Any places along the Merritt Pkwy (CT)
For family reasons we will be traveling a lot between Washington and Boston - on the way we can usually avoid the dreck on the NJ turnpike with a picnic, but last time we got to CT and were starved ( and you know a traffic jam plus hunger = bad trip).
Any places close to the Merritt, our preferred route, or along i91 before Hartford?
Slim pickins' because Merrit built to bypass urban commerical areas.
Try Barecelona at the HiHo Motel off Exit 44, Blackrock Tnp. in Fairfield. Sensational small plates and tapas, consistently winner of tapas awards. Don't be put off by the appearance of the Motel.
For breakfast, Lakeside Diner at exit 34, Long Ridge Road, Stamford. Best pancakes in the state and yummy cinnamon donuts, still warm. Avoid everything else, especially the coffee.
You did not indicate a preference, but for a basic hotdog, lobster rolls or just some of the best fried clams this side of Maine, I highly recommend Glenwood Drive In at exit 61/62 off the Wilbur Cross in Hamden for an easy on/off and quick service.
Another stopping point for us is the Cromwell Diner at exit 21 off I-91. It's more like a Jersey diner than typical New England diner - nice selection with very good quality. From what I recall, they serve breakfast all day and are open quite late (11pm and 24 hrs on Fri/Sat).
The Hamden Town House, right off the Merritt exit 61/62, is a good diner. Excellent breakfast all day & night, good homemade soup-of-the-day, pretty decent basic sandwiches, burgers, daily specials, etc. It's plain food, nothing fancy, but I generally enjoy what I eat there. (The building used to be a HoJo, so it doesn't look very "diner.")
I also agree with Clams047, the Glenwood Drive-In has great hot dogs & fried seafood. They also share a roof with Kelly's Kone Konnection, really good homemade ice cream.
There's another diner right off exit 60 (the Acropolis) - a little plainer on the plain-food scale, but I like their moussaka better than the Town House. Also at exit 60: There's a bunch of fast food & fast casual chains on Dixwell Ave north of the Merritt overpass there, and Ibiza Tapas (very good tapas) a block or two further south.