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Maple Leaf Diner, Londonderry, Vt.

Maple Leaf Diner, Londonderry, Vt.. Photo by Eric Hurwitz.

Story by Eric Hurwitz. Article created on 10/31/2017

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As the old saying goes, "It's hard to screw up breakfast," but some places just feel more like home -- and with better food -- than others. In no particular order, here are 12 restaurants we like to call home when eating out for breakfast in New England:

Miss Lyndonville Diner, Lyndonville, Vt. -  Some diners just "have it." The Miss Lyndonville Diner is one such place. It feels like a diner, looks like a diner and has the huge servings of breakfast (and lunch and dinner) that one would expect from a diner. Go with the pancakes, muffins, and anything you can put real Vermont maple syrup on. Highly recommended: the “Country Homefry Casserole” with home fries, sausage, onion and cheddar cheese topped with two eggs and served with homemade toast. Love this place! Miss Lyndonville Diner, 686 Broad St., Lyndonville, Vt. Tel. (802) 626-9890. Read more on the Lyndonville Diner in the Lyndonville, Vt., article

Parker's Maple Barn, Mason, N.H. - This rustic former authentic 1800s dairy barn and silo is famous for the Parker Special: two eggs, two pancakes (or one French toast), two bacon strips, two sausages and ham or ham hash in place of all meats, home fries and toast. Also recommended: the pumpkin pancakes, maple baby back ribs and eggs, and corned beef hash omelet. They also serve maple coffee, a maple frappe and one of the best root beer floats ( I know, not really for breakfast but, hey, why not?)! Parker's also makes its own maple syrup, so much better than the artificial junk served at most breakfast places. The lunches are also great -- especially the maple baked beans, aforementioned maple ribs, maple Swiss burger, the roast turkey dinner, chicken stew, and French Onion soup. Located in the middle of nowhere and well worth the drive. There's even a covered bridge leading a gift shop with many interesting Native American items and, surprise, maple-based gifts for sale. Parker's Maple Barn, 1316 Brookline Rd., Mason, NH. Tel. (603) 878-2308. Read more on Parker's Maple Barn

Parker's breakfast special from Parker's Maple Barn in Mason NH.
Parker's Special from Parker's Maple Barn.

Grumpy's, East Dennis, Mass (Cape Cod) - Grumpy's represents the ultimate family-style Cape Cod restaurant with a long-carpeted dining room, waitresses that have been there forever, and large-sized breakfasts consistently cooked to perfection. Meals generally stay under $10. While you’ll find all familiar roadside breakfast and lunch items like omelets, pancakes and waffles, Grumpy's also offers a big lunch menu, too. Grumpy’s Restaurant,1408 Main St., East Dennis. Tel. (508) 385-2911 Read more on Grumpy's

Main Streets Market & Cafe, Concord, Mass. -This cozy downtown eatery is like a cafe, pub, entertainment venue and bakery under one roof. The rustic, historic charm lends a wonderful feeling for any time of the day, but breakfast is especially nice with, for starters, some of the freshest muffins you'll ever taste. They do a fantastic job with breakfast sandwiches, croissants, bagels, Belgian waffles with fruit and whipped cream, and eggs cooked any style with bacon or sausage. For the healthy 21st-century appetite, the Acai breakfast bowl topped with a choice of granola, berries, banana, coconut cocoa nibs, bee pollen, goji berries, chia or hemp is a favorite.Main Streets Market and Cafe, 42 Main St., Concord MA. Tel. (866) 413-3981 or (978) 369-9948.

Main Streets Market and Cafe, Concord MA.Main Streets Market and Cafe, Concord.

Maple Leaf Diner, Londonderry, Vt. - Located minutes away from the world-famous Vermont Country Store in Weston, Vt., the Maple Leaf Diner is one of those local places that residents call their go-to place and travelers remember long after their visits. Plain, simple, tiny and bustling, the Maple Leaf Diner might not listed in those "Best of New England Diners" articles, but it should. They deliver all the breakfast staples and serve them up quickly by friendly waitresses that seem to be part of the community. The muffins, in particular, are phenomenal. This is the prototype for a Vermont roadside breakfast (and lunch) place that perfectly complements a morning out in beautiful southern Vermont. Maple Leaf Diner, 1846 North Main St., Londonderry, Vt. Tel. (802) 824-9652.

Vernon Diner, Vernon, Conn. - Some diner purists might not place the Vernon Diner in the upper echelon of diners, but that's only because it is not located in a historic dining car. That vision is short-sighted as the Vernon Diner -- formerly a Howard Johnson's restaurant -- is bustling 24 hours a day and features a wide variety of delicious breakfasts items, including a pastrami beef omelet, breakfast burritos, Challah French toast, Nutella and Coconut pancakes and "The Elvis Waffles" with bananas, two scoops of vanilla ice cream,  peanut butter and whipped cream --  and topped with bacon bits! Vernon Diner, 453 Hartford Turnpike, Vernon, Conn. Tel. (860) 875-8812.

Storm Cafe, Middlebury, Vt. - Located in the bottom floor of the charming 19th century Frog Hollow Mill building, the Storm Cafe serves breakfast and lunch with the style of a diner and the substance of a high-end urban restaurant (without the high prices and attitude). Breakfasts range from the familiar (eggs, any style) to the artful (Vegan southwest tofu scramble). It's a cozy, friendly place with a hidden side street location that makes you feel like you've made your own discovery. Another nice aspect of the Storm Cafe is that they often source locally. Cases-in-point: bread from Otter Creek Bakery in Middlebury and bacon from the North Country Smoke House in Claremont, N.H. The Storm Cafe, 3 Mill St. in Middlebury, Vt. Tel. (802) 388-1063.

Storm Cafe in Middlebury, Vt.
Storm Cafe in Middlebury, Vt.

Maine Diner, Wells, Maine - This is one of the most popular diners in the United States, having served more than 7,000,000 customers since 1983. That popularity hasn't diminished the quality of this breakfast, lunch and dinner diner -- it's as good as when it first opened. The Maine Diner does pretty much everything well, and breakfast is no exception -- especially the lobster quiche, fresh Lobster Benedict and almond-encrusted French toast! Maine Diner, 2265 Post Rd., Wells, Maine Tel. (207) 646-4441. Read more on the Maine Diner

Modern Diner, Pawtucket, R.I. - Set in a 1941 Sterling Streamliner dining car, the Modern Diner serves up phenomenal breakfasts, including French toast with custard sauce and fresh fruit, and Lobster Benedict (replacing bacon with lobster!). Modern Diner, 364 East Ave., Pawtucket, R.I. Tel. (401) 726-8390. Read more on the Modern Diner

Custard French Toast from the Modern Diner in Pawtucket, R.I.
French Custard Toast from the Modern Diner.

The Commons Eatery and Cafe, Foxboro, Mass. - We appreciate the Commons Cafe for its super friendly service and very good breakfasts. It reminds us of the neighborhood restaurants we knew growing up in the 1960s and 1970s -- old-fashioned, down-to-earth and full of local conversation at the booths and counter. Nothing fancy, but the best place to feel at home away from home! Commons Eatery and Cafe, 20 Central St., Rte 140, Foxboro, MA  Tel. (508) 543-4432.

Polly's Pancake Parlor, Sugar Hill, N.H. - This legendary breakfast spot with a rustic 1830s setting and beautiful mountain views is, obviously, best-known for its pancakes. They do not disappoint! Taking a basic dish to new culinary heights is evident with selections from the many varieties of oatmeal, buckwheat, buttermilk and whole wheat pancakes -- and made that much better with a side of real maple syrup. Actually, you can't go wrong with any of the breakfast items at Polly's, but, as they say, "When in Rome," or in this case, Sugar Hill... Polly's Pancake Parlor,  672 Route 117, Sugar Hill, NH. Tel. (603) 823-5575.

Carl's Oxford Diner, Oxford, Mass. - Carl's is best known for its beyond huge-portioned meals and wisecracking waiters. A side of bacon seems bigger than the town of Oxford and any of the pancake offerings would be enough for two people -- or to bring home the leftovers for yourself. If you do the latter, however, the staff might write "Real Big Wimp" on the take home box! Carl's Oxford Diner, 291 Main St., Oxford, MA. Tel. (508) 987-8770.

Side of bacon from Carl's Oxford Diner, Oxford, Mass.
Side of bacon from Carl's Oxford Diner.

For more New England dining tips, please visit the Dining Guide at

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From diners to townie places, New England features many outstanding breakfast spots.

Explore Massachusetts travel! Read the Massachusetts Town Greens book -- Discover New England's first travel attractions: town commons. Includes chapters on 70 towns commons in Massachusetts, including the Boston Common, Lexington Battle Green and Monument Square (Concord)!

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A visit to the historic Bull Run Restaurant in Shirley, Mass.

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