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Johnny’s Luncheonette

A Delectable Breakfast Joint for The A.M. Crowd

By Derek Tang

Johnny’s Luncheonette

1105 Massachusetts Ave.

Brighton, MA 02135

(617) 495-0055

Breakfast. It tastes so good. Even the word is delicious -- all it takes is one mention and I simply mist over and drift blissfully into a dreamland of sizzling eggs and syrup dribbling off of waffles.

But oh, breakfast, why must you be so early in the morning? How many times have you lured us out to McDonald’s only to taunt us cruelly as the counter guy whipped the menu back before our eyes? We students never had a chance.

At least there are still a few spots in this post-IHOP city, like Johnny’s Luncheonette, that understand how we feel. Don’t be fooled by the word “lunch”; Johnny’s boasts an expansive breakfast menu with, thank God, no trace of the words “Served Until.” Intrigued but wary of another trick, three of the more adventurous among us made our way out last Saturday to give Johnny’s, located on Mass. Ave. near Harvard Square, the old college try.

Doors open at 7:30 a.m. but the crowd at Johnny’s is mostly the four-kid family set until around 11, when the students start to stream in. As you might guess from the name, the decor aims for a 50’s diner feel that makes for a cheerful, pleasantly noising eating environment.

The breakfast portion of the menu (which extends the retro theme with dish names like Wolfie’s and Rascal House) works overtime to cater to all tastes -- aside from the standard eggs and pancakes you’ll find items as varied as lox, collard greens and breakfast burritos. There are also a few in-house creations, like the cereal-and-nut-coated Crunchy French Toast. Portions are generous, and the basic ingredients are offered up in any combination you can think of, so you won’t find yourself ordering a side to get what you want.

One of the more interesting offerings was Waban’s Frittata, an open-faced bacon omelet topped with mashed potatoes, cheese and scallions that smelled incredible on the plate, but was on the heavy side when actually eaten. On the other hand, the day’s special, which was steak and eggs, was presented just the way it’s meant to be -- tasty and dripping with greasy goodness.

As Johnny’s prides itself on making its food fresh, the potatoes and yams were hand cut and the sausage homemade. (“Not like Applebee’s,” the host assured us.) Sweet potato fries were crisp and tender, and the turkey apple sausage was dry but flavorful and, yes, an option for those few healthy eaters who are actually concerned with taste.

Johnny’s also has a good selection of juices and smoothies, which you shouldn’t be ashamed to try just because you’re having breakfast. The smoothies lean toward the milky side, so those looking for more of a juice blast might want to opt for a juice bar. General consensus: at least it’s better than The Wrap, folks.

As for lunch, we don’t care too much for that stuff, but we’ve heard good things about the tuna melt.

Service was generally friendly, and surprisingly fast. Prices ($8-$15) are on par with Harvard-area restaurants, and the place is a snap to find (hop off the #1 bus at Crate&Barrel). If it’s past lunchtime but you’re still in the mood for breakfast, Johnny’s is the place for you. It is nearly impossible to try everything on the menu in one sitting, so we might be heading back there ourselves sometime to check out some of the things we missed the first time around.