Restaurants and Real
Being my home town, I know my way around here pretty
well. There are plenty of good places to eat in Northampton.
Just because I don't eat someplace doesn't mean
there is anything wrong with it ... but this should serve as a good
starting point if you are just getting into town for the first time,
presented in no particular order.
Also Scroll down for many off-topic "Quickies" and
other links to get you familiar with this neck of the woods.
For the time being, if a restaurant name is in
red, it is one of my favorites.
I break format on this page a bit. I put together a
list of links that should save you many hours of Googling if you want to
learn more about the area.
NORTHAMPTON IN SOME MORE DETAIL ... At one time I thought I'd do
real estate, so I put together a page that gets deep into
Northampton stuff. I didn't do the RE thing and the page
exists ... I might as well share it with you:
NEW TO ME: TULLY O'REILLY'S ...
(The Old City Cafe) ... across from Sylvester's on Pleasant Street.
corner bar ... Keno, pleasant bartenders and food.
basic bar grub ... a very good burger (I prefer mine with a regular bun,
rather than the Texas Toast most sandwiches come on) ... BLT (again,
regulat toast vs. the TT for me.
The place is
one step above a shot and beer joint ... they pour a superb Guinness,
shots tend to be 'exact' ... (yesterday my friend got a shot in a 'neat'
glass and the 'free pour' was embarrassingly sparse) ... overall, a
NEW TO WGEDC ~
Newly opened. An ambitious sandwich type
menu … I was excited to have the Muffeletta … the roll was encouraging
(it was round and the right color). It might have been an okay sandwich.
not for a moment did I think I was in New Orleans and (B) it wasn’t
something I’d order again for $9+.
They are on Pleasant Street, across from
the Chamber of Commerce. WEB
(lunch, dinner.) (Beer, wine)
SAM'S IN BAYSTATE ...
Until I get around to doing up a proper post, you'll have to ask someone
where the Bay State section of town is ... in short it's behind the high
school and down Riverside (Road? Street? Ave?) ... Sam's is a breakfast
and lunch place that just opened there, after moving from a smaller spot
at Smith College. (This is not to be confused with the Sam's on
Main Street, a just-viable pizza place with live music.)
I had their version of a
"Juicy Lucy" with her horseradish sauce. It was very good.
The burger and a yuppie bottle of tea came to about ten bucks.
On another occasion I had
an omelet ... a flat-top omelet with superb roasted veggies and some
meat. Overall a nice choice ... It would be a good alternative for
a Sunday morning breakfast, but I think they're closed on Sunday ...
Maybe you should call ahead, this ain't the "Washington Post" I'm a
blogger not a journalist.
(No Beer or wine.) ... Gregg
be eating there.
NEW TO ME: DELANEY HOUSE ...
(Just down the road in Holyoke)
started to hear very good reports again ... especially about the prime
rib dinner night (which I enjoyed very much on my first visit).
LOFT at THE
CLARION HOTEL ... an exception to the
"don't eat at the hotel rule. This is a reincarnation of a place
that had operated in the same spot over a decade ago. And, by
reincarnation I mean it is being run by the same, well-respected
operator as in the old days. Early reports are that the food is
superb -- and reasonable. I eat at the bar and had their loaded
dog (very good) while watching the guy down a few stools having a very
enviable steak. (Full bar.)
be eating there.
Now I hear they have the
best breakfast in town. (???)
There are some major changes
underfoot ... all bets are off. I've not heard as many good reports as before. I wish them the VERY best.
... On King Street, not walking distance from town. All you can
eat sushi, Asian, even vegetarian. This place has changed hands
and/or concept many times. This time they got it right. (Yet I've
heard varying reports as of late.)
SIPS ... Very new.
A nice setting across from city hall. A friend ordered the green
salad and was disappointed the word "chopped" didn't seem to carry the
same meaning as in "chopped salad" like she expected. I
think they are going to cater to people with the time and money to savor
a well crafted coffee or tea.
... Brand, brand new at the end of town by the overpass.
Coffee, tea, light meals. I had a
sandwich which was served hot (!!!)
and on a small grinder roll, sparse on the muffuletta fillings.
(See Grub, above) ... No, I didn't think I was in New Orleans (D+) ... my friend's chicken
salad sandwich was sparse also (B-) ... no bargains ... probably a great
place to come, have some cookies and tea and camp out with your laptop.
(Beer and wine.)
RESTAURANTS THAT HAVE JUST CLOSED
CIRCA ...Always one of the best
alternatives. I'm surprised and saddened to hear Circa didn't
survive what I understand is a recent change in management.
I'll miss the Deck, where many locals convened on nice summer
nights. Apparently that business alone wasn't enough to
keep the whole place, occupying the old train station alive year-round.
The restaurant depended on a thriving economy, in that they they were trading in very
large part on the atmosphere and setting. Update:
The Deck remains open. Now without food, which is a good thing.
Now you can bring food or have it delivered ... better food ... quicker
service than the old days.
GREEN STREET CAFE ... along with their
esteemed AUTO GARDEN
... was a kind of over the top raw tapas
place downtown ... the sign on the door says they are moving to Hadley.
The Hinge bar that they opened in the same spot is pretty popular ...
same owners as Karma.
YELLOW COUCH ... it was probably a good
I see the
queries that people use to eventually wind up on the site ...
Sometimes I feel a little bad in that what they are asking about is not
actually addressed. So here goes with a couple from recently:
STREET CAFE CLOSING ???
LINK (Daily Hampshire Gazette, sometimes, annoyingly, you have to
pay to read their content).
... The Hotel Northampton
brags about their brunch ... you won't find many locals there.
... I am not a big fan of Mama Iguana's ... but, I've heard it has a
good HH ... they used to feature cheap food at HH, but you'd go broke on
drinks. I like the camaraderie at the bar at Spoleto ... not
exactly a HH tough.
... (See "Lunch" below) ... Green Street Cafe, Page's Loft (?)
... Joe's Cafe (a sliver across the street) ... Pleasant Street Grill
(good parking, fair food) ... Green Street Cafe (out back) ... The Hotel
(I don't recommend eating there just for the parking) ... Roberto's
(just a sliver, but on-street isn't much of a hassle during the hours
they are open) ...
... Paul &
... Sometimes the place gets pretty busy, but you'll get good food, not
feel rushed. Go to Williamsburg for
Chef Wayne's Big Mamu,
for Cajun ... quiet in a not crowded sort of a way.
The Tibetan Place
across for Thorne's.
The Auto Garden,
behind the very well respected Green Street Cafe
... You'll enjoy food cooked on the grill and it might be the best
secret in town. Picnic table ambiance might not meet the needs of
someone who made this specific query.
WHERE TO EAT
... I have no idea ... I have no kids ... email me and I'll post your
thoughts. So ... I've been enlightened ... out in Florence,
about 2 miles west on route 9, is The Cup and Top
... I've met people there, as grown-ups, and never really appreciated
the play area out back or the other accommodations that make kids and
their adults feel welcome.
lunch. It is more than a coffee shop and their food service is
responsible, local ingredients and worthwhile, but not 100% consistant.
Presented in no order at all.
Where Gregg Eats ...
This place is anything BUT fancy.
Joe's is known for a great thin
crust pizza and other excellent Italian meals. Rustic food. No
frills. Friendly bar.
Gregg eats: Joe's House
special (large, but Joe's large isn't all that large), macaroni
New owner as of summer 2011. I have seen changes ... too
soon to say. They tried to "fancy up" a scallops dish and
the grapefruit juice seemed less fresh squeezed and the
prices seem to be edging up.
(Full bar. Open evenings (after
4) and weekend days during the winter.)
Spoleto is has always been a loud, boisterous place with a
line most weekend nights a very nice bar with friendly locals
who are always out for some conversation to go with their
It always seemed to cost
a bit more than to make everyday dinner eating practical.
Calaudio has freshened up, maybe tightened up is a better way to
say it and there are some very good, affordable dinner items.
I order the bolognaise ...
maybe with a VEP Green (which has gotten way too expensive).
(Full bar, Open daily for dinner.)
apparently Spoleto's rent got a bit high so Claudio picked up
and moved Spoleto to the former Del Raye (and more recently, the
former Paradise City Grill) ... PCG was no loss, yet many of us
still miss Del Raye ... and seeing how it is the same space, it
is a bit like an odd morph between Del Raye and Spoleto ...
The bar is smaller,
but I suspect they'll get the same very friendly sit-at-the-bar
crowd ... I haven't seen the new menu, I suspect it has changed.
bartender, Tara is back on duty many nights.
Also Spoleto Express on King
Street for roughly same fare in a fast food setting for lunch and
SPOLETO: NEW ADDRESS:
ONE BRIDGE STREET,
Northampton, MA 01060
SPOLETO EXPRESS: 225 King Street,
Northampton, MA 01060
Took over the space most recently
occupied by the former KARMA.
I've been here once. I'll be
Matt the bartender, most
recently of the Sierra Grill anchors the team behind the bar (a superb
A good selection of beers ($7 each
range) ... my nitro-infused stout was pretty good (still a well-pored
Guinness would have done the trick). I've never heard of any of
them ... you'd expect them to have cask beers but they don't ... all
beers are the same temperature.
innovative scheme seems to be that instead of handles on their beer taps
they use door hinges.
I had the Au Prouvere (sp)
... (essentially sautéed in pepper) burger ... with onion rings on the
burger and fries on the side.
The burger was just "PINK" enough
... fries were apparently plated waaay before the burger, I had to eat
them first so they didn't wind up stone-cold. And now the big
conundrum ... either the (excellent) bun was too big or the burger too
small (apparently many people tolerate that, even at the renowned Local
Burger up the block) ... but to me it feels like somebody is trying to
I'm guessing the owners would say
"customers tell us they like so much bread" ... ????
lettuce was green and the tomatoes (well lets just say they might be
able to source some that were, for lack of a better word, better).
place was packed ... the atmosphere was excellent, in my opinion, I'm
now even less likely to go to The Dirty Truth across the
Crap. I was so confident about
this snapshot, I only took one ... and it turned out blurry.
Here is a downtown Northampton
space that, well lets just say it changes quite a bit. Although
the next-to-last place that was here bought their own building and moved
THIS IS the most encouraging
me anyhow. Having lived so long in Seattle where pho places are as omni-present as Dunkin Donuts are here, I've been long pining for pho
... good pho ... in Northampton.
The dank (border-line dirty)
lobby, weathered awning and scratched up glass belie the very pleasant
(5/03/2012) My visit, to put things in perspective was on
their second day open.
I've always wondered how pho
restaurants can have broth that is nuclear hot after dropping in the
meats and noodles. This was not the problem here today. The
soup was just one very small step below hot ... perhaps the meat was too
cold when it was put in. It really wasn't a problem, except it
took a little longer for the spouts to soften and the noodles were just
a little toothsome at first.
None of this was a problem.
The broth was excellent
... the pinnacle of pho broth is Pho Bac
meat was tasty and just about ample.
like mine with chili paste and theirs was very good.
enjoyed the tea.
had the Pho Tai ... Regular size was $8.75 (I forget how much the large
was) ... a tad expensive compared to Seattle, but I'm sure it is a
bargain if you consider the rent they must be paying.
I certainly will be back.
want this place to do great.
STREET, NEAR THE OVERPASS AND ACROSS FROM FITZWILLY'S
Yelpers [too soon to say] the
they have Beer and wine in the works in that they have one of those
little bar setups in the back like you see at many Asian places.
Lunch and dinner.)
Packard's is open for a beer and burger lunch as
well as dinner.
If you get a friendly bartender, it might even be a
pleasant experience. The problem is I've never had a bartender there who
seemed anything but dismayed to have to bother with a customer ... If
you are looking for a beer and some valid food while watching the
bartender read the paper, this is your place. The food is slightly
better than average pub grub.
(Full bar, Lunch, Dinner)
14 Masonic Street, Northampton,
This is the first natural foods restaurant I'd ever
heard of. They are located inside the Thorne's Marketplace
of shops. Paul & Elizabeth's serves up outstanding soups sandwiches and
entrees. Not surprisingly, because they seem to use the best
Just a cafeteria really ... but you can get viable
food at a good price. Nice salads and wraps.
22 Elm Street, Northampton, MA
Total no frills dining right next to The
Calvin and across from the hotel.
I used to go there for
breakfast a lot more than I do now.
Somewhere along the
way, they made it so if you want home fries you have to order them
separate ... so you get a big heap of potatoes, far more than you
can eat, and it is a waste of food and makes the meal too expensive
for what you get.
New owners as of 2010.
No field reports yet.
(No alcohol. Breakfast and
I happened to have posted
to Yelp before I did this.
My first visit
to the newly managed place ... I'd say the food was a
touch better than before ... I had a biscuit with gravy
(superb biscuit, gravy was just better than luke warm, a
problem not limited to here and a pet peeve of mine) and
fried eggs over medium (perfect) ... (note to Jake's:
don't even consider using a microwave as a solution to
They used to have nice cold fresh milk in one of those
gravity bag-of-milk thingys ... that was gone and
replaced by milk from a cardboard carton that wasn't by
its nature as fresh or cold.
Breakfast potatoes were tasty ... (in the old place
they'd gone down hill) ... but they were far from crisp
... (either a decision to do them that way, or they
haven't mastered them, or maybe they are cooking for the
masses ... do they hear occasional complaints from old
ladies that "my home fries are too crisp" and are trying
to please the masses?
TODAY ... in
this day and age, eating out isn't automatic ... a
restaurant has to "nail it" and there is little room for
Oh, the blank
walls added a soul-less-ness to the revamped decor.
Oh, and we don't need plastic table tops and table
cloths ... not at Jake's ...
take the old sign inside and put it outside and the new
sign inside for a while to make a point.
A good stop on your way home on
a Friday or Saturday night when they close at something like 3 in
If you are thinking whole pie,
I'd go to Joe's.
Very popular. Maybe for the
music at night. I admit to having a preference for Pinocchio's up
For a snack or a light lunch,
Sam's fits the bill.
(Beer, wine. 11AM until way late.)
235 Main Street, Northampton, MA
THE GREEN BEAN
Here's a health food place that has kind of
morphed into a good, wholesome, breakfast place.
Lots of greens and brown rice.
(Which have evolved over time to more normal offerings)
But, a bit pricey in my book.
I sometimes get the Itty Bitty,
a fried egg with tomato and a touch of pesto and cheese on an
English muffin. It winds up costing about five
bucks to-go ... about the same as a hearty bagel with cream cheese
and lox around the corner at Woodstar.
Very good food from what I can
tell. Best coffee in town.
Now, a word about Fitzwilly's ... and The Toasted Owl:
Fitwilly's was an innovator. Opened a very long time ago, it might
have been one of the first, soon-to-be-clichéd "fern bars" ... since then
ownerships has changed ... to this day the atmosphere at Fitzwilly's can't be
beat. I recall for years they didn't even have a sign outside.
is always busy. Usually loud. Waits are not uncommon.
masses head to Fitzwilly's.
other towns the masses head to Fridays or Applebees and so on. I don't
fact that Calvin Coolidge used to have an office here, doesn't have anything to
do with the food.
The BACK bar on a Friday or Saturday night is always a good place — for a drink.
just don't know any discerning locals who eat there unless they have to.
Keep in mind, I never eat anyplace [only] because the atmosphere is nice.
matter what you are in the mood for, I'm sure you can find it someplace in
Now, next door, same owners, same kitchen (I'm told they have separate "lines")
... The Toasted Owl ... is okay.
that I'd go there for dinner or anything ... but their appetizers are valid and
the drinks are ok and the service is pleasant ... but it does have that sports
bar vibe and it competes well in that category.
we venture away from Northampton ... This site seems to do a very superb job in
researching the g-f world we live in: Gluten-Free
in Western Massachusetts ... they have a
newsletter I'll be signing up for too.
OTHER THINGS AROUND
HERE THAT MAKE LIFE GOOD
HUNGRY GHOST BREAD BAKERY
Excellent wood-fired bread.
Problem: at a very reasonable
$6 a loaf for a good sized loaf of bread ... I can't eat enough at
home before it goes stale.
Another institution with a long
history here. They have swayed from their fruit emphasis over time.
The produce is ok, at best.
Grocery selections are little
downscale compared to Serio's.
Excellent selection of beers
and wine with a knowledgeable staff. But, if you are going for more
than a bottle or two, you might want to head to the bigger places
... at State Street it can be as much as $4 a bottle more.
Their deli is also reliable.
You get decent servings.
Bed & Breakfast ... from our friends
The Sugar Maple Trailside Inn is a
recently restored 1865 Colonial home with Italianate characteristics
that in 2003 was awarded the City of Northampton's Historic Preservation
The restoration and the interesting stories behind it were the subject
of a segment on House & Garden Television’s (HGTV) acclaimed series,"RESTORE
November of 2003. Click
HERE for a link to the video on YouTube.
... Argentinean. I've been meaning to try the place. I just haven't made
it there yet.
... for excellent (often-times) Chinese (use the gourmet menu) in a strip mall in
Florence is a favorite of many locals.
All the Sushi
places in town are good ... I just don't eat at them enough to feel as
if I should make a suggestion.
... I hear conflicting reports on their food. My last visit went
... is a sliver of a place serving breakfast and lunch. Healthy-ish meal
items, good portions ... at times, it seems to be too much of "the" hangout on Main Street
for me to be comfortable breaking through the crowd of people (people,
I'd probably not seek out for any reason) who are just
lingering in front.
BUT, someone pointed out that
has gotten better lately ... I've been getting my morning coffee there
lately and it has been quite good. Employees are always very
They now have table service ...
downstairs ... at breakfast, and maybe lunch ... (I've only had coffee, upstairs) ... but,
that might bode well.
Their chai never seems to be
heated to anything close to whatever "just right" is.
A place that is this popular
should be taken note of.
Bela ... is
a popular vegetarian place open for lunch and dinner ... I've never been
there myself ... I just never seem to think of it. If you are so
inclined, I'd try it if I were you.
Buyeno y Sano
VeraCruzana ... are two perfectly viable places to get some
Mexican-influenced food without losing a paycheck. Living nearby, I
usually get two entrees to go and get three or four meals for my effort.
The setting in each case is "upper lunch counter."
The Restaurant at Smith Vocational High School
... is little known even amongst locals. Open for lunch three days a
... in Westhampton, specializes in farm raised pork. Although I never
see any sign of actual pigs nearby.
PHANTOM GOURMET RESTAURANT DATABASE ... is from the
somewhat commercialized Boston TV show of the same name. The
compete with another show,
THE TV DINER ... both are skewed towards boston, and I
don't always agree with their findings (again I suspect they
treat their sponsors extra special in the show). But, I post
the links anyhow.