En route to Danny’s Diner, a Somerville breakfast-all-day joint between Inman and Porter Squares, a friend wonders aloud, “There are restaurants around here?” Yes, I reply, and some good ones, like R.F. O’Sullivan’s, a tavern I admire for its bocce-ball-sized burgers, and Zoe’s, which serves searing, authentic Sichuan cuisine. At Danny’s, I immediately order the corned-beef hash ($5.95), my pass/fail test for diners — ah, it’s house-made and terrific, with a nice crust griddled onto it. The plate includes two perfectly poached eggs, a lot of underseasoned home fries improved by griddle crust, good filter coffee, and either toast or a pair of big, light, lovely pancakes.
Portions are massive; it’s easy to see why crowds of locals and a steady stream of takeout customers are on a first-name basis with the omnipresent chef/owner. A Western omelet ($5.95) is a fine example of the densely overstuffed, four-egg diner style. Banana French toast ($5.95) covers a large oval plate with huge, thick triangles, copious fresh banana slices, and a big squiggle of “crème” (Reddi Wip). Lunch and dinner options, available only after 11:30 am, include a wide range of sandwiches, subs, and full plates, like an American chop suey ($6.95) special, heaping and mild, a comfortingly retro reminder of ’50s-vintage cookery. House-made onion rings ($2.95) are fresh and greaselessy fried, though the fryer smell may linger on you.
Danny’s is small, modestly decorated, and spotless: nine counter seats, a handful of bare tables, thrift-store art. In classic diner fashion, service is friendly, attentive, and bluff (“What’s yours, hon?”). But the kitchen belies the heritage of the diner, the predecessor to the modern fast-food restaurant, in one key respect: its pacing can be sluggish. Some visits yielded 30-minute waits from the time we sat down until our breakfasts appeared, some plates arriving with stone-cold, oleo-smeared toast. So make extra time and opt instead for those wonderful pancakes as your side. After a Danny’s breakfast, you might be late for work, but you can skip lunch.
Danny’s Diner, located at 298 Beacon Street, in Somerville, is open Monday through Saturday, from 7 am to 10 pm, and on Sunday, from 7 am to 5 pm. Call 617.492.4800.