Using a pillowy bun as a barrier, hot dogs are safely protected from environmental hazards such as open manholes and greasy-handed schoolchildren. Enjoy snugly shielded franks with today's Groupon: for $4, you get $8 worth of hot dogs, hamburgers, and shakes at Rawley's Drive Inn in Fairfield.
From a red, two-story roadside restaurant built in 1827, Rawley's Drive Inn distributes a menu of classic American fare, including fried hot dogs that have earned accolades from The Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate and Everyday with Rachael Ray, which recognized Rawley's core competency as one of the best hot dogs in the country. Rawley's team prepares dogs that range from the plain ($2.65), to the works, to the Hot Chihuahua, which saddles a frankfurter with mustard, onions, hot relish, and compliments from actor John Malkovich after a recent visit. French fries ($2.15 for small) and onion rings ($2.75) round out the oblong meal. Alternately, the two beef patties and side of fries of the burger deluxe satiates appetites ($5.95) and can be complemented by the cold comfort of a Rawley's milk shake ($4.75), a frigid treat that comes in a single size that fits all, like an elastic waistband covered in flakes of ice.
Rawley's Drive Inn
Martha Stewart has lent her name to bath, bedding, and charger plates full of etiquette. But on her 2008 Martha's Favorite Hot Dogs list, she stamped her seal of approval onto the mustard, relish, kraut, and bacon that piles into the buttered bun of a "works" fried hot dog at Rawley's Drive Inn. According to owner Nick Frattaroli, it is now their most popular hot dog, joining the naturally encased ranks of several other specialties. One, the hot Chihuahua dog, is dosed with Mel's Hellish Relish, a recipe Nick would share "if [he] knew it"—he hasn't been able to pry a list of its sweet and spicy ingredients out of his secretive chef.
The "works" has drawn plenty of noncelebrities to this two-story, red roadside restaurant. Locals and repeat customers join diners from as far away as California and Texas who've seen Rawley's featured on Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Inside, they're all treated to food that is made to order—including hand-cut fries and thick ice-cream shakes—and old-timey decor that reflects the building's roots in the 19th century. Guests place orders at a short counter before retreating to booths or high-top tables, both surrounded by wood walls that past patrons have thoroughly tattooed with carved initials and florid love sonnets to sausages.