The Merritt Canteen is open until four in the morning on Fridays and Saturdays. They get a lot of hungry nightowls craving one of the restaurant's signature fried hot dogs or famous chili. And the place is commemorating a milestone this month. “On May 20, we're having a block party to celebrate our 70th anniversary,” says owner Jay Rodriguez. “We'll be offering certain menu items for 70 cents.” That's, like, less than what you pay for a piddly bag of pretzels from the vending machine at the office! You could say that the famous chili runs in Rodriguez's veins, except that sounds kind of not right; at any rate, he's been working there since he was 12 years old. “I did everything — pouring soda, wiping tables, working the grill,” says Rodriguez, whose father started working at the Canteen in the '60s and became the owner in 1980. The eatery was recently featured on the Food Network's “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” (They showcased their bison burgers and hand-battered fish and chips.) As a result food fans from out of state now make pilgrimages to the restaurant. “We have the best New England clam chowder around,” says Rodriguez.
Winner of Best Place to Get Late Night Eats in the Fairfield County Advocate's Best Of Reader's Poll 2012.