Lake Zoar Drive-In: Burgers & Dogs With a View

Jeff "jfood" Schlesinger

Photos: c/o Michael Stern, Roadfood.comThe Lake Zoar Drive-In is located on Route 34 in Monroe (many Navigation systems do not recognize the website town of Stevenson) slightly less than 7 miles east of I-84. This stand-alone burger and dog shack has occupied this same stretch of beach overlooking Lake Zoar for over 20 years and the current owners have been grilling burgers and dogs for over 17 years; they must be doing something right. That something is a burger with plenty of toppings, some of the best French Fries in Connecticut plus a soda...all for under $10.

Given the size of the Drive-In I was surprised when I first saw the extensive choices on the menu. It included burgers, dogs, chicken, seafood, and other “Specialty Sandwiches.” The restaurant also serves an exhaustive breakfast menu. Their website  contains the entire menu. Seating can be a bit of a challenge; there are two outdoor picnic tables on one side of the building plus 6-8 interior stools. I joined a mother with two of her children at one of the picnic tables and the people at the other table included a mid-aged couple plus an elderly English couple on their way to Canada. It was quite a friendly event.

I always respect a place that names a burger after itself so I immediately ordered a 1/4Lb. Zoar Burger, an order of French Fries and a long-neck bottle of Stewart’s Root Beer. The Zoar Burger consisted of a “1/4Lb.” beef patty plus bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, raw onion, pickles, mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise encased in a bun that is hearty enough to handle all of these ingredients. A “Dbl. 1/4Lb.” sized was also available for an additional $2.

As always I first cut my burger in half to check the doneness. My first thought was the patty was very thin compared to the numerous toppings. The chef successfully grilled it to a perfect medium-rare; a nice pink strip was seen right through the middle, a challenge given the thinness of the patty. The bacon was nicely cooked and the cheese was fully melted. My first bite told me that I should have ordered a Dbl. 1/4Lb. since the generous serving of ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise overwhelmed the single patty, bacon and cheese. The burger had a nice beefy flavor, not as rich and deep as a farm raised burger but still solid. Before leaving I asked the cook about the meat and he told me that the meat was ground offsite locally and delivered to Zoar.

The French Fries were the highlight of the meal and as good as any fries I have eaten in CT. They were crispy on the outside, still moist on the inside and they were salted immediately after they emerged from the oil so the salt adhered nicely to the fries. If you like ketchup with your fries, make sure you grab the ketchup squeeze bottle when you receive the burger since the only I saw was at the counter.

Overall, I would describe the Lake Zoar Drive-In as a better choice than the chain fast-food burger. It may not be worth a special trip, but if  you are in the area I would recommend a double-patty Zoar burger, their delicious fries and maybe a hot dog. 

Lake Zoar Drive In, 14 Roosevelt Drive, Stevenson. 203.268.8137