Buddy's Truck Stop

That increasingly rare bird: the honest-to-goodness old-time diner
By MC SLIM JB  |  September 30, 2009

The modern truck stop typically sits in an interstate-adjacent service area with a parking lot that can accommodate scores of big rigs. Buddy's Truck Stop, a shoebox-size 19-seat diner that dates to 1930, must have been a trucker's stop-off in the pre-interstate era, when the nearby McGrath Highway was still a critical trucking artery. Despite a new sign (sans "Truck Stop") and spiffy red paint job, Buddy's remains the quintessential old-time diner: a clean, well-run place for a quick, no-frills American breakfast. Most customers appear to be tradesmen and regulars, and the place is so old-fashioned that some actually dine on the cuff, settling tabs on a weekly basis. (It's cash-only.)

The menu is written on hand-scribbled paper plates strung over the counter, and features the usual eggs, griddle cakes, meats, and omelets, plus a handful of hot sandwiches. For example, a plate of pancakes or French toast ($5.99/three; $6.99/five) includes breakfast meat (bacon, link or patty sausage, thin-sliced Virginia ham) and a bottomless cup of good filter coffee. The pancakes aren't light and fluffy, but substantial, lumberjack-worthy; syrup is Aunt Jemima Lite. A plate of two eggs ($4.49) includes home fries (chunky, well-seasoned Bliss potatoes) and toast made from above-average bread (white, wheat, Portuguese sweet bread, scali, or English muffin). The same plate with a hefty portion of breakfast meat (like five slices of good crisp bacon) runs $5.99. Omelets ($5.99?$7.99) are built like burritos, a huge thin wrapper of scrambled egg wrapped around a generous filling, plus toast and home fries. House-made corned-beef hash ($6.99) is very tasty: fine-grained and griddled to a good crust, with two eggs, toast, coffee, and optional grilled onions and/or bell pepper; it takes 20 minutes to prepare.

Lunch plates include sandwiches like a sub of hot Italian sausage or linguiça (spicy Portuguese cured pork sausage) with scrambled egg, onion, and bell pepper ($6.49); grilled cheese ($4.99, plus $0.50 for tomato and $1.00 for bacon or ham); BLT ($6.99); and two hot dogs ($5.99), all with a soda and bag of chips. There's even an old-timey plate of baked beans with sliced ham or two hot dogs ($4.99). Drink options include milk, coffee, American sodas (including Moxie and house-branded birch beer) and bottled water (all $1.25). In a diner universe that nowadays consists mostly of kitschy, faux-finish fakers, Buddy's is the real deal: a friendly, authentic, not-so-greasy greasy spoon.

Buddy's Truck Stop, located at 133 Washington Street, in East Somerville, is open Monday?Saturday, 5:30 am?2 pm, and Sunday, 7 am?2 pm. Call 617.623.9725.

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