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Stranded in Amherst!!!

  • l

Well I finally did it... I extricated myself from the city.

I am a NYC foodie in desperate need of a little direction in the Pioneer Valley. The short of it is I am homesick for my dives and finds.

This is what I am looking for, maybe you can help...

1. Decent Pizza (I'm not looking for a miracle, but so far I have been reduced to making my own. The problem... I grew up eating at Difara's)

2. Decent Thai

3. Sushi

4. Indian

5. GOOD COFFEE in Bean and in a Cup(I have tried Rao's and the Black Sheep... yuchh... burned burned burned, tart acidic... no thank you. I love Moko D'oro, D'amico, and La Colombe. If anyone would like to go in on splitting shipping costs maybe we could start a little club)

I really want to like it up here, and patronize local business. I know there has to be great stuff, I just need a little help. Thanks

Oh, yeah... Any other suggestions, (Burgers, Mexi, Senagalese, Falafel, etc...) would be greatly appreciated

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  1. Not too familiar with Amherst. Know more about Northampton.

    1. Pizza - Tough call in NoHo. New Haven snob here. However, I find that Paradiso does the Cali style pizzas pretty well and Luna Pizza is a fair facsimile of NH pizza. But, if you want really good pizza, Modern, Sally's and Pepe's are only 1.25 hrs away.

    2. Thai Garden in NoHo is o.k.. Not great.

    3. Osaka in NoHo is good

    4. India House in NoHo produces really flavorful dishes. I'm usually eating w/ "medium" eaters so I haven't tried their hot stuff but I think that it has good flavor.

    5. Coffee is really individual. My favorite is Shelburne Falls but others seem to prefer Woodstar and Haymarket. (I don't like Rao's either).

    Other suggestions:
    Korean place on Rte 9 in Hadley is pretty good. At least for a bi bim bap fix. Haven't tried much else.
    Cafe Amanouz (NoHo) for a falafel.
    Veracruzana for decent Mex.
    I'm sure that there's a decent burger somewhere in Amherst but Packard's in NoHo has good burgers.

    Also in NoHo I like:
    Woodstar cafe for a cool space and really good sandwiches.
    Cha cha cha for interesting Indian-influenced Mex. Some don't like the owners but they've always been good to me.

    Just a start of a list.

    Be sure to drive south from Amherst and hit Atkins Farms for good produce, baked goods and meat/seafood.

    1. One place you might try for pizza in Northampton is Joe's Cafe. I grew up in Amherst and now live in New Haven -- Joe's isn't Pepe's or Modern, but it's my favorite pizza in the Amherst/Northampton area.

      One other local suggestion if you like BBQ is Bub's -- it's on Rt. 116 just over the Amherst/Sunderland line.

      1 Reply
      1. re: plriddler

        Just came back from a daytrip to Western Mass....a revisiting from my younger days. Stopped into Joe's for a quick pie and was not disappointed. The best!!! Thin crust with charred edges. Perfectly seasoned sauce. It brought me back a good 20 years....stands up to any NY pizza...you MUST GO.

      2. I live in Amherst and have spent most of my life living here, except for 5 years recently in Boston. Amherst and the Pioneer Valley has great food, but it's definitely different than NYC. I can understand that if you are used to NYC, adjusting to Amherst might be difficult. However, even though it's different (and much less varied, for obvious reasons), there's a lot to like. Here are some suggestions, some of these you might end up liking more than others:

        In Amherst:

        Try the spicy chicken tea rolls at Fresh Side Cafe, or other tea rolls, but if you like chicken salad you should definitely get the spicy chicken.

        I like Rao's coffee, but I'm not that big a coffee drinker, so I can't help too much there. Loose Goose Cafe is another possibility for coffee, and my mom says that they have great sandwiches and baked goods, but I haven't been there in about 5 years.

        Give Thai Corner a try...they can make some excellent Thai food. This is the type of place where it might be worth it to present a chowhound passport to convince them you want authentic Thai food. Out of all the Thai places in Amherst/Northampton, this is still my favorite.

        Antonio's pizza is great but is obviously nothing like Difara's. Try the blackbean avocado feta....once again I realize this is hardly a replacement, more like a brand new food.

        The Souper Bowl makes good bubble tea.

        Head to the Moan and Dove in S. Amherst for beer.

        Atkins in South Amherst for produce, apples, groceries, cheeses, etc.

        There is now only one Indian place in Amherst. It's fine but nothing too special in my opinion. La Veracruzana (in both Northampton and Amherst) has good Mexican food, try the fresh squeezed juices too.

        There is no Senegalese per se but there's a west african place opening up (or maybe it just did) where the crepe place used to be.

        Near Amherst: Up in Sunderland, try to get to Smiarowki's farmstand before they close for the season. EXCELLENT soft ice cream, it's on Rt. 47, 1-2 miles south of Sunderland center. I think they are only open till 7 on weekdays this month, possibly shorter hours in October.

        For ice cream this area beats out NYC in my opinion: Herrell's, Flayvors, Smiarowski's are all excellent, homemade ice cream. Give them a try.

        In Northampton (besides Herrell's): Amanouz Cafe is AWESOME. I was there last week and had the vegetable couscous (which sounds so basic and possibly even bland) but is really just the opposite. Very flavorful couscous, lots of vegetables (carrots, squash, zucchini, tomato, onions, chickpeas) all topped with a generous dollop of babagonoush and plenty of parsley.

        I ate at the Korean place in Hadley the other day too, I really liked it, very small and friendly, generous servings. In addition to bibimbap we had a scallion pancake which was huge.

        I could probably list more but that's enough for now.....good luck, there's lots of great food to discover here too, it's just more spread out. And remember, it's not like you're in Siberia. NYC is only 3.5 hours away.

        Dave M.P.

        1. m
          MNS in Chelsea

          A while back, we lived just north of Amherst for 2 years (back in NYC now) and though my specifics are dated, I have a little help. There was a pizza place right on the green in Amherst that had lines every day and the pizza was very good. Not an Italian brick-oven type place, but a decent Italo-American by-the-slice joint.

          There was no Thai food that I recall, but the little Korean place on Rt 9 (GOHYANG KOREAN RESTAURANT)was surprisingly excellent and authentic. I would go there even now, and I live 5 blocks from "Koreatown" in NYC. Sometimes you have to shift your expectations. It's not that far to Boston for Thai or Vietnamese...

          India House (?) in N'hampton was OK.

          We recently went to the Night Kitchen at the Bookmill in Montague and it was very good. Upscale, American food, great setting. We loved the bookmill long before it had a restaurant, anyway.

          I think Amber Waves closed, but they had great Asian noodle dishes...

          That's actually all I can recall for now. Ya gotta search long and hard, but you'll find a few gems out there! Just give up on the idea of great sushi and save it for special occasions when you travel somewhere else...

          1. I'm from NYC also, living in Northampton, have never found good pizza no matter what anyone says! (No bagels, for that matter). Joe's is the closest pizza to good pizza.
            Thai Garden - just ok
            Packard's does have a good burger.
            No sushi - Osaka is ok but there is no really good sushi here.
            India House is skimpy on portions and expensive for what it is. The owners also own Cha Cha Cha, and yes, they are bordering on nasty.
            Indigo for coffee. They have it at some deli's I don't know if you can get the beans, but I think I remember them selling beans at Cooper's Corner in Florence.
            Every time I go to New York, pizza, a pastrami sandwich, a bagel and some Thai food are musts for me.

            1. Really, you're in Amherst but haven't found Antonio's pizza yet? The lines out the door at all hours of the day should be enough to tip you off that great pizza is to be had here! My personal fave is the salad pizza, but they have more topping choices than any other place I've ever seen.

              Burritos at Bueno y Sano are always a treat (more health food than true Mex though).

              I miss Amherst!

              1. As a former resident of Amherst now living in NYC I have to be honest and tell you there are places in Amherst that I miss despite now living in the culinary capital of the world.

                Pizza is a no-brainer. You simply will not find traditional New York style Pizza around Amherst. There is no Grimaldi's. What there is however is Antonio's, which despite not being traditional pizza is a uniquely great place. Find me a comparable slice of salad pizza or black bean & avocado in the city.

                The best coffee is another easy question. Amherst Coffee (in the new cinema building) makes as good an espresso as there is in this country. That may sound like an exaggeration, but they take their craft very very seriously. Amherst Coffee also has a full bar and cheese plates, and it's location makes it an excellent place to sit and observe.

                The best burger you'll find is at Amherst Brewing Co., their Cajun burger with bacon and blue cheese being the best. There are a variety of Thai restaurants, all of which are fairly mediocre. New India House in Northampton is clearly the best Indian food you'll find in the valley. To my mind there is no clear standout among the sushi places in the valley. There are plenty of passable places, if forced to choose one I would probably go with Osaka in Northampton.

                Recently opened Esselon, on Rt. 9 in Hadley is an excellent addition to the Valley food scene. The founder of Rao's mans the espresso machine here, and they serve a solid menu of traditional brunch and lunch fair, all of which is effective.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Brooklyn Viola

                  I'll second Esselon. Tried it a few weeks ago on my last visit to the area, and had a terrific latte and late lunch in a beautiful setting. I would choose it for my regular coffee hang-out if I lived anywhere nearby. Thanks to the CH who orignally posted.

                2. Don't worry, you'll eat well!

                  For pizza, try Pinocchio's.
                  For falafel, try Blue Moon Cafe.
                  Sushi at Arigato
                  Thai (not superb, but quite good) at Thai Corner

                  Also on occasion have had good food at the Lord Jeffreys dining room and pub

                  1. Try the pad thai tea rolls and the fried tofu rice at Fresh Side on Main St.

                    Antonio's pizza is reliably good. Different but good.

                    The burgers at the Amherst Brewing Company are ok but the place is nothing special. I have found the cooking and the service there to be pretty uneven. It seems like there is always something wrong with someone's food if I go with more than one other person.

                    A lot of people complain about the Indian food here (in Amherst at least). I have resorted to ordering spices and mixes and making things myself. It isn't great but it gets me through until I head back to NYC or DC.

                    1. It's been a while since I was in Amherst, but I would kill for a Bueno y Sano burrito with some roasted zucchini in it! that's an awesome place.

                      1. I used to live in Amherst and an avid NYC eater so here's where I used to go to eat. I'm leaving out things that everyone else has raved about because you must have gotten the idea by now. holy smokes bbq and whole hog in west hatfield and theodores in springfield for the best bbq in the area. bueno y sano is the best deal in town but definately not anything authentic to speak of. Judy's is good food but again expensive. for breakfast I used to like sables on rt 9 and when that was too busy across the street at Sully's. The montague bookmill is a great spot to hang out. they have coffee but also some good beers on tap, wireless, and if you just want a sandwhich they have those at a decent price and good ingredients, plus live music every once and a while. YOu have to remember you are in a big college town so food is catering towards that crowd or is expensive for the most part so I found getting out of town and off the beaten path yeilded much better food finds. Like the korean restaurant on rt 9 looks like nothing but the bim bam bap was good the service was nice. good luck oh and for sushi I gave up and either ate sub par or made my own. There used to be a great asian grocery on rt 9 but I think they moved somewhere else.

                        1. Forget about NYC--pizza in this area; youll just have to lower your bar and suffer like the rest of us ex-pats. Also, whatever anyone says about area Mexican (including Mi Tierra), there's nothing authentically Mexican. Instead, you'll get a reasonable rendition of Cal-Mex w/Gringoized spicing. The Book Mill, like all of the upper-scale joints in the valley i've tried, is overpriced and overdetermined--the food is too busy, too cloying; too heavy, too passe; and too much. Go to 39 Main in Brattleboro if you want fresh ingredients that are creatively applied.

                          1. Those of us who live in the boon docks hearts really bleed for those of you "stranded in Ahmerst". There is more good casual food in Ahmerst than anywhere in the northeast outside of Boston and NYC. If you are looking for a good cofee that is not bitter you might try EQUAL EXCHANGE brand. Most of the restaurants I that come to my mind in your area have already been mentioned except AMERST CHINESE which I know is inconsitant, but I have had NYC quality chinese food there in the past. Also try the ENFRIJOLADES at LA VERACRUZANA.