Growing up on Long Island, Divya Advani developed an adventurous love of food when her parents would take the family on weekly culinary excursions to sample different cuisines. Arriving at BU, Advani discovered a city celebrated for its weekend brunches and set out to explore Boston’s food culture, often inviting friends along.
“The reason I love brunch above dinner, breakfast, or lunch is because it has a different sort of atmosphere when you’re going out with your friends,” says Advani (CGS’18, COM’20). “After a late Saturday, it’s fun to talk about the events of the night, chill with your friends, and have a cup of coffee and a stack of pancakes.”
From the Spanish tapas fare at Barcelona Wine Bar on Beacon Street to the Croque Madames and other French pastries at Brookline’s Tatte Bakery & Cafe to the Cajun-influenced menu at Bootleg Special in the South End, Advani has become an expert on the best places to go for a memorable brunch.
The public relations major has just arrived in Sydney, Australia, for a study abroad semester and is now embarking on a new food journey. “Naturally, I have a complete Excel sheet dedicated to all the foods I have to try,” Advani says. “Among the things I am dying to try are the variety of acai bowls, the different Asian options, such as Malaysian, and even kangaroo.”
Before she left, we asked her to share some special Boston places to eat and unwind, along with one of her favorite city walks.
Buttermilk & Bourbon
160 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston
Nestled in the lower level of an opulent Back Bay townhouse, Buttermilk & Bourbon is chef-owner Jason Santos’ ode to Southern cuisine and hospitality. Entering the restaurant, Advani says, you feel as though you’ve been transported to New Orleans during Mardi Gras. The dining spaces are cozy and the brunch (served Sundays only) offers a range of Cajun-inflected fare, from buttermilk fried chicken to crawfish boudin croquettes and fresh fried beignets, dusted with confectioner’s sugar.
Advani recommends: “I really like to sit outdoors when I have the chance, so I enjoy the patio when the weather’s nice.”
The Friendly Toast
35 Stanhope Street, Boston
With locations in the Back Bay and Cambridge’s Kendall Square (you’ll also find them in Burlington, Mass., Burlington, Vt., and Portsmouth, N.H.), the Friendly Toast has become popular with young patrons, drawn to its delicious all-day breakfast cuisine. The brightly painted interior walls, red leather banquettes, and mid-century Americana tchotchkes give it a boisterous, noisy feel and make it a great place for people watching. With dishes like French toast with caramelized bananas, chicken and waffles, cinnamon rolls, omelets, and biscuits topped with grits, it’s easy to see why the Friendly Toast has such a devoted following.
Advani recommends: “The chocolate banana pancakes are to die for, and the variety of Eggs Benedict will keep you on your toes.”
Charles River Esplanade
Spanning three miles along the banks of the Charles River between the Museum of Science and the BU Bridge, the Charles River Esplanade offers one of the most scenic and tranquil settings anywhere in Boston for a post-brunch stroll any time of the year. The original park, created by landfill during the latter part of the 19th century, nearly doubled in size during the 1930s when landscape architect Arthur Shurcliff designed the Storrow Memorial Embankment, the site of the Hatch Shell (where the city’s popular Fourth of July Boston Pops concerts are held), lagoons, footbridges, and playgrounds.
Advani recommends: “Brunch is a great place to restart your week, especially on a Sunday. I continue that restart by walking on the Esplanade along the Charles River. This is a great way to unwind and reflect on what has happened in the past week and see how I can make the next week even better than the last.”