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We're taking a long weekend to go out to the Berkshires. We'll be staying in Springfield, but will be going to Hadley for a day hike on Mt Holyoke. Is there anywhere to stop and buy sandwiches or picnic provisions along the way? Is Esselson Cafe a good bet?

We'll also be having two dinners in Springfield. Right now we're thinking thinking Student Prince & perhaps one of the Vietnamese restaurants. Any different suggestions? We love fish, fresh produce & spicey. Thanks!

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  1. Hi, Gini:

    Esselon Cafe makes very good sandwiches, but I've never gotten them to go so don't know how well they package things, which could be a consideration if you're hiking first. For a wider selection of items you might try either the Whole Foods market on Route 9 in Hadley or Atkins Farms Market on Route 116 in Amherst, close to Hadley, South Hadley, and I-91. Whole Foods would be a good choice if your group includes vegetarians, as they have many vegan and meatless to-go items. Atkins has terrific local produce, a salad bar, a bakery with lots of portable goodies, and a deli that makes tasty, traditional style sandwiches. Also sushi, made locally by an itinerant sushi chef.

    Check the archives for recent threads on Springfield Vietnamese restaurants. There are a couple of good ones, each with their partisans.

    Have a great trip!

    2 Replies
    1. re: lisacs

      If you're stopping at Atkins, you kind of have to get cider donuts.

      1. re: LoDega

        Atkins sounds like the right place. Thanks!

    2. Other than Student Prince, what other restaurants are in that area (walking distance = 20 NYC blocks). I think Student Prince will definitely get one of our dinners, but Pho Saigon looks much further away. Big Mamou or Cafe Lebanon both look interesting. What do you think?

      Also, are there any good cafes near there to get a coffee? Thanks!

      1. Thanks again for your recommendations.

        We began our consumption at Big Mamou's - ordered the fried alligator to start because D had never had it. I find alligator to be tough and this was no exception, but the two accompanying sauces were nice and vinegary. Next we tried the shrimp & sausage jambalaya and the Caribbean crusted snapper with crayfish. Both were tasty, slightly spicy and hugely portioned. My jambalaya was thinner than is traditional in Spain, but the rice and sausage were both excellent and the shrimp wasn't over cooked. The snapper was crusted in a spicy breadcrumb, and the crayfish was swimming in a tasty sauce. The accompanying cornbread had a good crumb, but didn't taste like anything, but the toast with corn & cheese was very good.

        Afterwards we tried to get a drink at L'uva, but the bartender was MIA so we ended up at the bar above Theodore's - they have an outrageous bottled beer selection.

        The next day we headed to South Amherst to Atkins market to pick up sandwiches before the hike. What an excellent market you are fortunate enough to have. The emphasis on local produce and merchandise is wonderful to see. D had an egg salad sandwich which needed some salt & pepper and I had a pastrami on rye that had tasty meat, but a light rye that wasn't very good. The cider donuts were fine, but not something I would order again.

        That night we tried Cafe Lebanon for food & belly dancing. We sat at the bar and ordered falafel, baba ganooj, Lebanese sausages & stuffed grape leaves. These came with a basket of pita & sesame (?) oil. The falafel were the highlight - excellently spiced, crunchy and moist in the middle. Their baba ganooj didn't have enough eggplant in it for me. The sausage were oily & filled with pine nuts - really excellent. Their stuffed grape leaves were also good, but the yogurt accompanying them was so so.

        That night we went to JT's to watch several sporting events at once. They had a few good local brews on tap and an awesome little radio that you could turn to any channel to listen to the game you were watching.

        We ended up at Atkins the next day again for pre-hike sandwiches. This time we chose better - chicken salad sandwich for D and a tomato, arugula, tomato & pesto on ciabatta bread for me. Both were excellent. We had a few pastries this time - an apple bar with cream cheese frosting that was finger licking good & a blueberry bar that tasted like crumble.