When you're on vacation, every day is Saturday. And, when you've got leisure time it's nice to linger over a meal with a morning mimosa. Travelers might also be planning to trek all over town during a stay in this historic city, which means sustenance is essential. From fancy and fine to greasy spoon style, we present our picks for a week's worth of top breakfasts.
The Friendly Toast
Back Bay regulars are drooling over the neighborhood’s latest restaurant opening: The Friendly Toast. But, the Portsmouth-based breakfast-food hotspot isn’t a total stranger to the local food scene; it has been dishing banana-chocolate King Cakes and Eggs-In-A-Hole in Cambridge for the last half-dozen years. Boston’s iteration features the familiar retro glitzy-kitschy vibe and yet so much more. For starters, the bar begins serving at 8 am every day of the week, which means you can kick off a Tuesday with a zingy, herb-salt laced bloody mary (mix made in-house) or a grapefruit juice mimosa, each served in a pint glass. A special 30-minute express lunch menu caters to area’s career crowd, although anyone needing a quick meal can order off it—dine in or to go. Signature breakfast dishes like coconut cakes, biscuits and gravy, and the Sklarmageddon omelet come out of the kitchen all day long, but there are some pretty tasty lunch-style options, too. Back Bay’s Friendly Toast also boasts a downstairs evening rendezvous called the Boom Boom Room geared toward carousers (daily, open at 5 pm), and the entire restaurant serves food until 3 am on weekends—a rare treat in this town.
35 Stanhope St., Boston, MA, 617.456.7849
South Street Diner
Pull up a stool at the royal blue, flecked counter of the historic South Street Diner. You're at one of Boston's favorite greasy spoons (open 24 hours, of course), a place where the waitstaff barks orders in Boston's thick local brogue and frills just feel wrong. The corner joint stands visually out of place among the neighboring brick-faced factories of the Leather District's yesteryear, but it was, in fact, built in 1947 to feed the employees who worked in them. Today, the menu features standards like omelets, blueberry pancakes, and steak and eggs. The "Diner Special" is a whopping ordeal consisting of three eggs, two pancakes, home fries, toast and your choice of meat (bacon, hash, ham or sausage). Eggs Benedict fans can select from among 17 varieties that run the gamut from asparagus Benedict to hot dog Benedict to a decadent lobster Benedict—we said no frills, but this is Boston after all. If you haven't completely bombed your belly, cap off breakfast with a 1950's-style ice cream soda (made with cream, syrup and soda water) or a malted egg cream.
178 Kneeland St., Boston, MA, 617.350.0028
This veteran Charles Street breakfast and lunch hot spot is always jammed with customers—and we do mean jammed. Hearty items like buttermilk pancakes studded with fresh blueberries and caramel-banana French toast fly off the grill. Huevos rancheros with two fried eggs and two types of fresh salsa kick it up a notch. Favorites include the bagel breakfast sandwich with cheese and avocado and the malted Belgian waffle topped with whipped butter and fresh fruit salad (bananas, strawberries, pineapple, and two types of melon). Pair it with a cappuccino or a towering glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice. Consistency lets The Paramount operate like one well-oiled machine. Customers get in line and order first, pay, and only after that can they secure a table. While traditionalists and the elderly might raise their hackles at this system, one thing is for sure: It works.
44 Charles St., Boston, MA, 617.720.1152
Ames Street Deli
More "hipster cafe" in ideology and appearance than "traditional delicatessen," Ames Street treats the Kendall Square crowd to a breakfast outside the proverbial cereal box. Trade your order at the register for a hot pink playing card, find a seat and sip on a cortado (3-oz. shot of Counter Culture espresso topped with steamed milk) while you wait for your hot meal to arrive. There are certainly things to observe, say the load-bearing columns that appear to be growing moss, or the large, wooden space capsule, not to mention the nerdy-chic crowd quietly tapping away on their laptops. Dig into possibly the best breakfast sandwich you'll ever taste: eggs omelet-style topped with pork sausage, shredded kale in a lemon vinaigrette, and piquillo cheese, all stuffed between two slices of griddled potato bread. The kaya toast is a Malaysian-inspired sweet option stuffed with coconut jam and a slathering of butter, the buttery kouign-amann manages to be both soft and crunchy, and the bacon-and-egg doughnut is an Ames Street signature.
73 Ames St., Cambridge, MA, 617.374.0701
This is where the power crowd dines on eggs. Or, rather fluffy egg-white frittata studded with asparagus, spinach, tomatoes and sweet yellow peppers and then paired with a delicate berry medley. There's Muesli with green apple and grapes, grapefruit with ginger syrup, blue crab benedict with citrus hollandaise. Hearty eaters can dig into the Maine lobster omelet or the skirt steak and eggs. Fresh-squeezed orange juice is poured from glass carafes, and diners are invited to browse through one of the daily newspapers. And, since the atmosphere shant be outdone by the food, the dusky lighting and dark wood of this elegant Four Seasons dining room certainly the floor-to-ceiling, sun-lit views of the Public Garden pop.
200 Boylston St., Boston, MA, 617.338.4400