Sunday, April 8, 2012

Favorite restaurants in and around Amherst

My LA-based daughter Ana is coming visit, so it's time to review the ever-changing local restaurant scene and write a list of where to go, beginning in Amherst and circling outwards. I know I've probably forgotten some great places and there are some others I haven't been to yet, but this is a start:

Nieces at Amherst Go Berry


High Horse -- Maybe our new favorite restaurant in Amherst. I've enjoyed the delicate trout with parsnip puree a couple of times; the winter vegetable curry is spicy and rich, and Brian likes the "classic daiquiris" - NOT FROZEN. We liked their desserts, but lately we skip dessert and go to Go Berry!

Go Berry -- I was never a frozen yogurt fan, now I love it -- thanks to the delicious Go Berry. The yogurt's made from local milk and available every day in the regular and two delicious flavors like key lime and chai tea. I always get berries and crushed Oreos for toppings -- but the plump whole figs I saw a couple of nights ago looked tempting. (There's a Go Berry in Northampton too.)

Johnny's Tavern -- In the Boltwood Walk area. I've been told the hamburgers are the best around; the sun dried tomato dipping sauce is great on the truffle fries and the butterscotch mousse is one of the best desserts I've ever had. Easygoing ambience.

Bertucci's -- So it's a chain, the rolls are great; I like the wood-fired pizza crust and I love the pizza with the arugula on top and the lemon cake.

Mission Cantina -- Love the Mexican food. I wish the restaurant weren't so tiny that you're almost guaranteed to have to wait for a seat.

Miss Saigon -- Fresh Vietnamese.
                                Vietnamese pancake at Miss Saigon

UMass Faculty Club - Really old Colonial ambience. I keep forgetting it's nearby!

Places I haven't tried yet: the new Chez Albert and Lumberyard.

I miss: The old Lord Jeff, the location of SO many good memories, including my dear late Dad's 75th birthday party. The authentic old colonial inn ambience has been ditched in favor of California wine bar-inspired.


Zoe's Fish House-- Good fish restaurant and not too expensive. I like the creamy seafood casserole. This appears to be THE PLACE TO GO FOR BRUNCH. There's an old-fashioned carving station, tons of steam trays with casseroles, blintzes, bread pudding etc.

Esselon Cafe-- Good coffee and lunch. I like the Mediterranean salad plate. Good beer selection. I like sitting on the porch in front of the radiant heaters.

Arizona Pizza -- A small chain, across from the movie theaters at the Hampshire Mall. The pizza is wood-fired; there's a good spinach salad, and it's got a comfortable ambience.

Carmelina's -- Upscale Italian, a little on the expensive side. I like the Sicilian pasta with nuts and raisins in it.

Mi Tierra -- Typico Mexican ambience and food. The Margaritas look delicious;  I wish they would make them with rum.

North Hadley Sugar Shack -- Don't miss it during maple season! You can watch the syrup boiling and the kids can visit the petting zoo out back.


Food 101 -- Elegant, good food; a good place for lunch as it is expensive. I wish they would change up their menu a bit.


Sylvester's -- In Sylvester Graham, of Graham cracker fame's house. Only open through lunch. The coffee and pastries are so good and so are the pancakes and salads.
                                             Peanut butter latte at Sylvester's

Joe's Pizza -- Classic; strong salads. The pesto primavera pizza we get every time is greasy but in a good way.

India House -- Friendly and I love the mango lassis.

Amanouz -- Tasty and reasonably-priced Middle Eastern food.

Pizza Paradiso -- Wood-fired pizza and good salads.

Side Street Cafe -- Never disappoints. Great mousses.


Apollo Grill - Best retro theme! Check out their cool website with a tiny vintage TV that shows a YouTube video with retro space-themed music.

Tavern on the Hill - Great view, especially at sunset and a cozy fireplace.


Brewmaster's Tavern -- Colonial atmosphere and Opa Opa Red Rock beer is one of my favorites.

Big Mamou -- Valley outpost of the Springfield original.


Bub's Barbecue -- When you're really hungry. There's all-you-can eat sides and you can sit outside on the picnic tables under the tent when the weather's nice.


Berkshire Brewing Company -- Not a restaurant, but the tours they give on Saturday are really interesting and the beer samples afterward are generous.


Hope and Olive -- Maybe the best restaurant in the Valley! The food never disappoints and it's got a great living room-like nook for when you're waiting for a seat. Cool website!

People's Pint -- Where I usually want to go on my birthday. Great Salvadoran pupusas, salad dressings, beer and dessert. A triumph of a place.


Cafe Martin -- So sad it's closed!  Shelburne Falls is the prettiest town around.


Student Prince -- A Springfield landmark and a must-visit! Old world German atmosphere with an extraordinary collection of steins and bottle openers.
                               Just a few of the bottle openers on display at the Student Prince

Max's Tavern - Simple and elegant. In the same building as the Basketball Hall of Fame, which is a fun museum even for non-basketball fans like me.


  1. That peanut butter latte from Sylvester's looks delicious! I can't wait to go to some of these restaurants next week. <3

  2. Chez Albert is definitely worth going to if you are willing to spend a couple extra bucks for great food and service... and (since it's not on your list) Sofia's in Hadley has AMAZING homemade polish food at unbeatable prices. Bring cash, they don't take cards.

  3. Great post, Mary!

    Johnny's burgers are definitely the best in Amherst.

    Mission Cantina is the best new spot in Amherst in years. Tiny, yes, but they will apparently be (finally!) expanding this summer.

  4. I wish BLogger had a like button so I could like all the comments!

  5. I just realized that Bueno Y Sano isn't on this list...!!?

  6. I second Chez Albert! I'm inspired to try some of your suggestions...Thx!