I must admit: I love Diners Drive-ins and Dives. I watch with a sort of sick fascination, the same mixture of awe and disgust that might accompany a viewing of Hoarders or some other mildly grotesque program. Until recently, the restaurants featured on the show seemed fantastical, over-the-top establishments that only exist in Guy Fieri’s frost-tipped exuberance. As a pescatarian, I haven’t really been interested in going to Boston Burger Company. But did you know that there is another Triple D restaurant within walking distance of Tufts? Little did I realize that Kelly’s Diner, in all its Food Network fame, is just down the block from Soundbites and Ball Square Café! On one freakishly warm, winter Saturday morning, my friends and I strolled passed the long lines outside the better-known brunch establishments and took a chance on Kelly’s. Though it too was quite crowded, we got seats at the counter pretty quickly.
At first glance, Kelly’s seems promising. As you approach, you realize that Kelly’s is housed in a huge, metal dining car from the 1950’s. According to their website, it was disassembled and shipped all the way from Delaware! The interior, as well as the exterior, screams old-fashioned diner. Metal counter tops, backless stools, bright turquoise seats, and a jukebox to transport patrons to a time in which inexpensive diners abounded and were places of congregation – or so I’m told. Perhaps Kelly’s fulfills an unrealistic diner fantasy of mine, a nostalgia for something that I never actually experienced. Regardless, I quickly became enamored of Kelly’s inviting, comfortable vibe.
Kelly’s meets the good-diner criteria not only in terms of decor, but also (and equally if not more importantly) in terms of food: cheap, huge portions, and DELICIOUS. My friends and I split French toast with fruit ($6.50), chocolate chip-strawberry pancakes ($8), and an omelet with mushrooms and cheddar ($7). Those would be relatively average prices if the dishes were individually sized, but they could feed a small army. The plates were twice the size of my head and came absolutely loaded with food. We could have easily split two dishes between the three of us, and we barely made a dent in three. The food wasn’t anything fancy but was very well done, which was expected and refreshing. The eggs and all their accouterments were flavorful and not too salty (and the cheese was perfectly oozy). The pancakes were exactly what chocolate chip strawberry pancakes ought to be – fluffy, tangy, and sweet. Our collective favorite was the French toast – it was rich but not too dense, eggy but not overwhelmingly so, and even good the next day!
Guy’s review was on point: if you’re looking for some serious weekend (or weekday) brunch that won’t break the bank, give Kelly’s a shot.