The Best Breakfasts in Boston
From diners to dim sum, 39 ways Boston is revolutionizing the most important meal of the day.
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Early Birds at the Diner
At this Brookline institution, come for the hubcap-size pancakes, stay for the tight-knit community that orbits around each spinner stool. —Leah Mennies
The block of Beacon Street that faces the St. Mary’s T stop is a microcosm of sorts for the rapid gentrification taking hold in Brookline and Boston, but there’s one spot that refuses to budge: the Busy Bee, a family-owned Greek diner with aquamarine vinyl-upholstered seats and a woefully outdated television set. Here, you come for blueberry pancakes the size of your face, eggs fried to order in a single skillet, and toast that arrives swimming in Country Crock (unless you’ve remembered to order it “dry”). Here, however anachronistic the presentation, Busy Bee’s food is hardly the point. The magic of the establishment comes from the unique, nearly 50-years-strong ecosystem organically built and maintained by Peter Christakis and his wife, Frances. Read more about the Busy Bee and its longtime regulars.
1046 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-566-8733.
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Global Prix Fixe
When Juliet opens this spring in Union Square, you’ll want to score a chair square in front of Josh Lewin’s open kitchen. There, and only there—at one of six prized counter seats—can you take advantage of the chef’s globe-spanning prix-fixe breakfast spreads (pictured). Think a Japanese-inspired banquet complete with grilled fish and sea urchin, or a dazzling French fete with pain perdu, saffron butter, and caviar. Each multicourse meal is bookended by complimentary treats like cardamom-chickpea cookies, matcha service, or tea made from leaves dried in-house.
257 Washington St., Somerville, 617-781-0958, julietsomerville.com.
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At the Verb, a former HoJo turned boutique hotel, vintage Smith-Coronas and old Boston Phoenix covers take the place of fruit-bowl still lifes and other hospitality clichés. So it makes sense that Hojoko, the Verb’s culinary alter-ego, would renounce the typical continental breakfast in favor of plates with more heft and irreverence. Here, guests are free to entertain their childlike tendencies (Lucky Charms), nurse a hangover (via freshly pressed “detox” juice), or satisfy their inner gourmand (with sprouted-wheat pancakes with real Vermont maple syrup).
1271 Boylston St., Boston, 617-670-0507, hojokoboston.com.
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Pho So 1
In Vietnam, pho is far more likely to be eaten street-side, in the wee hours of the morning, than at night. That’s why, along Dorchester Avenue in the heart of Boston’s Vietnamese community, noodle shops typically open by 9 a.m. It’s hard to go wrong with any number of pho destinations along the half-mile stretch between Ronan Park and Doherty-Gibson Playground, but we’re hooked on Pho So 1’s balanced bowls brimming with tender round, crisp tripe, and a cilantro-laden broth. We’d recommend splattering it with a hit of sambal, chasing it with a salted lemonade, and taking in the space’s waterfall motif—which is guaranteed to help you brave the day with a smile.
223 Adams St., Dorchester, 617-436-8888.
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Steak and Eggs
The region’s best new steakhouse isn’t in Boston, but Burlington. And chef Mario Capone, former right-hand man to the Hub’s grand culinary doyenne, Lydia Shire, doesn’t slouch just because he’s serving breakfast. The chef’s brunch skirt steak, accompanied by creamy Anson Mills grits, roasted tomatoes, and a fried egg, is a perfectly prepared chop. Slicing into the lightly charred exterior yields luscious pink bites, ideal for swabbing through an eye-opening reduction of wasabi butter spiked with the slightest hint of soy.
15 Third Ave., Burlington, 781-221-2100, the-bancroft.com.
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Kirkland Tap & Trotter
Adding hot-dog chunks to a dish? Sounds like the kind of culinary move you’d expect from a concessionaire at a monster-truck rally. But that’s exactly what chef Tony Maws has done over at Kirkland Tap & Trotter, where he’s crafted a brunch masterpiece around the virtues of the ballpark tube steak. Buoyed by a heaping helping of potatoes, parsnip, poached eggs, and lemony hollandaise, Maws’s hash is further elevated with a house-made frankfurter built from spicy pork sausage, fatback, and grass-fed chuck. Hey, one man’s guilty pleasure is another’s marvelous morning treasure.
425 Washington St., Somerville, 857-259-6585, kirklandtapandtrotter.com.
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When a night of revelry leaves your stomach in shambles, seek relief in Area Four’s delectable “Hot Mess” of a morning-after remedy—knuckle-size hunks of sausage, fatty cuts of bacon, home fries, and two sunny-side-up eggs. A quilt of pickled-banana-pepper relish helps cut through the dome of starchy, salty excess and adds a tangy undercurrent that sets it apart from similar hungry-man feasts. If this calorie bomb can’t cure what ails you, turn to the cocktail list, grab a Death in the Afternoon—absinthe and prosecco—and admit defeat.
500 Technology Sq., Cambridge, 617-758-4444, areafour.com.
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Down-home comfort food is Highland Kitchen’s raison d’être, and at brunch, it begins with sugar-dusted beignets, porcine greens, and a well-constructed Hemingway daiquiri. But what brings us back is the decadent Dirty Bird sandwich: peppery fried chicken, bacon, and a fried egg doused with a ladleful of sausage gravy. The bluegrass breakdowns, emanating from a trio tucked into a corner booth, add charm—as does the boisterous service, spearheaded by omnipresent chef-owner Mark Romano.
150 Highland Ave., Somerville, 617-625-1131, highlandkitchen.com.
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Much like their eclectic dinner menu, Jakob and Fernanda White’s Sunday-brunch lineup skews Chilean—with a saccharine dose of Americana thrown in for good measure. That means you’ll find manchego-stuffed omelets and mechada-topped bagels sharing real estate with apple-cider doughnuts and the most unapologetically gluttonous French toast (pictured) we’ve ever tasted: a thick slab of brioche drowning under chocolate ganache and a molten pillow of toasted meringue. In keeping with the restaurant’s small-plates ethos, it’s suitable for sharing—although chances are, you’ll want to keep it all for yourself.
105 Union St., Newton Centre, 857-404-0260, comedornewton.com.