Good News from A Great City Haverhill, MA
The Heartbeat of Haverhill first wrote this blog four years ago, and has watched as it became a resource every weekend. With that in mind, we’ve update the post and included new places and deleted some favorites that disappeared.
This week when asked, “What’s the best thing about Haverhill”, 87% of locals gave food-related answers. Haverhill is a food lover’s paradise. And one of the best food revelations about Haverhill is its preponderance of choices for the most important meal of the day – Breakfast. It’s especially a great meal when you want to go out for a treat but still keep an eye on your budget.
Every town, probably every corner in every town has a Dunkin Donuts with its familiar menu and decent coffee, but The Heartbeat of Haverhill checked out the non-chain, unique spots where people crack an egg and a smile. And what we found in Haverhill is a very supportive restaurant culture. We learned of a different breakfast spot from every proprietor we asked. At Mark’s Deli we were told we had to include Heav’nly Donuts in Bradford. When we protested what we assumed was a chain, we were put straight. The Bradford location is independently owned, everything is baked on site, and it’s worthy of a visit. At another restaurant, we learned of The Grill Next Door. And with a community this supportive of each other, one begins to understand the culture that nurtures more breakfast joints per capita than apparently all of the surrounding communities.
A funny thing about these breakfast restaurants, only a few focus on technology; instead they encourage striking up conversations with your server, your dining partner, neighbor and complete strangers, and that can be just as satisfying as the meals themselves.
Readers let us know which are your favorites and why, and while you get that discussion going, we will point out some of the unique qualities and most memorable traits of each place we visited.
A1 Deli, Wicked Big Cafe to come
ARTIST CAFE 22 Washington St Haverhill, Massachusetts (978) 374-6704
What sets them apart? Commitment too emerging artists, willingness to try new things, and being accommodating to guests dietary needs….oh yes, and the loveliest velvety hollandaise.
Park in a municipal lot and walk to this restaurant, it will help stimulate your appetite for a wide variety of breakfast treats.
The atmosphere is very convivial you walk in and are great with such enthusiasm you feel like they are so happy you personally came in. The walls are laden with a variety of art mediums from a long list of artists. Artist Cafe embraces innovation – they’ll try out things like Friday Night Game night, or the comfort food dinner night on Nov 18 2015 or pie baking classes to see what their guests are interested in. And they are helpful – a customer watches salt intake, so chef cooked up some unseasoned home fires on the spot., Wait staff is so enthusiastic about the different offerings it was hard for them to recommend a fewer than 5 favorites.
Azzi’s Cafe, 252 Main St, Haverhill, Massachusetts 01830, (978) 373-3881
What sets them apart? Lovely (albeit camera shy) proprietors. Addition of Lebanese food, made from scratch in small batches. Smallish menu but food made with care. Don’t be surprised if you get a sample of a new menu item.
Hours: Tuesday-Friday 6a-3p, Saturday 6a-2p. Decor is minimal because all efforts go into the food. Fans from city hall and all over the area are regulars.
What sets them apart? Variety of exception coffees, teas, wine and beer. Host to many community events with a hipster vibe. Veteran owned.
Salvatore and Dana Defranco opened a standout coffee shop in Haverhill. Beautiful decor and custom tables, partnership with Sciavotti’s Baked goods. Strong Wifi signal. Open Mon-Thu 7a-6p, Fri 7a-8p, Sat 8a-8p, Sun 8a-3p. Light breakfast foods like egg sandwiches and fancy toasts (Tosts), specialty grilled cheese, soups, salads and sandwiches.
DUFFY’S 8 Knipe Rd (on Rte 125 at the Ward Hill Connector) , Haverhill, MA 01835 978-891-3656 Open M-Sat 5:45-1:30 M-Sat, Open Sun 5:45-1:00pm
What sets them apart? A pretty restaurant, homemade corned beef, very reasonable prices, easy free parking, and an extensive menu.
Duffy’s sister restaurant is the long established Casey’s on Rte 125 over the border in Plaistow, NH. So these people know what they are doing when it comes to breakfast (and lunch). Big plentiful windows bathe both the separate breakfast counter and dining room in bright natural light, exposed beams add architectural interest. The staff creates a fun and engaging atmosphere where you may be invited in for a kitchen tour. You can create your own omelets from a long list of ingredients.
What sets them apart? Know-how and customer love. She has a solid understanding of the food business and she is introducing healthier options right alongside comfort food favorites so everyone is happy.
Mary Rafferty formerly owned Raffs Restaurant and opened this one in the name of her brother George (G Raff get it) after she retired for a short time and was compelled to pursue her passion. Good sized portions of high quality food and innovative specials from scratch. Breakfast all day and lunch. Chef/Owner Mary Rafferty visits table to table asking for input. Open Su-Sa 6a-2p, They must have a secret way of making the best pumpkin spice coffee. Different kinds of hash daily: pot roast, corned beef, pork roast. Old fashioned comfort food favorites for lunch including Shepherds Pie, Turkey Pie, Boiled Dinner, Chicken soup
Jimmy K’s – 101 Plaistow Rd (Rt 125) 978-377-0003
What sets them apart? Big servings, unique specials, parking, homemade hash.
Jimmy K’s is on the last stretch of Haverhill on Rte 125 before it becomes Plaistow NH, that makes it an excellent stop before or after shopping. They serve breakfast all day. The restaurant was originally in Georgetown, but moved into Haverhill for more traffic and better parking. Jimmy K’s serves breakfast all day. Servings are large, staff is friendly, and the restaurant itself is bright and open even when busy. Mon – Wed: 6:00 am – 3:00 pm, Thu – Sat: 6:00 am – 9:00 pm, Sun: 6:00 am – 3:00 pm
What sets them apart? Inventive culinary combinations and frequently changing menu and hearts of gold.
Partners Shauna and Raif pointed to their weekly specials menu (avocado and bacon omelets!) and guessed no one else has homemade mango salsa on the breakfast menu, either. We were treated to a sample of their crunchy new apple slaw being developed for the lunch menu. We first learned of the Breakfast Café from a Facebook update where a friend proclaimed that she just found the best Florentine Benedict ever; we headed over within a half an hour.
The Grill Next Door 653 Broadway, Haverhill, MA (978) 241-7337 head to the menu page for breakfast offerings.
What sets them apart? Breakfast cocktails, and off-the-chart attractiveness.
It’s really pretty inside. This place is not at all appealing on the outside, it looks like a well-worn bar, but overcome your hesitation and step in. The woodwork, windows, the bathroom, even the copper inlaid tables and the waitstaff are contemporarily good looking. No one calls you Honey or Sweetie. The Grill Next Door earned multiple awards for its beer selection and while that isn’t on my breakfast menu, homemade corned beef hash is.
Heav’nly Donuts 55 Main St. Bradford, MA 01835 (978) 521-4693
What sets them apart? The biggest donuts. Low prices. Customer accommodation.
I had not intended to include Heavnly Donuts, assuming it was a chain; it is not. It is a regular hangout for the town’s early risers and deep thinkers; the crowd begins gathering at 5:30 am. Owner Vasso Saragas has been known to dash to the baking area to custom-create a donut to fill a customer request. In a testament to their efforts to give back to our community, Heav’nly Donuts earned the 2009 Citizen’s Appreciation Award.
Steampunk Station, 30 Railroad Ave, Haverhill, Massachusetts 01835 (978) 891-5917
What sets them apart? Grab and go items freshly made daily and fusion menu items. Also proximity to Bradford Station so convenient for commuters. Charming decor. Plus they generously allow people to park in their lot when they walk the rail trail nearby.
Owners Mr. Kelly Meile and Angela Mo receive endless compliments for being great people. And their Italian and Chinese heritages make for some novel and delicious menu items. Steampunk Station is open long hours 6:30am-6:30pm and you can drop in for a full and hearty meal or some awesome homemade pastries.
Marks Deli 2 Railroad Square, Haverhill, MA 01832 (978) 374-9402
What sets them apart? The people! Staff and customers.
Everybody knows your name and if they don’t, they smile broadly as if they do, and you’re sure they’ll remember you next time. Mark’s Deli is a diner where owner/grillmaster Steve knows a regular guest’s order by heart. The front tables are filled with the city’s movers & shakers who congregate from 7-10 am, among them judges, businessmen, and town officials. If you want to know what’s going on in town, stop by for an earful as well as a mouthful.
Raff’s Café 620 Primrose St, Haverhill, MA 01832 978-373-4376
What sets them apart? Very reasonable prices, Good food and the “Hollywood” Connection. Employee owned.
Yes, Raff’s was used as a set for the movie “CO2”. And while you might not always get a chance to hobnob with art world luminaries, I’m sure they’ll come here when they can, because the food is inventive as well as good, and no one can resist a good deal on breakfast. Raff’s is very bright and clean and offers so many specials they flow over 3-4 white boards. Turkey hash is like Thanksgiving for breakfast, and the asparagus & ham omelet could serve 2.
Village Square Restaurant 109 S Main St, Bradford, MA 01835 no website or active Facebook page HAS NEW OWNER EFFECTIVE JUNE 2016
What sets them apart? All homemade breads, most especially the grilled cornbread and cinnamon swirl.
I first learned of this restaurant from my accountant. He’s a regular customer here, and when I mentioned his name to my waitress, (she’s relatively new) she knew who he was and what he orders. It’s that kind of place. My husband and I have a meal deal where we share what we try, but if I could have hidden that cornbread, I would have! Servings are big; we brought home half a steak tip omelet.
©2017 by Alison Colby-Campbell