ERC is a good place. This is no understatement--it's difficult to find a place that is consistent on multiple levels of service, quality and cost.
Your standard cafe setup here with a slew of hot and cold drinks of the caffeinated variety along with breakfast-esque food options. Prices are certainly reasonable and the tastiness level is more than satisfactory. Bagels are thick and chewy with a crisp outer layer--my suggestion is the "everything" bagel which has a satisfyingly crunchy outer layer with a salty bite.
For around $5 you can get the Jackson Crook which aside from being a sweet name entails your choice of bagel with sliced tomato, scallion cream cheese and bacon. This is definitely the high power among breakfast and early morning liquids choices so stay away from Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks, and the like if you're within distance of an ERC. Another plus is their bike-friendly attitude which reveals itself in the form of a discount at times as well as a usual mob of bike messengers slinking around inside or outside. I enjoy that.
Multiple locations around Boston in Allston, Newbury St., and Symphony make its presence known, but not overbearing. Their coffee and other hot drinks I've heard are of excellent quality, but as a non-coffee drinker I'll have to take others' word for it.
288 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02115, 617 859 9515, www.espressoroyale.com