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45 best breakfast joints around Boston

From homey to haute, where to go for the Most Important Meal of the Day.

Lemon ricotta hotcakes Lemon ricotta hotcakes from The Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston. (Courtesy of The Bristol Lounge)
By Globe Magazine Staff
March 30, 2012
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04/01/2012—This piece was written by James H. Burnett III, Nicole Cammorata, Ike Delorenzo, Sheryl Julian, Doug Most, Anne V. Nelson, Kathleen Pierce, Mark Pothier, Julia Quinn-Szcesuil, Denise Drower Swidey, Rachel Travers, Adrian Walker and Eileen McEleney Woods.

3 LITTLE FIGS

Chef, baker, and co-owner Katie Rooney got her start at area farmers’ markets, but the family affair (mother, husband, sister) put down roots last fall in Somerville. The airy cafe is a stylish understated place with stylish understated offerings: avocado muffins, glazed lavender scones. Then there’s the feta toast with tapenade, tomatoes, and herbs . . . Coffeecakes rotate, and the java is from Gimme! Coffee. Eat breakfast here, and it’s hard to resist also taking home a snack for later.

>3 Little Figs, 278 Highland Avenue, Somerville, 617-623-3447, 3littlefigs.com

3 YOLKS BREAKFAST & LUNCH

You will always get offered hot sauce at this Lynn spot, whether with your eggs or your catfish or pork chop breakfast — all for under $10. At this go-to joint for Southern fare, chef-owner Derek Bell’s grits are superb and drowning in butter, his biscuits liberally ladled with sausage gravy. Muffins are country style — made in a flat pan, then cut into big squares.

> 3 Yolks Breakfast & Lunch, 1103 Western Avenue, Lynn, 781-596-1103

THE BLUE ROOM

The fixed-price Sunday brunch buffet at The Blue Room in Cambridge is still going strong after 20 years, though now it’s under the spatula of a new chef. Robert Grant is known for seasonal menus and top ingredients. A mini smoothie — one recent morning, it was blueberry, banana, and pineapple — makes a great start, or jump in with a mimosa. Then whether you go for scrambled eggs or a salad, fresh and delicious is what you get. Don’t overlook the pastry table’s apple tarte tatin, banana muffins with oat crumble, or lemon-glazed scones.

> The Blue Room, 1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, 617-494-9034, theblueroom.net

BREAD & CHOCOLATE BAKERY CAFE

Dark wooden farm tables convey a homey feel, and so does the new weekend brunch menu that’s available at the Newton Highlands location only. Highlights include the buttery croque-madame and the French (bread) French toast, surprisingly tender despite its baguette origins. The omelets are packed full, and the thick bacon will melt in your mouth.

> Bread & Chocolate Bakery Cafe, 4 Hartford Street, Newton, 617-795-0500, breadnchocolate.com

THE BREAKFAST CLUB

Tough love is on the menu weekday mornings starting at 6, an hour later on weekends. So are thick white-bread French toast, sheets of scrambled eggs, slow-grilled new potatoes, and basic but effective coffee. The truckers, construction workers, and slumming Harvard Business School students who fill the vinyl banquettes seem to like it that way. For the faint of heart, bowls of fresh fruit, granola, and oatmeal are available with a look of disappointment on the side.

>The Breakfast Club, 270 Western Avenue, Allston, 617-783-1212, thebreakfastclubboston.com

THE BRISTOL LOUNGE

Breakfast at the Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons is always a special occasion. Exquisitely comfortable chairs, tables overlooking the Public Garden, nice linens, coffee poured often, tea with actual leaves, and unparalleled hospitality guarantee it. The staff never flinches, whether you’re making up your order (they pride themselves on being able to fulfill it; if they don’t have the flavoring for your favorite yogurt, they make it) or a house specialty (corned beef hash with poached eggs and Boston baked beans). The bill is always high. So is the quality.

> The Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons HoteL, 200 Boylston Street, Boston, 617-338-4400, fourseasons.com/boston

CAFE FRESH BAGEL

The secret to the New York bagel is the water. So whining about why Boston’s don’t match up is pointless. Instead, get thee to Cafe Fresh Bagel in Needham (or Dedham, Framingham, or Norwood). The service is speedy, the coffee is strong, and the bagels are crispy, chewy, and, if you get a warm sesame seed, as close to the New York taste as you’ll find.

>Cafe Fresh Bagel, 896 Highland Avenue, Needham, 781-444-7444, and other locations

 CLOVER

At Clover, servers intercept rather than greet you, taking orders on iPods and reporting prep times to the tenth of a minute. And there’s plenty of green attitude: no trash cans (“everything we use is compostable”), no Splenda (“it’s artificial”), and no meat. But it’s worth it. Clover’s egg sandwich is a perfectly soft-boiled egg served in a whole wheat pita with Vermont cheddar cheese and tomato. The marvelous $2 coffees feature a cast of local indie roasters. And yes, the same sandwich is sold at Clover’s Inman and mobile locations, too.

>Clover, 7 Holyoke Street, Cambridge (no phone), and other locations, cloverfoodlab.com

COPPA

Imagine this — two farm-fresh eggs, over easy, sprinkled with fresh chives and dried Espelette pepper and served with Parmesan polenta and thick, house-cured bacon. Yes, even brunch is better in Italy. Scrambled eggs with mushrooms get a fancy name like uova con funghi, and a taste to match. Drinks include refined Bloody Marys, Aperol with orange juice, and prosecco spritzers, including one served stealthily in a mug. Inexplicably, you can often walk right in while other South End bruncheries have pointless lines. Hurry, that won’t last. (Open Sundays only for brunch.)

 > Coppa, 253 Shawmut Avenue, Boston, 617-391-0902, coppaboston.com

CROSSROADS CAFE & DELI

For years, the turnover rate was high for businesses on this busy corner in Hanover. But when Crossroads opened nearly a decade ago, something seemed to click. Locals flock for yummy quiches, three-egg omelets, and the traditional, no-frills plate of bacon, home fries, and eggs any way you want them. The service is always warm at this neighborhood spot, which is decorated in bright, cheerful hues with roosters on the curtains (good morning!).

> Crossroads Cafe & Deli, 216 Rockland Street, Hanover, 781-826-9921

 DELUXE TOWN DINER AND DELUXE STATION DINER

Like many other diners, Deluxe Town in Watertown and Deluxe Station in Newton Centre serve breakfast all day. Here the difference is you get Fair Trade coffee, cage-free eggs, and artisan-baked bread. On weekends, lines snake out the doors, with patrons waiting for pastrami and eggs, lox-style smoked salmon, and the Acadian buckwheat pancakes called ployes. Co-owner Daryl Levy makes outstanding pies and cupcakes for both locations.

> Deluxe Town Diner, 627 Mount Auburn Street, Watertown, 617-926-8400

> Deluxe Station Diner, 70 Union Street, Newton, 617-244-2550, deluxetowndiner.com

EAST COAST GRILL

Sure, you can wait 20 or so minutes for brunch at this Inman Square institution serving its own brand of New England seafood meets Southern spice cuisine. But the host will actually thank you for waiting when you sit down, a tiny thing that makes a huge difference between this spot and other hip, tasty Sunday destinations. The fish tacos are crispy and fresh and come with jicama-carrot slaw. Cheesy duck tostadas sit atop a mess of greens and come with gorgeous hunks of grilled sweet potato that make the enormous dish seem almost healthy.

>East Coast Grill, 1271 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, 617-491-6568, eastcoastgrill.net

EASTER’S COUNTRY KITCHEN

The first thing you’ll notice about this East Weymouth restaurant is that “country” is accurate, from the plaid curtains on the windows to the menu’s typical country breakfast fare. But there are two dishes at which Easter’s excels: real Southern-style grits and the garbage omelet. The former is made right — thick, creamy, with dollops of butter. And the latter? Well, there’s nothing trashy about an omelet with all the fixin’s, from multiple meats to cheese, onions, peppers, mushrooms, and more.

> Easter’s Country Kitchen, 1385 Washington Street (Route 53), East Weymouth, 781-337-4123

 THE EATING ESTABLISHMENT

Starting with its name, this Hanover place sticks to basics. Patrons read actual newspapers in the mornings. Breakfast sandwiches have plain names such as Bob, Harry, and Steve (he’s sausage). There’s a counter and stools, the place mats are paper, and many of the friendly servers have worked here “forever,” says owner Alice Matheny. On a recent morning, Texas French toast stuffed with cream cheese was a menu special, but that’s about as experimental as it gets. There’s a crowd of loyalists, many of whom order the same meals every visit. And Matheny’s just fine with that.

> The Eating Establishment, 2103 Washington Street (Route 53), Hanover, 781-982-7124

THE FRIENDLY TOAST

Weekend waits can be up to an hour, but this Kendall Square pioneer opens early and stays open late, so try an off hour and you might get lucky. Walking in is like entering a 1950s arcade — it is filled top to bottom with retro funky stuff, much of it fascinating. The fun tone carries over to the menu, too. The Hansel & Gretel Waffle is made with gingerbread and topped with pomegranate molasses and whipped cream, and then there are Green Eggs and Ham — the “green” is a light herb sauce. As for the namesake toast, you can choose from six kinds of homemade bread.

> The Friendly Toast, 1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, 617-621-1200, thefriendlytoast.net

GERARD’S

Gerard Adomunes’s restaurant has been a major morning draw in Dorchester’s Adams Village for 40 years. As befits its heavily Irish clientele, the signature breakfast dish here is a concoction called “Irish Breakfast Festival”: two eggs, two slices of Irish bacon, two Irish sausages, home fries, black pudding, and white pudding. A word about this “pudding” thing: black pudding is sausage, blackened with hog’s blood; white pudding is much the same, without the blood. Forget what’s in it and just eat it. It’s great.

> Gerard’s, 772, Adams Street, Dorchester, 617-282-6370

GOURMET DECISIONS CAFE & GRILL

Tucked in the back of a parking lot in Natick Center, this popular spot has lines out the door on Sundays, but it’s open every day. That said, the weekend specials are tops. Sometimes there are fresh blueberry crepes or hot pastrami Benedict with Dijon-laced hollandaise. The other weekend draw is the choice of five kinds of hash made from scratch: Tex-Mex beef, corned beef, country chicken, chipotle turkey, and lamb. Get yours cooked to a crisp and topped with poached eggs.

> Gourmet Decisions Cafe & Grill, 12 Washington Street, Natick, 508-647-4024, gourmetdecisions.com 

ISTANBUL’LU

At this darling Teele Square place with great Turkish food, the breakfast and brunch offerings are a treat. One menu favorite is the Menemen, eggs with feta cheese, diced tomatoes, peppers, onions, and mushrooms. But the place is now serving chef-owner Huseyin Akgun’s mother’s Laz pancakes, a traditional Black Sea recipe for light, crispy pancakes topped with honey, apricot preserves, and feta. With strong Turkish tea in a little glass cup, you will be both fortified and transported.

> Istanbul’lu, 237 Holland Street, Somerville, 617-440-7387, istanbul-lu.com

IN A PICKLE RESTAURANT

Grab a seat at the counter and watch the flapjack slingers turn out synchronized stacks in this cheerful deli on Main Street in Waltham. College students and the under-12 crowd love the Reese’s pancakes (chunks of peanut butter and chocolate); cookie dough pancakes, inspired by Ben & Jerry’s, are a close second. There’s a lot to choose from on the mega menu. The real pickle is deciding between steak and eggs or a breakfast sandwich, whether you want egg whites on a bagel or a loaded burrito. The nice prices and upbeat feel mean lines swell on weekends. Expect a half-hour wait.

> In a Pickle Restaurant, 655 Main Street, Waltham, 781-891-1212, in-a-pickle.com

J’S

At J’s Sunday brunch in Bolton, local and seasonal ingredients inspire the chefs’ creativity (goat cheese from nearby Sterling has just arrived). The buffet changes constantly and is popular, so make reservations. Set in a cozy farmhouse at the Nashoba Valley Winery, you can sample the brioche French toast, hearty egg dishes (sometimes made with duck eggs), local cheeses, and orchard apple crisp while appreciating the sight of blossoming apple trees in the spring.

> J’s, 100 Wattaquadoc Hill Road, Bolton, 978-779-9816, nashobawinery.com/j.aspx

J&M DINER

Breakfast is served from 5:30 a.m. at this strip-mall gem in Framingham, with cheerful staff wearing pj bottoms and T-shirts as uniforms. Co-owner/chef Dave Fiore used to work in a fancy Bahamas hotel, which means great eggs Benedict on the weekends that can sell out. Crispy home fries are perfectly seasoned, and the OMG Breakfast of two grilled cheese “toasts” with tomato, bacon, and fried eggs is delicious. Cash only.

> J&M Diner, 969 Concord Street, Framingham, 508-875-7811

JOHNNY’S LUNCHEONETTE

You often see several generations at a table in kitsch-perfect Johnny’s in Newton Centre. Some menu items are Jewish-deli style, like cheese blintzes, latkes, the Wolfie (corned-beef scramble), and the Jack & Marion (smoked salmon and the usual fixings on a bagel). Bring bubbe, zaide, and the kids for breakfast all day.

> Johnny’s Luncheonette, 30 Langley Road, Newton, 617-527-3223, johnnysluncheonette.com

THE KNOTTY PINE LUNCH

In this restaurant time forgot, you can practically carbon-date the lunch counter (50-plus years) by the plate-sized wear marks precisely spaced in front of each stool. Regulars pack the 38 seats at this Auburndale spot, bantering with the crew. On Saturdays, the cook goes through 500 local eggs, quickly frying up favorites like the “Knotty Pine Omelete” studded with bacon and tomatoes and the “Potato and Cheese Omelete,” which incorporates the restaurant’s crispy signature home fries. The egg dishes come with coffee, and a family of four can eat for under $30 any day of the week.

> 295 Auburn Street, Newton, 617-527-9864, knottypinelunch.com

KRISTIN’S RESTAURANT

At Kristin’s in Braintree, the coffee is strong, the refills are free, and you’re sure to get your food within 15 minutes of ordering. You’ll find no fancy decorations on the walls, but the cozy atmosphere makes Kristin’s feel like your own dining room. And what to get in that dining room? There are plenty of traditional egg, omelet, and pancake dishes, all under $8. But you’d be remiss not to try the coffeecake pancakes with crumble topping.

> Kristin’s Restaurant, 349 Washington Street, Braintree,781-843-2022, kristinsbraintree.com

MAUGUS RESTAURANT

The Papakonstantinou family has run this Wellesley restaurant for 32 years. It glows with warmth. The long counter and green booths are always packed with locals digging into perfect blueberry pancakes or house-made Greek yogurt — delicate, tangy, and creamy. Have it with blueberries and strawberries for the perfect parfait. Although it looks small on the outside, this place seats more than 100 and the wait is no longer than 20 minutes on weekends.

> Maugus Restaurant, 300 Washington Street, Wellesley, 781-235-9647, themaugus.com 

 MCKENNA’S CAFE

The line snakes down the block every weekend to get into McKenna’s, the neighborhood brunch spot in Savin Hill. Pancakes, omelets, and burritos are the most popular dishes on the menu of the 13-year-old diner. But, truth be told, neighborhood gossip may be its biggest draw. “We’re like Cheers without the alcohol,” says manager Helena Kelly. “If we had booze, no one would ever leave.

> McKenna’s Cafe, 109 Savin Hill Avenue, Dorchester, 617-825-8218, mckennascafe.com

MIEL BRASSERIE PROVENCALE

Early in the morning, you may not want to sip your OJ alongside the tattooed hordes at a retro diner. You could do without flapjacks. Instead you want luxury, good coffee served in good china, waiters who call you “madam” or “sir” (not “dude”), and real croissants — in fact, make that French luxury. Morning at Miel is a sumptuous taste of those bygone days when travel did not involve the word “budget.” And when it’s warm out, joy of indulgent joys, they’ll call you “madam” or “sir” on the patio in the morning sun.

> Miel Brasserie Provencale at the InterContinental Boston, 510 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, 617-217-5151, intercontinentalboston.com

MIRACLE OF SCIENCE BAR + GRILL

The real miracle is the one that transforms this beer-splattered Central Square bar into a fresh, sunny breakfast spot by 7 every morning. That, and the grilled pink grapefruit halves that the staff drizzles with honey. The fruit mellows as it roasts, and by the time it gets to your table, it’s charred, sweet, and almost falling apart. There are also eggs, toasts, good coffee, and a very nice chicken sausage. Ordering a second serving of grapefruit mid-way through your breakfast is perfectly acceptable.

> Miracle of Science Bar + Grill, 321 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, 617-868-2866, miracleofscience.us

NANCY’S AIR FIELD CAFE

Set on the edge of Minute Man Air Field in Stow, Nancy’s comes with built-in entertainment. There’s also custard-like French toast dripping with Massachusetts maple syrup and other dishes celebrating good, basic ingredients prepared with detail and care. The vegetarian eggs Benedict is another great example: two poached eggs, dressed lightly with hollandaise, atop a pile of perfectly cooked kale, a grilled tomato, and a crunchy English muffin.

> Nancy’s Air Field Cafe, 302 Boxboro Road, Stow, 978-897-3934, nancysairfieldcafe.com

MOONSTONES

Sunday brunch is an event at this Chelmsford hot spot that gives suburbanites a reason to reapply their lipstick and strap on a pair of heels. Coffee is complimentary, as is the glass of freshly squeezed orange juice topped with champagne. As you contemplate the wide-ranging menu of uncommon offerings — brown sugar-roasted pineapple, caramelized maple bacon — a warren of sticky buns arrives in a skillet. But save room for the red velvet pancakes. Chef Robert Jean brings big-city flair to every dish, but the vermilion stack (made with beet juice) topped with sweet mascarpone and micro greens is a stylish knockout.

> Moonstones, 185 Chelmsford Street (route 110), Chelmsford, 978-256-7777, moonstones110.com

PERSY’S PLACE

This family-owned chain claims to have “New England’s largest breakfast and lunch menu,” and why argue? It could take a farm’s worth of eggs to sample everything. The eight locations serve breakfast starting at 7 a.m. in a folksy setting — natural wood, Rockwell prints, “bottomless” mugs of coffee. At the Plymouth Persy’s, blueberry pancakes are appealingly thin and not greasy, and the malted waffles are crisp and high. The server gushes about the Turtle Cakes — pancakes riddled with chocolate chips and pecans and slathered with caramel sauce and whipped cream. And you thought dessert didn’t come with breakfast.  

> Persy’s Place, 35A Main Street, Plymouth, 508-732-9876, and other locations, persysplace.com

REBECCA’S PLACE 3

At Rebecca’s in Upton, the atmosphere is general store meets grandma’s kitchen, with heaping portions — the pancakes are bigger than Frisbees — and an impressive menu. The sweet-potato home and french fries are the biggest sellers here, crispy and seasoned just right on the outside and all flaky deliciousness on the inside. The pastries and muffins are made in-house, as are the loaves for the French toast. Speaking of which, try the Almond Joy version: The shredded coconut, slivered almonds, and miniature chocolate chips don’t overwhelm. On the lighter side, the West Coast French toast is hippie-healthful with granola, fresh fruit, and vanilla yogurt. In the growing season, fresh ingredients come from just up the road at Dick Kelly’s Farm Stand. There can be long waits for tables on Saturday and Sunday mornings, but the staff is as doting as Grandma.

> Rebecca’s Place 3, 118 Main Street, Upton, 508-529-1792

ROX DINER

Rox is part of the “new diner” trend: classic dishes made with seasonal and local ingredients. If stuffed French toast is your thing, then this is your diner, plus there’s a whole menu category called “Benedict Heaven,” with six varieties, including the Flatiron Benny, made with an 8-ounce Angus steak. The hash varieties also beckon — traditional corned beef, turkey hash with a hint of cumin, and vegan black bean and sweet potato hash. Prices are fair but not dive-diner cheap. Top your hash with poached eggs, add crispy home fries and locally baked toast, and breakfast’s $11.

> Rox Diner, 1881 Centre Street, West Roxbury, 617-327-1909, and 335 Walnut Street, Newton, 617-916-1795, roxdiner.com

SOFRA BAKERY AND CAFE

Restaurateur Ana Sortun does everything well. And she does Sofra Bakery and Cafe almost too well. The tiny place is often mobbed, but do wait, because you’ll be rewarded with Persian spiced doughnuts or shakshuka, eggs poached in curried tomatoes with pita crumbs. The cuisine is authentic Middle Eastern and Eastern Mediterranean. Devotees make time to go midmorning on weekdays, when you can find a seat.

> Sofra Bakery and Cafe, 1 Belmont Street, Cambridge, 617-661-3161, sofrabakery.com

STATION 5 GRILLE

Mike Haigis has done his share of firehouse cooking — he’s still an active firefighter in Natick — and his 52-seat spot in a strip mall declares this proudly with both menu and decor. It opens at 7 a.m. and offers way-better-than-basic fare. Along with eggs, omelets, pancakes, and huge house-baked muffins, the hash browns are crispy and delicious. And then there’s the hash. The “Fenway” adds sausage and peppers for spice, and there are also Italian and Buffalo chicken versions. Delicious eggs Benedict with fresh, light hollandaise is just $7.50.

> Station 5 Grille,17 Watson Street, Natick, 508-653-5758, station5grille.com

T.W. FOOD

At this posh Sunday brunch in Cambridge (prix fixe diners get a beverage, starter, main dish, and dessert or cocktail for $29), well-seasoned chef-owner Tim Wiechmann plays guitar instead of grill, performing with a jazz trio. The music is as smooth as the scrambled farm eggs, the juice is a sensuous mix of cara cara oranges and blood oranges, and the bread plate (a choice for your starter) comes with irresistible house-made scones, muffins, and breads. For $5 more, get the foie gras omelet, served, as are all the entrees, with home fries, greens, and toast.

> T.W. Food, 377 Walden Street, Cambridge, 617-864-4745, twfoodrestaurant.com

ULA CAFE

Just the amazingly light popovers — get yours with tart raspberry jam — would be enough for JP’s Ula to make this list. But there’s more. Homemade oatmeal. Apricot crumb bars. Currant scones. Lemon poppy seed muffins. There’s a wide selection of lattes plus loose teas from MEM Tea Imports in Somerville. In nice weather, snag an outside table. This is what a neighborhood cafe ought to be.

> Ula Cafe, 284 Amory Street, Jamaica Plain, 617-524-7890, ulacafe.com

VEGGIE GALAXY

The vegetarian and vegan menu at Veggie Galaxy in Central Square seems to have hit a chord. So don’t go there for breakfast on weekend mornings — there’s at least an hour wait, and the breakfast menu is available all the time. The wheat bread from Big Sky Bakery is especially good, and if there’s a grilled cheese special running, go for it.

 > Veggie Galaxy, 450 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, 617-497-1513, veggiegalaxy.com

ZAFTIGS DELICATESSEN

Since 5757 (aka 1997), this up-market delicatessen has creatively interpreted Jewish classics. Empire Eggs are Benedict-like, but substitute Brooklyn-made smoked salmon and crispy, thick potato pancakes for the traditional Canadian bacon and English muffin. The Roughrider Omelette features flavorful house-made corned beef hash. And the beloved Banana-Stuffed French Toast is a sweet engineering marvel. Breakfast is served all day at both the Brookline and Natick locations (Zaftigs in Natick has a very similar menu), so no need to go during the weekend rushes.

> Zaftigs Delicatessen, 335 Harvard Street, Brookline, 617-975-0075, and 1298 Worcester Street, Sherwood Plaza, Natick, 508-653-4442, zaftigs.com

SATURDAY BRUNCH SPOTS

AKA BISTRO

On a menu of worldly classics, it’s easy to overlook such pedestrian fare as the assorted-pastry basket. Don’t. Not here. This astonishing array of croissants, brioche, and madeleines, all made in-house, arrives with divine (and also homemade) fig and apricot preserves. Accompanied with Illy Coffee, it’s an incredible start to Saturday brunch in this suburban gourmet retreat. Executives in weekend attire dig into quiche Lorraine, eating every bite of the buttery, flaky crust. The refined dish of truffle scrambled eggs, made with truffle butter not shaved mushrooms, is uber rich. And a smattering of families with young kids gives the place a less buttoned-up vibe.

> AKA Bistro, 145 Lincoln Road, Lincoln, 781-259-9920, akabistrolincoln.com

ASHMONT GRILL

The hair of the dog is the star of the brunch show at this beloved neighborhood spot in Dorchester. A Saturday, when you might actually nab a table on the back patio, is the best time to taste test the bar’s crafty creations. The gazpacho Bloody Mary, made with muddled cucumbers and cucumber vodka, is spring in a glass. Or for something more full-bodied, try the Bloody Bacon: bacon-infused vodka topped with a crispy bacon garnish and rimmed in celery salt can double as a first course. Wash your drink down with a Trainwreck Omelet: open-faced and topped with jalapenos, cheese, and sour cream, served with hand-cut fries. Finish with homemade doughnut holes. Ahh, that’s better.

> Ashmont Grill, 555 Talbot Avenue, Dorchester, 617-825-4300, ashmontgrill.com

B STREET RESTAURANT & BAR

A dynamite crust, half whole-wheat and half white flour, is the base for the satisfying flatbread, the darling dish of the stylish Saturday brunch crowds in Newton Centre. On top, there’s a trio of sunny side up eggs and a layer of herb-roasted potatoes, mozzarella, and thick bacon nuggets. Roasted garlic brings zest to each bite. “It’s got it all going on,” says owner Elli Kaplansky. The challah French toast, topped with caramelized apples and Vermont maple syrup, is ethereal. Even the slow-cooked oatmeal with steamed milk feels uptown.

> B Street Restaurant & Bar, 796 Beacon Street, Newton, 617-332-8743, bstreetnewton.com

PLOUGH & STARS

This minuscule Irish pub is a Cambridge legend dressed in burgundy and dark wood, and has for 40-plus years served terrific food, no matter who’s in charge. The classic Irish breakfast comes with Irish bacon (it’s like a thinly sliced brined pork chop), breakfast sausage, black and white sausages, grilled tomatoes, baked beans, toast, and scrambled eggs. But the menu’s real surprise is a dish of perfectly poached eggs on house-made pork confit hash and an English muffin with a light roasted-garlic hollandaise. Spot on.

> Plough & Stars, 912 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, 617-576-0032, ploughandstars.com

VIVA MI AREPA

This local secret in West Roxbury, just minutes from the Dedham Mall, offers authentic, amazing Venezuelan food. Don’t miss the cachapas, hot sweet-corn pancakes layered with cheese. The satisfying fried white-cornmeal arepa filled with ham and cheese is like a croque-monsieur. Delicious batidos (shakes) come in tropical flavors from papaya to guanabana. The exterior is no-frills, and though the interior walls are decorated with miniature South American house facades, the focus is the food — all made from scratch and completely worth the wait.

> Viva Mi Arepa, 5197 Washington Street, West Roxbury, 617-323-7844, closed Sundays, opens at 11 a.m. rest of week

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