If you read a lot of foodie press like I do, you come to realize fairly quickly that Connecticut is a serious hot dog state (along with pizza and steamed cheeseburgers, however, those are areas to be addressed another day). The regional style typically involves either grilling a wiener that's been split down the middle lengthwise (a la Walter's or Hubba, both in my neck of the woods) or deep frying it intact prior to finishing on the grill. Rawley's Drive-In (1886 Post Road in Fairfield, CT, no website) subscribes to the latter methodology and has been well-known for its take on the humble tube steak since sometime in the 1940s - they show up on many of the national best-of lists and are adored by our friends at Roadfood, but it was their appearance as the Connecticut representative on First We Feast's Best Hot Dog from Every State in April 2017 that finally spurred me to make the 35-minute drive from the Chuck Wagon for a sampling.
The business was purchased in 2002 by the owner of the neighboring Dairy Queen, but apparently little has changed (regarding both the building's appearance and the food) during its lifespan. Fearful of a large Friday lunchtime crowd, I was pleasantly surprised to enter an empty parking lot at 11:30 and pretty much had the place to myself.
The ambiance is casual to the extreme, exactly the type of place that's known to produce terrific cuisine. I went with the one Works Dog (topped with mustard, sauerkraut, relish, and bacon bits, which used to look like lardons in other photos - maybe they've been scaling back) and one Hot Chihuahua Dog (topped with mustard, onions, and hot relish), along with an order of hand-cut fries.
This grub certainly looked the part and was, in fact, very good, but I was just a wee bit underwhelmed. Maybe I'm just too conditioned to see the garden-in-a-bun Chicago style dog as the Platonic ideal - I can't see making Rawley's a target destination; however, should the family and I be passing through town at some point, I'd happily return for another wiener or two...