A South American Breakfast at a Greek Cafeteria

Harry's (318 Tuam) is hands-down one of our favorite places for a leisurely breakfast on the weekends. Its unassuming exterior hides one of the best spots in town for a good, hearty breakfast that won't cost an arm and a leg, with cheerful service to boot. It's not the place to take the girls out to a fancy brunch and they don't serve mimosas, which is just how we like it.

Harry's is only open until 2:30 p.m. every day -- breakfast is served most of that time, for you late risers -- and a cafeteria-style lunch service takes over later in the day. But breakfast is the best time to go. The restaurant is run by Johnny Platsis, a Greek immigrant, and his wife Patricia, who hails from Ecuador. They bought the place from their friend, the eponymous Harry Mickelis, in 1994, who had in turn purchased it from his friend Eugene Pavlovich in 1974. Pavlovich had operated the restaurant as Gene's Cafe since 1948, so -- in a sense -- Harry's has been around much longer than its new building (it was rebuilt in 2002 by the Platsis family) would suggest.

The sense of a tightly knit family is evident throughout the restaurant. Harry directs traffic in the open kitchen, making sure orders are brought out correctly and quickly. Patricia works the register, greeting most customers by name. And their daughter, Zoi, works the door, greeting and seating guests as they come in. The menu, too, reflects a jumbled family: Greek dishes comingle with South American and plain old, no-nonsense Southern dishes. And although we usually get the same thing every time -- the Larissa plate, which is named after Harry's hometown in Greece and comes heaped with homestyle potatoes covered with feta cheese and oregano alongside two fresh eggs -- something new caught our eye last weekend.

The Churrasco plate was recently added to the menu, part of Patricia's influence on the place, and we couldn't resist after reading the description: chargrilled skirt steak, two eggs, potato-cheese cakes with achiote, a side of spicy peanut sauce and a fresh avocado. At $9.99, it was a tremendous amount of food that could have easily been split between two people.

While the skirt steak with grilled onions was nice and juicy, and the accompanying spicy peanut sauce provided a pleasant, tangy zip, we simply couldn't get enough of the potato-cheese cakes. Two rounded cakes with a mashed potato-like consistency, studded with little peppers and oozing cheese out of the sides, they paired perfectly with the thick avocado slices and bites of runny egg. We were in breakfast heaven.

Although it may be a bit much for an average person's breakfast, split between two people with two of Harry's blueberry-saturated pancakes on the side and the endless cups of fresh coffee, the spicy Churrasco plate can perk up the gloomiest weekend and get your Saturday morning off to a good start.

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Katharine Shilcutt