Valencia Luncheria

Who wants to go to Venezuela? OK, I’ll make travel plans, but you have to do your part: research the food. Your best bet is Valencia Luncheria in Norwalk. Although a small place, it’s bright and cheerful, and the food options will exceed your expectations. Imagine steamed mussels a la Veracruz with garlic bread and French fries or chicken hash with chorizo, poblano, fried eggs, potatoes, corn, peppers, onions, cheese and jalapeño. And what a deal; the prices are set for what you’ve got floating around in your beach shorts.

164 Main St, Norwalk, 203-846-8009;



Things are simply nice at Méli-Mélo. Bright, cheerful and breezy, like the healthy food options this cafe serves. Part crêperie, part juice bar, diners at this cafe can indulge like the French: good ingredients, good preparation, good company. Sip on fresh smoothies or enjoy a toasted ciabiatta with tomato, roasted pepper, brie, bacon, mesclun and dressing (among many other sandwich options). And don’t miss out on a perfectly prepared crêpe with a number of filling options.

362 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, 203-629-6153;


Flipside Burgers & Bar

Photograph: Julie Bidwell

Middle of the day, deep into the evening, you’ll find a good-time crowd at Flipside Burgers & Bar. It’s easy to see why when you take your first look at the menu—we’re talking coconut shrimp, BBQ sliders, mac ’n’ cheese, and lots and lots of sirloin (or chicken/veggie/turkey) burgers. The toppings are like Willy Wonka wild—pepper jack, cabbage and red pepper slaw, spicy mango sauce and onion strings for the Caribbean Burger or gorgonzola, caramelized onion and apricot chutney for The Blue Burger. Inventive, delicious and deeply satisfying, they come with your favorite sides. If that’s not enough, consider the drink menu—hoo-ya! “Casual” may be the vibe, but the burgers are seriously good.

1125 Post Rd., Fairfield, 203-292-8233;


Super Duper Weenie

If you’re going to call your business Super Duper Weenie, you’d better be good—and these guys are. The food starts with the basics—hot dogs and burgers—and elevates them with yummy, made-from-scratch relish and other toppings. The hot dogs are split and grilled, just like they should be, and tucked into a soft bun. Then go crazy: sauerkraut, bacon, mustard, sweet relish and raw onion, or maybe Cincinnati-style chili, cheddar cheese and chopped onions. Add fresh-cut fries and the only other thing you’ll need are a few napkins.

306 Black Rock Tpke., Fairfield, 203-334-3647;


Colony Grill

What’s the secret to winning gold in the pizza battle? Relaxed atmosphere, pitchers of cold beer, big TVs for the big game and tasty pizza. At Colony, it’s check, check, check and check. What Colony doesn’t do is over-complicate matters; they do one thing, pizza, and do it very well. Its thin-crust pizza comes in one size, twelve inches, with gold-standard toppings, like sausage or cherry peppers. Its secret? Hot oil. Since 1935, Colony has been a go-to.

172 Myrtle Ave., Stamford, 203-359-2184
515 West Ave., Norwalk, 203-866-5252
1520 Post Rd., Fairfield, 203-259-1989
36 Broad St., Milford, 203-876-1935


Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

Photograph: Andrew Sullivan

We know you can rock a perfectly tailored business suit or strut in designer shoes, but at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, it’s all about getting in touch with your inner caveman. Roll up your sleeves and get down to work on your wood-grilled, house-cured fave, perhaps brisket or pulled pork, or go whole hog with a full rack of ribs or a half bird. Plus, this place has all of the essential extras: BBQ caramelized onion, Swiss, house-cured pickles and BBQ mayo. The urban vibe is irresistible, and the live music is a major atmosphere-boosting bonus.

845 Canal St., Stamford, 203-517-3272;


Liz Sue Bagels

Think finding a good bagel is difficult? Chewy yet firm with a soft inside. Easy. Want it in a variety of toppings? No problem.Liz Sue Bagels is sitting back, arms crossed, nodding—and its freshly made bagels are waiting for you hot from the oven. Liz Sue’s got this. Not all bagels are created equal. Gold Coasters buy the best by the baker’s dozen here because they’ll get exactly what they’re hoping for each and every time. Simple.

63 High Ridge Rd., Stamford, 203-323-4611
120 New Canaan Ave., Norwalk, 203-849-1322


Firehouse Deli

Why is everyone lining up like it’s a fire drill? They’re just waiting in line at the Firehouse Deli. Housed in a historic building in downtown Fairfield, it serves crowd-pleasing hot and cold sandwiches, including wraps. Consider the city/country appeal of the Backyard BBQ (grilled chicken, BBQ sauce, caramelized onions and cheddar) and the New Yorker (roast beef, melted mozzarella, tomato and mayo). In other words, you have classic deli sandwiches alongside upscale options. On a nice day, take your chicken salad or beet salad outside to enjoy watching families, shoppers and students strolling around town.

22 Reef Rd., Fairfield, 203-255-5527;


Melt Mobile

It was all fun and games as Fairfield County discovered the appeal of food trucks—how awesome to just pull over and pick up something yummy—but then, one day, we fell hard for one in particular: Melt Mobile. Our voters started wishing the food truck had a fixed location so they could always get their warm, cheesy fix. Alas, they head online to find out where the truck is located. If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, know that the offerings at Melt Mobile are anything but basic. We’re talking artisanal breads, imported cheeses, organic meats and produce, all in combinations that make our tummies growl like an engine, and we need our fuel.

Check online for daily specials and schedules.


Elm Street Diner

No one can resist those three little words: All. Day. Breakfast. It’s a can’t-miss to offer eggs and bacon at 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. But Elm Street Diner doesn’t win best diner just for its anytime-you-want-them, any- way-you-want-them eggs. It wins for all of the menu options, from light salads and soups to hearty paninis and meatloaf and pasta. Seriously, if you can dream it, Elm Street Diner can probably make it. (See also “Breakfast.”)

463 Elm St., Stamford, 203-325-1141;


Elm Street Diner

Breakfast. OK, now that we have your attention, let’s get into the details. Details like Virginia ham steak and eggs with potatoes and toast; spinach and feta omelette; the California Benedict (avocado, Canadian bacon, tomato, poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce on a toasted English muffin), or pancakes, waffles and French toast with the options stacked high, sweet and delicious. Now do you believe that Mom was right? Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. (See also “Diner.”)

463 Elm St., Stamford, 203-325-1141;