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Best Breakfast or Brunch spots

I am looking for a great, reasonably priced breakfast or brunch spot in the Boston/Cambridge/Somerville/Medford area. Was not too impressed by Soundbites, although I was only there once. We often go to The Lighthouse on the weekends which is pretty good. We aren't looking to spend $40 on breakfast on a typical weekend so places like Henrietta's Table or Harvest are out. Ideas?

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  1. I haven't been for years, but Johny D's in Davis square, hands down. Unless it changed, it was mine and everyone I know's favorite brunch. Inexpensive, great jazz, creative and tasty food. All meals used to come with delicious homemade raisin and brown sugar oatmeal. Best thickest hugest pancakes around. Creative omelets, sides etc. People here will have to vouch for whether it is still good since it's been several years since I have been around that area. But i miss it. Nothing like that on the North Shore.. :(

    1. I just noticed that someone asked the same exact question in 1995 name jojo, even saying the same places they didnt want to go too. (maybe it was you with a different name). So if you search that, there were other recs there too. Also if you ever get the urge to go to Portsmouth NH, best breakfast ever is The Friendly Toast. Very very creative huge menu and fantastic kitcsh decor. you can search it here..

      2 Replies
      1. re: chompie

        1995? I don't think I would rely on 11 year old recommendations...

        1. re: tallullah

          Yeah, it definitely wasn't me asking in 1995 --I had just graduated from HS!

      2. B-Side lounge has brunch on Saturday 11-4 and possibly also on Sunday (anyone?). Some great dishes, not very expensive. I highly recommend the bacon,bacon,bacon and eggs, or just the regular eggs with sides. The home fries are great. The french toast is a disappointment, however, even though it could have been good (maybe it was just the day I had it---the batter hadn't soaked through the bread) since they use Iggy's brioche bread.

        1. b side does have brunch on sunday- it's actually my favorite brunch spot in the area.

          1. panificio's is unbelievable. great pastries, good coffee and i just had their eggs benedict with smoked salmon today. sooooo good :-)

            they have two locations, the one in beacon hill (i've been unimpressed by that one) and the one at commonwealth and mass ave in back bay - this location i've been there 5 times in the past weeks.

            1. Trident Booksellers Cafe on Newbury Street, near the Hynes Greenline station or #1 bus route.has a great breakfast menu and they serve it all day, every day.


              The Migas or Breakfast Burito will keep you going all day. I like their blueberry pancakes or and French Toast.

              I agree that Panificio has a great brunch menu. However, now that the patio is closed for the season, I opt for take-out there because the music is usually too loud to enjoy dining inside.


              1. hey, i was not suggesting an 11 year old rec.. i was just saying that it was funny that someone asked the same thing, nearly identically worded 11 years ago! And i was asking if anyone has been to Johny D's since.. Anyways, today i happened to catch Phantom Gourmet doing a brunch show and they did the 8 best brunches (not that you can trust phantom gourmet) B-side was on it though, and Johny Ds and it looked the same as it did several years ago.. even same looking pancakes.
                Also, if you want something different than breakfast food, up 93 a couple more minutes is dim sum brunch at China Pearl in Woburn

                1. On Saturday I think Henrietta's Table has their regular menu. It is not at all overpriced imo, and it's become my go to breakfast place. I also don't care for Soundbites.

                  1. I believe B-Side stopped their Saturday brunch service a long time ago, but the Sunday brunch is going strong, and runs till 4pm. It's one of my favorites, too: spectacular eye-openers as well as a nice mix of breakfast and lunch items.

                    In that general vicinity, I also like Kelly's Diner, a Broadway greasy spoon in the classic 1940s mode.

                    I used to love The Neighborhood, a Portuguese restaurant by night that does a big patio brunch on weekends, but it really slipped in quality on my last couple of visits, so I'll have to wait until someone else starts raving about it again before I'll return.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      RE: Neighborhood Restaurant - I am surprised to hear that you've had poor experiences, MC Slim - and I definitely value your opinion, which makes me concerned. I went in October and it seemed as good as usual.

                      1. re: Bob Dobalina

                        I think the Neighborhood does well because of the setting, especially in the summer and that's why people go there. But c'mon, the home fries are cold and tasteless, scrambled eggs/omelettes are served lukewarm most often, and regularly overcooked. Meats are always good (bacon, chourico). Pancakes are hit or miss. At least half of the baked goods are only passable (I do like the little custardy vanilla cupcakes). The coffee is horrible. The bathroom is filthy. And they charge a premium for breakfast foods. At $9-$12, you could eat very well at ECG, for example.

                        The perfect order at the Neighborhood is cream of wheat, side of bacon and someone else's coffee, tho' I don't think they let you bring that in anymore. It's hard because you really want to like this place. I used to go regularly but I can't justify spending money (and calories) there anymore.

                        1. re: Bob Dobalina

                          Yes, I was very saddened to have a couple of crummy experiences. We got over there 6-8 times a year for at least ten years. Our last visit was a two-hour torturefest of waiting endlessly for everything -- unbearable. It seemed to go from mildly popular to a crush a couple of summers ago, and we finally decided to be one of those people that says, "It's so crowded no one goes there anymore." Maybe the madness has subsided, or they're finally decided to add staff on weekends?

                        2. re: MC Slim JB

                          Hmmm...about the B-Side. I was there for drinks within the past three weeks and they were advertising their Saturday brunch, as they have been every time I've been there at night in the past few months (which is a few). What's odd is that they don't advertise a SUNDAY brunch. I guess the thinking is that most people expect brunch to be available on Sunday but not Saturday so they make a point of announcing the Saturday brunch. I think that at least one of the times I ate brunch there (also in the past six months) it was, in fact, on a Saturday. So if they ever stopped the practice, they have since revived it.

                          Re: the post farther below about the Paramount in Beacon Hill, I disagree with the conventional wisdom about their pancakes. I found them unremarkable. Not bad, but not great either.

                          1. re: bella_sarda

                            So B-Side Saturday brunch is back on: excellent. It definitely came and went at least once before. I hope this one sticks; I would hate to show up, having scraped for parking nearby (tough), only to find they'd pulled it, as happened to me once before.

                        3. Where is The Light House? I don't know that one.

                          East Coast Grill (inman) has good brunch.
                          I was not impressed by brunch at Ole in Inman Square. Nice atmosphere and service, kind of boring food for too much $.
                          Picante's (central sq) brunch is not bad.
                          I think they aren't serving the brunch at Petsi Pie on Putnam St. but you can sit down with a decent variety of things.
                          I haven't been to The Broken Yolk on Powderhouse Circle, but it seems very popular.
                          Renees near Teele used to be okay.
                          When I used to go to Johnny D's (5 or more years now) it had unbearably long waits for the food.
                          There are very yummy pastries at Japonaise in the Porter Exchange building.
                          I've had good luck at The Neighborhood.
                          Sabur, near Teele Sq. has brunch that I've been meaning to try. Anyone had that?
                          I've also meant to have some breakfast at Los Paisanos on Broadway.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: bee

                            The Lighthouse is in Medford Square. It is pretty good, lots of choices. My husband always gets the breakfast burrito which he loves. I get the "Miami Beach" which is scrambled eggs mixed with corned beef hash. Prices are really cheap. Good place for a basic, no frills breakfast.

                            1. re: bee

                              Sabur's brunch is very good. I had it a few years ago when I was a student, but I remember really enjoying it. Its definitly worth a try.

                              1. re: bee

                                I'm very fond of both Sabur and Renee's (though I haven't actually been to Renee's for a few years.) Sabur's menu is a bit limited, but the French toast with figs is to die for. Generally pretty empty too.

                                I can't believe nobody's mentioned the Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown, near Cushing Square.

                              2. Sorella's in Jamaica Plain on Centre Street. Omelettes, crepes, endless varieties of pancakes. Adorable, delicious!

                                1. Gotta say I'm not a big fan of Johnny D's. Not much better than the Neighborhood IMHO (though I LOVE the cream of wheat at the Neighborhood, just not much else).

                                  I like East Coast Grill and Blue Room for a bit pricier (but not as expensive as Henrietta's Table).

                                  I quite like Brookline Lunch in Central Square for cheap eats kind of breakfast (bring your own coffee from Tosci's nearby, theirs is terrible).

                                  Full Moon in Huron Village does a nice breakfast/brunch if you can deal with the noise from all the toddlers running around.

                                  And don't forget 3 Yolks on 1A in Revere/Everett as you head away from Logan. Scrambled eggs with a side of biscuits and sausage gravy and you won't have to eat another meal that day.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: MB fka MB

                                    3 Yolks closed a few months ago.

                                    1. re: Joanie

                                      Shut up! <sobbing uncontrollably>
                                      Don't they just go away for the winter?

                                      1. re: MB fka MB

                                        Yeah we drove by there a couple months ago and it was closed. I was bummed too that it closed.

                                    2. re: MB fka MB

                                      Yeah, I'm a big fan of Brookline lunch, too. Although I get claustrophobic in that tiny side room to the right (more like a closet than a room!).

                                      1. re: MB fka MB

                                        I should add Miracle of Science for breakfast. You can't beat the breakfast wrap (eggs, cheddar, black beans, jalapeno veggie sausage) with a side of potatoes (I get the dressed rocket that goes with the steak & eggs instead) plus coffee for about $7. Good coffee, too.

                                        1. re: MB fka MB

                                          I agree with the Miracle of Science. Their potatoes are great as well.

                                        2. re: MB fka MB

                                          I agree about Johnny D's: really not that interesting.

                                          I'm a fan of East Coast Grill's brunch, but it is Sunday only, 11am-2pm, and not a good option for those looking for a traditional American breakfast (it is Latin themed).

                                        3. Soundbites in Ball Square in Somerville

                                          1. Doyle's in JP has brunch Sat and Sun-- cheap greasy breakfast food, and the pancakes are good. But... haven't been in a while as I now live closer to the Dogwood.

                                            The Dogwood Cafe in JP also has Sunday brunch, 10-3, and it's quite good. The breakfast burrito and breakfast pizzas are great, as is the french toast. Their potatoes are very good. Service is sloooow, coffee pretty blah.

                                            Bon Savor in JP is my current favorite. Small, homey, cooked with love. Good coffee, slightly flaky service. Eggs benedict are great, as is the omelet. Their chicken and mushroom crepes are fantastic. And... they have dessert crepes. Dessert for breakfast-- very civilized.

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: Notorious EMDB

                                              You haven't been to Doyle's in a while cuz you live closer to the Dogwood? That's like a one minute drive! Haven't tried the Dogwood for brunch yet but Doyle's does a great blueberry pancake (crappy home fries tho).

                                              1. re: Joanie

                                                Joanie, I know... but we try to leave the car in the driveway on the weekends, and we literally live around the corner from the Dogwood. Doyle's is like a whole 15 minute walk away, too much for my poor bleary-eyed self in the mornings! And it seems wasteful to ride one stop on the T, when I don't have a pass.
                                                : )

                                                1. re: Notorious EMDB

                                                  But you can get that walk in and feel less guilty about the amount of food you eat (or at least that would be my thinking).

                                                  And since you live around the corner, what are your thoughts on Java Joe's? I've only gone in twice but their baked goods sure aren't that enticing and more pricey than many other places. The space looks great but sweet things wrapped in plastic aren't a selling point for me. Haven't tried a sandwich yet.

                                                  1. re: Joanie

                                                    I'm a fan of Java Jo, mostly for beverages though.

                                                    Breakfast goods: the sandwiches are passable, not great. OK if you're there for the coffee and happen to get hungry, but I wouldn't call it a breakfast food destination. I think they microwave some ingredients, and it could be improved. I've never tried the baked goods.

                                                    The lunch sandwiches are significantly better. Freshly made, generous portions, and I haven't any complaints about the quality of the ingredients.

                                                    Plus, they finally have some more comfortable seating in the fornt part of the store (a couch and a few armchairs). Now if only they'd extend their hours later into the evenings.

                                                    1. re: Joanie

                                                      You're right-- but as my husband says-- "The Dogwood's side of scrambled eggs is like 5 eggs! We have to go there!" Way too much food, and the potatoes are better than Doyle's.

                                                      I have to agree with JP RS about Java Jo's. The breakfast sandwiches are OK, when they have the kind of bagel you want, but the baked goods are not worth it-- usually dry, too sweet, and more quantity than I want for the over-price. The coffees and teas are all good, and they make a mean latte and a great hot chocolate. I have never been there at lunch time since I work on the south shore. If I am working from home, I will go in and get a few pots of tea and maybe a brownie (which are moister than their other baked goods) while I use their wi-fi. (I'm actually a fan of the old, non-cushy seating, and usually sit at one of the tables or at the counter in the windows.) However, sad to say, the service is erratic and I am a slow service rageaholic, so I don't go in much on weekday mornings, since it can take 10 minutes to get a simple medium coffee, much less a specialty drink, and they don't need my temper. I like them, I just wish I liked them better.

                                                      1. re: Notorious EMDB

                                                        java jo's: coffee's ok, bad music on WAY too loud (often, not always). only one outlet (i think) for 'puters.

                                                        1. re: autopi

                                                          To each their own: I like the atmosphere at Java Jo. I've only found the music too loud after closing time (and hey, it was after closing time), and I like their (usually indie-rock) selections.

                                              2. If you are up for a $40 brunch I reccommend Bravo at the MFA. Three course brunch for $34 (two course for $29. Had a great heirloom beet salad and a crab/lobster soft scramble.

                                                1. Here's a short list of my affordable breakfast favorites (I live in Cambridge)

                                                  Casual Breakfast:
                                                  1. Talk of the Town Diner in Watertown - excellent fluffy waffles with fresh fruit and whipped cream and a good selection of eggs benedict variants. they also serve classic breakfast dishes.

                                                  2. Hi Rise Bakery in Cambridge - (bakery/sandwich place) delicious breakfast sandwiches (green eggs & ham - my favorite), rich creamy oatmeal studded with plump dried cherries & pecan halves, and a great almond coffee cake filled with almond paste and drizzled with sweet glaze.

                                                  3. Flour in South End - (bakery) great savory sandwiches, freshly made soups, and a nice selection of sweet cakes, muffins, and breads.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: toffifay

                                                    I also like Hi Rise in Harvard Square for breakfast. I enjoy that oatmeal, and also the good toast and jam.

                                                  2. I recently went to Bob's Southern Bistro in the South End with a bunch of girlfriends. There was live jazz music and a great buffet, which I understand is the case every weekend. The atmosphere was fun and I definitely recommend it, especially for groups. Also, the Bloody Mary’s are fantastic!

                                                    1. JR's in Essex. The Clamdigger Special is enough to kill lunch too. Finally, a good breakfast joint in Clambodia. Stone Soup in Ipswich - great breakfast and always an interesting crowd.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: ipsofatso

                                                        That's quite a haul from the Boston/Cambridge/Somerville/Medford area that the OP is inquiring about!

                                                        1. Oh, whenever we are in Boston, my husband wakes up dying for the maple sausage at Butcher Shop in the South End. We are known there as the "New Yorkers who come for brunch"~ b/c we had driven up just for that. I adore everything on the menu, but it's certainly not breakfasty. Obviously, the focus is on meat products.

                                                          1. I'm surprised that no one has mentioned such contenders as Zaftig's in Coolidge Corner (awesome banana date butter French toast) or Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe in South End. For the best pancakes in Boston, I go to the Paramount in Beacon Hill.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: andrew054

                                                              I agree that's it's surprizing that Charlie's has only been mentioned once. It a family run, old time, family style "greasy spoon" that serves excellent omelletes, pancakes, french toast, hash, etc. Charlie's is a piece of history, having been in the same location for over 75 years and was one of the few places that would serve African-Americans in the pre-war days (WWII, that is). It also just won a James Beard classic award - not an insignificant accomplishement.

                                                            2. Frannie's in Maplewood Square in Malden has great breakfast food. The adjoining room has large booths to sit in. Plus, they do not rush anyone.
                                                              Nick's on the Revere/Malden line - however, long lines - guess that means the food is good!

                                                              1. I'm quite fond of New Shanghai in Chinatown for the soy milk and fried crullers, along with a nice variety of street food from around Eastern and Northern China.

                                                                1. I'm with HotDog Annie - Bob's Southern Bistro is a favorite of mine - although some people aren't into a good southern soul food breakfast. It's hard to find good southern soul food north of the dixie line but Bob's does a great job. You can get your typical breakfast grub - eggs, bacon, sausage but then you get all those comfort southern dishes too (red beans and rice, fried chix, mac & cheese, ribs, collard greens, grits, etc.) And you can't beat that wonderful Jazz music.

                                                                  1. If you want an amazing brunch for less than $10 a plate with all the ambiance and foodie quality of Boston, then simply hop on the T to Malden Center Station (or drive 20 minutes in your car) to Exchange St. Bistro in Malden.

                                                                    I LOOOOVVVEEE this place and go around every other weekend for brunch. I never have to wait in line, the ambiance is beautiful (you'd never know you were in Malden) and the food is terrific. Yesterday, my mother and I went and I got the new "Stuffed French Toast with peaches, blueberry compo and mascarpone cheese...$9". The blueberries were the rare-sweet little Maine one, the peaches were perfectly roasted and carmalized, and the whole thing was a warm gooey sweet tower of sinful indulgence!! If you like savory, my favorite dish is "Smoked Salmon and Poached Eggs over an English muffin, with avocado and hollandaise sauce...$10"....the eggs are always perfectly done and the flavor combination is delicious.

                                                                    Now I drive by Jonny D and all those other brunch places in Davis with people waiting 30 minutes to be rushed through their meal for 20% more $$$ for the same if not lower quality food and just chuckle :)


                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: InmanSQ Girl

                                                                      Hmm, I didn't know Exchange Street Bistro did brunch! Will have to give that a try, as I really liked the dinner I had there a few months ago.

                                                                    2. Has anybody been to the Langham Hotel for brunch?

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: wench31

                                                                        Yes. Pretty room, live jazz, an enormous buffet with some luxury stuff (mainly seafood), but not worth the $50/head, in my view.