15 Must-Try Brunch Dishes in Greater Boston

Start the day with luxe caviar-and-lobster cannoli, flavorful shakshuka, impeccable pastries, and stacks upon stacks of pancakes.

A restaurant server in black clothing holds out a plate with a lobster-stuffed popover and side of greens.

Woods Hill Pier 4’s lobster popover. / Photo courtesy of Woods Hill Pier 4

Maybe you already know where to go for the overall tastiest brunches in town, or for various brunch occasions—luxurious, drag, weekday, etc. You might also know which suburban destinations are worth the drive on a weekend morning. But sometimes the best brunch plan is the one that hinges on one specific, perfect dish. Read on for 15 of Greater Boston’s must-try brunch dishes, from fluffy pancake stacks to luxurious lobster treats.

This guide was first published on January 11, 2023; watch for periodic updates. You may also be interested in where to find Greater Boston’s best espresso martinis.

Bootleg Special: Soufflé pancakes

This fun New Orleans-inspired South End spot specializes in seafood boils, but ultra-fluffy soufflé pancakes anchor the brunch menu—try the bananas Foster or chocolate hazelnut version. If you want to temper the sweetness with a savory dish, the brunch-only garlic noodles with porchetta and shrimp will do the trick.

400 Tremont St., South End, Boston, 617-451-1800, bootlegspecial.com. 

Brassica Kitchen & Cafe: B.K. chicken and waffles

This Jamaica Plain favorite draws inspiration from around the globe and loves to play around with fermentation and local, seasonal ingredients, with each dish more irresistible than the next. It draws particular acclaim for its ultra-crisp fried chicken, which, at brunch, is served with waffles, maple, and hot sauce. Try it with a fun brunch cocktail or perhaps a salted rosemary mocha.

3710 Washington St., Jamaica Plain, Boston, 617-477-4519, brassicakitchen.com.

Brookline Lunch: Baklava pancakes

Maybe it should be named Cambridge Breakfast, as this Central Square spot is best-known for its all-day breakfast—in particular, the baklava pancakes, which first appeared on the menu as a holiday special a few years back and quickly became such a favorite that they’re now the signature dish year-round. These irresistible flapjacks are filled with walnut-cinnamon sugar, topped with decadent baklava and pistachios, and served with a house-made rosewater syrup.

9 Brookline St., Central Square, Cambridge, 617-354-2983, instagram.com/brookline.lunch.

Donut Villa Diner: Doughnut cheeseburger

After a few decades in Malden, this family-friendly diner has recently added locations in Cambridge and Newtonville—more opportunities to try its “doughnut-meets-griddle” specialties, like the bacon cheeseburger. Otherwise a traditional version of the classic, it’s served on a big, griddled doughnut instead of a bun. (In the mood for something sweet but not a doughnut? The Boston cream pancakes are another must-try.)

Locations in Malden, Cambridge, and Newton, donutvilladiner.com.

Two cannolis sit on a plate on a white marble table, each stuffed with lobster, chives, and caviar.

Grana’s caviar-topped lobster cannoli. / Photo courtesy of the Langham, Boston

Grana: Caviar-topped lobster cannoli

Luxurious ingredients abound at this swanky restaurant inside the Langham hotel downtown, and the brunch selection includes a dish that brings Boston and Italy together: crispy-shelled cannoli full of New England lobster and minced chive, with the optional addition of 10 grams of Ossetra caviar. Order it a la carte or try the caviar-less version as part of a special family-style, three-course brunch menu.

250 Franklin St., Downtown Boston, 617-451-1900, langhamhotels.com.

Spanakopita is sliced in two pieces and plated in a fancy way with microgreens and a drizzle of oil.

Krasi’s “100-layer” spanakopita. / Photo by Heather Saide

Krasi: Spanakopita 

Culinary director Brendan Pelley’s to-die-for “100-layer” spanakopita has followed him around Greater Boston, and these days it’s on the brunch menu at Back Bay Greek gem Krasi, stuffing layers of flaky phyllo with spinach, leeks, feta, egg, dill oil, and dehydrated kalamata olives. Throw in a bougatsa doughnut and a $20 carafe of wine, and you’ve got a brunch.

48 Gloucester St., Back Bay, Boston, 617-536-0230, krasiboston.com.

Lincoln Tavern & Restaurant: Fruity Pebbles pancakes

Brunch lovers on non-standard work schedules, you’re in luck: Lincoln Tavern serves brunch seven days a week until 3 p.m. The weekday and weekend brunch menus differ slightly, but you’ll find the giant stack of decadent Fruity Pebbles pancakes every day, drizzled with cereal milk anglaise. Try them with a boozy hazelnut or mocha iced coffee.

425 W. Broadway, South Boston, 617-765-8636, lincolnsouthboston.com.   

Milkweed: Shakshuka

This friendly Mission Hill spot is particularly loved for its daily breakfast, especially the popular shakshuka. Milkweed’s version comes with meatball or falafel and is jam-packed with sweet cherry peppers, feta, scallions, and eggs, with challah to scoop up the remaining flavorful tomato sauce. (The Dutch baby pancake—lemon ricotta, blueberry compote, strawberries—is another solid pick.)

1508 Tremont St., Mission Hill, Boston, 617-516-8913, eatatmilkweed.com.

Closeup on a dim sum dish of bite-sized pieces of red noodles wrapped around crispy shrimp, served in a white styrofoam to-go container.

Red rice rolls with crispy shrimp from Ming’s Seafood. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Ming’s Seafood: Crispy shrimp red rice rolls

You’ll want to try a little bit of everything at this Malden dim sum destination, and you should! That’s the point of dim sum, after all. There are countless dumplings and buns to try, both eye-catching and tasty, like the steamed shrimp dumplings in cuttlefish wrappers, jet-black with a decorative swoosh of gold, or egg custard buns shaped like pig faces. But our top pick is the crispy shrimp red rice rolls: bright red, wide rice noodles wrapped tightly around, well, crispy shrimp. (The name gives it all away.) It’s a masterful combination of textures that’ll keep you guessing from one bite to the next.

19 Pleasant St., Malden, 781-321-3888.

A big white bowl is filled to the brim with cream of wheat, topped with a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.

The cream of wheat at Neighborhood Restaurant & Bakery. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

The Neighborhood Restaurant & Bakery: Cream of wheat

We’ve said it before; we’ll say it again: This cream of wheat is one of the best things you’ll ever eat. If you’ve ever lived in Somerville, you’re probably already a member of the cream of wheat fan club. If you’re not yet in the know, we can’t wait for you to get your first taste. (It’s an appetizer option for any breakfast, so you can try a big stack of pancakes or French toast, too.) Swing by in warmer months to enjoy the beautiful patio, which is shaded by colorful umbrellas and grape vines.

25 Bow St., Union Square, Somerville, 617-623-9710, theneighborhoodrestaurant.com.

Stillwater: Espresso martini baked French toast

You love espresso martinis, but how about espresso martini baked French toast? Stillwater’s weekend brunch might be best-known for its rotating pancake specials, but this French toast, served in a little cast-iron pan, is a menu mainstay thanks to its luscious coffee caramel sauce.   

120 Kingston St., Downtown Boston, 617-936-3079, stillwaterboston.com.

Tradesman Coffee Shop & Lounge: Croissant of the week

A simple grab-and-go option—or stay, the café is quite cozy—is the ever-changing and highly embellished croissant special at the original downtown location of Tradesman. One might find a flavor such as frosted animal cookie, which is stuffed with strawberry mascarpone mousse and topped with pink and white vanilla glaze, vanilla bean buttercream, and animal cookies. The specials are usually available on weekends and can be preordered through Instagram, but you’ll typically find other enjoyable varieties throughout the week, such as red velvet or Boston cream.

58 Batterymarch St., Downtown Boston, 617-348-1230, tradesmanboston.com.

Overhead view of several baked goods, including a pretzel croissant, manoushe, and babka.

An assortment of Rae the Baker’s True Grounds treats, with the famous pretzel croissant in the foreground. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

True Grounds: Pretzel croissant and miso morning bun

OK, OK, we couldn’t choose just one item here, so we’re giving you a savory option and a sweet option. Have you heard that baker extraordinaire Rae Murphy is at Somerville café True Grounds these days, reviving some of her favorite treats that made her Plum Delicious pop-up so popular a few years back (and making new magic, too!)? Go early on a weekend for the best chance at trying Murphy’s salty, buttery, deeply satisfying pretzel croissant or the sweeter miso morning bun, the best kouign-amann you’ve ever had. Better yet, try both. (Note: Like Tradesman above, this is a counter-service spot, not a full-service meal.)

717 Broadway, Ball Square, Somerville, 617-591-9559, truegrounds.com.

Woods Hill Pier 4: Lobster popover

A nod to the famous popovers of Anthony’s Pier 4, which used to exist on this same plot of land, Woods Hill’s lobster popover features local lobster, crème fraîche, celery, and red onion on a warm popover, with a side of mixed greens and either Old Bay chips, home fries, or french fries. (Popovers are also a brunch side option if you need some extras.) Pair it with a particularly well-made version of a classic brunch cocktail like an espresso martini or bloody mary.

300 Pier Four Blvd., Seaport District, Boston, 617-981-4577, woodshillpier4.com.

An eggs Benedict dish features a green hollandaise and shredded beef, with a side of crispy potatoes.

Yellow Door Taqueria’s birria Benedict. / Photo courtesy of Yellow Door Taqueria

Yellow Door Taqueria: Birria Benedict

This bustling taqueria recently added a third location, Mission Hill, which will launch brunch in early February. But in the meantime, you can head to its South End and Lower Mills locations to enjoy the hearty birria Benedict, featuring slow-cooked beef with corn muffins, pickled red onions, green hollandaise, and scallions. (Got a sweet tooth? Maybe the churro French toast with tequila chocolate sauce is more up your alley.) To drink: a tequila-spiked, cinnamon-infused cold-brew coffee, available on tap.

Three locations, Boston, yellowdoortaqueria.com.