The Green Grunion
Danbury, (858) 926-6263, facebook.com/TheGreenGrunion
In his second year in business Paul Mannion, owner of the Green Grunion, has yet to find a permanent spot for his brightly painted burrito truck, so locating it can sometimes be like searching for a mystical stag. You glimpse it through a side street, or see a Facebook post announcing that day’s location. Although the hunt can be frustrating, the reward—burrito perfection—is always worthwhile. The truck features addictively good San Diego-style burritos, which Mannion explains are precision dishes with select, carefully prepared ingredients that are tightly wrapped in a smaller, slightly grilled tortilla. Mannion refers to his burrito-making process as “rolling n’ slingin’.” Whatever you call it, Mannion’s burritos are rolled-up works of culinary art. Try the Pollo (Bell & Evans chicken, pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese and crème), the Cali (marinated steak, French fries, pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese and crème) or Veggie (bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese and crème).
Lake Zoar Drive-In
Monroe, (203) 268-8137, lakezoardrivein.com
Located on the shores of Lake Zoar on Route 34, this beloved burger shack is small in size but big in flavor. Try the legendary Zoar Burger (bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, mayonnaise and mustard), or choose from a classic road-food menu featuring fries, hot dogs and onion rings.
Mima’s Meatballs and More
Danbury, (203) 300-5838, mimasmeatballsandmore.com
This sleek modern meatball joint is a relatively new addition to the Danbury culinary scene but it has already garnered a dedicated following. Specialties at the laid-back venue include meatball grinders and one-of-a-kind zucchini veggie meatballs. Mangia!
New Fairfield Food Center
New Fairfield, (203) 746-2255, newfairfieldfoodcenter.com
The deli at this small country grocery store is a Mecca of road-food munchies. Located only a few miles from the state boat launch at Candlewood Lake, this is a local favorite for those venturing out in the water. Try the New York Italian Combo or ask for a sandwich with fried eggplant, melted Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onion and Russian dressing—a favorite not listed on the menu.
Fairfield, (203) 384-0100; Stamford, (203) 316-9041 (Main Street), and (203) 461-8004 (High Ridge Road), laylasfalafel.com
A mouthwatering Middle Eastern group of restaurants that are the perfect option for those road-food warriors looking for something more exotic than burgers and fries. The Falafel Deluxe is a classic falafel sandwich topped with delicious fried eggplant.
This waterside shack is the stuff summer memories are made of. The fun-in-the-sun menu includes fries, hot dogs, hamburgers and a variety of mouthwatering seafood items including clam strips and shrimp.
Super Duper Weenie
Fairfield, (203) 334-3647, superduperweenie.com
This house of hot dogs is about as all-American as it gets (even its sign is painted red, white and blue). Choose from a variety of specialty hot dogs and house-made toppings such as chili, red onion sauce, sauerkraut and hot or sweet relish. Also offered: burgers and sandwiches.
Danbury, (203) 794-1184
You’ll want to get a firsthand scoop on this Danbury ice cream institution that serves up a thick and creamy, almost custard-like, product that can hook you forever with one taste. The chalkboard lists dozens of regularly rotating specialty flavors including Devil Dog (yes, it tastes like an actual Devil Dog), Chocolate Covered Strawberry and Cardiac Arrest (made with seven kinds of cocoa and chocolate).
Ferris Acres Creamery
Newtown, (203) 426-8803, ferrisacrescreamery.com
Enjoy ice cream paradise at this picture-perfect 80-acre family dairy farm. Choose from dozens of rotating flavors then enjoy your treat while gazing over a view that includes a meadow, cows and a red barn.
Stamford, (203) 323-TACO, Westport, (203) 222-TACO, bartaco.com
How can you not like a place with a name that incorporates the words “Taco” and “Bar?” With locations in Westport and Stamford (plus West Hartford), these cantinas are perfect way stations for those road-food junkies who find themselves wandering Connecticut’s highways this summer. Inspired by the beach culture of Punte del Este and Buzios in South America, the bar and restaurant features upscale Mexican street food with a strong coastal vibe. Both the Westport location (on the water) and Stamford one (downtown) feature an exciting small-plate menu that is rooted in Mexican tradition but draws from a diverse range of culinary influences. Guests can choose from tacos with ingredients such as baja fish, wild boar, fried oyster, curry shrimp, pork belly and falafel. There’s also house-made sangria, finely crafted mojitos and margaritas, and so many varieties of tequila they offer tequila flights—in fact bartaco’s motto is “tacos and tequila.” Need we say more?