Middletown is a diverse—though largely Italian—city, at the heart of Middlesex County. Middletown has become something of a hub of eateries in Connecticut. It’s kind of surprising, really, that a small city of 48,000 people in the center of a state should draw people from miles away for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, yet Main Street—both the widest and voted one of the most romantic Main Streets in America—is lined with nearly 50 restaurants and extends for nearly a mile.
We’ll start at the beginning—a very good place to start—with breakfast and brunch. We’ll move through the typical day of eating and will grow progressively hungrier as we imagine each meal.
The most famous breakfast choice is O’Rourke’s Diner at the northernmost end of Main Street (immediately before the entrance to Route 9; make sure you don’t drive past it and get on the freeway!). O’Rourke’s was featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives in 2008 and has an incredible (and incredibly extensive) menu. Brian, the owner and head chef, puts an outrageous spin on some more traditional dishes. In addition to traditional French toast, Brian offers Babka French Toast (stuffed with raspberry preserves and topped with jam and clotted cream), Banana Bread French Toast, and Irish Soda Bread French Toast. There are almost 20 creative omelets (including a Graduate omelet, which is only available to Wesleyan alumni) and eight different takes on the traditional Eggs Benedict. Of course, there is also Brian’s Breakfast, available “only when the time is right.” No two of the specials by this name are ever the same, and every dish is always exceptional. O’Rourke’s is somewhat pricey for a typical meal on a college student budget, but it’s a great treat if you happen to end up at Miller’s Pond at 4:00 a.m. and wander back to Main Street around 6:30.
Other classic breakfast and brunch options include Ford News Diner, Café 56 (on Court Street, just off Main), and Fusion Bakery. If you’re one who likes to go sit in a coffee shop on a Sunday morning and write that paper due on Monday, then Brew Bakers, The New England Emporium, and Sweet Harmony offer plenty of seating and love Wesleyan students.
Brew Bakers boasts a wide selection of coffee and espresso drinks, has interesting (good interesting, not “wow, this is very . . . interesting” interesting) breakfast and lunch foods, and offers Internet access. Make sure you start breakfast and coffee loyalty cards if you think you’ll frequent this location often!
Many of the breakfast places are also good lunch options, especially The New England Emporium, located in the Main Street Market. The Emporium has some cozy places to sit and a lot of tables on which to spread out. They offer fun savory and sweet crêpes and give you the option of creating your own sandwiches and salads in case the many that they offer don’t quite cut it for you. They also have WiFi Internet and great coffee.
Sabroso, located on Main Street and very close to Broad Street Books, is a new addition and is marking its territory in the ethnic melting pot that is Middletown dining. Sabroso opened this summer and serves traditional Peruvian food. It is also very inexpensive, which makes it a great lunch for a college student budget.
For both lunch and dinner, Mondo serves delicious pizza and other assorted fare. The restaurant is good at accommodating large groups (extra large pizzas and family-sized salads), which makes it a prime location for an outing with your hall or a group of friends.
For dinner, if you find yourself willing to splurge on Italian food, Amici is a good option. Portions are huge (usually two meals worth, in case you have a refrigerator and want leftovers), and the food is delicious. Esca is even more expensive than Amici, but it has wonderful pizza and flatbread, and it is a good and popular place to take your family members when they come to visit.
Thai Gardens and Typhoon offer similar menus and similar prices, but arguments between students about which Thai restaurant is better can get intense. Thai Gardens offers a classier, slightly louder atmosphere but arguably slower service. Typhoon is more casual and quieter.
This is just a sliver of the dining options on Main Street, and if you extend your scope to the Middletown area, then the selection gets even wider. The most important advice we have for you is to try as many of the dining options as you can so that you can form your own opinions and increase the variety of your meals.
Stay tuned to the Food section for an in-depth review of ice cream on and around campus.