Close to the Road
America’s Byways® are a collection of 150 National Scenic Byways and All-American Roads designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. The Merritt Parkway of Connecticut is a rolling, limited-access four-lane with bridges that display beautiful Art Deco styling of the 1930s. Opportunities to eat well just off the road are plentiful, and short detours lead to New Haven’s legendary pizza and shoreline seafood as well. This tour includes only places within 3 minutes of the Parkway.
Stamford to Westport
The first three restaurants on this drive include a diner serving great breakfast, a fantastic pizza joint and a coffee shop that sells some of the best chocolate donuts we have ever had.
- At the Lakeside Diner, breakfast comes with a beautiful view of Holts Ice Pond. Homemade donuts are offered as well as fantastic pancakes. These are no ordinary cop out diner pancakes, they are thin, lightweight and full of flavor, especially when drenched in maple syrup.
- Pasta with homemade marinara sauce, baked ziti and chicken Parmesan dinners are all sold at Letizia’s but you’re crazy if you don’t order a pizza. Made with Neapolitan style crust, meaning thin but not too thin, these pies are fantastic. A personal “White Pizza,” made with nothing but dough, mozzarella, ricotta and Parmesan cheese and herbs, is a must-try.
- Prior to being sold, we believed that Coffee An served some of the best chocolate donuts on the planet. Although their quality briefly slipped, when ownership changed hands, we are glad to announce that they are back on top of the donut pyramid. They also have added sandwiches and a variety of new delicious pastries to their menu.
Bridgeport to Wallingford
This set of six restaurants includes two donut shops, two quick stops serving excellent hot dogs and two pizza joints. Although stopping at all six may be hard to do, eating a hot dog, personal pizza and a bacon topped donut doesn’t seem too daunting of a task for anyone driving along Connecticut’s Merritt Parkway.
- Operating out of two separate windows, the Merritt Canteen sells hotdogs and burgers, out of the fast window, and sandwiches and seafoods, out of the slower window. We recommend you go to the faster of the two and order a hot dog of some sort. Extremely hot options are available for customers looking to test their tolerance of spicy foods.
- Believe it or not, Donut Crazy sells things other than donuts, such as a grilled cheese sandwich, made with donuts of course. Our favorite donut offered was the “Maple Bacon Donut” which was a donut covered in a maple glaze and bacon bits. Also offered was the “Fat Elvis” which was topped with bacon, banana and chocolate drizzle.
- Competing with the legendary Frank Pepe cannot be an easy task, but Dayton Street Apizza manages to hold their own. Both their white clam and sausage pies are excellent. If you are in the mood for a sandwich, their chicken parmigiana sub is unbelievably good.
- The crust on pizzas sold at Eli’s Brick Oven Pizza and Market puts all other thin crusted pizzas to shame. We will call it microthin crust. Despite its extreme thinness, the crust is able to hold the fantastic toppings piled onto it. Our favorite three pizzas served here were the white clam pizza, sausage pizza and old fashioned plain pizza.
- Make sure you are ready by the time you get in line at Glenwood Drive-In because the line goes quick. If you are struggling with the menu, we recommend a lobster roll or hot dog of some sorts. They also offer excellent side dishes, the onion rings were our favorite on the menu.
- The glazed donuts sold at Neil’s Donut & Bake Shop are fine, the old-fashioned donuts are the clear standouts. Their exterior has an excellent crunch while the interior is able to stay thick and cakey throughout the frying process. The jelly filled donuts are also quite good but nothing can hold a candle to their old-fashioned donuts.
Burger Showdown in Meriden
These two burger joints operate in the same town as the legendary Ted’s. Ted’s is definitely great, but each one of the restaurants below took home an award in the Meriden Battle of the Burgers.
- By using a large plastic pan to steam their burgers, K. LaMay’s Steamed Cheeseburgers is able to serve larger burgers than other restaurants. They also bring in freshly made rolls every day to be used as buns for their burgers. K. LaMay took home the “Best Classic Burger” award in the recent Meriden Battle of the Burgers.
- The Lunch Box brings an unusual creativity to their burgers. The “Military Burger” comes topped with guacamole, blue cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, bacon, onion, lettuce, tomato and mushrooms. In the Meriden Battle of the Burgers, Lunch Box received the “Most Creative” award.
Eli's pizza has a crust that is microthin but just hefty enough to offer a nice chew rather than break when bitten. A New Haven-area pizzeria worth the trip.
Neil's old fashioned donuts are thick and cakey with a wicked exterior crunch. Early in the morning, still warm, they virtually melt in your mouth. A Connecticut best!