Western Mass Restaurants

Hello - I’m probably about to move from Allston to somewhere in the five college area, since my SO just got a job at Mt. Holyoke. Does anybody have any recommendations for good restaurants or specialty grocery stores in that area?

I’d be especially interested in good Chinese, Thai, or Middle-Eastern places, and less interested in “fine dining/new american” kind of places, but tell me about wherever is good!

I hope you get some feedback. I am trying to find restaurants towards the east and south-east. Perhaps a stretch for you but I want advice for the Ware - Belchertown - Sturbridge area or along I-90. I started a thread on Egullet and got zero response. Here is what I asked for and what I know:
Palmer is a new road course track that just opened this year (2015). It is situated ten minutes from Ware and fifteen minutes from downtown Palmer.
I’ve discovered that there is a lot of interest among racers and cohorts for a better lunch experience than what is offered at the track. Whatever it is, we will have an hour and a half tops for a round-trip.
I discovered the Ware Cafe, which is quite good by small-town cafe standards. Great gourmet hamburgers!
What else can I find, primarily for lunch, though I and others are interested in a good breakfast (offered by 7AM, at the latest) and dinner for those that are staying overnight in the vicinity? For dinner the radius can enlarge to allow for a little longer drive time.
I haven’t had an opportunity to try many others, but I will as the year goes by. I love this track!

No doubt it’s New American fine-dining (at least, for the Valley), but Deborah Snow’s palate and style at Blue Heron restaurant is one of my favorites on the globe. Over the years I’ve been a fan, I’ve had a best-of-life steak and potato gratin, a richly tender pork-and-grape chop, and long conversations with Rob Chirico (now gone, I think), bartender and author of Field Guide to Cocktails. Had I lived anywhere nearby, I’d have paid any price to have her cater my, well, everything.

ETA I also order fried oysters pretty much every visit.

I also make sure to return to Panda East anytime I visit the Happy Valley for the guilty-pleasure fried meat dumplings, which have a larger amount of meat, and a thicker dough wrapper, than many jaozi. I wouldn’t be surprised if the thick dough was considered a technical flaw by some, but I enjoy its chewiness and crustiness.

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for what it’s worth, Unmi Abkin from Coco & The Cellar Bar, Easthampton, MA just got named as a James Beard Award Best Chef Northeast 2016 semifinalist. Def. New American, but maybe worth checking out…

Thanks for the suggestions!

2nd Blue Heron, definitely a favorite in the area.

Pizzeria Paradiso and Local (burgers) are worth checking out in Northampton. I enjoy the Peoples Pint in Greenfield.

If you are up for a bit of a drive or even an overnight, SoLo Farm & Table in southern VT is as good of a restaurant as you will find anywhere. The chef resettled from NYC where he held his own with the best in the city. It is fantastic.

I’m from Amherst, but have lived in Boston for the past 10 years so I’m not to familiar with the current restaurant scene over there.

It is pretty good for the suburbs however, you’ll probably in the best area for dining in Western Mass. The best town there is probably Northampton which boasts a wide variety of restaurants and definitely has a lot of new hipster type restaurants. I haven’t explored many of the new restaurants, so I’m not very familiar, but there are definitely a lot of options here.

In Amherst, there are some institutions such as Antonio’s, which serves Pizza by the slice. Think Otto’s but way more selection of different toppings and a lot of interesting toppings. There are a lot of cheap/casual in Amherst meant to appease the college students, but a lot of this food is very good. Bueno y Sano isn’t really authentic Mexican, but they make a tasty Burrito. The Hanger aka Wings start the Wings over ___ franchise and the original is definitely better than the franchises.
I’ve tried one new restaurant in Amherst that was great, Mom’s Noodles. They had A few different noodle dishes, noodle soups and dumplings. Very good at a reasonable price.
Amherst has a bunch of newer restaurants too that I haven’t tried, but their scene is definitely getting a lot better than what I grew up with.

Also on your way to/from Boston, BT’s Smokehouse in Sturbridge has the Best BBQ in the state by far (probably best in all of New England.) There’s a million CH threads on it, so I’ll just leave it at that.

This is good stuff! Especially since I’m a refugee from Texas. I may have to start my own thread (but I doubt it will garner more interest). From Sturbridge back towards Belchertown might fit in with this thread. What’s out there within 30 minutes of Ware?

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold