Nicknamed The Blue Diner, Boston’s South Street Diner may be relatively small, but it’s got quite a reputation. Originally built by the Worchester Dining Car Company in 1947 – the same company that built the Rosebud Diner in Somerville, which retains the historic exterior but whose interior was mostly erased – the South Street Diner remains largely unchanged. The interior is crowded and decked out with chrome, white tile, and blue diamonds, and the food is delicious – so delicious Boston Magazine gave it the award for Best Diner, Esquire Magazine and the Food Network featured it on their “Best Late Night Food” lists, and it was dubbed one of the best 24-hour diners in the country by Thrillist.
The diner has had many famous guests, including Kevin Hart, Jackie Gleason, Neil Young, Chris Evans, Morgan Freeman, Kathy Griffin, The Grateful Dead, Christopher Walken, and Robert Plant, and recently was a setting in the Batgirl comic book, when the eponymous heroine drops a smoke bomb into a car causing it to crash into the diner, which thankfully was not open 24-7 in the story as it is in real life. I’m still not entirely sure why Batgirl chose to cause the accident but hopefully it was justified. The South Street Diner also was a filming location for the movie 21 and the romantic comedy The Blue Diner, in addition to being the subject of the documentary 24 Hours At The South Street Diner.
It can be a bit tough to get a seat, particularly if you stop by from 1am to 4am, but the wait is worth it. Though they’re famous for their Boston Crème Pancakes, I went with the Maple-Pepper Fried Chicken Benedict and it was one of the best variations on eggs benedict I’ve had and my wife enjoyed her French toast as well. South Street Diner remains cramped, blue collar, and unpretentious, retaining the authenticity patrons no doubt love and expect, versus the modernized Rosebud Diner, which may be more stylish but lacks charm and personality comparatively. In a city that has rapidly modernized, frequently at the expense of its older quarters, it feels like Real Boston – the part of the city that remains proud and distinct, unapologetic and bold. It’s just what you want and expect when you go to a diner, except the food is much better than you’d anticipate. It’s enough to warrant a return visit, just to try those Boston Crème Pancakes.
Matthew Christopher MA Boston Jan 24, 2023 Food Places to Visit Reviews