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231 East Putnam Ave., Cos Cob, (203) 861-0075; 364 West Putnam Ave., Greenwich, (203) 625-3322;
151 Elm St., New Canaan, (203) 972-2100
There’s a lot going on at Chicken Joe’s these days, but nothing so much as the chicken. Most prominent on the menu are hand-cut nuggets, sold by weight, in all sorts of combinations with fries, fritters and potato cones. But what we’re talking about here is the fried chicken by the piece—never greasy, never overcooked or undercooked, always just what you were looking for. May CJ’s expansion continue into other parts of the state.
Hen House Bar-B-Q
192 Main St., Southington, (860) 276-0798
The Hen House is a full-fledged barbecue place, but founder Ron Amorando learned his trade at Bridgeport’s Drumstik Bar-B-Q, so chicken takes an honored place on the menu—and in your mouth, too. The moist, flavorful two-breast fried chicken dinner, including fries, coleslaw and a roll, goes for $7.69. It might make you want to pull up stakes and move to Southington.
64 Matthews St., Bristol, (860) 583-3191
Here’s a bit of a hidden gem for fried chicken lovers. Tucked away down a Bristol side street, Greer’s is bascially a caterer, and there’s no sit-down dining here save for a couple of picnic tables out front, but the fried chicken is always available for takeout, and it’s delicious. The companion macaroni and potato salads are very good, too.
4189 Main St., Bridgeport, (203) 374-6151
For 46 years, Drumstik Bar-B-Q has been making its acclaimed fried chicken from a closely guarded family recipe. What’s the secret? Well, for one thing, “fresh chicken.” Be sure to check out the family deal at this “Best of Connecticut” winner: 12 pieces of chicken, six dinner rolls, potato wedges and a large side for $22.99.
Southern Hospitality Soulfood
427 Whalley Ave., New Haven, (203) 785-1575
This no-frills, no-nonsense little three-table joint is a welcome touch of the South in downtown New Haven. Southern Hospitality’s fried chicken dinner for take-out with, say, collard greens, sweet potatoes and corn bread, can turn your drive home into an exercise in self-control.
Danny’s Little Taste of Texas
19 Oakland Rd., South Windsor, (860) 436-1232
Although crowded out somewhat by other tasty things on the menu like ribs and barbecued buffalo, the fried chicken at Danny’s stands up to the taste test, too. The Chicken Coop Fried Chicken Dinner offers four pieces of chicken with two sides for $10.99. It feels pretty authentic in an area (Greater Hartford) that’s served almost entirely by fried-chicken chains.
569 New Haven Ave., Milford, (203) 877-9502
As all good foodies know, the seasoning can make or break fried chicken, no matter how well it’s cooked. At the unprepossessing Chicken Basket, the seasoning is sublime and the fried chicken is justifiably well loved by the locals.
SEAFOOD MARKETS WITH TAKE-OUT
City Fish Market
884 Silas Deane Hwy., Wethersfield, (860) 257-6465
The fish in the market is perfectly fresh, the staff is helpful and knowledgeable and the take-out is just plain terrific at this 80-year-old institution. The to-go menu offers lobster rolls (hot and cold), fish-and-chips, clam chowder and fried clams, oysters, scallops and squid. There’s a dining room, too, and daily specials galore.
Close Harbour Seafood
959 Meriden-Waterbury Tpke., Plantsville, (860) 621-7334
There’s a real heads-up attitude at Close Harbour, and attention to detail. And let’s not forget the freshness of everything on the menu. We are suckers for the take-out Gulf shrimp and Manhattan clam chowder, but the menu is extensive and they’ll even quickly pan-sear 8-ounce portions of any fish in the case for you to take home.
Uberti’s Fish Market
88 Ferry Blvd., Stratford, (203) 377-1429
There’s indoor and outdoor seating for take-out fans at this longstanding fish market near the water in Stratford. The fresh fish sandwich with lettuce and tartar sauce and a cup of chowder ($4.99) is a favorite.
New Wave Seafood
81 Camp St., Stamford, (203) 461-7720
New Wave is a big wholesale and retail seafood operation with a take-out menu that goes a bit beyond the usual. There are Creole crawfish cakes, for example, a smoked-salmon wrap, a crab salad wrap and lobster bisque. The lobster roll is the cold salad variety, but we’ll try not to hold that against them.
Cove Fish Market and Clam Shack
20 Old Stonington Rd., Stonington, (860) 536-0061
At last word, Cove Fish Market was on the market itself, but we’re hoping any sale will not diminish its charms. The fried-fish sandwiches here have been widely celebrated, and the chowder, clams and fritters remain top-notch as well. And you’ve got to love the photo of the citronella candle on their home page—summer dining out in Connecticut!
Blue Lobster Seafood
376 Berlin Tpke., Berlin, (860) 828-5833
The last time we looked, this inland seafood oasis was offering a hot lobster roll, with potato chips, for $9.50 (a real bargain)—and we made a mental note to get there as soon as we could. The extensive eat-in or take-out menu runs from steamers to a poached-cod dinner.