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Thoughts on the Pioneer Valley

I've read many a post regarding the food in the Pioneer Valley. A lot of it I disagree with, hence me making this post. As a preface, I'm a native Californian and have lived in Italy, thus I have a familiarity and love of Mexican and Italian food. Here's my take. PS, coffee means espresso and drinks built on espresso.

My overall feeling is that the area is saturated with mediocre establishments with elevated prices. Prices tend to be much higher than the quality warrants. It is difficult to find a place that delivers good value, which is a shame in a college-dominated area.

So first, I will talk about what the Valley does well. First is coffee and cafes and breakfast. At Amherst and Northampton Coffee (same owner), you can find first-rate espresso, the likes of which would make an Italian happy. Northampton Coffee is tucked away down Pleasant Street and thus you leave behind the hipster buzz that you find at other Northampton cafes. Amherst Coffee is a much quieter place than Rao's (for example), much easier to relax and/or get work done there. Esselon cafe in Hadley is another great place, they do an excellent breakfast (best eggs benedict in the valley) and have a beautiful outdoor area for fair-weather eating. I'm told it's good coffee there, but never had it. Black Sheep in Amherst is more of a bakery/deli than a cafe, but it makes great pastries, good sandwiches, and has a good atmosphere. That said, their coffee and tea leave something to be desired. Haymarket Cafe in Northampton makes a great breakfast, good lunch/dinner entrees, serves great tea and mediocre coffee. They also get major points for delivering good, interesting food at affordable prices. Unfortunately the hipster cool is in full effect there, but once you're done dealing with the "service" you can enjoy your meal and or tea. Of places that are more breakfast joint than cafe, Sylvester's makes a good eggs benedict, but the rest of the menu can be unimpressive and the staff can be brusque to rude. Jake's is simply and hearty, but nothing special. Both Sylvester's and Jake's are overpriced. Places I've found less impressive are Rao's (Amherst), Woodstar (Noho), and Lone Wolf (Amherst). Rao's serves awful coffee. Woodstar has unimpressive sandwiches. Lone Wolf has a bad eggs benedict, and bad Mexican breakfasts.

Of delis, Black Sheep takes the cake. Hayfields in Northampton makes delicious (sweet) muffins, and good sandwiches. Terrible coffee though. The Polish deli in Northampton makes a great reuben and decent pierogi. Unfortunately you can't get a good $5 sandwich anywhere. All of the above are going to set you back roughly $7 with tax.

In short:
Best coffee: Northampton Coffee
Best pastries: Black Sheep
Best eggs benedict: Esselon
Best sandwich: Black Sheep

Now onto international foods. Mexican: the Mexican food here sucks. There's no other way to put it. Any place that puts iceberg lettuce in your burrito and leaves out cilantro is not worth your dollar. Bueno y Sano is trash. It's incredibly bland (mm, black beans and iceberg) and well overpriced. Veracruzana is slightly better, at least they have cilantro (if you ask, they will substitute it for the iceberg that comes standard) and some interesting things like nopales and (real) chorizo. That said, they are way overpriced as well and their food also tends to be bland. Autentica (South Hadley) is anything but. Mi Tierra (Route 9, Hadley) is the saving grace for those who know what to expect from Mexican food. It serves properly spiced and flavorful food for reasonable prices. I've tried multiple dishes there and all were done well, in particular the spicy pork. It's too bad they don't serve carnitas. Mesa Verde up in Greenfield does OK Californian style Mexican, fish tacos and the like. Priced properly as well.

Best Mexican food: Mi Tierra

Asian food: almost as bad as the Mexican, overpriced and boring. The good places are Osaka, Soo Ra (both in Noho), Great Wall in Florence, Lhasa in Noho, Dynasty Gourmet in Easthampton, and the Korean joint in Hadley (everyone likes it, I haven't been yet). Osaka does good sushi , but it isn't likely to impress those used to the top flight places. Soo Ra does some good Korean, in particular their fried appetizers, but I have had a couple bland entrees there as well. Great Wall serves some interesting, tasty Chinese. Supposed to have excellent dim sum. I've been to Lhasa once, and really liked their dumplings. Dynasty serves your basic, everyday Chinese, but has excellent bang for the buck. Now onto the truly mediocre: Fresh Side, Amherst Chinese, Thai Garden, Siam Square. The former is bland. The latter two can't do noodle dishes well at all, and all I'm looking for is a good pad khee mao/drunken noodles. The red curry at Thai Garden is passable, but the curries at Siam Square are really boring. Last, and least, are the places which look so similar that I'm unlikely to try any of them: Teapot, Zen, Moshimoshi, and Taipei and Tokyo (all in Northampton). In short, you can find Asian food that will make a foodie happy, but nothing exceptional.

Italian food. Bad, but so it is everywhere other than the major East Coast urban centers. Pizza, no one does a real Italian pizza (or even a good approximation like Regina's in Boston), but for American pies Joe's and Luna in Northampton are excellent. The former is deliciously oldschool in atmosphere and food. The latter has great fresh ingredients, like their mozzarella, sausage, and mushrooms (whole button, not sliced). Pizza Paradiso is decent, but I prefer the above two. Antonio's and Pinocchio's are both mediocre to crappy in my opinion, regardless of what toppings they put on their pizzas. Mimmo's is like eating a big piece of cardboard. Sam's, a new place that just opened in Northampton, is a carbon copy of Antonio's but with better crust. We'll see how well they do.

Indian food. Paradise of India in Amherst is truly awful. I've heard the same of India Palace in Northampton (Main St). India House (Northampton, State St) is reputed to be good, but $15 for a lamb vindaloo? Please.

For burgers, Packard's is excellent but sometimes will overdo your burger. Amherst Brewing does an OK burger, but clearly comes in second.

For ice cream, Herrell's in Northampton takes the cake, but I'm a gelato lover and can't get overly enthusiastic about ice cream. That said, their hot fudge is delicious and they have some interesting flavors. Bart's in Amherst is mediocre.

For beer, Moan and Dove (S. Amherst) and Dirty Truth (Noho). Both stock interesting local and international beers. The latter has about 50 taps, the former has maybe 20. This area is truly blessed by these two bars and the abundance of local brewers.

Now for all the rest:
Amanouz (Moroccan) - terrific fish dishes and vegetables. Good portions sizes, reasonably priced.
Cafe Lebanon - bleh and way, way too pricey.
Chez Albert - good but not outstanding.
Judie's - an upscale Applebee's.
Spoleto - an expensive Olive Garden.

I've yet to try Circa; Blue Heron; Night Kitchen; Sierra, Eastside, or Apollo Grilles; Tavern on the Hill; but these places are on my list.

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  1. I don't think you go to the Pioneer Valley for Mexican food...when I moved to New England, the most commonly used spice was cinnamon. Go to Atkins for the cider donuts.

    I can recommend a restaurant in Liguria for great Italian!

    2 Replies
    1. re: whs

      Oh, but you can. Mi Tierra, my friend! It's so delicious, and family-owned to boot.

      -----
      Mi Tierra
      206 Russell St, Hadley, MA 01035

      1. re: zammdogg

        Seconding the Mi Tierra love - they have an off night sometimes, but these guys typically do a great job and the homemade tortillas are better than a lot of my favorite San Francisco spots. Definitely glad to have them in the Valley.

        -----
        Mi Tierra
        206 Russell St, Hadley, MA 01035

    2. It's so sad that you think poorly of the Pioneer Valley. It must suck to live somewhere and hate all the food. It sounds like you are missing a few places along the way... here are some suggestions. For Ice Cream - try Flavors in Hadley (behind the malls on Rt.9 at the Farm). For Japanese try Goten in Sunderland. Breakfast, (if still open) The Roadhouse in Belchertown (on Rt.9). Fresh Pasta Bistro in Noho for Italian.

      One more thought - Rao's former owner (and roaster) opened Esselon Cafe on 9 so that he could roast the beans on the premises. So, the coffee should be good if you have been supported Rao's in the past.

      Good luck - I hope you find somewhere you can enjoy.

      28 Replies
      1. re: bbkatiebb

        I second the Roadhouse - still open, still fresh ingredients and awesome breads. Their prices have gone up over the years, but yes, it's definitely worth the drive.

        I have to disagree about Goten - it's more about the performance than the quality of the food. Their standard salads and desserts are mediocre, and the main courses are 'overwhelmed' by noodles (75 % noodles, 25% meat, seafood or veggies). And if you want to combine protein and veggies, that will jump up the price substantially.

        I think the OP provides a rather fair picture of the dining scene in the valley, unfortunately. And he has made the effort to go beyond the typical go-tos in the area, and seems to have enjoyed them.

        On that list of go-tos, I would also add Lady Killigrew in Montague, and one of my favorites as of late, the Wagon Wheel in Gill.

        1. re: jeni1002

          I forgot to mention Lady Killigrew, that place (and the Bookmill complex) is a very nice little retreat.

          1. re: famedalupo

            Lady Killigrew, IMO, has gone downhill a bit (foodwise) with the new owners. It's still a great place to hang out and sip something, but the food quality is not up to the par set by the founders.

        2. re: bbkatiebb

          I agree both with your thoughts and also that you are missing some good places (Flayvors of Cook Farm for ice cream is truly fantastic). I also wanted to point out that naming only the Amherst/Noho area as the "Pioneer Valley" and then saying food in the Pioneer Valley is sub-par is an injustice to the many other towns that make up the Pioneer Valley- such as the Shelburne Falls area, which has received many great reviews on this board. Still, your main point is taken. The area really appeals mostly for cheap student food that is delivered at all hours.

          1. re: bbkatiebb

            I also agree that it's sad the post is so negative. Many of the places where the poster hasn't been (the Korean restaurant in Hadley is called Gohyang; Apollo Grill; Blue Heron; Night Kitchen; Lady Kiligrew; Peoples Pint; Tusk N Rattle) might offer better experiences. Maybe -- depending upon what they are being compared to.

            Personally, despite some of the frustrations which I can admit to sharing, I'm happy to live in W. Mass, particularly since this area takes a lot of stock in local food production and supports small farmers *and* independent restaurants. Hadley asparagus, Old Friends Farm lettuce greens, Shelburne beef, local corn, VT cheese -- yum!

            1. re: hollerhither

              I'm with you hollerhither. While our Mexican and Asian cuisines might be lacking, (no big surprise there, especially as compared to California), and yes, sandwiches cost a lot in Northampton and Amherst, (have you checked out the cost of doing business in those communities?), this area offers so much for eating locally. It is sad that the OP insists on comparing our Asian and Mexican cuisine to California's, and our coffee to Italy's. That's pretty much setting the Pioneer Valley up for failure. i also find it interesting that the OP's list of places he has not yet been to includes many of what most of us might consider top destinations in the area, namely Blue Heron and Sienna. I would also agree with you that the Night Kitchen ought to be on that list as well.

              1. re: hilltowner

                What is wrong with criticism? Criticism leads to better future results. It's worse to praise mediocrity than it is to point out its deficiencies. Secondly, comparing the food offerings here to those elsewhere does serve a purpose, it informs those used to particular standards of cuisine that the "ethnic" offerings in the valley can be bland or worse.

                1. re: famedalupo

                  I agree that one should not praise mediocrity, but it still seems silly to me that you would point out that compared to California, our Mexican sucks. You are taking two general cuisines that, due to immigration patterns, are much more authentically prevalent in California than here. It's almost like going to the midwest and saying there isn't any good seafood there. Yes, the Northampton/Amherst area does not have very good ethnic options. There are some, but you need to search for them. Unfortunately, the Northampton/Amherst area is also not very ethnically diverse, thus the lack of offerings.

                  However, if you stop expecting California style eating, and start learning to tune in to what this little valley does have to offer, you might be pleasantly surprised. I do agree, however, that the prices can be pretty high, but once again, there are often reasons for this. I suggest you take wmassnative's advice and try branching out of the immediate, congested area.

                  Did you know that there used to be a Subway in Shelburne Falls but it closed due to lack of business? People were actively going to local places and avoiding the big bad chain. Well, that and the town is pretty dead in the winter.

                  1. re: hilltowner

                    Making decent to good Mexican food does not require a Mexican, nor a prevalence of Mexicans. It's not one of the more difficult cuisines to do, a la Italian food it is a simple cuisine that relies on fresh, well prepared ingredients. You can make decent Mexican food anywhere, being far from Mexico or Mexicans isn't really a good excuse.

                    I don't expect "California style" eating, whatever that is. I simply want good restaurants. That said, the valley does have a lot to offer (I noted several establishments that I thought were good to outstanding). My next goal is to become familiar with the places in Springfield, where I imagine the prices would be lower. I hear Pintu's is good.

                    1. re: famedalupo

                      Try Big Mamou, Pho Saigon, and Sitar in Springfield. There is a Mexican restaurant west of Enfield CT (Thompsonville, maybe?!) that seemed to be closer to the real deal, but I haven't been there in a couple of years. If you search this board, you will see that there are many who bemoan the lack of good Mexican in New England -- you're not alone there.

                      But in regard to your OP, I think that I, and possibly others, reacted to what seemed like an abundance of negative criticism. Your expectations may be a little high. I've come to appreciate the best of what's here, while understanding that my cravings for seafood, Mexican, and with the exception of Sitar, good Indian food, are best satisfied when I'm in other regions.

                      I hope you try some of the other places mentioned by others, above -- although I will also warn you that you may feel some are on the more expensive side. Good luck.

                      1. re: hollerhither

                        For Vietnamese food, I prefer Vinh Chau to Pho Saigon. I always get what I order at Vinh Chau and never do at Pho Saigon. I've been to PS many times and ordered the pho with tendons and other "bits" and every single time they send me the pho with sliced steak and nothing else. It really pisses me off. I mention it to them and they always say something to the effect that 'I didn't think you really wanted that or knew what it was.'

                        Conversely Vinh Chau (which is right across the street) has cheaper prices, a much larger menu and I always get what I order. In the summer when its really hot and I don't want pho, I usually order Bun. Its like the pho without the soup - bowl of noodles, vegies, mint, fish sauce, meat/tofu - excellent and refreshing! When I tried to order it at PS they gave me some incredibly greasy stir-fried noodle and meat dish. I have been so put off that I no longer even bother with Pho Saigon.

                        Another place not mentioned is China Gourmet in Greenfield. I haven't tried anything off the Japanese menu, but I've slowly been working my way down the Chinese lunch menu and have been quite impressed. Highlights are Lo Mein, Chicken in Black Bean Sauce, Chicken and Vegies, Garlic Chicken, etc. Their menu is really broad and so its not surprising that some of the regional stuff fails - I'm not a fan of their kung pao or their Szechuan at all. Also, I don't eat any of the deep fried dishes like sweet & sour, so I can't comment on that. All lunches are under $6 and include choice of soup, white or brown rice and hot tea.

                        1. re: Bri

                          Since my post I actually had a really bad (and bizarre!) service experience at Pho Saigon, so I haven't been comfortable returning. I will give Vinh Chau a try as it would be nice to still get my Vietnamese "fix" once in a while!

                          1. re: hollerhither

                            Vinh Chau is still my litmus test for any other Pho place that opens up. There are now 3 in the Burlington VT area and none as good as Vinh Chau.

                      2. re: famedalupo

                        There truly is a Mexican food issue in the area. Have you tried La Veracruzana? It's the only Mexican I eat in the area. I loved their fish tacos.

                        It isn't the lack of Mexicans. Even in restaurants run by Mexicans, the food isn't right. I get the feeling they are trying to cater to our tastes in the area instead of going all-out and doing traditional recipes.

                        I totally agree about Judie's being upscale Applebees! I laughed when I read that!

                        I grew up in New Jersey and I just don't like a lot of Chinese food that I find in New England. But I did eat out in Amherst a few times - there was a place near Rao's - had the word Panda in it. I liked it.

                        I lived in the Amherst area for a number of years. There are just places that have reputations that live off of them, even though their food isn't so good. but there is a lot of good food out there. I'm near Worcester now, and I miss the food of the Pioneer Valley!

                        Meryl
                        http://inspiredbites.blogspot.com/

                        1. re: famedalupo

                          Ditto! to 'famedalupo'. You don't need to be Italian to prepare good Italian food.
                          Caution to diners...stay away from the restaurant in the 'Old mill B&B' in Hatfield Ma. My wife and I stayed for one evening, and were tired and thought we would not drive into Noho to dine. Big Mistake! The food was mediocre, I was served a 'Braciole', and boy was I fooled. I was served a chunk of beef that was fork tender but not resembling a true Braciole. When I confronted the owner about the dish, he said that his chef was Italian.
                          hmm....I guess if he trained in Italy, therefore he knew how to cook Braciole.
                          A true Braciole should be a rolled beef-stuffed with Italian goodies: capers, pinenuts, some bread crumbs, maybe sausage. But it is not over-cooked, and is presented in slices on the plate.
                          stay away diners. ~tiaotse~

                          1. re: famedalupo

                            Agree 100%. Excellent Italian or Mexican food require nothing that isn't freely/easily available in Western Mass. What it does require is avoiding the microwave and overcooking and thinking that "it'll be awesome once I slather the 'gravy' on it."

                            1. re: DRex357

                              There is excellent Italian food in Turner's Falls at Ristorante di Paulo. Also, they are very welcoming to those who can't eat gluten - almost anything on the menu can be done gluten free, and if you can't have the fabulous delicate fried calamari, they'll saute it for you and it's outstanding.

                    2. re: hollerhither

                      Note: Tusk N Rattle is now "Ollie's Down Under Bar & Grill", which is quite good. If interested in trying Ollie's, we have a chowdown planned there for Jan 17, 2009. See http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/678995 .

                      Also, if you want to check out any number of Pioneer Valley restaurants with a bunch of people who care about good food (so you can report back here to all the other folks looking for reviews), check out http://www.meetup.com/Western-Mass-Ea....

                      1. re: hollerhither

                        Speaking of Shelburne, clearly the poster hasn't been to Gypsy Apple. Talk about fine dining, especially when the flowers are in bloom outside! Makes for a fantastic evening.

                        -----
                        Gypsy Apple
                        65 Bridge St, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370

                        1. re: zammdogg

                          I did go to Gypsy Apple after writing this. Good food, not great food, but really nice ambiance, especially on a cold winter's night.

                          -----
                          Gypsy Apple
                          65 Bridge St, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370

                      2. re: bbkatiebb

                        In response to bbkatiebb: If you read my post, you'd know that there are several places in the valley that I enjoy. I'm disappointed, however, with the heavy presence of mediocrity combined with elevated prices.

                        1. re: famedalupo

                          Fame: I did read your post. But the negativity was so overwhelming that the few positives that you mention aren't loud enough.

                        2. re: bbkatiebb

                          RE: Esselon vs Rao's coffee. I finally got around to having a macchiato at Esselon yesterday. It's a much better cup of coffee than at Rao's. I asked a staff member whether Rao's and Esselon have the same coffee, she replied that the two coffees are wholly different (different beans/process). She also told me that Woodstar serves Esselon's coffee.

                          1. re: famedalupo

                            About Esselon Cafe: does anyone else think that their food is a little different (I'm using 'different' on purpose here for lack of a better neutral word) than last year? I was there last week, very much looking forward to their lentil burger that I had enjoyed multiple times before....This time, it was greasy, over-burned, and slightly disappointing. Could it be that they have new people in the kitchen? Just wondering...

                            1. re: famedalupo

                              Rao's coffee now is roasted according to the preferences of the new owner. Scott Rao had different standards, for sure- and since Scott helped open Esselon the coffee there probably most resembled the original Rao's coffee. Woodstar was opened by someone who used to work for Scott Rao and that is probably why Woodstar is now using Esselon coffee.
                              I did just hear that Scott Rao is no longer at Esselon, but I don't think that would change the food quality...

                              1. re: wmassnative

                                Rao's coffee is passable, but their pastries are hydrogenated and inedible. I much prefer Woodstar.

                            2. re: bbkatiebb

                              re: Scott Rao and the Esselon Cafe: Haven't eaten there, but I stopped in for a "to-go" iced americano that was one of the best I've ever had. I'll be back!

                              1. re: bbkatiebb

                                This reply is, oh, a year and a half late, but I completely disagree on The Roadhouse. My husband and I went there a couple of weeks ago and everything about our breakfast was miserable and honestly a bit pathetic. Sausage was served cold and tasted like brawn-n-serve; homefries were tooth-breakingly overcooked, unsalted, bland, and also cold; pancakes were far too sweet and dense, plus the blueberries in my husbands pancake had the bizarre texture of play-doh; our server was mediocre at best; and the dining room was stuffy, dirty looking, and magically humid AND cold simultaneously. Needless to say, we'll NEVER go back.

                              2. You've been focusing on restaurant experience, but since you did mention food in general, what about Hungry Ghost Bread in Northampton? Wood-fired bread isn't always easy to find and I think theirs is especially wonderful.

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: thinks too much

                                  I agree! I really like the rosemary bread.

                                  1. re: famedalupo

                                    Hungry Ghost is truly great.

                                    Sadly, I don't get to Noho often enough and have yet to find any other really good bread in the Valley - am I missing anything?

                                        1. re: andytee

                                          ok, got a loaf of el jardin from the leverett coop and liked it.

                                          why don't more stores stock el jardin or hungry ghost? i'd love to buy either without making a special trip.

                                          hilltowners - if i remember correctly, tuesday and friday are el jardin delivery days at the leverett coop. just happened to pass by on friday, it was a good thing.

                                          1. re: andytee

                                            FYI - The hilltowns are west of the Connecticut River. Those towns east of the Connecticut River - just plain out of their minds. kidding.

                                            But really, are towns east of the river known as hilltowns?

                                            1. re: hilltowner

                                              hmm, i guess i don't know much about all this, but i've always figured the towns on the hills were hilltowns. i think of the ones on the east of the river as the amherst hilltowns, the ones on the west at the northampton hilltowns.

                                              1. re: andytee

                                                from Wikipedia: The Hill Towns include the areas of Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden Counties west of and above the escarpment bordering the ancient rift valley through which the Connecticut River flows. Elevations abruptly increase from about 200 feet (60 meters) to at least 1,000 feet in the escarpment zone. On top, elevations rise gradually to the west.

                                            2. re: andytee

                                              also regarding bread, i am realizing that from where i live a drive to brattleboro is about the same as one to northampton, and offers lots of good bread options right in the coop. why don't we get any of that selection down here?

                                  2. For Indian try Pintu's in West Springfield. They have an $11 lunch buffet that is excellent. And Moshi Moshi serves the best sushi in Northampton. It's pricey, but better than Osaka.

                                    For good Thai, Hattaporn's Kitchen (in Greenfield) is a step above Siam Square and Thai Garden. Their papaya salad is amazingly zesty and authentic.
                                    I'm also looking forward to the opening of Hope and Olive in Greenfield, by the former
                                    owners of a Bottle of Bread.

                                    And I disagree that Chez Albert is merely "good". Their beef tartine will change your mind about that one.

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: caughtstars

                                      I also like Moshi Moshi...It is our favorite sushi place right now (although Osaka is also very good). While we like the sushi Moshi Moshi prepares (and they have some very interesting creative offerings), it is Sam, the owner, which keeps us coming back. He is a great guy, a real character, who makes a sincere effort to get to know you and to make you feel welcome. Always an enthusiastic warm greeting (and recognition) when we come in. We often sit at the sushi bar just so we can watch him at work and talk with him while we're there.

                                      1. re: tbbbnbab

                                        That's interesting, I will have to give Moshi Moshi another try. I wasn't too impressed when I tried it a few years ago, and I never bothered to go back, but at this point I don't even really remember *why* I didn't like it. I am a fan of Osaka, though.

                                      2. re: caughtstars

                                        You prefer Hattaporn to Thai Blue Ginger?

                                        1. re: famedalupo

                                          I've never been to Thai Blue Ginger, though I've been meaning to.
                                          Do you know if the Korean place in Greenfield is good?

                                            1. re: caughtstars

                                              Korean place in Greenfield, is, sadly, not so hot. Overpriced, cash-only, slow and mediocre. Love Korean & live just down the street, very disappointing. Gohyang in Hadley is vastly superior in all respects.

                                              1. re: suchfunsuchfun

                                                I have no standards to judge Korean food by, but my South Korean friend absolutely detests Gohyang (this is different than ' oh well, it's OK, what can you expect?)

                                                1. re: jeni1002

                                                  That's nice. I've noticed lots of perfectly happy looking Korean people eating there for many years myself. Your mileage may vary.

                                                  Anyway, what kind of standards do you imagine you need to tell if you like food or not?

                                        2. For burgers you can't beat the Toasted Owl in Noho next to Fitzwillys (which is pretty good in its own right). Allegedly they use local beef and you can't beat a double bacon cheeseburger for $5 or $6. Get the chipotle ketchup for the fries.

                                          Zen has quite acceptable food, including sushi. It's hardly a cookie cutter Asian establishment. My s.o. liked their seafood fried rice better than Susanna Foo in Philadelphia.

                                          As for Tavern on the Hill. . . went there last Saturday. SLOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWW. At least there was a beautiful view until the sun went down. Food was ok but the service dropped it down several notches.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: edub23

                                            Thanks for the tip on Thai in Greenfield. I agree that Zen is very good. Atmosphere is good, and I've never waited for a table. I come from NYC and have no problem with food in the Pioneer Valley; cost is reasonable compared with major cities. My daughter really likes the Korean Restaurant on Rt. 9 in Hadley, but I haven't eaten there. I had a great meal at Circa recently. The pastries at Black Sheep are excellent. If you want to travel on a gorgeous day, go to Bizen in Great Barrington for sushi. It's probably one of the best in the country, truly. And say what you will, the chevre and arugula pizza at Spoleto....any time!

                                            1. re: april164

                                              Oops, oops, I meant Paradiso. Senile, I swear. BUT, I do like Spoleto too. And it bears no resemblence to Olive Garden.

                                              1. re: april164

                                                The Korean place on Rt 9 is very good. Delightful people too

                                              2. re: april164

                                                I must interject that Zen is the worst and most bizarre aberration I have come across in this area. Truly.