Almost every small town in America has its great little breakfast and lunch spot, and many of them are named for the hard-working person who oversees stacks of pancakes and mounds of Hollandaise-covered Eggs Benedict grabbed from the kitchen by the efficient hands of professional, friendly waitresses. In the New Hampshire Seacoast area on Route 1 alone we have Nancy’s, Betty’s, Linda’s and Wilbur’s. They’re all small, brisk businesses with charm, country comfort and huge plates of food, but MaryAnn’s Diner in Derry takes this all to the extreme with a lively atmosphere and one great breakfast that loyal customers line up for every weekend.
The four large dining areas inside the gleaming chrome-covered diner are necessary space to hold the hundreds who come here on the weekends for breakfast only, although lunch is served during the week as well. While there may be lines to get in on weekends, the turnaround is brisk enough to keep the flow going in and out of the busy space, and the atmosphere is entertaining enough to keep guests occupied with a ’50s theme writ large. Cushy blue vinyl seats in booths are flecked with silver glints, the waitresses sweep by in swinging poodle skirts, and the stereo plays those old songs from the “day” between walls covered with nostalgia. While it may be showy, the only “cheesy” aspect to all this fun is in your three-egg omelet.
There are the usual breakfast choices, but also some interesting variations like the Portuguese omelet with spicy linguiça sausage, onion and cheese topped with creamy Hollandaise with crisp home fries and toast for just $5.50. Plates of waffles topped with strawberries and a huge pile of whipped cream are $4.95, and there are those wonderful rib-sticking old-time favorites like corned beef hash, chicken fried steak or S.O.S. in the form of creamed ground beef on toast with eggs. The surprising Jack Daniel’s black raspberry BBQ steak tips with eggs for only $7.50 are delicious.
All this and a funky, fun atmosphere with a great waitstaff always ready with a smile and the endearing “Hon” no matter how busy it is — a breakfast and a scene worth standing in line for.
MaryAnn’s Diner, 29 E. Broadway, downtown Derry, (603) 434-5785, www.maryannsdiner.com