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Affordable Bershires Dinner Recs to Satisfy a Somewhat Jaded Brooklyn Family plus other Recs for Food Stops in the Berkshires?

So my family and I will be stopping overnight in Great Barrington en route from Montreal to NYC. We have spent time in the area before and really felly in love with Berkshire Mountain Bakery (two words: Chocolate Sourdough!) and also, Chocolate Springs in Lenox. We also enjoyed the hot dogs at Teo's and there was this restaurant in Pittsfield with the most amazing breakfast / brunch. I cannot recall the name, but I think it may be gone... It was sort of bohemian with really lovely food--I remember having corned beef hash... Oh yeah, we also liked Barrington Bites for cupcakes--and Home Sweet Home for Donuts.... But I digress... These were the positives on our last visit.

On the downside, we were really underwhelmed by all the restaurants we tried for dinner. Full discolosure, we're from Brooklyn where we are inundated with dining choices... At any rate, we ate at a couple higher end spots on our last visit that I cannot recall, except for their total lack of memorable-ness (i know it's not a word) We also ate at Baba Louie--which was fine--at least it was more affordable... For this visit, I would love a great dinner rec--not crazy expensive if possible (entrees below $20)-- in the Berkshires area. We pretty much eat everything, but I would love to avoid burgers and pizza--which we have plenty of in NYC... We'll have a car and are willing to drive beyond Great Barrington..I would also love recs for more places like Berkshire Mountain Bread. This will be our last stop before heading home to Brooklyn, so I'd love to bring home some treats!

Thanks in advance!

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  1. You might check out two restaurants in Lee. The Peruvian chicken place, Alpamayo, and a truly good Southern Cal place, Baja Charlies.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Berheenia

      Baja Charlie's is barely a cut above Taco Bell. Do not waste your time or money.

    2. Well, since I (as a local) could have written the first half of your post (except for defunct Cafe Riva....she now has food to go at Berkshire Organics in Pittsfield), will recommend my new to go to place in GB, the Bistro Box.

      Roadside dining, but as good as it gets, as long as you're not looking for a fine dining experience. There are a few postings on this board.

      Recently had nice dinner at Prarie Whale, but that may be too dispaced Brooklyn. Good luck!

      4 Replies
      1. re: mjoyous

        Yes, Cafe Riva! That's the place. It really reminded me of some of the brunch places in Chicago, where I lived before NYC. I do love the food scene in NYC, but have never been especially enamored of the brunch spots I have tried--Chcago obliterates them--and Riva was reminiscent of those places. Sad it is gone. Is it worth going to Berkshire Organics for sometthing to go? Thanks for the other recs as well! I did read about the Brooklyn connection re: Prairie Whale--but saw mixed reviews..It sounds worth trying (in spite of the Brooklyn Connection) based on your experience.

        1. re: brooklynsabra

          Don't be put off by the mixed reviews of Prairie Whale -- some are related to the restaurant's early days, during which they struggled with service, and some are just misguided. I'm a very jaded eater and cook as well, and the Prairie Whale is definitely the best, most current and interesting food in the GB area. The kitchen has only improved since they opened, and the service now varies from great to totally adequate. PW definitely isn't cheap: mid $20s entrees are standard, but there are usually a few options in the high teens -- pasta, burger, perhaps a sandwich.

          Nudel is the only place in the area that is PW's equal with regard to food quality. A totally different vibe, a bit sleeker and less homey.

          Bistro Box is a good rec. for tasty and cheaper.

        2. re: mjoyous

          Original Poster here,

          Fwiw, we recently returned from our one night stop-over in the Berkshires and I have to say, we ate very well! By default, since it was both Labor Day and Monday night, not to mention on the late side, we wound up at Alliumm for dinner--and I have to say, it must have been fate. I was skeptical, given our previous less-than-great Berkshires dinner experiences--and I was not crazy about the dining room where we were seated--which was so dark we could not see our menu or the food, (a pet peeve) but tried to keep an open mind. We ordered sparingly in case the food was disappointing: We got a kale salad, the sunflower seed hummus dish and a burger. The salads wound up being so fresh tasting and wonderful that we wound up ordering the farro salad app as well-also great. We shared the burger. Aside from the waaay too dark dining room, we were really happy with our meal at Allium, and would definitely return.

          For breakfast we got donuts and the new biscuit sandwiches from Home Sweet Home-(we liked the donuts on our previous visit). The sandwiches were so-so, but the donuts were good... Lunch was great--Thank you to mjoyous for your mention of Berkshire Organics. We got a couple salads from the former chef of Riva--which we very much enjoyed--and we also were able to bring back lots of surprisingly affordable organic produce--a huge plus! For dinner, on our way home, we stopped at the Bistro Box (thanks again to mjoyous). This was a big, big hit, especially with my husband. We loved the truffle parm fries and I really, really liked my falafel burger--and my husband, his burger--our son got a nice salad as well...

          Oh yeah, we got a mid-afternoon treat (hot chocolate and cappuccino mousse cake) from Chocolate Springs--a favorite from our prior trip--and it is still fantastic, ableit more expensive than I recall. We also brought back chocolate bread, cherry pecan pread and pizza crust from the ever-fabulous Berkshire Mountain Bread--another previous favorite... Yum!

          The biggest surprise for us was Allium--which really delivered in terms of being the sort of restaurant I imagined there would be in the Berkshires on our first visit there.

          At any rate, Thanks everyone for all your suggestions--

          1. re: brooklynsabra

            Glad to hear you enjoyed it all. Reading made me hungry.......

        3. Elizabeth 's is a great little gem in Pittsfield. Delicious locally sourced food, mostly pasta or vegetarian with a few meat/ poultry items. Huge wonderful seasonal salads served family style for the table. No pretension but very carefully prepared food.
          My favorite place in the area. save room to share a dessert.
          Definitely need reservations.

          If you are ever headed over to Northampton , stop at Bread Euphoroia and have a croissant style pretzel stuffed with chocolate.

          3 Replies
          1. re: magiesmom

            Hi magiesmom! Haven't ever tried a croissant style stuffed pretzel. I stop at BE on every trip to the valley (am now enamoured by their quiche) . Will look for the pretzel next visit, thanks!

            1. re: mjoyous

              I hope they have them that day. Maybe only weekends? Not sure.
              The quiche is good too.

            2. re: magiesmom

              I did read about Elizabeth's and it sounded intriguing in spite of my usual reticence re: ordering pasta at restaurants...but it's closed on Mondays, which I should have specified is the night we'll be in Great Barrington. Those pretzel croissants sound pretty amazing. are they remotely on the way back to NYC? (I have not mapped out the trip that well yet...)

            3. I suggest Cafe Adam in Great Barrington, Nudel in Lenix and Mezze in Williamstown (further away in the northern part of the county. Let us know where you end up for dinner.

              3 Replies
              1. re: chowmensch

                Hearty second for Cafe Adam, which I like even more than Mezze.

                1. re: chowmensch

                  The OP specified "entrees below $20" so none of these are what she is looking for.

                  1. re: Berheenia

                    Elizabeth's has most entrees ( just ) under $20.

                2. I love café adam too, but I think they are asking for more affordable (entrée below $20) im going to suggest GYPSY JOYNT (main street GB) which is very affordable, fun, different, fresh & tasty with a counter full of house made treats you could bring home

                  1. Another vote for Baja Charlie's in Lee. As a native Southern Californian I found it authentic, delicious and inexpensive.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Susangria

                      The only thing I don't like about Baja Charlie's is that they are closed on Sunday.

                    2. I would suggest Rouge in West Stockbridge.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Lenox637

                        Another lovely restaurant but the OP specified Affordable in her title and, under $20 entrees in the request.

                        1. re: Berheenia

                          Bar and tapas menus at Rouge can keep light eaters under $20. You can also order off dinner menu, as some of the apps are of meal size, like the mussels.

                          1. re: Berheenia

                            I meant to add info concerning tapas, that was my intent but sometimes the kids need me to see things NOW!! LOL

                          2. re: Lenox637

                            We also love Rouge. If one orders from the small plates side, one might stay in the $20 region. They are also good about dealing with food allergies. We've lost many of our favorite places in the South County. There used to be a good Indian place near the supermarket and post office in Lee, but I think they closed. Friends have recommended Starving Artist in Lee, but we haven't been there yet. Good luck, and have a great trip.

                          3. OP here... Thank you all for your recs! I'd love to reply to everyone individually, but just in case that does not happen, wanted to say thanks! Also, I did notice there are a number of pricier suggestions, and while they sound great, I do want to keep things as budget conscious as I can. while still having an enjoyable meal with some ambience...We will have just come from both Montreal and Ottawa where I am already struggling to maintain some sort of dining budget... I don't mind splurging in Montreal as much--I have a soft spot for the city I guess...but want to balance things out in Ottawa and the Berkshires if I can... I will post re: the restaurant we ultimately decide on--We will not be in Great Barrington until Sept. 1.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: brooklynsabra

                              A "great dinner rec" that's gonna wow your jaded Brooklyn palate, for under $20 an entree, is asking for a lot. Just sayin'.

                              1. re: LilBrownBat

                                Li'lBrownBat, on my previous visit to the area, I tried a couple high end--aka entrees in the 20's and up--restaurants (whose names escape me) and was so disappointed, it left me very skeptical re: trying others at that price point. By "great dinner rec" in the teens, I mean decent food with a pleasant ambience--I am not talking life changing; I am just very reticent to spend so much again--though am feeling tempted by Prairie Whale...

                              2. re: brooklynsabra

                                Just to throw out a few more choices -

                                Mission Bar and Tapas in Pittsfield.

                                Chez Nous in Lee now allows you to order 1/2 entrees for 1/2 the price.

                                Xicohtencatl in Great Barrington.

                                Personally though I agree with the people who suggested Rouge and ordering from the bar/sandwich menu.