Brunch is definitionally vague. It isn’t breakfast, it isn’t lunch, and it’s not exactly clear when it should be eaten. 11 a.m. feels too early, and 2 p.m. feels too late. Is it best to eat brunch around noon? No one is ever on time for brunch in the first place, so does timing even matter? Is brunch defined by the food — must there be a Benedict or some other heavily-sauced egg dish on the table for the event to qualify? — or is brunch defined by a table strewn with half-empty champagne flutes and mugs full of spicy, tomato-spiked vodka drinks?
If brunch is definitionally vague, then it is also functionally flexible. Brunch can sort of just be whatever anyone wants it to be, which is a boon during this fraught time when meeting with people outside of our pods (a hallmark of brunch in pre-COVID times) carries very real health risks. (It’s also important to keep in mind that restaurant workers in Massachusetts are not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.)
That said, one does not have to brunch out to brunch well. For the foreseeable future, the Eater Boston Brunch Heatmap will focus on takeout and delivery rather than indoor dining. Featured restaurants may not offer full brunch menus, but rather various items — coffee, doughnuts, pastries, bagels, etc. — that would not be out of place on a typical brunch spread.
Going forward, the Brunch Heatmap will be updated monthly once again, highlighting some of the most interesting new restaurants in town, but other restaurant-adjacent newness is also fair game: pop-ups, delivery-only food businesses, even older restaurants making distinct pandemic “pivots.” Know of something new and exciting that should be on our radar? Email the Eater Boston team.
New to the map in the February 2021 update: Blackbird Doughnuts (Beacon Hill), Cafe Beatrice, La Saison Bakery, Phinista Cafe, Third Cliff Bakery & Cafe, Turenne Bakery and Cafe, and Villa Bakery Cafe.
This map is updated monthly, so consult the archive to see restaurants featured in previous versions — just because they’re no longer new doesn’t mean they’re not worth visiting.
Check back here next month for some more new options. And for other solid brunch destinations to check out regardless of newness, consult Vital Brunch Spots to Know in Boston for some classic spots or our full breakfast and brunch guide. Need caffeine? Check out this map of essential Boston coffee shops.
Please note that a number of Boston-area restaurants have resumed dine-in service, and the level of service offered is indicated on each map point. However, this should not be taken as endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns: For updated information on coronavirus cases in the area, please visit the Massachusetts coronavirus website.
Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.
This map was originally published in July 2015; it is typically updated monthly, and the date of the most recent update appears above.Read More