681 Wethersfield Ave.
Hartford, CT 06114
Restaurant Hours: Tues to Fri – 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sat – 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Dancing Hours: Thurs – 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., Fri to Sat – 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
In Hartford, Casona has become well known for its exotic food and its great drink specials, and these are good reasons to go to any nightspot. It’s casual dress in walking distance of other Hartford hot spots, making it a great place to stop in and check out. The music, however, is what makes this restaurant stand above the rest. Every Friday night Latin music lovers can find live tunes, featuring some of the premiere Latin jazz bands from Connecticut. Come early for happy hour for $3 domestic drafts, a special that sounds good with any tune. Casona also does free salsa classes for beginners and intermediate dancers.
Barcelona Wine Bar
971 Farmington Ave.
West Hartford, CT 06107
Hours: Mon to Thurs – 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., Fri – 11:30 a.m. – 2 a.m., Sat – 5 p.m. – 2 a.m., Sun – 5 p.m. – 12:30 a.m.
Stop in any Thursday to the Barcelona wine bar and be greeted with live Latin Brazilian music. This West Hartford hotspot has live music on Thursday nights as the jazz band Goza plays for a night of dancing and wine tasting. Plus, Barcelona has great atmosphere and food, making it a good place to go for dinner any night of the week. The bar also stocks one of the most extensive wine lists in Connecticut, so this is a great spot to check out for the adventurous types. It also has a little more upscale feel than many other places, making it a little nicer than most bars.
The Red Door
675 Main St. (Route 63)
Watertown, CT, 06795
Hours: Wed to Thurs – 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., Fri – 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Sat – 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
If you’re looking for good music, but want a little bit of everything, the Red Door of Watertown is perfect. The bar has live music four nights a week and $2 drafts during happy hour. Here, they focus more on the music than on the party atmosphere, giving a much more intimate night out than most places can offer. The Red Door is a little out of the way, but well worth the trip. It has a good, casual feel but it is quiet and intimate. Check ahead to see who’s playing that night; The Red Door has a constant influx of great local bands coming through its doors.
The Acoustic Café
2926 Fairfield Ave.
Bridgeport, CT 06605
Hours: Tues to Thurs – 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., Fri to Sat – 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.
The Acoustic Café of Bridgeport has been called the best place to hear live music in Connecticut, and it’s not the amateur night that gets it noticed. A fun party atmosphere with an intimate band feeling gives the Acoustic Café a leg up on the competition. Entertainment lovers will hear a wide range of music, but catch the cafe showing local Latin bands, and you’ll be sure to witness the whole place dancing. Check the calendar to be sure of what’s playing when.
Related: Best Irish Pubs In Connecticut
105 N. Colony St.
Wallingford CT. 06492
Hours: Mon to Tues – 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Wed to Thurs - 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Fri – 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., Sat - 11 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. and Sun – 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Bars with live music are always a good time, but if you’re looking for something with a more personal setting and want to avoid the college kids looking for drink specials, try Los Mariachis in Wallingford. This restaurant advertises largely by word of mouth, and has some of the most talented local musicians coming through to play jazz and salsa music, including bands that you couldn’t find anywhere else. It’s a casual atmosphere and far enough away from the typical bar scene to allow for a more quite night, but the location is not so far out that it’s deserted.