February 21, 2012
Travel / New England / Northampton: Eat

Northampton – Eat

One can eat only so many meals and hang around so many cafes in 48 hours, but I did my best. A favorite spot, The Dirty Truth, is more bar than restaurant but it’s got a hip vibe, nice wine by the glass, over 40 craft beers, good people watching and better yet, the staff is ever smiling and delightful. Out of a teeny two-person kitchen, The Dirty Truth serves up a revolving menu of odd pickings like chickpea latkes, fried chicken, pozole, burgers and housemade pierogies. Like everything in Northampton, the food is, of course, locally sourced, organically grown and naturally raised. I had a perfect green salad and a fresh-from-the-oven ginormous, homemade pretzel with mouth-searing mustard. What more could a girl want? Open for dinner and weekend brunch.

We stopped at Esselon for a cappucino during our glorious walk on the Bike Trail and I just had to head back for lunch. A farm-fresh and organic meal awaits in an atmosphere reminiscent of a French cafe, just a mile or so out of town on the road to Hadley. Highly recommend a stop here for breakfast or lunch for clean food and house-roasted coffees prepared by a friendly staff. The baguette sandwiches have the right proportion of bread to filling (no easy feat) and I happily devoured my prosciutto, greens and blue cheese on crunchy baguette. Yum.

While I was desperate to try buzzy newcomer Sierra Grille, we were turned off by the two hour wait and snooty hostess. Headed instead to see our old friend Claudio at Spoleto and were cheered by giant plates of pasta and the always charming and magnanimous Claudio himself, holding down the fort. Three of us had salad, pasta, a good bottle of red and shared a cannoli for under $90. I spent many a night at Spoleto years ago; you still can’t beat it.

There seems to be a Japanese restaurant per block in Northampton, but my friends insist Osaka is THE ONE. We loved the imaginative menu and accomodating staff, trotting out roll after gorgeous roll. Don’t miss the Bad Boy: ebi, avocado, mango and spicy tuna (pictured) or the Rainbow Roll, a vision of avocado and cucumber with mango and kimchi.

Sadly, my favorite Noho restaurant, Green Street, recently closed, but there are plenty of newbies to choose from. Here are my foodie friend’s favorites:

the aforementioned Sierra Grille (make reservations)

Eclipse for farm-to-table (reservations necessary here, too.)

Bistro Les Gras for classic French

Local Burger


Not too far: 

Great Wall in Florence for Chinese (make sure to order off the “gourmet menu”)

Blue Heron in Sunderland

Hope and Olive in Greenfield


Old favorites:

Joe’s Pizza

East Side Grill

Pizza Paradiso



You can’t turn around without smacking into a cafe and, curiously, they’re all busy. My favorite was Haymarket for it’s old Northampton, slightly hippy character, but there’s a cafe for every taste. Modern design buffs will love Sip on Crafts Ave., for single-origin coffees and tempting treats like lemon macarons and savory muffins. For communal tables, hipsters on macs and a slice of towering cake, head to Roost on the corner of Main and Bridge. Woodstar Cafe offers up homemade granola, an in-house bakery and the best Chai.
Don’t Miss: Pretzel rolls and butter cookies at Bakery Normand and artisanal bread and pizza at the Hungry Ghost bakery.
For a list of my favorite Northampton shops, click here. For a list of fun things to do in Northampton, click here.
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