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Boston area breakfast recap

There are lots of threads on this board discussing breakfast and brunch in the Boston area, but I could really benefit from a consolidated discussion of the good breakfast options inside of Route 128. My go-to places are:

Josephs Two, in Waltham. My favorite cheap, greasy spoon breakfast.

Friendly Toast, in Cambridge. A love-it-and-hate-it place: the shtick doesn't do it for me, the food is reliably good but not great (too many of the menu items have one or more too many ingredients in them), but it's convenient to me, and generally no line on the weekends if you get there before 9am.

Mistral, my favorite high end brunch. Also a relative bargain compared to the ridiculously priced all-you-eat brunch options like Henrietta's Table.

Deluxe Town Diner, in Watertown. I go here only when I find myself in the area during the week. I think it's good, but I don't get the hype. In my book, it's a real shame if these are the best pancakes in the area. (I happen to think that Mistral's pancakes are far, far superior, but of course they're also a lot more expensive.)

As a Canterbridgian, I'd particularly like a ranking of the places in Cambridge, Somerville, and Medford (and how early you need to go on weekends to avoid long waits), but let's make this a broader discussion of the inside-128 options.

Henrietta's Table
One Bennett St., Cambridge, MA 02138

The Friendly Toast
1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA

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  1. Trident Booksellers on Newbury Street is one of our favorite spots for breakfast any time of the day. Weekend mornings are often mobbed but you can shop the bookstore while you wait.

    The Blue Room Brunch is right in your area great for a group of friends. If you like a buffet brunch this is the one to try.

    For al la carte I still think the best of the best from a food point of view is Craigie on Main. The corned beef hash in all its variations has spoiled me for any other. But when they have biscuits and gravy, I have problems choosing.

    My husband and I also find ourselves slipping into the bar at Bistro du Midi many weekends.

    And, Eastern Standard is back in our rotation.


    Eastern Standard
    528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

    Craigie on Main
    853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

    The Blue Room
    Hampshire and Portland streets, Cambridge, MA 02139

    Bistro du Midi
    272 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

    Trident Booksellers & Cafe
    338 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02115

    1 Reply
    1. re: BostonZest

      Seconding the CB hash at Craigie on Main, which I finally tried for the first time this morning. I love Deluxe's CB hash, but this was something entirely different: tender, (not stringy) CB, caramelized everything (I suspect a stick of butter might have been involved), and a poached egg on top that tasted like egg, not vinegar, and oozed nicely over the mix.

      I know some folks have felt uncomfortable with the service, but everyone we came into contact with was friendly and helpful.

      Deluxe will still be our go-to spot, but Craigie was a superb splurge.

    2. Cantabrigians miss things like The Tasty.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Karl S

        Nothing like a double cheeseburger for breakfast! I could have used one today actually.

        1. re: Karl S

          Ve Ri Tas Ty.....there crest if I remember correctly....loved that place, the hot dogs were outstanding, and the older gentleman who worked the griddle was a wizard of the flattop

          1. re: devilham

            Where was The Tasty? We used to go to a favorite place that's been long gone (a friend worked there, too, manning the grill - but he was young - then, lol). Been trying to remember the name. I *think* it was on Brattle St. - or somewhere near.

            1. re: threedogs

              It was at the intersection of JFK and Mass Ave, about where Pinkberry and Russell House Tavern now are.

          2. blum, this is a long-needed thread, so thanks and congrats.Now I can add this eventually to the Boston Areas and Their Restaurants thread for visitors. I will comment in your same format:

            East Coast Grill Sun brunch- Oyster bar, tall Bloody Mary bar, big plates/portions of Latino comfort food, seafood and some BBQ items. The only excellent huevos ranchero we have found in Boston (eggs in pool of ranchero sauce, black beans, hearts of palm/avocado salad, large griddled flour tortilla.)Friendly friendly real diverse Camb. crowd.

            Myers + Chang- large array of small plates dim sum, many seafood and veggie options, including omelets.

            Ball Sq. Cafe, Somerville- v. good food,inexp., large portions, friendly bustling. excellent eggs benedict; fruit and nut pancake and fr toast options, large bowls of ripe fruit; exc. coffee.

            Aquitaine- French bistro, good but not tremendous breakfast, but we love the atmosphere and room and the duck confit gruyere sandwich.

            1. Great post.

              Rox Diner - we love this place partly because it's close to us - on a good day, their breakfasts are excellent, but if you get there later in the morning, it's likely to be more inconsistent.

              Johnny's Luncheonette - we had a surprisingly great breakfast there last week

              Highland Kitchen - had an excellent brunch there a little while ago -

              Second Mistral - the best high end brunch in Boston, IMHO - love the pancakes, fritattas, doughnuts... I could go on and on. I'm 8 mths pregnant, and the last alcoholic beverage I had before I knew that I was pg was their mimosa, and I have fond memories of it!

              Highland Kitchen
              150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

              Johnny's Luncheonette
              30 Langley Rd, Newton Center, MA 02459

              1. I've been loving the breakfast at Blue Moon Grill in Wakefield. I drove by there every week for almost 2 years before I finally got a chance to try it...and have gone back twice in the last 2 months. It's oretty small but they turn their tables over quickly and will call your cellphone so you can wait in your car if it's cold. The first time I went I was dining solo; the waitress immediately seated me at the only open table - a four-top - and offered me a newspaper. (She did seat another single diner at the table a little while later, which I was fine with).

                I haven't gone through too much of their menu, but my favorite so far was the crab benedict. Two English muffins with lump crabmeat, asparagus, tomatoes, poached egg and homemade hollandaise. My mom and I split an order and it was just enough food (their portions are pretty big).

                The Swiss Stuffed Crepes had too many fillings for my taste - spinnach, swiss cheese, mushrooms and scrambled eggs; the spinach was overwhelming to me - but the crepe itself was delightful, thin, and a little airy. Another time I tried them with just mushrooms and swiss and it was more to my taste (you cna order them with the filling of your choice).

                My hubby tried the biscuits and gravy. It's decadent: biscuits, sausage gravy, and two whole sausage patties, plus eggs. But since I'm trying to fatten him up at the moment, it was a perfect breakfast.

                I like their strong coffee and home fries, too, which are not really home fries but more like a roughly-mashed potato that's refried with lots of butter. The fresh fruit bowl is nice too.

                I've also been going to Coffee Tea & Me in Melrose for their crepes. They have empanadas too, plus muffins, scones and whatnot but I'm so in love with the smoked turkey, brie, and fig spread crepe that I haven't tried much else.

                ETA: I haven't been to Blue Moon on the weekends so cannot comment about wait times. Hubby has been to Coffee Tea & Me on a few Sundays & reports that the crowd shows up between 9-9:30am.

                Blue Moon Grill
                955 Main St, Wakefield, MA 01880

                Coffee Tea and Me
                421 Main St, Melrose, MA 02176

                1 Reply
                1. re: gimlis1mum

                  Darn, Chow ate my post. Short version, Blue Moon gets a good lineup on weekends. Love the empanadas at Coffee Tea & Me, they're chatty on Facebook too which is good for creating cravings. Haven't tried the crepes yet.

                  Our go-to place is Cappa's Trackside in Melrose, especially for pancakes (caramel apple especially!) Small place, family run, lots of locals but they are friendly and we've never waited more than 15 minutes, tops, for a table for 4 or less. They have a few that can sat more but the turnover is slower.

                  Cappa's Track Side Kitchen
                  1 Grove St, Melrose, MA 02176

                2. You have to mention Brunch (otherwise known as Ball) Square in Somerville. I know someone already mentioned Sound Bites up thread, but to be thorough you have to compare both sides of the ongoing Brunch Wars- Ball Square Cafe, which is right next door to Sound Bites, IMHO is very similar foodwise but I prefer Sound Bites for the physical location. The line forms about 11 at both on weekends, but Ball Square Cafe may have the edge in cold weather with the new outside overhead heaters.

                  Personally, although it's a schlep, I really like Zaftig's in Coolidge Corner. My DC and I like to get the banana stuffed challah toast with bourbon sauce and the eggs benedict with smoked salmon on a latke then split the two, making a nice savory and sweet course. I think the line forms around 10:30 there.

                  Sound Bites
                  704 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

                  Ball Square Cafe
                  708 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Parsnipity

                    I agree, Zaftig's is something you should do every so often. It has its own charm and it good to have someone to remind me about it.

                    1. re: Parsnipity

                      pars, ha! exactly what i've always wanted to do , but My Love has never ever been convinceable
                      to share my bennie. phoo, but lucky you!

                    2. Couple of Highland Avenue Somerville spots -

                      Supreme Kitchen - pretty basic diner style - small number of tables, but I have never had to wait. It's just far enough from any major square to get overlooked. I think the chow is quite fine - they have a good sense of humor with naming the menu items.

                      3 Little Figs - Stopped in for my second visit this weekend - had the brewed Gimme! coffee - strong cup o' Joe! - my wife got the jitters, which only ever happened before with an iced coffee from Sherman. We split a lavender biscuit and a piece of strawberry rhubarb cake - biscuit was great - flaky - really enjoyed the lavender flavor, reminded me of mornings on the island of Hvar - s/r cake was scrumptious. Place was doing well enough that we grabbed one of two tables outside to snack - shady side of the street, but you might be a New Englander if you think outdoor seating is fine in November.

                      3 Little Figs
                      278 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                      1. Watertown/Belmont area:

                        Deluxe Town Diner. Agree with you, Blumie, I don't love the pancakes. It's a fun place but I actually prefer it for lunch and dinner.

                        Uncommon Grounds. Just down the street from the diner. Tasty egg dishes, including some scrambles with Boursin and eggs benedict that they just added to the daily menu.

                        Victor's on North Beacon. Classic diner. When I was talking with a group of Watertown friends recently, this was the consensus favorite diner.

                        Talk of the Town / New Yorker. Two separate places, both fine, nothing to write home about.

                        Spot Cafe. Delicious Au Pain Dore bread, super nice people, more of a cafe/bistro atmosphere than a diner like the ones above.

                        Red Lentil. Vegetarian/vegan, although their brunch menu is a lot more mainstream (your usual egg dishes, etc.) than their usual offerings. I think most of their normal lunch items are available too, though. Good, although expensive, smoothies.

                        Vicki Lee's in Belmont. Definitely a different crowd than the Watertown places listed above, more of a Cambridge/Belmont crowd. Delicious breakfast sandwiches, homemade danishes and other treats.

                        Sofra. Speaking of a Cambridge crowd... this has been complained about on CH Boston before. All sorts of pastries, sweet and savory, plus Turkish breakfast.

                        Deluxe Town Diner
                        627 Mt Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

                        Vicki Lee's
                        105 Trapelo Rd, Belmont, MA

                        1 Belmont St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                        Uncommon Grounds
                        575 Mount Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

                        Talk of the Town Restaurant
                        444 N Falmouth Hwy, North Falmouth, MA 02556

                        Red Lentil
                        600 Mt Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Pia

                          Aaaahhh... speaking of Turkish breakfast, Istanbu'lu in Teele Square / Somerville makes a lovely breakfast platter with cheese, sliced meat, fresh fruit, yogurt and honey and tomatoes and cucumbers. They also have eggy dishes and assorted boreks.

                          Menu here --> http://www.istanbul-lu.com/Menu%20Pag...

                          1. re: yumyum

                            thanks yum, didn't know about this. have had their dinners; will have to try brunch now.

                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                              I posted a picture of the beauty after my first try. It's lovely.

                              1. re: yumyum

                                isn't that just the prettiest thing! i am eager to try some of the egg dishes too.On their website there is a link to a bog w/ a photo of a small 'wok' filled with an egg/cheese/veggie combo that looks delic!

                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                  The brunch at Istanbul'lu is a total gas, and the egg dishes like pastirmali are superb. If I'm breaking my fast outside of my homestead, it might be favourite place to do so.


                          2. My current favorite is Sugar Baking Co. in Roslindale. Great french toast, good cheese grits (grits might only be on weekends, though).

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Dave MP

                              Hey, Dave. I'm a big breakfast person but don't have time to post right now. (Damn, imagine that. They expect me to actually work occasionally!) What's the atmosphere like at Sugar? We almost went this weekend when we were in the area, but ran out of time. I expect to be back in the area in a couple of months. We like casual, but my husband's not too big on the really old-school, no-frills greasy spoons.

                              I'll add to the post when I have some time.

                              1. re: bear

                                Hey bear,

                                Sugar Baking Co. might be perfect for you. Definitely casual, pretty reasonable prices - but I wouldn't call it a greasy spoon by any means. Usually lots of families there, and the restaurant portion is attached to the bakery

                                Dave MP

                                1. re: Dave MP

                                  Thanks, Dave. I appreciate it. We'll check it out our next oil change!

                                  1. re: bear

                                    Dave, thanks for the recommendation. My husband and I had breakfast there this weekend and really enjoyed it. The space is pleasant and low-key and the food very good. DH had eggs benedict with excellent hollandaise (I'm a bit obsessive about hollandaise) on a homemade English muffin. I had a special of mushroom risotto cakes with poached eggs, lemon-basil aioli (just a drizzle, but it packed a punch), arugula and nicely crispy pancetta. Both dishes were delicious.

                                    We'll definitely head back when we have our cars serviced.

                                    1. re: bear

                                      Glad to hear you enjoyed Sugar Baking Co. Thanks for reporting back!

                                      Dave MP

                            2. I don't like the weekend brunch at Henrietta's Table, but I do love their weekday breakfasts. Terrific hash browns, great corned beef hash, fresh squeezed juice, and the "FlaxSnax", the flax seed muffin, is to die for. They also have very good Anadama bread. I find this restaurant a bit mysterious, since the service is poor, lunch and dinner are inspired, and weekend brunch is very expensive and yet not as good as weekday breakfast. But their weekday breakfast is fantastic.

                              Henrietta's Table
                              One Bennett St., Cambridge, MA 02138

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: lipoff

                                Henrietta's serves breakfast on the weekends as well. The breakfast service precedes brunch at 7-11a Sat; 7-10:30a Sun (same hours as the weekday service for the most part). I agree their breakfast is much better than the brunch.

                                1. re: Gabatta

                                  A loud second for Spot Cafe (i think the best pancakes in the area). Family in Brookline but do order the turkish bread (it's homemade and first-rate), Victor's for good diner food (try the locaniko sausage and eggs and always ask for lemon with it), Mike and Patty's of course. Brunch is still the East Coast Grill for me, unless it's dim sum at the Windsor.

                              2. How could I forget Irish Breakfast???

                                It's a classic Boston option that I really enjoy. Especially with a group of friends. It can be such fun, especially when the beer menu is good. Be sure you're hungry this is a large plate of food.

                                You can try:

                                The Squealing Pig near the MFA
                                (Photos here: http://www.bostonzest.com/2009/03/squ...


                                The Druid in Inman Square Cambridge.

                                Matt Murphy's in Brookline Village

                                Sonny's in Adams Village, Dorchester ( I think they serve it all the time.)

                                In all cases check to see what days and hours they serve their Irish breakfast, sometimes it's only on Sunday or certain hours.

                                Any other good Irish breakfast spots to report?


                                Matt Murphy's
                                14 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02445

                                Druid Restaurant
                                1357 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                Squealing Pig
                                134 Smith St, Roxbury Crossing, MA 02120

                                Sonny's Adams Village Restnt & Lounge
                                750 Adams St, Dorchester, MA 02122

                                14 Replies
                                1. re: BostonZest

                                  Thirsty Scholar

                                  Thirsty Scholar
                                  70 Beacon St, Somerville, MA 02143

                                  1. re: BostonZest

                                    It's been awhile, but I've enjoyed the one at Grafton Street in Harvard Square. I wonder if the Plough and Star serves an Irish breakfast.

                                    1. re: viperlush

                                      viperlush, it's on their brunch menu. Now you have to go try it for the team.

                                    2. re: BostonZest

                                      One of my favorite meals is the Irish Breakfast. At the (real) risk of sounding like a broken record, I'll simply mention that Magoun's Saloon in Somerville does a very good Irish brekkie. Picture below:

                                      1. re: yumyum

                                        yum, at the risk of sounding flip, what is the chocolate looking thing and its partner? and the
                                        photographically- pink sauce under the sausages? that bread looks excellent hearty.
                                        Equal parts carbs and protein; i guess you'd be ready to plough the fields after one of these brekkies!

                                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                                          Black pudding, white pudding, and ham/bacon (not a sauce) is my guess.

                                          1. re: viperlush

                                            ding ding ding! we have a winner! it was indeed black and white pudding and Irish bacon. Beans, sausage, egg, fries, brown bread and grilled tomato. Only thing missing was the grilled mushrooms....

                                            1. re: yumyum

                                              wow yum, that really is something!i clearly knew nothing of this phenomenon. Followed by a nap? or a long walk home?

                                                1. re: yumyum

                                                  hey yum, i showed your photo to My Love and he says that you really should get them to include pasta, rice and grits- so you can get your daily carbo quotient in here. :-}

                                        2. re: yumyum

                                          I just can't bring myself to do an "Irish Breakfast". We go to a place in Methuen called the Irish Cottage. My SO, my son, and my Dad all love the Irish Breakfast there. I always order the "American Breakfast" . I have not been able to finish it yet.

                                          1. re: BlueMagic

                                            since my usual breakfast order does not include meat I cheat. The bf gets the Irish breakfast and I sample all of the meat. Win win for me.

                                        3. re: BostonZest

                                          At Sonny's in Adams Village the Irish breakfast is available all day long, and believe me there are a lot of people who come in for that breakfast. They offer an extended breakfast menu on the weekends until 2:00.

                                          1. re: BostonZest

                                            Central Sq. Irish Breakfast options - The Plough, The Asgard, Phoenix Landing. The Druid not that far away. Not bad.

                                            Phoenix Landing
                                            512 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                          2. I haven't seen it mentioned yet..so I'll toss in the Cafe Pompeii on Hanover St. in the North End. Last year, I ate lunch here a couple of times and thought it decent. Over the past few months I've had breakfast here several times and I really enjoy it. The last time I was there..over St. Patricks weekend, I tried the hot chocolate for the first time and it was simply to die for..as were the Strawberry Crepes...loaded with fresh, warm strawberries.Best I've ever had on both counts.

                                            North of Boston big favorites are Shawsheen Luncheonette in Andover and Village Pancake House in Rowley.
                                            Hilltop also has a surprisingly good breakfast buffet which I've tried a couple of times.

                                            1. If we're including brunch in the conversation, Toro is one of my favorites.

                                              1. I can't believe no one has mentioned The Neighborhood Restaurant in Union Square Somerville, MA! This Portuguese family owned restaurant is a must experience summer brunch destination for those in the know. The lines stretch down the block and by the end everyone agrees the wait was worth it!. Outdoor dining under a canopy of grape leaves on casual umbrella covered round tables and picnic tables. Every breakfast starts with their own homemade pastries and small bowl of their special cream of wheat (this is surprisingly delicious, I promise you). Each breakfast is an unconscionable amount of food....for around $10 they give you basically 2 breakfasts. One plate is eggs and home fries the second plate is something incredible like banana pancakes, or french toast, or pumpkin waffles, etc. You will leave stuffed for the day with really tasty, home made with love fare.

                                                The only reason I am letting you in on the secret is I've moved too far away to go anymore and so you won't be in my way in the line ;)


                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: InmanSQ Girl

                                                  Hands down, the best Cream of Wheat I have ever tasted. Prior to this, I wouldn't have believed it was possible to make Cream of Wheat taste that good.

                                                2. Notwithstanding the use of the word "shoppe" which is generally disqualifying for me, I'm a huge fan of Charlies Sandwich Shoppe in the South End. Impossible on weekends, but not bad if you go early on a weekday. Their tomato and cheese omelette (home-fries extra crisply) is the stuff of dreams.

                                                  Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe
                                                  429 Columbus Ave., Boston, MA 02116
                                                  (617) 536-7669