1980s movie memorabilia hangs from the walls of The Breakfast Club, contrasting with a forward-thinking menu of paninis, breakfast quesadillas, and organic teas. Library Specials pay homage to the diner’s eponymous film: The Princess is a belgian waffle topped with seasonal fruit, while The Jock is an egg-white omelet with veggies.
The chefs at Cookin Cafe & Grille bake up a full menu of classic American eats, specialty pizzas, succulently filled subs, and all-day breakfasts for pickup or delivery. Pizza prodigies spin out 14 specialty pies that blanket crispy crusts with tomato or buffalo sauce, fresh veggies, and classic meats such as pepperoni, grilled chicken, and sausage to comfort growling stomachs without swallowing a teddy bear. Steak tips, falafel, and shish kebabs pile into a choice of sub, triple-decker sandwich, wrap with a whole-wheat tortilla, or calzone with fresh, house-made dough. Cookin Cafe & Grille's all-day breakfast menu quells midday cravings for bacon and eggs, which can be ordered by clicking online or sending a postcard with binary scribbled on the back.
During its 17 years in business, Mike’s City Diner has been visited by dignitaries such as Bill Clinton and personalities such as Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives host Guy Fieri. But Mike's owes its initial fame to the blue-collar types who flocked to the diner in its earliest days. Back then, the South End neighborhood was still up-and-coming, and the construction crews that gave the neighborhood its facelift soon became loyal patrons of this breakfast and lunch spot thanks to the heaping portions of homey fare, made entirely from scratch. As South End transitioned, so did Mike's clientele, bringing in the college students, taxi drivers, and families who have made this spot a Boston institution. That made-from-scratch philosophy extends to nearly every ingredient at Mike's from the down-home breakfast dishes––the kitchen cracks as many as 6,000 real eggs each weekend––to the pastrami, which they smoke themselves. The most famous dish, however, is the turkey dinner. Fresh turkeys are roasted in-house every day, then served with all the traditional Thanksgiving fixin's such as homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, creamed candy corn, and a vegetable. And the cooking isn't the only thing contributing to Mike's old-fashioned vibe: a recent renovation unveiled a vintage art-deco inspired interior, complete with a vinyl textured ceiling, chrome-rimmed tables, and red barstools, perfect for perching over a bottomless cup of coffee.
It may not look like much from the outside—a diminutive brick wedge of a building with a small front window cluttered with outsized slogans such as “Home Cooking” and “Free Delivery.” But something almost transcendent happens when you step inside My Diner. There’s a sense that the city around you is disappearing, gradually giving way to a family gathering that’s been waiting for you all this time. The family-run diner has a way of making guests feel at home with its heaping portions of comfort food and special birthday meals. Turkey roasts on a vertical spit, slow-cooking for dinners served with homemade stuffing, butternut squash, and cranberry sauce. Like that of any diner worth its salt, My Diner’s menu runs the gamut from sirloin burgers to bottomless mugs of coffee. If you’d still rather enjoy your meal in the comfort of your home, My Diner will deliver it to your door free of charge.
When they bestowed South Street Diner with the Best Diner of 2011 award, Boston Magazine raved, “We love South Street for the same reason we love Boston: It’s steeped in tradition, but never short on quirk.” Of course, they also loved the turkey club sandwiches, pancakes, and fried pickles. And they’re not the only ones. For more than 60 years, generations of Bostonians, from factory workers to college students, have flocked here at all hours to indulge in the classic comfort food and iconic décor. Even filmmakers have been enchanted; movies starring Steve Martin and John Cryer have filmed inside South Street Diner. Open 24 hours a day, this diner offers meals for all walks of life: omelets and home fries for breakfast, club sandwiches for lunch, steak tips for dinner, beer for the late-night crowd, and 1950s-style desserts for visitors fresh from the cryogenic freezer.
In 2011, Anthony Bourdain brought his Travel Channel show, “No Reservations,” to Boston, but he took a less-traveled route on his tour: he headed straight to Southie. Among the eateries he visited there was the Galley Diner, where he tried what his show’s travel guide calls the “perfect example of what corned beef hash and eggs should taste like.” The classic diner—replete with a long Formica counter surrounded by vinyl barstools—serves up a full slate of dishes that match the heartiness of their corned beef. At breakfast, servers cart out plates of French toast, buttermilk pancakes, and omelets; there’s even a Southie omelet that folds in hash and cheese. As the day gets later, the kitchen churns out classic sandwiches and plates of roast beef, liver and onions, and franks and beans to create a tastier throwback to the ‘50s than a hamburger arms race.