Connecticut may not be the first state that comes to mind when folks start talking about matters gastronomical, but it actually has a lot going for it when it comes to food. Just for starters, it's one of the only states with a food-related nickname: Along with being the Constitution State, it's the Nutmeg State — a sobriquet possibly bestowed because its seaports were important in the Colonial spice trade. But that's just the beginning of its relationship to good things to eat, and to celebrate its culinary riches, we’ve rounded up 18 of Connecticut's tastiest comestibles and most essential eating and drinking places as part of our first-annual guide to the best food and drink in every state.
To get specific, Connecticut stakes a claim — contested, to be sure, but what isn't these days? — to having been the birthplace of the hamburger, at the still-thriving Louis' Lunch in New Haven. (The state is also said, somewhat less controversially, to have spawned the steamed cheeseburger, and may have given the submarine sandwich, or "sub," its name, courtesy of the U.S. Navy's submarine base in Groton.) New Haven is also pretty much the pizza capital of America, home to the ineffable Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana (not to mention such standard-bearers as Modern Apizza, Sally's Apizza, Ernie's, Zuppardi's, the Brü Room at BAR, and Mike's Apizza).
With its 96-mile coastline, Connecticut is a great place for seafood, too, from Abbott's Lobster in the Rough, waterside in Noank (famous for its eponymous crustacean, either steamed or in the form of a Connecticut-style lobster roll, meaning warm butter-drenched meat on a toasted bun) to the fresh-shucked oysters at Oyster Club —whose specialties go far beyond bivalves, and which we rank as the best restaurant in the state, period.
Add in one of America's most original grocery stores, a dive bar that pretty much defines the genre, a purveyor of insanely delicious hot dogs good enough to draw weenie-lovers from the whole tri-state area, and an 80-year-old Italian joint whose lasagna makes mammas hang their heads in shame, among other gustatory attractions, and you may well start thinking that those Nutmeggers have it pretty good in the epicurean department.
We’ve compiled the culinary treasures of every state (plus the nation's capital) into individual slideshows celebrating the best food and drink in every state, and you can find our Connecticut gallery here.