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Nov 12, 2011 05:58 AM

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