A beloved Bridgeport dive since 1942, the Merritt Canteen serves a chili dog that will make your mouth glow for hours after you eat it. The dog is a snappy natural-casing tube steak deep fried until crunch-crusted, nestled in a lightly-toasted bun. The chili isn’t meaty; it is a thin sauce very much like the notorious Kuhn’s chili: ferociously hot, and an ideal complement for the wiener below. If you are pyromaniacally inclined, the Canteen offers not only a chili dog (which the menu on the wall calls “extremely hot”) but also “brutal dog,” which is a quarter-pound, super-spiced red hot topped with chili (“Extremely HOT!. No Refunds,” warns the menu).
Other than the chili dogs, there are fried onion dogs, bacon dogs, cole slaw dogs and cheese dogs as well as all sorts of hamburgers including a bacon-and-egg-burger, a veggie burger and a bison burger. Condiments are applied by the staff. While hot dogs and hamburgers are ordered from a quick-service window, a slightly slower-service window offers hero sandwiches (here known as grinders), and a whole fried seafood menu, including whole-belly clams, shrimp, and calamari. Breakfast is served all day.
Accommodations are spare, as you’d expect in a quick-eats joint on Main Street: laminate booths, a “claw machine” that offers chances to pick up plush toys, and an ATM for those in need of cash.