pizza, the thin crust is the perfect palate for Jerry’s delicious sauce. I’ve also heard the Caesar salad pizza is worthwhile. Also had a tight eggplant sub, which for $6.45 was a deal.

Price: $$
Highlights: specialty pizzas, subs
Walking Distance From Campus?: No

O’Rourke’s Diner

The most famous Middletown eatery, O’Rourke’s reopened two years ago after a major fire. Revamped, the new diner is more expensive but perhaps more delicious with the old favorites still intact. Brian O’Rourke, the current owner and nephew of the founder, will seat you at the door. The soups are always terrific, and the chili gets some attention as well. Most famous are the steamed cheesburgers, which are prepared as they sound. This isn’t a place where you have leftovers.

Price: $$$
Highlights: steamed cheeseburgers, soup, omelets
Walking Distance From Campus?: Yes

Pattie Palace

If you’ve ever had real jerk chicken, you might scoff at the jerk chicken patties here, but that doesn’t mean they’re not delicious. Curried goat at PP is legitimate, and you can’t beat the $1.40 price of a pattie. A pattie here actually isn’t a slab of meat, but a hot-pockety type thing that’s the perfect snack or small meal.  I’ve also never walked in here and not heard Bob Marley. Do you like Bob Marley, punk?

Price: $
Highlights: curried goat patties, vegetable patties
Walking Distance From Campus?: Yes

Pho Mai

My favorite place on Main street, Pho Mai has really fresh Vietnamese food. The soup is the clear winner, huge and hearty with fresh basil, tons of broth, and whatever else you want in it. The egg crepes (more like massive omelets) are filled with bean sprouts and dipped in homemade hoisin. These are good but not as filling. The place is also BYOB. Don’t bother with the entrees, they’re nothing special.

Price: $$
Highlights: soup, spring rolls, crepes
Walking Distance From Campus?: Yes

Thai Gardens/Typhoon

I’ll probably take some flak for putting these two together, but as competing and neighboring Thai restaurants, there are more similarities than differences. I think Typhoon may be a little higher quality, but it’s hard to beat Thai Gardens’ free Thai iced tea and 15% discount for Wesleyan students. You can get a lunch special (soup, entree, iced tea) at TG for six bucks, including tip. Typhoon has better Pad Thai though, I dare you to dispute that.

Price: $$
Highlights: Typhoon Pad Thai, TG tempura and mushroom soup
Walking Distance From Campus?: Yes

Udupi Bhavan

Udupi is a vegetarian Indian restaurant that feels good in so many ways.  It’s impossible to go wrong on the menu, and I usually just order randomly for variety. The place is bare bones, and it’s not a bad idea to bring your own silverware since they only use plastics and Styrofoam. Also don’t make the mistake of asking for naan… poori or paratha is your jam here since this is south Indian food. Grab some of their homemade spice and cracker mix on your way out too.

Price: $
Highlights: monstrous Dosas, self-serve sweet and salty Lassis, and decadent Malai Kofta (veggie dumplings).
Walking Distance From Campus?: No

Also worthwhile are Tandoor, Osaka and Mikado (try and figure out what type of food each serves). Brewbakers is a breakfast and sandwich place that’s kind of love it or hate it in my experience.  Sweet Harmony is a restaurant and bakery that has great deserts and cute entrees.  The Tuscany Grill is a fancy Italian place with a nice patio.  The Firehouse Steakhouse has great steak. Neon Deli is a gourmet sandwich shop that’s pricey and tasty, and Marco’s contains five dollar subs for the hungry. You’ll see Mamoun’s selling falafel from a cart late on party nights. There’s also been talk of a student run food cart making surprise visits across campus this year.

So enjoy these places, and the ones I didn’t mention, and support Middletown… it  supports Wes in more ways than you’d imagine and we’re lucky to have all these options. Have fun, put your napkin on your lap.

  • anon

    One more breakfast place to mention–Main Street Diner just over the bridge in Portland. The specials are great! I have had the most delicious pancakes – including something with lemon butter. Homemade breads are good. Staff is friendly. Open for breakfast and lunch. I like to go to this place when I am not in the mood or don’t have the time to stand in line at O’Rourke’s.

  • anon

    One more breakfast place to mention–Main Street Diner just over the bridge in Portland. The specials are great! I have had the most delicious pancakes – including something with lemon butter. Homemade breads are good. Staff is friendly. Open for breakfast and lunch. I like to go to this place when I am not in the mood or don’t have the time to stand in line at O’Rourke’s.

  • anon

    One more breakfast place to mention–Main Street Diner just over the bridge in Portland. The specials are great! I have had the most delicious pancakes – including something with lemon butter. Homemade breads are good. Staff is friendly. Open for breakfast and lunch. I like to go to this place when I am not in the mood or don’t have the time to stand in line at O’Rourke’s.

  • anon

    Another good place is Sammy’s on Broad Street. This was formerly Gianni’s. The new owners have completely remodeled the restaurant, the food is good and reasonably priced, and the owners are very nice. It is a short walk from campus.

  • anon

    Another good place is Sammy’s on Broad Street. This was formerly Gianni’s. The new owners have completely remodeled the restaurant, the food is good and reasonably priced, and the owners are very nice. It is a short walk from campus.

  • anon

    Another good place is Sammy’s on Broad Street. This was formerly Gianni’s. The new owners have completely remodeled the restaurant, the food is good and reasonably priced, and the owners are very nice. It is a short walk from campus.

  • anon

    Another good place is Sammy’s on Broad Street. This was formerly Gianni’s. The new owners have completely remodeled the restaurant, the food is good and reasonably priced, and the owners are very nice. It is a short walk from campus.

  • Anonymous

    **O’Rourkes should be $-$$$ because all of the following will cost you $4 or under each:

    pancakes
    french toast
    eggs with hearty toast, hash browns and fruit
    huge grilled cheese
    soup of the day
    french fries
    sweet potato fries

  • Anonymous

    **O’Rourkes should be $-$$$ because all of the following will cost you $4 or under each:

    pancakes
    french toast
    eggs with hearty toast, hash browns and fruit
    huge grilled cheese
    soup of the day
    french fries
    sweet potato fries

  • Anonymous

    **O’Rourkes should be $-$$$ because all of the following will cost you $4 or under each:

    pancakes
    french toast
    eggs with hearty toast, hash browns and fruit
    huge grilled cheese
    soup of the day
    french fries
    sweet potato fries

  • Anonymous

    **O’Rourkes should be $-$$$ because all of the following will cost you $4 or under each:

    pancakes
    french toast
    eggs with hearty toast, hash browns and fruit
    huge grilled cheese
    soup of the day
    french fries
    sweet potato fries

  • Anonymous

    Jerkfish!!!

  • Anonymous

    Jerkfish!!!

  • Anonymous

    Jerkfish!!!

  • Anonymous

    Jerkfish!!!

  • Sam

    Braille: agreed. I much prefer Typhoon.

    However, if you’re looking for *really* good Thai food and don’t mind a bit of a drive, King and I Thai in Hartford is excellent, and easily beats both.

  • hm,

    @yep, let’s keep the trolling on the ACB?

  • hm,

    @yep, let’s keep the trolling on the ACB?

  • hm,

    @yep, let’s keep the trolling on the ACB?

  • hm,

    @yep, let’s keep the trolling on the ACB?

  • yep

    “middletown is a really good place to eat”

    lol. middletown = mediocretown. nothing is actually “good” here.

  • yep

    “middletown is a really good place to eat”

    lol. middletown = mediocretown. nothing is actually “good” here.

  • Braille

    Typhoon beats the pants off of Thai Gardens as far as I’m concerned. Pad Thai and Drunken Noodles both FAR superior, nicest owner in the frickin world, waitstaff that actually appears to give a shit/ have enough time to think, and, at least last time I was around, music a few nights a week, some from WesKids.

  • Anon

    Copper Top Grill on Main St. still around? great food when I was there 2 years ago

  • Anon

    Copper Top Grill on Main St. still around? great food when I was there 2 years ago

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  • Sam

    I don’t know!

  • Don’t forget coffee!

    Klekolo World Coffee all the effing way. I graduated in ’06 and I still carry around my Klekolo card just in case I’m in the neighborhood. (181 Court St.) Be sure to stay a while to enjoy a good extreme-lefty rant, and if you’re not a jerk the ranters might even invite you to play chess with them.

    Though if you ARE a jerk, and / or you have no taste and / or you need a wireless connection, there’s this place called Javapalooza…

  • Don’t forget coffee!

    Klekolo World Coffee all the effing way. I graduated in ’06 and I still carry around my Klekolo card just in case I’m in the neighborhood. (181 Court St.) Be sure to stay a while to enjoy a good extreme-lefty rant, and if you’re not a jerk the ranters might even invite you to play chess with them.

    Though if you ARE a jerk, and / or you have no taste and / or you need a wireless connection, there’s this place called Javapalooza…

  • Alex

    sweeeeeet harmony!

  • Alex

    sweeeeeet harmony!

  • How could I forget!

  • How could I forget!

  • Sam

    Iguanas Ranas!