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Good eats off I-91 in MA or VT?

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We travel this route a lot with our children (3 and 5, fairly good eaters) and are looking for some good restaurants that will please us all.

Diners, Mexican, hotdog shacks, anything but the typical Friendly's you see off the highway.

Thanks!

Reggie

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  1. We really like The Colatina Exit in Bradford, VT. About 5 minutes off I-91. Classic checkered tablecloth/chianti bottle candle kind of place. Outstanding pizza and pastas. On Sundays, they have a magician that goes table to table....great for kids!

    1. How far north and south? Exit #'s? I travel this as well for work, daily and am often as far North as Littleton (NH) and as far south as Westfield, W. Springfield (MA).

      2 Replies
      1. re: Bri

        Sorry, don't know the mileage, but Bradford is Exit 16 off I-91 north. Colatina Exit is on Main Street.

        1. re: Science Chick

          About 25 miles north of White River Junction, VT. White River is about 65 miles north of the Mass/Vt border.

      2. Smithsonian in Hatfield, MA is right off of I-91. It's kid friendly. http://www.foodpundit.com/content/sta...

        1. Try Paradiso Pizza in the middle of Northampton, MA, about 5 minutes from I-91 (exit 18 if you're northbound, exit 20 southbound). It's friendly to kids and grown-ups alike, and it offers a variety of designer thin-crust pizzas that would suit a variety of tastes. The chop-chop salad is great, too, but I'd skip the other entrees.

          In Vermont, there's Shin La, a restaurant on Main Street (near Flat Street) in Brattleboro. It offers Korean classics (like Bi Bim Bap and Jap Chai Bap) and sushi, but there's also blander fare (spaghetti & meatballs, hamburgers) more apt to please children. To get there if you're headed north, take exit 1 and turn right toward Brattleboro at the end of the exit ramp. If you're southbound, take exit 2 and turn left onto Western Avenue (which becomes High Street) and then turn right when it dead-ends at Main Street.

          1. Paradiso Pizza isn't open for lunch and it's a hassle to park in Northampton. I thought of Chandler's Tavern in South Deerfield at Yankee Candle, exit 25, I think, but only for lunch. It definitely isn't a quick stop. This time of year it can be mobbed. Smithsonian can be packed at times, and it's really small. I like Famous Bill's in Greenfield, Ma near 91 and the Bluebonnet Dinner in Northampton, exit 19, but most people probably wouldn't agree with me about those two places.

            1. Check out Holy Smokes BBQ in Hatfield, MA. Very good grub, right off the highway.

              http://www.holysmokesbbq.com/index2.htm

              1 Reply
              1. re: Uncledave

                Unfortunatly, Holy Smokes burned down a few years ago.

              2. If you get off at the Norwich Vt. exit, and drive 5 minutes across the river to Hanover NH, you have all kinds of options. Hanover is a college town, so the eateries are not your typical chain restaurant. Here are a few:
                Molly's - comfortable pub/pizza food, with an outdoor patio in warm weather.
                Orient - better than average Chineese in a nice setting.
                Ramunto's - New York style pizza
                Mai Thai - Good Thai food in a pleasant space.
                Boloco - Burritos of every description. Very casual with outdoor seating.
                Lou's - A Hanover tradition. Great home made breakfasts and lunches.
                Canoe Club - More upscale, college crowd hangout with live music every evening.

                2 Replies
                1. re: zootsi

                  I can't say that I'm particularly impressed by Ramunto's or Orient, and Mai Thai has always had tragically terrible service when I go. But the rest of these I'd second, as well as Murphy's. Of these, Lou's is generally my favorite, but especially for breakfast, the wait can be prohibitive. (I just did a review of Lou's at www.uvscene.com, actually).

                  Further south, if you are willing to eat in a beer bar, I've had some very good meals at Peoples' Pint in Greenfield, MA.

                  1. re: kaszeta

                    I've had somevery good meals there too. Despite the fact that it is a brew pub, it is very child friendly. There is a children's menu and there are always lots of families there. I think it would be a good choice. (And the beer is great and cheap!! Less than $4 a pint!)

                2. Hi--Just to narrow down the choices---we go to Quechee (take Rte 89) from Westport, CT, so generally, we want to stop in Massachusetts or southern VT. Closer to the highway the better. Northampton does have some good spots, but as someone pointed out, hard to park!

                  Looking forward to trying some of these!

                  Gina

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Reggiano

                    Chealsea Royal Diner off exit 2 in Brattleboro....excellent always

                  2. The Dove's Nest on Rt. 116 in Sunderland (north of Northampton and south of Greenfield) is great for a cheap and quick breakfast in a (and I mean this in the best possible way) semi-dive setting. The oatbran pancakes are great, and the specials are super cheap and tasty. They also do lunch, though I have never been.

                    The People's Pint in Greenfield (five minutes from I-91) is good for a burger, etc. They brew their own beer, as well as root beer.

                    Check out www.roadfood.com for burger stands and local food in and around New England. I think the authors are from Connecticut, so the site tends to be New England-focused.

                    Have fun.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: AmityGuy1

                      Agree on the People's Pint-- n.b., cash only, and only open for supper (4pm)

                    2. Gina, As a child I travelled a similar route. As a parent, I also look for good places with my kids. I live in Greenfield. When I travel with my family to ski at Suggarbush/Mad River, we always stop at Ramuntos. Crowded and ugly, we all love the pizza. It's quick and excellent. It's about half way on our journey. But I think the Greenfield area might be more convenient for you, as you mention. Northampton, with a bazillion restaurants, is not a good "travellers" destination in my opinion - crowds, cost, and inconvenience. Greenfield fits the bill. Easy on, easy off, with several good choices for kids. Fast, cheap, and casual, like my best friends. Here are my kids favorites:
                      1. Thai Blue Ginger - Main Street. Excellent Thai.
                      2. People's Pint - Federal Street. Very family friendly pub. Children's menu, great staff, etc... Is crowded on some nights.
                      3. Mesa Verde - Fiske Ave (side street on the south side of Main downtown.) California Mexican. Fresh. I always take leftovers home as the burritos are large. Casual, comfortable room, great for kids.
                      4. Greenfield's Market - Main street. Not a restaurant, a co-op natural foods market. They have a deli, salad bar, and a hot food bar during the daytime till about 8 pm. Plenty of dining tables, and you can stock up on a few goodies for the trip. There's a cool playhouse for the kids.
                      5. China Gourmet - Just off the Rt. 91 rotary headed towards Main St. Chineses and Japanese. This place is very popular and many people think it is great. I have mixed feelings, but it's O.K. Beijing House on Main Street is far superior, IMHO, but is basically just for take out. China Gourmet is clean fast and friendly and right off 91. Some of the food really is good too. Try the Singapore Mai Fun.
                      6. Robertos - Federal Street. Pizza (pies and slices) in many traditional and unique varieties. My favorite is potato-bacon. Also great soups, calzones, salads, and subs. Casual, counter service. Really excellent.

                      All of these places are cheap, kid friendly, and less than 5 minutes off 91. All have parking right in front. (Greenfield's Market also has a lot in back w/ rear door).
                      I have to disagree with the above recommendation for Famous Bills, but they have survived for decades, so obviously not everyone agrees with me there.

                      I am surprised that nobody has mentioned the Whately Diner. Classic truck stop/ diner. A long time institution. Take exit 24, go south on Rt. 10 for about 200 yards. Open 24 hours, 7 days. Get gas too. Doesn't get more convenient than that.

                      1. I don't know about the Whately Diner. Do locals actually eat there? I ate there years and years ago, very late at night, and thought the atmosphere was a little scary. I like Famous Bill's because I'm Over the Hill :) The lunch prices are really good, and their fresh fish from Foster's Market is also good. People's Pint doesn't open until 4 pm. We usually eat lunch when we are in Greenfield, but we have gone there a couple of times and it was fine, especially the desserts.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: OverTheHill

                          Define "locals." The Whately Diner is frequented by high school students from Northampton and Amherst in addition to a few UMass kids, in addition to the standard bevy of long haul trucker types. It's bad, but it's not the worst diner in the area by any stretch -- the Amherst diner I think wins that prize, with Miss Florence close behind.

                          1. re: OverTheHill

                            Famous Bill's is closed now. Been going down hill for a LONG time. People's Pint is now open for lunch on weekends.

                          2. Mi Tierra, opened 2006, on N side of Rt 9, 2 miles east of the Connecticut River is like being in Mexico. Uh, without the Aztec two-step, and it's not Tex-Mex. Exit 19 from I-91 Northbound, or Exit 20 Southbound with good signs to Rt. 9

                            In Greenfield MA, try the Chinese Restaurant just east of the traffic circle from Exit 26 on Rt 2A (don't take on Rt 2). It has some conventional name, but gratifying food.

                            Parking is easy in Northampton. Use the parking garage a block off Main Street - the first hour is free.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: normspen

                              The chinese restaurant in Greenfield is called China Gourmet and it IS actually quite good.

                              And the owners are pretty good people and put money back into the community.

                            2. As a transplant from the Southwest, I was thrilled to learn of a New Mexican (note the capital N) restaurant in South Hadley, MA called Autentica. Living in the Boston area, I haven't quite mustered the will power to make the 2+ hour drive, but I'm champing at the bit to go.

                              New Mexican cuisine isn't Tex-Mex, and it isn't Mexican, although there are definite similarities to both. I find its two defining features to be big, fluffy flour tortillas and green chile, both of which Autentica professes to have.

                              www.autenticamexicanfood.com

                              If you go, please, please post on CH and let me know how it is!

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: finlero

                                Looks good.......unfortunately, S. Hadley is not a simple "easy on, easy off" I-91.....

                                1. re: Science Chick

                                  Drat -- looks so close on Google Maps!

                                2. re: finlero

                                  I went there Saturday based on recommendations from this board, which I just discovered and really appreciate! I too lived in CA a long time and miss Mexican food terribly; I also lived in NM for awhile and appreciate the difference between New Mexican, Tex/Cali-Mex, and Mexican food. Although the owner of Autentica is from NM and calls the food New Mexican, I would not. Pretty much Tex Mex all the way. NO sopapillas!! That was what I wanted most. I had a carnitas taco...it came with lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese(!) and the pork was bland and chewy. It's my favorite dish, but I give up trying to find it here; I'll have to learn how to make it myself. Good chips; bland guac; a salsa bar with good pico de gallo but otherwise bland. My friend enjoyed her chicken enchilada in green sauce, and they had mole on the menu. The food was not bad, just not much flavor, but you could jazz it up with the pico. I'd say it was worth the 30 mile drive I made, but from Boston? Not so sure. Not too far from 91; a bit convoluted but pretty well marked. Possibly easier from 90. The restaurant is hard to find. It's in the one short block called College St. Bypass, in a big building hidden behind the stores on the street.

                                  -----
                                  Autentica Mexican Restaurant
                                  9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075

                                  1. re: klutzygirl

                                    They have sopapillas and huaraches at Mi Tierra in Hadley; off the 91 on Rte 9. I recommend them with the carne enchilada (spicy pork).

                                  2. re: finlero

                                    I will admit upfront that I haven't been in a few years... but Tu y Yo in Somerville used to have the best, authentic Mexican food I'd had outside of Las Vegas. Sounds like a much closer drive then S Hadley, although maybe not *exactly* what you're craving. (And for klutzygirl below- I had sopapillas there once that were so good i accidentally dropped some of the filling onto the paper-covered table and yes, I scooped it off the paper and ate the last bit)

                                    1. re: yogiinct

                                      What a difference three years make -- we've since moved to Santa Fe, so my craving has been drowned in an ocean of New Mexican deliciousness. Now I'm craving lobster rolls...

                                      I eventually did make it to Autentica, and I actually lived just down the street from Tu y Yo for several years. Although I like each place reasonably well, in many ways they're apples and oranges. I'd argue that Tu y Yo is somewhat analogous to French bistro cooking (more upscale, much more time going into the preparations) whereas Autentica is a little more like brasserie cooking (more downscale, well-executed fast food), and just like bistro vs. brasserie, there's a bit of overlap in the middle.

                                      I'd argue Tu y Yo's biggest strength is its slow-cooked sauces (mole, pipian, etc), which translate to fairly elegant entrees, especially if tacos and burritos are the extent of your exposure to Mexican food (this was ironically the case for me when I moved to New England). Autentica's biggest strength is its use of Hatch chiles, spicy green peppers from Southern New Mexico, that the owner personally brings back to MA; he uses them to pretty good effect in what you might think of as "Mexican short order" style, enchiladas, huevos rancheros, etc. There's definitely a fair amount of overlap in the spice and flavor profiles, and Tu y Yo's more casual breakfast/brunch reminded me of home quite a bit. Also, at least as of the last time I went there, S. Hadley didn't have a liquor license, whereas I always enjoyed the bar offerings from Tu y Yo.

                                      Autentica was never quite viscerally excellent enough to get me to drive to S. Hadley for dinner, but if I was in the 'hood, it was certainly a pleasure to go.

                                      1. re: finlero

                                        Too funny, as I just realized how old this thread was- whoops!

                                        My memories of Tu y Yo are very similar to what you wrote... and now you have me intrigued to try Autentica, should I ever find myself in the area (and if it's still around, lol). Hatch chiles are a true joy.. our Whole Foods gets them in for a month or so each year and as somebody who was weened on hot peppers I put up a big string to dry when I see them on sale.

                                        Glad to hear Santa Fe is treating you well... and you know that Legal SeaFoods does mail order should that lobster roll craving ever get too strong :-)

                                        1. re: yogiinct

                                          we met the original chef from tu y yo
                                          2 years ago in puerto vallarta where he is from
                                          carlos is trying to get a visa to come back and work at a restaurant in arlington

                                          will keep everyone updated

                                  3. Stables
                                    326 Russell St, (Route 9 heading towards Amherst, about 3 miles from the exit)
                                    Hadley, MA
                                    (413) 586-4305
                                    Breakfast and lunch only, has a big parking lot, nice waitstaff and good breakfast specials
                                    That stretch of Route 9 has a Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, if you need to grocery shop.

                                    The Chelsea Royal Dinner in Brattleboro as was mentioned earlier, is wonderful, also.

                                    1. Northampton MA is your answer. Try any ethnicity you'll find it. My fav is La Veracruzana - MExican. It hasn't changed in 15 years! They are located right on Main Street near the truck eating bridge.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: lisa krach

                                        northampton is the way to go. Go to La Veracruzana on Main Street (rt 9) not far from exit 18 off 91. great enchiladas. don't worry about parking. I always seem to find a spot.

                                      2. Exit 19

                                        Immediately off of Exit 19 northbound is an excellent fish restaurant. Webster's Fish Hook on Damon Street

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: jwg

                                          And you're answering a 3 year old post!

                                          1. re: RichK

                                            That's all right. It's still ski season.

                                            1. re: RichK

                                              Oops, gotta remember to look at the original date. Thats some old info.

                                          2. Putney Diner in lower VT is very good. Just follow the signs.