The location at 243 Zion St. in Hartford has been the home of good restaurants for 37 years. From 1974 to 2007 it was Timothy’s, serving comfort food at affordable prices. From 2007 to May of this year, it was Trinity, an elegant Mediterranean bistro. Now, it is American & Mexican Diner, which sells American breakfasts and Mexican and pasta dishes, any time of the morning, afternoon or evening.
Want shrimp a la vodka for breakfast and waffles for dinner? How about a buffalo chicken wrap for breakfast and an omelet for dinner? Or just your standard eggs benedict for breakfast and an enchilada for dinner? American & Mexican Diner will do any of those.
The 1,500-square-foot restaurant seats about 70 people. It was created by two brothers from Tlaxcala, Mexico — chefs Jhovani and Henry Diaz — and their spouses, two sisters from Chalatenango, El Salvador, Irene and Rosmery Aguilar, who greet customers.
The family is known for its food truck, American & Mexican Tasty Flavors. The truck has been in Hartford for about a year and a half, since the brothers were laid off from their jobs in the early days of the pandemic.
The truck used to park on Maple Street. After the Hartford City Council in June banned food trucks on many streets, it moved to Summit Street near Trinity College. It parks there Tuesday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The truck sells exclusively Mexican food. American & Mexican Diner, in the Behind the Rocks neighborhood, extends that menu. A full complement of American breakfast staples — pancakes, waffles, French toast, omelet, scrambled eggs, bacon, home fries — are served alongside quesadillas, tostadas, fajitas, burritos, enchiladas, chilaquiles and other Mexican favorites.
“We wanted to combine the cultures. We wanted to give people what they want to eat when they want it,” Irene Aguilar said.
The Diaz brothers also added burgers, sandwiches, salads and pasta dishes to the mix: chicken pesto with fettucine, chicken with lemon butter sauce over penne, lime-tequila chicken over penne and a variety of mac-and-cheeses. The bar serves nonalcoholic drinks until it gets its liquor license.
Jhovani Diaz most recently was chef at the first location of The Place 2 Be in Hartford, and previously at Town Line Diner in Rocky Hill and at Vernon Diner.
He said the previous Zion Street restaurateur, Natasha Agolli, who owns the building, was very particular in choosing a successor to take over her location.
“She had the place for a long time. She wanted to be careful who she gave it to. We came in from the truck, looking dirty like we’ve been working. She saw we were hard workers. She said, I’ll give the place to you, I can see you working here,” he said.
Agolli said when she handed over the location, she was emotional. “For years I had been there, every day. I cried for my restaurant, and I cried for them. I was happy for them,” she said.
The restaurant had a soft opening in July and will have a grand opening on Oct. 4. It will be open Tuesday to Thursday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday to Sunday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Susan Dunne can be reached at [email protected].