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Alt-burger: Station Eats
Stamford, (203) 588-0960, and New Canaan, (203) 966-4445 (stationeats.com)
If you love burgers but not necessarily everything that goes into making a traditional one, Station Eats offers a number of delicious alternatives including an all-natural veggie burger and an especially juicy turkey burger (everything is cooked medium, unless otherwise specified). What really makes a Station Eats burger special, however, is the exotic toppings such as siracha, dill relish and wasabi cucumber—and don’t forget Station’s own special sauce—in addition to the standard tomato, pickles and onions. Everything here is organic, and both locations employ sustainable practices.
Grilled Cheese: Caseus Fromagerie & Bistro
New Haven, (203) 6 CHEESE (caseusnewhaven.com)
The humble grilled cheese, that quick and easy meal choice for busy people everywhere, rarely rises to the realm of gourmet dining. But when that same simple sandwich emerges from the kitchen of New Haven’s Caseus, comfort food suddenly becomes haute cuisine. A decadent mix of fine melting cheeses between two thick slices of rustic bread, plus an assortment of fresh ingredients to add to the mix . . . you’ll never go back to Wonder Bread and Kraft singles again.
Grinder: Johnny Salami’s
New Haven, (203) 777-7906 (johnnysalamis.com)
Fess up. When you’re feeling particularly peckish, doesn’t just hearing that Johnny S. serves a “big” sandwich called the Godfather seem like an offer you can’t refuse? Pretty much anything they put between two pieces of bread here can be turned into a grinder (or “sub,” if you prefer)—we love the Grilled Cuban (with ham and cheese) and the Tokyo tuna melt (with Swiss, tomato and wasabi—of course). If you prefer to go a little lighter on bread, try one of the “egg rolls,” overstuffed grilled wraps that can easily feed two. Visit Johnny’s just once? No way: Every time you think you’re out, this menu is gonna pull you back in.
Hamburger: Plan B Burger Bar
Multiple locations, (860) 231-9928 (planbburger.com)
When Plan B says it serves classic burgers, you best believe it means classic, with patties of nothing less than “verified humane,” antibiotic- and hormone-free beef accompanied by lettuce, tomato, onion and special sauce. Big appetites will love the Double D, while the carb-conscious can have their burger “in the grass” (atop organic iceberg lettuce). Take your pick of six locations across the state, and rest assured there is something here to please anyone’s taste buds. Special menus cater to the customer looking for gluten-free options or a late-night menu.
Hot Dog: Rawley’s
Fairfield, (203) 259-9023
Simply stated, Rawley’s is the classic dog. Lunchtime patrons crowd a small counter and worn wooden booths at the same shack that’s been here since the 1940s. This no-nonsense hound starts with plump New Haven-made Hummel Bros. natural-casing frankfurters that are deep-fried then grilled to crisp perfection and nestled in a toasted bun, ready as is or dressed up. The “works” dog is smothered with mustard, relish, kraut and fresh bacon bits. Take a bite—the skin snaps with a crunch as flavorful juice bursts from the meat. It’s simply sublime.
Stratford, (203) 377-8860, and Monroe, (203) 268-6982 (gaetanosdeli.com)
Sandwich making is a fine art at Gaetano’s. Customers wait in a line that trails out the door for these delectable creations—but not for long—because this Italian deli is also known for its fast and friendly service. Fragrant whole salamis and wheels of provolone hang above the counter where a jovial crew makes sandwiches so good they’ve been honored with names like Bravo Milanno, The Mona Lisa and The MichaelAngelo. Incredible combos of bresaola, grilled chicken, capicola, mortadella, fried eggplant, broccoli rabe, fresh mozzarella (made daily along with smoked mozz), roasted peppers (don’t even ask if they’re out of a jar) and more are served on fresh Arthur Avenue bread and rolls, or in wraps.
Veggie Burger: The Lime Restaurant
Norwalk, (203) 846-9240 (limerestaurant.com)
Over a million served? Maybe not, but a whole lot of people know the Lime is the place to go for the best veggie burger on earth. Embellished, if you wish, with cheese, avocado or tofu, this outstanding creation continues to draw people, vegetarian and not, to Norwalk’s cozy café on Main. Its tasty ingredients include bulgher, carrots, zucchini and sesame and sunflower seeds, and it’s served adorned with vegetables and an intriguing creamy dressing in a pita, alongside an organic brown rice salad and fruit. Accompany it with an organic beer, wine, soda or a creative iced tea blend. It’s available at lunch only.
We have our pet barbecue places and so do you. How to choose the best of the best? Aye, there’s the rub. So, we chose several regional bests—this way, you can enjoy your favorite close to home and discover something new, too.
Bobby Q’s Bodacious BBQ & Grill
Westport, (203) 454-7800 (bobbyqsrestaurant.com)
Groton, (860) 449-6868 (chestersbbq.com)
New Milford, (860) 355-4111 (thecookhouse.com)
Grant’s Smoke & Bones BBQ
Derby, (203) 516-5994 (smokeandbones.com)
Hilltop BBQ Steak House
Moodus, (860) 873-1234 (hilltopbbqsteakhouse.com)
Smokin’ with Chris
Southington, (860) 620-9133 (smokinwithchris.com)
Fairfield, (203) 319-7427 (wilsons-bbq.com)