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Best of Boston 2009

Sealey's Lunch

A diner with old-time friendliness and leisurely pacing
By MC SLIM JB  |  March 11, 2009



You've driven past this one restaurant a hundred times, often thinking, "I should check that place out." Years go by. Hundreds of drive-bys stretch into thousands, and still you haven't gone in. The 1940s-vintage sign outside gets steadily more weathered. Dining trends and the restaurants that follow them come and go. Yet still this place persists. Finally, one day you pull over and check it out. Does it surprise you to learn that it's a friendly little neighborhood diner with gentle prices and a menu with nothing that would perplex or frighten your great-grandmother?

Such is Sealey's Lunch, a tiny counter-service Greek-American joint that has been serving daytime meals since 1914. Photos of bygone athletic teams from nearby Brookline High cover the walls. Morning finds town employees lingering before their workday over good filter coffee ($1.50–$1.75) and plates of eggs ($2.75–$4.25) and omelettes ($5.00–$5.50) served with toast and okay home fries. A stack of pancakes with two eggs and Jimmy-Dean-tasting breakfast sausages is $5.50. Throughout the day, you'll find old-timers lunching on a budget and teenagers gobbling post-school plates of fries ($3.00). Everything is cooked to order, so service can be slow, but nobody seems to mind. The hurly-burly of the modern diner or fast-food restaurant is noticeably, quaintly absent here.

A fried-egg sandwich on toasted Wonder bread with a bag of chips costs $2.00, a tuna melt $5.00. There's the usual variety of ordinary cold and hot subs, like egg salad ($5.75), grilled chicken ($6.00), and a steak bomb ($6.50). A cheeseburger club plus fries is a mere $6.50. There's Sysco-grade deep-fried stuff, too, like Buffalo wings with fries and slaw ($7.45). It's not all pedestrian: Greek-leaning dishes stand out, like a special of chicken souvlaki with tsatziki sauce and grilled pita, onions, and tomatoes ($7.25), or a fresh-tasting feta and spinach soup ($3.25 cup, $4.25 bowl). Milk, bottled water, and American soft drinks ($1.50–$2.00) are your sole beverage options beyond coffee. In short, Sealey's fare occupies that stratum of the diner world where everything is solid, fairly priced, and largely unmemorable. No matter: for several generations of Brookline neighbors and kids, this modest little 40-seater is a fixture, an essential hangout comfortably woven into the fabric of their days. For them, the sweetness of the owners, the old-fashioned food, and perhaps especially the downtempo pacing of the place, are all a welcome throwback.

Sealey's Lunch, located at 147 Cypress Street, in Brookline, is open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm, and Saturday and Sunday, from 8 am to 2 pm. Call 617.566.8529.

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  Topics: On The Cheap , breakfast, Brookline, Culture and Lifestyle,  More more >
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