The Great New England Breakfast Road Trip
Road trips are the best excuse for second breakfast
A couple weekends ago, my boyfriend Greg and I embarked on an end-of-summer road trip through New England, courtesy of Chevrolet. We started in New York and spent a night in both Boston and Portland, and then hightailed it back home before the work week.
New England isn't exactly unfamiliar territory to us—we've both been to Boston quite a few times, and we were in Portland earlier this summer. But the world is big, thank goodness, and we made sure to stop at places that were all entirely new to us. And that included our stops for breakfast.
Fortunately, Greg and I are both almost always hungry, which meant for this trip, we were always, always game to stop for a snack. And what we realized pretty quickly is that road trips are tailor-made for this kind of hunger. Every morning, we woke up and grabbed a small(ish) bite at a bakery, which tided us over until we dove headfirst into a proper, sit-down morning meal. And, you know, another stop or two to make sure we had properly experienced all the culinary wonders the region had to offer.
Here's where we stopped as we zigzagged north.
Want to know a secret? Sullivan St. Bakery has one of best simple breakfast sandwiches in New York City. We picked up our Chevy Cruze in Chelsea, and in that neighborhood, breakfast pickings tend to range from cheap bodega B.E.C. (delicious, but not what we were in the mood for) and $14 avocado toast (delicious, but um, no). What we found at Sullivan St. hit the spot. We split a panini d'uovo—that's an egg sandwich—with salsiccia, gruyere, and fried sage. It was salty and spicy, packed with umami, and served up on basically the platonic ideal of breakfast sandwich bread: strecci, a bread made from the same dough as the bakery's pizza bianca dough. We finished it off with a sweet, fruit-filled pastry. Fully fueled, we jetted up Manhattan's west side to Connecticut.
If you are within a few miles of Mystic, Connecticut with a still-almost-entirely-full tank of gas (thank you, diesel engine), you must stop at Mystic Pizza and have a pie. Greg and I were happy to oblige. After we parked, we meandered through the seaside town to find our very own "slice of heaven." Yes, there were Mystic Pizza movie posters on the wall. Yes, there were many, many tourists. And yes, our pepperoni pizza really hit the spot.
Bonus stop: Grace Farms, a community center in New Canaan, Connecticut, is like no other community center I've seen. The S-shaped building, called The River, is a series of connecting spaces—from a tea shop to a basketball court to libraries to an auditorium—that snake gently down a slope. It's won a host of architecture awards, and is a gorgeous place to stretch your legs. We wandered in and out of the spaces, stopped for a snack and gorgeous loose-leaf tea, and visited their teeming vegetable garden.
Greg and I were growing hungrier by the minute while I tried to sort out a check-out snafu at our hotel on Saturday morning. Fortunately, Greg went out in search of provisions—hanger is not a good look on either of us—and stumbled upon Tatte Bakery, a local Boston chainlet. Greg circled back to the hotel with a cinnamon morning bun and a flaky pistachio croissant, which we ooh'd and aah'd over—momentarily—before tearing into them. They were delicious.
While the delicate pastries held us over for the first part of our morning, soon we were ready for elevenses. Greg used the in-car wifi to find our next stop. We hit the jackpot with the historic Agawam Diner, located off Route 1 in Rowley, Mass. Originally built in 1954, the railcar diner moved to its current location in 1970. We parked in the gravel driveway and snagged two stools at the counter. As we ate our mess of perfect diner toast, corned beef hash, bacon, and eggs, we listened to older people order "the regular, thanks" and watched little kids fresh from a soccer game down pint glasses of chocolate milk. This diner is one of the good ones.
Bonus stop:Russell Orchards, a farm and market, was bustling when we pulled up. While we were just going to pop our heads into the market for some fresh apple cider and a poke around, the siren song of pick-your-own blackberries was too sweet to resist. The berries were at their peak, and we filled up a couple pints in no time. Hot take: freshly picked blackberries are an unbeatable road trip snack.
This very website has gushed over Tandem Coffee and Bakery before, so it felt important to check it out for ourselves. We maybe overdid it. Just a little. But you try only getting ONE thing when you look into that pastry case. All in all, we got five things, and every last one of them was delicious. Our picks: a slice of black sesame banana bread, a cheddar and jalapeno biscuit, an everything seasoning scone, a peach scone, and a chocolate chip cookie. While I can honestly say that last one was saved for later, the rest of the pastries were mostly consumed on the spot. Each one of them was a winner, but Greg and I both exhaled an awed "whoa" when taking a bite of the banana bread and the biscuit. The coffee, by the way, was excellent, too.
Of course, you could also save room for one of the best diner breakfasts of your life at Becky's. Located right on Portland's waterfront, Becky's is a 26-year-old institution. Greg and I both went with the Hobson's Wharf Special, a diner platter heaped with the platonic ideal of bacon, two eggs however you want them, crispy homefries, buttered toast, and—in my case—two perfect blueberry pancakes. Go.
Bonus stop: If you're a true breakfast hero—or just want something to bring home with you—you've also got to stop at The Holy Donut, one of the biggest names in the potato doughnut game. The doughnuts are simultaneously dense and airy, kind of a perfect combination of cake and yeast varieties. The fancier flavors—chocolate sea salt, Maine blueberry, toasted coconut—are all delicious, but my very favorite was the classic cinnamon sugar that really lets the doughnut's texture shine.