Fork in the Road thinks you should get out of town this summer, even if it’s only for a day. In this Summer Fridays series, we’re covering the best spots to eat in popular day trip locations. See more Summer Fridays ideas in our archives.
New Yorkers don’t have the same love/hate relationship with Connecticut as they do New Jersey, and our neighbors to the northeast provide good reason to cross state lines and play tourist for a day. From seafood-heavy Stamford perched off the Long Island Sound to farm-to-table restaurants scattered throughout the countryside, there are a number of reasons to head north on 95.
It takes about an hour to get to Stamford on Metro North’s New Haven line, and you should budget an hour and a half for Fairfield. But you may find exploration easier via a leisurely drive.
If you’re planning on making the town of Fairfield home base, head over to Bonda (75 Hillside Road; 203-292-9555) for a taste of farm fresh global delicacies. Dishes like grilled romaine with shaved parmesan and sriracha-brined fried chicken are the highlights of chef/owner Jamie Cooper’s seasonally changing menu; a burger served on an English muffin is one of the most popular patties in the area. And if you need a more compelling excuse to escape the city, the restaurant also hosts outdoor dining experiences; the next iteration is coming up on July 10 and 11.
For more of a downtown scene, consider trekking to nearby Bridgeport and hitting up Walrus + Carpenter (2895 Fairfield Avenue; 203-333-2733). The gastropub and barbecue joint offers 12 beers on tap and plenty more in bottles, served alongside poutine and maple-bourbon baby back ribs. If you’re feeling up for it, consider the $128 three course feast called The Notorious P.I.G., which includes everything from oysters to sausage to brisket to ribs to mac and cheese. Another solid option is Osianna (70 Reef Road; 203-254-2070), which offers Mediterranean bites like Catalan style shrimp and mint osso bucco.
If you want to eat like the locals in nearby Westport, head to Viva Zapata (530 Riverside Avenue; 203-227-8226), which has been offering Mexican specialties and cocktails since 1969. The cuisine is about what you’d expect from a decades-old place, but the setting makes it worth it — this place has the vibe of a house party.
If it’s local suds you’re after, head over to the recently opened Two Roads Brewing Company’s taproom in Stratford (1700 Stratford Avenue; 203-335-2010). The brewery opened in the historic U.S. Baird Building and carries on the tradition of American manufacturing in Connecticut, albeit this product is a lot easier to swallow. Five beers, including an IPA and saison, are offered year round, and you’ll also find seasonal options like Conntucky Lightin’, which uses corn grits and bourbon barrels in the brewing process. Tours take place Friday through Sunday, and there are typically a few food trucks parked outside along with plenty of outdoor seating. Grab some beer to go before you hit the road home.