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Surviving in Hoth: Part 2

Mandy and Joe's - photo credit: Boston.com

Mandy and Joe’s – photo credit: Boston.com

I just got back from a long weekend in Jamaica to celebrate a friend’s wedding. The weather, while rainy at times, was in the 70s and 80s so you can imagine that coming back to the aftermath of a snowfall and an impending snowstorm was a bit of a shock.  Thankfully, there’s a lot of great local restaurants nearby that are helping to ease the cooped up feeling that comes as a result of these winter storms. With that in mind, this is the second part of my Surviving in Hoth series and today, I want to spotlight a local diner: Mandy and Joe’s Delicatessen.

Only a few doors down from Porter Belly’s (see my previous post), in Brighton Center, Mandy and Joe’s is one of my favorite breakfast spots. It consistently offers great home cooking with staples like hash and eggs, omelets, pancakes and french toast. It still looks like a 50s-style diner on the inside, giving you the instant impression that the staff knows what they are doing. The diner also serves sandwiches at lunch but I’ve never actually tried them. I prefer to stick with my favorite: breakfast.

While I’ve tried most of the breakfast menu, I usually end up deciding between two eggs with bacon, toast and homefries or hash and eggs. Keep in mind: this breakfast is not for anyone on a diet. You’re always going to get a good portion and plenty of butter.

It’s hard to describe the greatness of Mandy and Joe’s but here’s a quick story of a personal experience I’ve had at the restaurant. Around Mother’s Day last year, Mandy and Joe’s introduced a special item: stuffed french toast with strawberries. Of course, I order this to give it a try and while chatting with the chef (and I believe, owner) Ingrid, she was curious how I liked the special. After telling her how great it was, she proceeded to give me the recipe. I mean, how many places will just tell you how they make their food? Not many.

Just a few things to remember if you’re going to give Mandy and Joe’s a try: it’s cash only. If you’re in a hurry, Mandy and Joe’s does do pick up orders (even for full breakfast plates, not just breakfast sandwiches). If you go on the weekend, keep in mind that Mandy and Joe’s is in an area full of college kids, so anywhere between 10:00 am and 12:00 pm could be busy.

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Surviving in Hoth: Part 1

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Image credit: Porter Belly’s

Over the past few weeks, the U.S. has been hit hard with record breaking cold temperatures and snow storms. While the Midwest seems to be getting the brunt of the storms, Boston has been slammed with quite a few. When snow storms hit Boston, most of the population becomes housebound, as the roads are just too difficult (and often times too dangerous) to drive on. It’s times like these that I’m glad I live in a place with great public transportation and that I’m walking distance from some really good eateries. As such, I thought this would be a good time to look at some of the local restaurants in Brighton that I frequent and that take in the stir crazy after a storm with a new series I’m calling: Surviving in Hoth (a reference to the snow and ice planet in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, in case you’re not a nerd like me and don’t recognize the name).

First up: Porter Belly’s Pub

Porter Belly’s, located in the heart of Brighton Center, has been my local watering hole since I moved here in 2010. It’s a laid-back Irish pub with a good selection of drinks and food. There are a lot of “pubs” in Boston, since the Irish population is very prevalent here. However, Porter Belly’s is unique. It’s one of those places that has a very welcoming atmosphere, which in my opinion, can be a difficult note to strike. I personally am not a huge fan of bars that are overly “townie” (i.e. dominated by locals that have lived in the neighborhood all their lives and tend to give attitude or looks to outsiders), too trendy, uptight or dominated by college students (which can be tough in a neighborhood like Brighton, that draws in college kids with lower rental rates). To me, Porter Belly’s doesn’t fall into any of these buckets but rather it’s customers and staff are a diverse mix of the population of Boston. When I describe the bar to my out-of-town friends, I frequently say that the bar reminds me of McClaren’s from How I Met Your Mother, which is fitting for this blog, right?

Outside of the atmosphere and customer base, Porter Belly’s offers a great food menu with burgers, sandwiches, salads and dinner options. The burgers are always fantastic — I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the food really — but somewhat unexpected to those who have never been to the pub is it’s Chicken Curry. The dish is made up of a yellow curry that packs a lot of flavor, but not too much spice, with generous portions of chicken, carrots, peas, onions and peppers on top of either rice, french fries or both. I always recommend this to those looking for something to warm them up, which right now, is a number one priority. However, if you’re not sure about the curry, try getting a side of the sauce with your burger or sandwich for your fries.

I could go on and on about Porter Belly’s because it’s one of my favorites, clearly. However, I’ll let you decide for yourselves. In my opinion, it’s one of Brighton (and Boston’s) bests and you can rely on them to be open, even during some intense snow storms.*

*Disclaimer: I recommend checking their Facebook page to look at updated hours during storms but at least, during the last few major storms, they’ve found a way to open their doors…if not during the storm itself, a few hours after it’s over.