If there is one universal problem high school students face, it is perpetual hunger. With the size of our appetites inversely proportional to the depth of our wallets, we come to the dilemma of “where can I get good, cheap food fast?” Luckily, my older brother encountered this problem before I did. He introduced me to a new world of fast food. Looking beyond McDonald’s and Taco Bell, Fairfield County has a surprising number of independent fast food restaurants and cafés. Over the past few years, certain restaurants have become my go-to spots for quick breakfasts before school, midnight snacks, and everything in between. I’ll let you in on a few of the best-kept secrets in Fairfield County by walking you through my ideal day in terms of food.

Breakfast involves two stops. First, the Whistlestop Bakery at the Branchville train station. I am convinced this bakery is the greatest hidden gems in Fairfield County. If I could, I would start every day with one of its carrot pecan muffins. Next, I’d head across the street to Tusk & Cup, the Ancona family’s latest addition to the Wilton community. I could eat any meal of the day at Tusk & Cup; it has great pastries, soups, sandwiches, and gelato. My current favorite menu item is the steamed spiced cider — perfect for cold fall mornings!

In my mind, there’s only one place to go when I’m hungry for lunch: the Burrito Shack. On Route 7 between Wilton and Georgetown, the Burrito Shack is exactly what it sounds like, and the “World’s Greatest Burritos” sign out front says it all. Connecticut is the last place I would expect to find authentic Mexican food, but sure enough, it’s right here in Wilton. My friends and I frequently stop by for a burrito after school (shout-out to fellow Warrior Words columnist Alosha Southern). I am especially fond of a chicken burrito with medium salsa, but have been known to indulge in a beef burrito from time to time.

Now, for the biggest issue of all: where to eat dinner. On the rare occasion that I decide to eat healthy, my go-to spot is Naked Greens in South Norwalk (and soon to be in Wilton Center). Every time I go to Naked Greens, I am torn between the Waldorf Wonder salad and the chicken noodle soup, which is made with the same recipe that Soup Alley used to sell.

Sometimes, there’s just nothing better than a dinner that consists only of good old-fashioned junk food. Few people know there’s a bit of a rivalry in Fairfield County over who serves the best chicken nuggets. Both Chicken Joe’s and Garden Catering (which used to be one business until the owners decided to split up the chicken nugget empire) have taken this childhood staple to the next level with their secret blends of seasonings. Each offers a meal (fittingly named the “High School Special” at Chicken Joe’s) with a half-pound of nuggets, French fries, and a soda for $7 — it doesn’t get much better than that. I usually substitute “cones” (deep-fried mashed potatoes) for French fries. It may sound a little strange, but don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it. Each business has several locations in the area. I frequent Chicken Joe’s on Elm Street in New Canaan, which is right next to Caroline’s Crêperie, but that’s for another time. The jury is still out on who has the better nuggets — I guess you’ll have to judge for yourself.

Jillian Finkelstein is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with four classmates.