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Johnny's Luncheonette in Newton Centre: Old School Place Steps Up its Game

We had stopped going here a number of years ago: it had become more like a greasy spoon than the "better than average" diner we were looking for. Someone told us that since Town Diner opened, Johnny's had gotten a wakeup call and upped their game. We've stopped by for breakfast several times now and have been very happy. I loved Johnny's porridge (a baked oat and brown rice dish that's perfect on a winter morning) and my spouse is quite taken with their corned beef hash and likes their rye bread and the fact that they serve "real jam" and not little plastic packets. He's also had several of their frittatas and been pleased and likes their hash browns. Our next goal is to sample the pancakes and blintzes. Service has been very good: attentive and good-natured. Happy to add it back to the "breakfast" roster and nice to see that places can improve.

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  1. WOW, great to know. I felt the same way, and haven't been there in two years or so. Will try them again soon...

    1. Their pancakes are so frustrating. Maybe 60% of the time, they are superb and some of the best I have had anywhere in town with perfectly crispy, almost sugary edges that are so elusive in diner style pancakes. The other 40% of the time they are below average and not even worth eating. I have pretty much given up. I do like the fact that they will make a decent cherry soda with the syrup. Then again, now that I think about it, that is inconsistent too.

      1. I have eaten there a few times recently; I found it to be good for basic diner-style food. I didn't have breakfast, but my black bean burger was pretty tasty. I like their sweet potato fries for being thick-cut but yet nice and crispy on the outside (as opposed to the too-often-seen soggy thick cut fry). I wouldn't go there to be "wowed" by anything, but from what I've had it's a solid place for diner-style food.

        I used to work in the area a few years ago and would go there for lunch more often, but memories are foggy as to what I ate then. I have a feeling that they have improved quality-wise, though, even though their menu might not have changed much.

        1. we stopped going when the misbehaving child quotient (MCQ) got higher than the decent food rating (DFR).

          An increase in the DFR is encouraging, but has it surpassed the MCQ?

          2 Replies
          1. re: L2k

            Yea i am with L2k.. last time i went, i waited forever for a table then the table against the wall was like you were sitting with the people on either side of you... too much screaming, running around, rushed in/out.. mediocre food.. horrible.

            1. re: hargau

              The last time we tried, which was ~3 years ago, it was so disorganized and filthy, with bus trays packed lying around everywhere, etc that we just got up and left before we even ordered.

          2. I was less than impressed by Johnny's on a recent visit. My eggs were cooked properly, filter coffee was good, service was fine, and I understand the Newton Centre price premium, but the rest of the plate -- corned beef hash, home fries, bagel -- underwhelmed. As much as I think Deluxe Station is a step down from Deluxe Town, it remains my breakfast go-to in that neighborhood.

            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

            6 Replies
            1. re: MC Slim JB

              I haven't been impressed with the food or the service at Deluxe Station and the prices are just as "Newton" so I find the room, the boothes, and the service more pleasant at Johnny's now. I haven't encountered the misbehaving kids perhaps because we don't go on weekends and the place seems clean and well-managed to me now compared to several years ago when we stopped going. It is still a diner, not a destination, but I'm glad to have another breakfast option I can enjoy. Spouse whose the corned beef hash guy says both have acceptable versions though his current favorite is Martin's in Brookline.

              1. re: teezeetoo

                Good point...yes, we were there on a Sunday, so zoo city. Weekdays might be a different story.

              2. re: MC Slim JB

                While it's not exactly in the neighborhood -- probably a 15-minute drive from Newton Centre -- my go-to breakfast spot in the western 'burbs, as it has been for years, is Joseph's Two in Waltham. I went last weekend for the first time in a couple of years, and it made me so happy. Nothing has changed, including the quality (diner quality, but good diner quality) and price (cheap!) of the food. Much prefer it to the Newton options (Johnny's, Rox, Deluxe).

                1. re: Blumie

                  Used to love Josephs Two when I worked in the 'Ham. Reviewed it for the Phoenix maybe four years ago, which is when I discovered it's not Josephs Number Two (there's only one), but that it refers to two Josephs, dad and son, a la Wise Men Three. Nice proper use of no apostrophe, for a change. That's a place I expect the menu to never change.

                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    My wife and I enjoyed our breakfast at Josephs Two so much we actually considered returning for dinner (mostly for the kitsch value; I wouldn't expect to enjoy their dinners as much as their breakfasts), but alas the absence of a liquor license was a deal breaker. (We ended up having a great dinner at Angela's Cafe instead!)

              3. We went there a few years ago and we felt the waitress was very rude to us. We will never go back no matter how good their food gets.

                1. Good to know. Before my mom passed, I used to take her there for breakfast or lunch a few times a year. She favored the "Jewish Penicillin" soup and the scrambled eggs and lox. But yes, it could get crazy in there. As L2K noted, the misbehaving kid ratio could get high, and kids running in the (already) packed aisles (servers, high chairs, bussers, patrons going to tables)...well, you get the picture.

                  I might give it a shot in the coming weeks if I can go on an "off" time when it isn't too crowded.