Gwynnie went to Rawley's last week because it's close to her favorite gunsmith, just around the back of the Sturm Ruger plant on the Southport border.
Got there at 11:45 and so missed the legendary 20-minute wait for a deep-fried hot dog and fabulous skin-on fries. The booths are so covered with carved initials, names and dates it's hard to imagine they are still standing. Inside and out are signs touting the joint's approval by none other than Martha Stewart, a bit uncommon among weenie joints!!
The restaurant guide, "Hidden Boston" writes:
"Rawley's is located west of the center of Fairfield on a rather plain stretch of road that runs alongside high-tension wires and railroad tracks, befitting the working-class feel of this dining spot. In a way, Rawley's has a similar feel to Blackie's in Cheshire (a ways north of Fairfield), in that it is a classic roadside stand housed in a rather forlorn-looking spot, though Blackie's is admittedly in a much more rural setting. But both reside in structures that look more like houses than commercial buildings, both have very old, dark seating areas inside (including counter seating with stools), and both feature some of the best hot dogs and hamburgers in the area.
"Although Rawley's serves a handful of different items, including chicken sandwiches and burgers, the hot dogs are perhaps the biggest draw, as they are deep-fried rather than grilled (as they are cooked at Super Duper Weenie), giving them an outstanding mix of crunchiness on the outside and juiciness on the inside. They can be ordered with a number of toppings, including cheese, chili, and something called "hellish relish," which is fairly hot and very delicious, with a mix of ingredients including onions and peppers. For those who aren't looking for hot dogs, the griddled burgers here are also excellent, with the high fat content of the thin patties giving them a ton of flavor. The crispy and fresh handcut fries are also decent, and go perfectly with the burgers and dogs. One other item of note at Rawley's is the superb milkshake, which is thick and rich, yet not overly syrupy or sweet."
The NY Times adds:
"Robert Dulka of Fairfield said he started eating at Rawley's more than 20 years ago, when he was in high school. "I come in when I feel like being a little kid and eating everything in the world that isn't good for me," he said. "I'll worry about the fat and cholesterol later." "Another long-time customer, Linda Amos, said, "It's a lot of fun bringing people here for the first time. Everybody always says the same thing -- that it's like taking a trip back to the 1950's."
"Mr. Bielik [ed. the owner] said a number of celebrities have stopped in over the years, including Paul Newman, Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, Mike Wallace, Phil Simms and Joe Namath. But Mr. Bielik said he's so busy making sure the hot dog buns are toasted properly that he usually doesn't notice until other customers make a commotion. "I took David Letterman's order a few years ago and I didn't even know who he was," Mr. Bielik said. "Look, even the rich and famous have to stand in line here, like everybody else."
"For all of Rawley's ambiance, customers say it's the hot dogs that bring them back. Bruce Bunch, who helped establish the Fairfield County Chapter of the Weenie Wanderers to search for the perfect hot dog, thinks he has figured out the secret. "Chico uses Roessler's hot dogs, which are 100 percent meat, deep fries the dogs, and cooks them until they are grilled brown" atop the stove, said Mr. Bunch, a public relations manager for General Electric in Fairfield. "He also toasts the buns perfectly, and with some mustard, relish and bacon -- well, all I can say is that our group doesn't wander any more," he said. "We just go to Rawley's, get Booth No. 2, and it just doesn't get any better than that."