Bridgewater Village Store
Bridgewater, (860) 354-2863, bridgewatervillagestore.com
A community gathering place since 1899—you read that right—this marketplace in one of Connecticut’s loveliest towns is among our favorite pit stops because it’s literally all things to all people. Want strong coffee and a homemade doughnut, or an egg sandwich or pancakes, in the morning? How about a grilled sandwich for lunch—or a warm homemade pie? A scone with afternoon tea or cappuccino? Or even some Bridgewater Chocolate? Those gourmet morsels originated and can still be bought here, along with fresh fruits, vegetables, maple syrup, honey and eggs from Maywood Farm, the estate of store owner Peter Maywood.
Peaches n’ Cream
Litchfield, (860) 496-7536, peachesncreamicecream.com
This modest shop makes all its ice cream, along with its own hot fudge, fresh fruit toppings in the summer, whipped cream and waffle cones—think Mango Sorbet, Piña Colada, the signature Peach, along with Blueberry and Red Raspberry. Try a milkshake or banana split, or go big with a waffle bowl sundae.
Clamp's Hamburger Stand
Since 1939, this true roadside stand on Route 202 has been serving burgers to hungry travelers, and its legions of fans wait each spring for opening day. If you blink while driving by, you’ll miss it, but if you don’t, you’re in for a treat—hot dogs, fried clam strips and more.
Denmo’s Snack & Dairy Bar
Southbury, (203) 264-4626
Just a short distance off I-84, Denmo’s is that classic roadside drive-in with picnic tables, window ordering and pickup, and all the staples that draw high praise, from hot buttery lobster rolls to crab salad sandwiches with sweet potato fries, burgers, hot dogs and ice cream. What else needs to be said?
Goshen, (860) 491-4009, nodinesmokehouse.com
Folks think of Nodine’s as a Connecticut resource for smoked meats that will form the core of a great meal at home. Insiders know the retail store in Goshen also offers homemade potato salad and chocolate chip cookies that make great on-the-go fare or ingredients for a picnic. Add in some Nodine’s smoked fish and go gourmet.
Nine Main Bakery & Deli
New Preston, (860) 868-1879
Our list of summer travel roadside stops purposefully shies away from traditional restaurants, and while Nine Main is a café with sandwiches, sides and seating, it fosters an on-the-move food feel, and is so satisfying. Whether it’s a homemade muffin from an award-winning recipe or a great sandwich, it’s tailored to travelers and to-go orders.
Morris, (860) 567-0504, popeysicecreamshop.com
Popey’s is a roadside stop near Bantam Lake, and although the sign makes it clear that it’s an “ice cream shoppe,” fans know that it’s much more. Burgers and hot dogs are staples of a menu that also features specialty sandwiches and wraps.
El Camion Taco Truck
Woodbury, (917) 608-8484, el-camion.com
Yes, it’s a food truck, but it’s a stationary one, making it a “road food” fixture along Route 64 between Woodbury and Middlebury. El Camion specializes in tacos and burritos—with a “Spanish grilled cheese,” or quesadilla with cheese, added for the kids. Fans love the fish tacos.
Woodbury, (203) 263-4450, woodburyicecream.com
Do they have an army of ice-cream makers? This place has been proudly making its own ice cream since 1954 and it’s all delicious, with so much to choose from—hard ice cream in a variety of flavors, soft ice cream, gelato, custard, sundaes and sorbet.
Kailey's Burger Station
Roxbury, (860) 210-0030
Established in 2010, this is a classic roadside drive-in that specializes in burgers, sweetens the deal with ice cream, but notches foodie credibility with options like grilled zucchini ciabatta sandwich and garden fresh salads.
Arethusa Farm Creamery
Litchfield, (860) 361-6600, arethusafarm.com
Even if you don’t wear Manolos on dinner dates (Arethusa’s founders own the shoe company), you can enjoy this outrageously good designer ice cream—get it in a homemade waffle cone—in a historic former firehouse. You can also take home the dairy’s milk, half-and-half, yogurts and its line of artisan cheeses.
Whitley's International Chocolate Cafe
Watertown, (860) 417-6464
Tucked in a small shopping center in Watertown is a café that has bragging rights over the ubiquitous Starbucks and Dunkin’ down the road. Here the coffee, cappuccino and lattes get paired with delicious homemade chocolates, gelatos, mousse cups, chocolate peanut butter cupcakes, blueberry crumbcake and more.
Litchfield, (860) 567-9356
Hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream, sundaes and milk shakes in a been-there-forever drive-in on the side of Route 202, not far from Bantam Lake and Mt. Tom State Park. That’s pretty much all you need to know.
Roxbury, (860) 210-0618, mamiesrestaurant.com
The theory behind each “Splurge” is to offer travelers and day-trippers great options for gilding an experience with a meal that takes things up a notch in quality from road fare but still can be enjoyed in casual attire and a relaxed frame of mind. This little-known gem in rural Roxbury fits the bill perfectly. It has a great (if small) setting across from the Shepaug River, features wonderful homemade fare (including a fine Sunday brunch) and has guests bring their own wine for dinner, keeping the bill under control. It’s also an insider’s stop for baked goods and coffee if you don’t have time to sit and enjoy.