The sprawling Boston neighborhood of Dorchester sure seems to be an increasingly popular destination for restaurants these days. Great restaurants such as the Ashmont Grill, Shanti, and Tavolo, attract people who ordinarily might not consider dining in this mostly working- and middle-class section of Boston. And then there are some old-school dining spots such as the Blarney Stone and the Banshee, which are frequented mainly by the locals. And add to this latter list a wonderful breakfast and lunch spot in Savin Hill that has been serving Dorchester folk for several years now, dishing out delicious meals to the people of this low-key neighborhood.
Upon entering McKenna's Cafe, one is instantly struck by its warmth and friendliness. Like a number of Dorchester restaurants, McKenna's is unpretentious, family-oriented, and closely tied to the neighborhood. Police officers, retirees, young couples, and groups of friends can be seen at McKenna's Cafe, dining on the popular McKenna's Special, big stacks of pancakes, tasty slices of French toast (including an unusual granola-crusted French toast), lean slices of Irish bacon, egg dishes such as the "Mexican fiesta" and a bacon, egg, and cheese wrap, nicely seasoned home fries, piles of corned beef hash, delicious bagels from Zeppy's, huge omelettes, and, at lunchtime, a variety of soups, salads, and sandwiches (including a decent meatball sub). McKenna's is known in part for its excellent coffee, and the Snickerdoodle is perhaps the best option here--and the place also has bottles of Del's Lemonade (the Rhode Island-based Del's is known mainly for their frozen lemonade). Service is quick and friendly, and the prices are very reasonable for the amount of food served.
This writer has been to many good breakfast spots in Dorchester and other neighborhoods just south of Boston proper, including Victoria's Diner near where Dorchester and Roxbury meet and Mul's Diner in South Boston. But McKenna's Cafe may be the best of the lot. And in many ways, McKenna's is the ultimate hidden gem: A place that few people know about, but one which diners return to again and again once they find out about it. It may not be easy to find, but McKenna's Cafe is one breakfast place that is well worth seeking out.
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