Cauliflower Crust: Pizza or Health Fad?
Folks in Wormtown apparently love breakfast, and the Miss Worcester Diner keeps everybody happy with its hulking pancakes, crunchy French toast, and small town extra-friendly vibe. The menu tends toward simple and inexpensive, and two eggs, toast, home fries, and bacon or sausage will only set you back $4.25. If you’re way hungrier than that (yes), settle into a three-egg omelet or one of the breakfast combos like Big Papi with three eggs, home fries, ham, sausage, bacon, and your choice of two pancakes or French toast. Another product of the Worcester Lunch Car Company (car #812), Miss Woo was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. (Also, FYI... this place is cash only.)
The giant retro neon chevron/arrow above the Miss Florence Diner shows you exactly where you can find a killer breakfast when you’re out in the “Hamptons.” Another gem manufactured by the Worcester Lunch Car Company, Miss Florence Diner has been owned and operated by the Alexander family since it opened in 1941. For almost 75 years, they’ve been feeding the masses from-scratch hash, fluffy pancakes (strawberry cheesecake), hearty roast beef sandwiches, and chicken pot pie. For those in the know, the house-roasted turkey sandwich, steak & cheese omelet, and eggs Benedict are must-have meals that will fill your belly for the day ahead.
At Allston’s Breakfast Club, you won’t need Doc Brown’s DeLorean to revisit the 80s. Or put breakfast in your face. Vintage movie posters, lunch boxes (The Fall Guy!), and other tchotchkes adorn the walls, while hearty made-from-scratch dishes adorn the menu. Standouts include homemade corned beef hash, the football-sized omelets, coffee Oreo milkshakes, bananas Foster waffles, and seasonal pancakes (e.g. pumpkin). For eggs Benedict fans, choose from 13 combos such as the Roma with prosciutto and roasted red peppers. If you need to visit Shermer High School, go for a “Library Special” like The Basket Case with two eggs, home fries, toast, meat (bacon, sausage, or ham), and two pieces of either French toast or pancakes. Pixy Stix not included.
On bustling Main St in Great Barrington, the equally bustling Neighborhood Diner dishes out greasy spoon staples, super specials, and big smiles to hordes of fans in the Berkshires. In the “staples” category, huevos rancheros and/or buttermilk pancakes are the way to go, while specials like Bullseye French Toast and biscuits & gravy are mandatory... if they happen to be on the board. This diner also has solid “not breakfasts,” such as brisket nachos (booyah!), the California club with house-roasted turkey, and smoked salmon panini with cream cheese.
Salem Diner was saved from the brink by Salem State in 2014, and now the university owns and operates this historic icon. It’s one of two remaining Sterling Streamliner diners in Massachusetts, and it’s a beauty with a wood frame/porcelain enamel exterior and the classic “shovel nose” design. While enjoying the retro-because-it-is scene, order up some house-specialty corned beef hash, French toast, or any three-egg omelet. The lunch/dinner options tilt toward mega comfort food such as meat loaf, chicken pot pie, and stuffed peppers. (We recommend one of each.)
If you’re cruising the Cape and need a mighty meal, head straight to Sandi’s Diner for a menu of stellar basics and inventive mashups. Right out of the gate is the top-of-the-menu Cut Thru Special: two eggs, choice of meat, home fries, and toast or English for only... $4. That’s followed closely by the Waff-L-Wich, a genius creation that appears to be a standard breakfast sammie... but waffles are the bread. (Take that, M. Night Shyamalan.) For proper stuffing purposes, the Corned Beef Hash It Over omelet is a three-egg beast with Sandi’s signature hash INSIDE the omelet. We’re done here.
Charlie’s, another fine example of old-timey diner cars, has been around the block a few times... literally. It started out in Wareham in 1948, then moved to Worcester until 2002, and since 2005 it’s been chillin’ in Spencer. Traditional plates dominate the slate, and regulars go for egg and ham breakfast, griddle cakes, corned beef hash, and bourbon-marinated steak tips. The crew here also cranks out serious specials like apple turnover French toast and pumpkin pancakes. Major bonus: Charlie’s has a full bar so you can enjoy a Bloody Mary with your home-cooked breakfast.
Even though Misty Moonlight is only 19 years old, it’s already earned legions of followers with house-baked treats (whoopie pies!), juicy burgers, and to-die-for Belgian waffles. Frequent trips are necessary if you want to sample all the breakfast/lunch/dinner wares (yes, please), and you should probably wear stretchy pants. Early in the day, corned beef hash and the Big Daddy Breakfast with strip sirloin are mandatory, while mid-day munchies include major sandwiches like the Chubby Checker with house roast turkey, cheddar, bacon, tomato, and BBQ sauce on grilled wheat. For dinner, you need the Blue Plate Special, a mountain of homemade meatloaf, house roast beef, or turkey with veggies and mashed potatoes. If you like a good challenge, you can try to defeat The Godzilla, a 12-egg omelet with all 16 fixin's. (Good luck!)
A legend since 1947, the venerable South Street Diner is the only joint in Boston where you can get grub 24/7. And that’s big-time. The always-packed Worcester Dining Car (again!) has been churning out working man’s breakfasts since factory workers crowded the counter, and you can still get the same smile-inducing meals today. Regulars swear by the Monte Cristo, the smoked salmon, and the Diner Special complete with three eggs, two pancakes or French toast, home fries, toast, and choice of bacon, corn beef hash, ham, or sausage. But you really can’t go wrong with anything... just don’t forget to add a side of banana bread or grilled cinnamon roll. Be good to you.
One look at the fixed-in-place counter stools and you know that legendary Joe’s Diner is legit. In fact, it was the inspiration for Norman Rockwell’s painting “The Runaway.” And you should run away to Joe’s for rib-sticking specialties like grilled sausage links, Swedish meatballs over noodles, cheeseburgers (only $2.75!), and French toast. Regulars also dig Patty’s homemade pies, oatmeal covered by a mountain of fresh fruit, and the Thursday night corned beef dinner. Pro tip: mind your P’s and Q’s with Martha... she’s ruled this roost for over 44 years, and she is SASSY!
In a town rich with diners, Boulevard stands out for both its pre-WWII history and the satisfying no-nonsense grub. This local institution was constructed by the Worcester Lunch Car Company in 1936 and was added to National Register of Historic Places in 2000 due to its well-preserved barrel roof. Generations of Wormtown-ies have bellied up to the bar for wide-ranging fare like Italian Breakfast, eggs Benedict, Salisbury steak, and the spicy, award-winning chili. But it's the Parms that totally rule; these golden, fried beauties (available in chicken, eggplant, or veal) come loaded with cheese and that irresistible tomato sauce. Boulevard offers its full menu all day, and it’s the best place to refill your tank after the bars close.
Formerly (and briefly) known as Big Shirl’s, Renee’s Diner is all about substantial home-cooked portions and made-from-scratch everything. If you’re totally famished, the Garbage Plate gets the job done with SIX eggs (yep), home fries, the trifecta (bacon, ham, sausage), peppers, onions, and tomatoes all topped with melted cheddar cheese (*drops mic*). And then there’s Tiger Toast, a plussed-up French toast coated with Frosted Flakes. But you’re really there for the house-made baked goods. You’ll want to kiss the oven (and Renee) once you’ve indulged in a cherry-almond or strawberry-peach muffin, an apple pie, or whatever dessert is on special that day. (And it’ll be special.)
Like Boulevard in Worcester, Capitol Diner (circa 1928) is an old-school relic on the National Register of Historic Places, and it’s the last operating J.G. Brill diner car on Earth. Operated by the Fennell Family since 1938, Capitol serves up the classics with big smiles and bigger portions. Regulars swear by the eggs Benedict, corned beef hash, cheeseburger club, M&M pancakes, omelets, and the hash browns. However, crunchy French toast is the showstopper, as the thick slabs of bread are coated in corn flakes and then griddled. Booyah. No matter what you pick from the extensive menu, one thing is for sure: the Fennells won’t let you go home hungry.
Worcester Dining Car No. 814 might have been lost forever, but thankfully Bruce Trotto resurrected the iconic Blue Belle Diner (which had been closed since 1998) and built it onto his already-established restaurant, Dinky’s. You can also be thankful for the heaping portions of sizzlin’ goodness like Mama Pajama’s Chocolate Chip Pancakes and The Abby Normal Apple Walnut French Toast. Other Blue Belle highlights include Linda Mae’s Omelet (kielbasa & cheese), Trooper Eric’s French Toast Jelly Rolls, and Kyle’s Pancake Sandwich. For the truly bold and very hungry, The Triple By-Pass looms large with three XL farm fresh eggs, corned beef hash, a trio of bacon strips, sausage patties, home fries, and toast.