Glenwood Drive-In

Review by: Michael Stern

Exit your vehicle and walk in the door where – if it’s mealtime – you will see a line of people who, you assume, are waiting to place their order. Wrong, they are waiting to receive their order. As you get into line, you must quickly decide what you want by studying the wall menu and convey this information to a gent whose job it is to call it back to the open kitchen. By the time the line reaches the counter, your order will be ready to pay for and carry to a table.

When the people dishing out the food asked us exactly what it was we were getting, we ourselves forgot, but the guy calling orders has an amazing capacity to remember everything. Despite our hemming and hawing and mind-changing, he easily remembered what we and a friend had said we wanted – a big meal for three – and he had bellowed it out as fast as a seasoned auctioneer. If you dine inside the Glenwood Drive-In at one of the Formica booths or a short window counter, you will be serenaded by this man’s continuous cries to the kitchen. It’s great background music for eating hot dogs and hamburgers.

There is more to the menu than dogs and burgers, although these dogs and burgers are what we recommend. They are cooked on a grate over a charcoal fire and imbibe a smoky flavor that makes them a joy to eat. Apply your own condiments near the pick-up counter; among them is a superb hot sauce that gives the long, crusty wieners an extra sparkle. With a side order of excellent onion rings, this can be a summertime meal to remember. We half-heartedly recommend the hot lobster roll, which is loaded with meat although not as sweet and buttery as Connecticut’s best.

Directions & Hours

11am - 8pm
  • Monday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Thursday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Friday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Saturday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Sunday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM

What To Eat

Hot Dog

DISH
Onion Rings

DISH
Lobster Roll

DISH

Glenwood Drive-In Recipes

Discuss

What do you think of Glenwood Drive-In?

5 Responses to “Glenwood Drive-In”

Jane & Michael Stern
Cathy Fusco

August 12th, 2009

Glenwood has been around longer than my grandfather! When he went to Hamden High School, he, along with the football team, would visit Glenwood. It holds a lot of special memories for me, and I always remember my grandfather when I go there.

It sucks to have food allergies, and all that I can get is a bunless grilled chicken on a plate. The french fries make up for it, and I am happy to say they are gluten free, and not fried together with the onion rings. I hate those fancy batter-dipped french fries that these newfangled restaurants have out there that I can’t eat. So it is my ultimate pleasure to be able to
enjoy french fries again. Thanks Glenwood.

If you want to blow your diet one day, give a stop by, and I suggest the lobster roll. It’s loaded with butter; used to be one of my favorites (when I was allergy free). There’s nothing like it: it’s fresh, it’s buttery, tender, and you can eat the whole package. Go for it, get off your diet and go!

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Jane & Michael Stern
Erica Fucci

June 29th, 2009

I have to say, the Glenwood Drive-In is a fine establishment. Everything and anything I’ve had there has been wonderful. I’ve yet to try their soft shell crab sandwiches and lobster rolls, but I’ve heard nothing but good about them.

Their foot-long hot dogs (the only size they sell) are amazing! The bread is always fresh, the dogs are juicy, and the little fixins bar on the side is a great convenience to the customers. You have your choice of diced onions, sauerkraut, hot and spicy relish, sweet relish, ketchup, yellow mustard, and spicy brown mustard. Their onion rings are great too. They are made to order and are battered and fried right there. The clam strips are hand-battered as well, and they are great for any fried clam craving.

After dinner or lunch, go over to Kelly’s Kone Konnection for an ice cream cone or a cup. All the ice cream flavors Kelly’s offers are homemade! She also makes great ice cream cakes and pies.

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Jane & Michael Stern
Bobby Stone

August 20th, 2008

Glenwood is a bit of an institution here in Hamden. I’m not sure why. It is a throwback to the 1950’s with Formica tabletops, benches, and garish fluorescent lighting. It certainly is not a comfortable place to eat. If you have been to a McDonald’s or Wendy’s you’ve been to Glenwood, although Glenwood is a bit less refined.

The hot dogs are really the only thing to recommend here ($3.10 each). Glenwood features the regional brand Hummel’s and they are quite good. Glenwood also offers every condiment you could think of (and then some) to put on a hot dog. The hamburgers should be avoided. They are very thin, overcooked to the point of being chewy, and vastly overpriced at $3.25. If you are after a burger you should go almost anywhere else. Even the burger chains are a far better choice. The onion rings are very good but pricey at over $4.00. There is also more variety here than at the typical burger chains; frozen (yet tasty) fried seafood as well as BLT’s and even cheese sandwiches.

On the plus side, all of the food is cooked when ordered so unlike the national chains — your food will be hot. Service is fast but always somewhat confused. Be prepared, in a matter of minutes, to repeat your order at least three times to the staff as you stand in line.

I live within two miles of this place and despite the fast service and hot food I can’t muster the desire to visit more than a few times yearly. Even then I wonder why I went (I think it must be the greasy but tasty onion rings). Thankfully Hummel hot dogs are available in every grocery store locally. If Hummel’s were not available at my supermarket, I’d certainly visit more often.

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Jane & Michael Stern
Dale Robinson

February 25th, 2008

I grew up eating at Glenwood and I always loved it. I’ve lived away from Hamden for 30 years, but each year when I visit famly, Glenwood is always on the menu (sometimes once a day).

The lobster rolls dramatically increase your food bill, but it’s a must to order. The lobster roll platter adds a few extra dollars, too (totalling about $18 per order as of 12/07). The footlong hotdogs are still served in a grilled roll and the toppings (apply your own) constitute quite a variety.

Any soups must be ordered separately from the attached ice cream parlor. Krazy Kone has good ice cream, but avoid the soups. The clam chowder has minimal clams and too much flour. New England clam chowder should never have flour; the potatoes should be all the thickener one needs (pairing with cream for a perfect taste sensation).

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Jane & Michael Stern
Eugene Lisansky

September 14th, 2007

I’ve been coming to Glenwood Drive-In for burgers since about 1959, when my dad would take me here after a hike at the nearby Sleeping Giant State Park. When I told Dad I was stopping here on a recent visit (May 2007), he said “These things are never as good as you remember them.” Wrong! Glenwood Drive-In has changed little in the 52 years it has been open, and is every bit as wonderful as I remember it from my youth.

The building has been renovated and re-roofed, but the location, the menu, and the procedures are the same, mainly burgers and dogs grilled fast over flames, delivered to you within a few minutes, despite a line. These are not big fat juicy burgers cooked rare, but pre-shaped burgers similar to what you get in a supermarket meat section. The dogs are the very long kind, and are much more appealing cooked over a flame than boiled all day. It’s the flames that make everything taste (and smell) great! You get on line, the order-taker asks what you want, he shouts it out to the cooks, and by the time you get to the cashier (after passing the drink station), it’s ready. Pay, and then slop on the condiments of your choice.

Fried clam strips and lobster rolls are also popular menu items here, but the All-American burgers and dogs, cooked in the style of a July Fourth picnic, are the real draw. In an age of cookie-cutter fast-food, this little piece of Americana is a treasure. It’s worth a trip from anywhere in southern and central Connecticut. As an even bigger treat, grab some goodies from the Glenwood, drive about three miles north to Sleeping Giant Park, and chow down at a picnic table in the midst of fragrant tall pine trees.

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