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Northampton -- What not to miss?

Hi All,

I'm going to be spending the weekend in Northampton, MA while my husband is at a conference. I'll need to knock off two breakfasts, lunches, and dinners by myself. Anyone have any recommendations on good spots to check out? I pretty much am open to anything, as long as it's an experience (and not too pricey). I'll have a car, so I can also travel a bit for a real gem.

Thanks!

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  1. dinner: Green Street Cafe (if it's still there, i heard some rumors of disaster)
    Circa

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    Green Street Cafe
    62 Green St, Northampton, MA 01060

    2 Replies
    1. re: danna

      Green Street is still very much in business. I ate there last Friday. They are open for lunch and dinner. The restaurant is one of the best in the Valley.

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      Green Street Cafe
      62 Green St, Northampton, MA 01060

      1. re: VivreManger

        Cool. So they got Smith to stop trying to make them move?

    2. I am a fan of the NoHo Brewery (great beers and everything on the menu is enticing to me). Also there's a wonderful French Bakery, Bakery Normand on Main Street. I'm a sucker for their shortbread.

      4 Replies
      1. re: masha bousha

        I like the beer at NoHo Brewery, but I don't think the food merits a not miss rating. It is a slight cut above generic bar food.

        1. re: VivreManger

          and the beer, a slight cut above generic budweiser

            1. re: fame da lupo

              It's fun to sit outside during the warmer months, but I stick to the wine list whenever I go.

      2. For one of your breakfasts I would go not miss The Green Bean on Main Street. Great local egg scrambles and I love their vegan corn cake. I've heard good things about The Mosaic Cafe (Mediterranean) as well for breakfast.

        I love Chez Albert (French bistro food) in Amherst. It's a bit high end, but you can have a beautiful lunch for around $12.

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        Chez Albert
        27 S Pleasant St, Amherst, MA 01002

        1 Reply
        1. re: caughtstars

          Chez Albert offers the best French bistro food in the Valley.

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          Chez Albert
          27 S Pleasant St, Amherst, MA 01002

        2. There are two Chinese restaurants within a few minutes drive of downtown NoHo. One is the Great Wall in the suburb of Florence. The other is Butterfly on rt. 9 in Hadley between Noho and Amherst http://www.butterflyhadley.com/

          The Great Wall's strength is its use of locally grown Chinese vegetables. From the street Butterfly appears to be a generic suburban Chinese restaurant, but as a glance at their website confirms, they have an astonishing range of unusual Chinese dishes, well-prepared.

          Look past the standard fare and head for the Gourmet Menu at the end. For example, the Ginger and Scallion Lamb Stew in Sizzling Hot Pot for $13.95 features parts of the animal one does not exist. It is a filling and tasty dish.

          1. Dinner: Green St. Cafe, Northampton. The other night drive to Amherst for Chez Albert. Those are the two best places, IMO. Not touristy either, nice ambience. They aren't inexpensive, but well worth the price.

            Breakfast: I like Jake's in Northampton, it's old school. A lot of people recommend Sylvester's, but I personally don't like it. Too much attitude and too trendy and crowded.

            Lunch: Hmm...Weird choice, but I like Bela, tiny vegetarian place. Also, Haymarket Cafe, downstairs. Really cool place.

            One warning: I would avoid Spoleto's, which is the most touristy spot in town, with sketchy service and food to match.

            Northampton is very walkable, you can walk by practically every restaurant in town in about 30 minutes. So check out the menus, etc.

            But again, my one piece of advice is Green St. Cafe.

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            Chez Albert
            27 S Pleasant St, Amherst, MA 01002

            1 Reply
            1. re: johnblacksox

              I second all of these recs, yay and nay. Spoleto's may also be the noisiest restaurant in the Valley.

              Though if you like Chinese you should check out Butterfly, as I suggested earlier.

            2. A short trip up to Florence to the Great Wall is worth the drive. They have dim sum on Sat 11am-2pm. Thier gourmet menu is great. I have not been to Butterfly yet, but it sounds good too. Dinner - try Carmelina's in Hadley, just over the bridge. Great Italian. I enjoy eating at the bar solo watching the open kitchen. Side Street Cafe in Florence is also a nice spot for lunch or dinner. I agree with the others, Green Street is tasty and Chez Albert is nice as well. The Brewery has decent beer but not so great food. If you like sushi, then head to Osaka (right in town) the best for miles around! Breakfast - Jakes.

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              Chez Albert
              27 S Pleasant St, Amherst, MA 01002

              Side Street Cafe
              42 Maple St, Florence, MA 01062

              Green Street Cafe
              62 Green St, Northampton, MA 01060

              1 Reply
              1. re: bouls

                More agreement!

                I forgot about Carmelina's, and Side Street. Both good.

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                Side Street Cafe
                42 Maple St, Florence, MA 01062

              2. The onion rings at local burger and fries

                10 Replies
                1. re: joth68

                  Second on Local Burger and Fries.
                  Also try across the street at the Dirty Truth, great (amazing) beer selection, and good food too. Skip Northampton Brewery.
                  Favorite breakfast is at the Green Bean, Amanouz is also good. Sylvesters and Jake's are ok.
                  Woodstar Cafe is great for coffee, sandwiches, pastries.
                  Paul and Elizabeth's is not amazing, but they do good simple healthy lunch specials, esp. on fish. During lunch there is usually a selection of simply prepared fish with brown rice and vegetable for less than $10. Not the same deal at dinner.
                  Osaka and Moshi Moshi are decent Japanese, not worth writing home about but competent.
                  Circa and Green Street are the best fine dining in town, heard good things about Bistro Le Gras, but have not been yet, so can't speak personally.
                  If you want to leave Northampton, yes, Butterfly and Great Wall are good Chinese, Esselon Cafe (on Rt 9 in Hadley) is very good, Chez Albert in Amherst is very good, and if you come up to Greenfield, Hope and Olive and The People's Pint are great.
                  And yeah, I second the warning about Spoletos - if you are new to the area you will see them and think "maybe I should try that place for dinner" - don't. It's not terrible, but it's not good and there is much better food very close by.

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                  Moshi Moshi
                  4 Main St, Northampton, MA 01060

                  Chez Albert
                  27 S Pleasant St, Amherst, MA 01002

                  Green Street Cafe
                  62 Green St, Northampton, MA 01060

                  Amanouz Cafe
                  44 Main St, Northampton, MA 01060

                  1. re: andytee

                    Oh, and re: the line about "travel a bit for a gem" -

                    One trip comes to mind, a trip to Montague to visit the Bookmill (their motto is "Books you don't need in a place you can't find) a beautiful restored mill overlooking the Sawmill river where you can browse, sit, read, use wifi, and drink coffee or beer or wine or.. in the Lady Killigrew Cafe followed by a dinner at the lovely Night Kitchen downstairs. Great restaurant, and if the thought of dining alone troubles, ask to sit at the bar, where you can watch the cooks and chat with the charming bartender.

                    Another one ot look at is The Gypsy Apply in Shelburne Falls - also a nice town to check out.

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                    Night Kitchen
                    440 Greenfield Rd, Montague, MA 01351

                    Lady Killigrew
                    440 Greenfield Rd, Montague, MA 01351

                    1. re: andytee

                      I like Zen and some of their stuff is very interesting. There's a great Korean restaurant if you want to hoof out to Hadley, very casual. Between Northampton and Amherst.

                      1. re: april164

                        Agree that Zen does a good job. I'd also suggest that Thai Place in South Hadley, just a short drive from Northampton on route 202 does some amazing dishes. Love the Duck Choo Chee! It's very affordable, and better IMHO than Siam Square or Thai Garden in Northampton.

                        My wife and I also had a great meal at Caminito, the Argentinean steakhouse on Old South Street in Noho.

                        1. re: april164

                          Zen is pretty bad, from my two trips there. Nice ambiance, poor execution of dishes, and really off-putting flavor profiles. Nothing in balance. And the sushi, did not have a good experience with that either.

                        2. re: andytee

                          Just to second the Gypsy Apple rec., we drive an hour for dinner there every few months and it's always worth it.

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                          Gypsy Apple
                          65 Bridge St, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370

                          1. re: dinnerdoctor

                            I don't get the Gypsy Apple: I find it stuffy and predictable, but I know many love it. I think the best food around Northampton is at Side Street Cafe in FLorence.

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                            Gypsy Apple
                            65 Bridge St, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370

                            Side Street Cafe
                            42 Maple St, Florence, MA 01062

                            1. re: magiesmom

                              to each their own, i guess. i like having a place that's just formal enough to feel special in our sometimes overly casual valley, but never find service stiff or stuffy, just graceful. and while there's little about the food i'd describe as "innovative" or "cutting-edge", i don't think that's what they are going for - the focus is doing what they do really well, and on my visits they have succeeded.

                              haven't tried side street - i don't get to northampton enough for special occasion dinners (meaning dinners where we hire a babysitter) but will try to make a point of checking it out.

                              1. re: andytee

                                although, re: side street - it is funny that when i click on the chow link in your post, the one posted review is of a "worst dining experience ever!".

                                still, looked at their menu on their website, it looks like it's worth a try at least.

                        3. re: andytee

                          I Love the Peoples Pint (Greenfield). Not at all fancy but good solid food. The farmer Brown Ale is amazing. I dont know what it is about that place but I have visited tons of breweries and beer bars and something about Peoples Pint that just makes me feel so comfortable and HAPPY! It could be that Farmer Brown Ale.

                      2. If you return Butterfly in Hadley....salt and pepper shrimp with head on and of course eat the whole thing.....amazing taste!!!!!

                        1. We really enjoy The Sierra Grill on Strong Street. it has a wonderful assortment of small plates that are interesting and inovative and very good, creative appetizers and dinners as well. They have a very interesting beer list and a wine of the week that is outstanding. The ambiance is lovely, lots of wood and stained glass and very friendly people, entertainment as well. We are out-of-towners who discovered it by accident last year when we came for a yearly function and couldn't wait to come back and try it again. I would highly recommend it.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: taddybelle

                            I should have posted something like this months ago. Sierra Grill became my favorite dining spot in Northampton over the course of the last year. The secret is to order off their daily small plates menu. It generally has a bit of thought to it, I usually find a couple things that tweak a favorite in an interesting direction. I've had things ranging from goose pot pie to lamb sliders. The sides and soups are always tasty. The prices are good (as is their BBC Steel Rail pour - around $3 for a 20oz).

                            As far as their regular menu goes, I hate the concept and have never ordered off of it.

                            1. re: fame da lupo

                              Side Street is very nice. Good food. Green Street's great although I was there recently for one of those $20 meals and did not have the greatest food. I'm sure it's better full price. I really like Zen.

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                              Side Street Cafe
                              42 Maple St, Florence, MA 01062

                              Green Street Cafe
                              62 Green St, Northampton, MA 01060