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Visiting Northampton Next Month - Restaurants and Grinders

Hi I'm visiting Noho from SF next month for my college reunion. I see that there are TONS of new restos in Noho since my "days". My buddy and I are opting out of lunches and dinners on campus and I'd love some mid-priced recommendations for either. I'm more interested in "valley centric" type places as opposed to ethnic (I can get plenty of that here in SF). We'll have cars and don't mind traveling.

I'd also love to know the best place for a hot grinder.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Hi! I'll give you a few of my favorites:
    The Dirty Truth. On Main St., a beer bar with about 40 good beers on tap. No TVs. Very good food. I think they have the best burger around. Good, huge pretzel with very spicy mustard. Higher quality bar fare. (Excellent mussels....I ate an entire bowl by myself on my birthday, only to discover several hours later that I am allergic to them. Not a good end to the birthday......)

    Breakfast at the Green Bean, also on Main St. They use lots of local ingredients, have vegan and gluten free options, great pancakes, excellent eggs. Just a very comfortable, well run spot.

    If you want to venture west on Rt. 9 a bit, head out to Williamsuburg for the Williamsburg Snack Bar....they serve (outdoors on brightly colored picnic tables only) really tasty fried seafood (fried clams, whole belly clams or scallops-depending on the weekend)....fried shrimp po'boy. If you're there on a Wed. or Thurs. (i think) they have excellent fish tacos (although maybe you would have better fish tacos out in SF). It's a great place when the weather cooperates.

    I'd love to hear some other suggestions.......Have a great trip!

    Oh, also, Woodstar Cafe (on a side street, Masonic) is a great little cafe. Good coffee, excellent pastries, great bread. I can't suggest a grinder there, but they have one pre-made sandwich (the only pre-made one they offer) called the Chilmark which I love. It's on ciabatta, with chicken breast, cukes, goat cheese, black olives, greens and a sage (?) olive oil. It is soooo good.

    Enjoy!

    1 Reply
    1. re: saintp

      Thanks for the "dirty truth" - glad to hear about the mussels! Can't wait to prowl around!

    2. For a classic Northampton experience, try Joe's Cafe on Market. Terrific red-and-white checkered tablecloth Italian dining. Pizza Amore, over by the Smith campus, also has excellent food.

      You'll want to head over to Atkins Farms near the Hampshire campus if you have time. Terrific local products with an old-time feel - you can eat right there in their cafe. Also, don't pass up Flayvors of Cook Farm in Hadley for great ice cream, made from milk from their cows right on the farm.

      For burgers, Local Burger on Main Street is terrific - Brimfield grass-fed beef, and wonderful shakes. One of my favorite burger joints in the country, to be honest.

      Hope you enjoy your trip! I'll be back next month for my own college reunion in a town just up Route 9. :)

      4 Replies
      1. re: caravan70

        oops! forgot about Joe's. definitely classic Northampton. If you went to school around here, you probably know about Joe's. They have great fried calamari, too.

        1. re: saintp

          Thanks both for the Joe's recommendation - been there MANY times as a student in the 80s. One of my favorite all time Noho haunts and definitely on our list!

          Do they do mussels? I'm dying for a good mussels fra diavla!

        2. re: caravan70

          Thanks for the Hampshire tip. I definitely want to head over there while in town - I'll be renting a bike so I do hope the weather cooperates.

          1. re: Concetta

            I'd skip Atkins. imo really marginal. But Flayvors, yes! Paul And Elizabeth's whcih was probably around when you were is quintessential Noho.

        3. Dirty Truth has a truly all-world pretzel and mustard but I'd leave the rest of their menu aside (pricey and not well executed).

          I'd hit up Jake's for breakfast, their owners really turned the place into something special. Great varied menu and good prices. Much more interesting menu than Green Bean.

          Lunch, I'd do Amanouz and try the excellent lamb tagine. Shy away from the falaffel (boring).

          Dinner, I'd go to Sierra Grille and eat of the daily specials menu. Small plates with imagination and fairly priced. Excellent beer selection.

          Drinks, Tunnel Bar for cocktails and the aforementioned Dirty Truth for beer. Dive bars, go down Pleasant St to Ye Ol.

          13 Replies
          1. re: fame da lupo

            I agree completely with you on Amanouz - the tagine is excellent. Sierra Grille is also great.

            Ye Ol' Watering Hole is a true classic - the beer can collection makes it special, along with the great drink prices. Hugo's is pretty great as well in the dive bar category, and given that it's quite nearby makes the combination great for bar-hopping.

            As I remember, Sylvester's isn't too bad for brunch, either....

            1. re: caravan70

              there are a couple of great places in easthampton these days. capt. jack's roadside shack has great roadstand food with burgers, dogs, tacos, etc. they are also working on perfecting a cheeseburger eggroll that is perversely fantastic. also, if you haven't been here since the '80s, you missed Cha Cha Cha and Unmi in northampton, but the woman who ran them is back with a place called coco's that is excellent. right now they;'re not doing dinners because of licensing stuff, but they are doing lunches on friday and saturday with tacos, buttermilk fried chicken sandwiches and other stuff. also in noho, serio's should be doing their friday afternoon grilling at the side of the store again soon. those are always great.
              some of the better food action has moved up to franklin county since yr time as well. there's hope & olve in greenfield, gypsy apple in shelburne falls and the night kitchen in montague. all of these are well reported upon and argued about on chowhound, so a search should turn up opinions aplenty on any of them.
              good luck to you

              1. re: fatheryod

                Just drove by Serio's about an hour ago...Gary was out there grilling away. It looked cold and windy today, but there were still several people waiting.

                1. re: fatheryod

                  I had one of the worst meals of my like at the Night Kitchen two weeks ago. Very sad, as it had been one of my favorites. Food absolutely inedible, horrible service with completely untrained waitstaff. The first time in my life I have left no tip at all.
                  Blue Heron, otoh has recovered from a two year slump and is really good again.

                  1. re: magiesmom

                    yikes.

                    1. re: fatheryod

                      yikes indeed! and a bummer at that.

              2. re: fame da lupo

                Thanks fame da lupo - I love pretzels! I've been checking out the Sierra Grille on Yelp - looks good!

                1. re: Concetta

                  it is uneven but fun. food so-so.

                  1. re: magiesmom

                    If you shy from their regular menu you'll get interesting daily specials like goose pot pie, pork belly, braised lamb sliders, etc. Their regular menu is that ridiculous "protein+sauce+side dish U-Pick" concept that I hate and want to wipe from the earth.

                    1. re: fame da lupo

                      For several years, I avoided Sierra Grille after a clueless host wouldn't seat 7 of us out of our party of 9....at a reserved table no less! Anyway, I went there recently with my daughter and we made a lovely meal out of apps and sides: the lamb sliders that you mentioned, pork belly, side of mac and cheese (which was great) and a cheese plate. Everything was tasty, the service was good. I don't really love the dining area in the back (too dark), but the bar area in the front is always bustling and very cozy.

                      1. re: fame da lupo

                        I do get the specials. They are uneven in my experience. sometimes wonderful, often meh. I am so over sliders! And I hate that seating policy.

                        1. re: magiesmom

                          True, sometimes they hit a flat note. The other day we had a tomato soup that was a bit like pasta sauce, but at $3 I couldn't complain much. I generally feel that way about all their specials -- no big risk involved and potentially a nice payoff.

                          1. re: fame da lupo

                            agree,it is ok, but nothing to recommend imo.

                2. Thanks everyone for the great input! I'll be sure to write up a report upon return.