Off-Campus Eats: The Student’s Guide to Downtown Dining
Issue   |   Thu, 09/03/2015 - 18:32
Downtown Amherst has no shortage of cafés and restaurants. We reviewed some popular off-campus spots for $1 pizza slices, Sunday brunch, sushi and more.

1. Rao’s Coffee
17 Kellogg Ave.
(413) 253-9441
If you’re sick of Frost and need a change of study space, consider Rao’s. Seating is usually hard to come by, especially on Sundays, but the coffee shop is a favorite of local students. Beverages can also be a little pricey, but there are lots of choices and both the food and coffee are locally sourced. Definitely worth the walk.

2. Johnny’s Tavern
30 Boltwood Walk
(413) 230-3818
All-American comfort food abounds at Johnny’s. The restaurant offers unique pasta dishes, burgers and big salads. If you go, order the truffle fries — they’re addicting. Johnny’s is one of Amherst’s more expensive restaurants, but the food is consistently good, and the service is better than High Horse.

3. The Black Sheep Bakery Café
79 Main St.
(413) 253-3442
A great spot for sandwiches and studying. The casual café also offers an impressive array of baked goods and coffee. If Rao’s is packed, you might have better luck finding seating here, though Black Sheep is also known to get crowded. It’s popular with students and locals alike.

4. Pita Pockets
103 N. Pleasant St.
(413) 256-3600
This place is fairly new on the Amherst culinary scene but has a dedicated following already. Mediterranean-style fare is doled out in generously sized portions, and prices are affordable. When you’re ordering, trust the father-son duo that owns the restaurant — they’ll make suggestions and prepare samples for you to taste before you choose.

5. The Lone Wolf
63 Main St.
(413) 256-4643
This is the place to go for Sunday brunch, but wait times can be long. It’s also important to note that the restaurant’s policy won’t allow you to split your check, so plan ahead if you’re dining with a group. Come on an empty stomach — besides the amazing challah French toast and made-to-order omelets, there’s an abundance of vegan options.

6. Bart’s Homemade Ice Cream
103 N. Pleasant St.
(413) 253-2278
If frozen yogurt doesn’t do it for you, head down N. Pleasant Street and hit up Bart’s. It’s a classic ice cream parlor that also serves sandwiches and drinks. It’s also the closest place to campus to get a cone. The list of flavors is long (you can’t go wrong, but definitely try malt vanilla) but they also offer a self-serve frozen yogurt bar if you’d prefer a healthier option.

7. Antonio’s
31 N. Pleasant St.
(413) 253-0808
The be-all and end-all of pizza in downtown Amherst, this is the place to go after a night out when you need a carb fix. Anyone with good sense will tell you that chicken-bacon-ranch is Anton’s best flavor, but you can’t go wrong with any of this tiny pizzeria’s offerings. Head here after midnight on Fridays for $1 slice of “hot cheese up front.”

8. Glazed
19 N. Pleasant St.
(413) 230-6811
This doughnut shop moved into a location closer to campus last year, making it easier than ever to indulge in its sugary treats. There are bunches of gourmet flavors to choose from — including gluten-free options — but if you’re not a doughnut person, ice cream, coffee and other baked goods are available. I dare you to walk by without stopping inside.

9. Pasta E Basta
26 Main St.
(413) 256-3550
Generous portions are the name of the game here. It’s also super easy to customize your pasta order. Pasta E might not be the best Italian food you’ve ever had, but prices are reasonable here, and it’s a fun place to eat with large groups. The focaccia bread the restaurant serves while you wait for your entrée is binge-worthy.

10. High Horse
24 N. Pleasant St.
(413) 230-3034
Burgers and beer are mainstays on the High Horse menu — the restaurant sells its own craft brews. Show up with an appetite for American cuisine with a twist (definitely try the hand-cut fries), but be prepared to wait for it once you’re seated. Service is slow. A gluten-free menu is also available, and they serve weekend brunch.

11. Oriental Flavor
25 S. Pleasant St.
(413) 253-7673
If you’re looking for great Chinese dim sum, check out Oriental Flavor. This newer restaurant serves the best Chinese food in Amherst, and though it’s small and can get crowded, the wait is worth it. The dumplings and scallion pancakes are must-tries.

12. GoBerry
28 Amity St.
(413) 256-6003
The perfect post-exam pick-me-up. GoBerry’s frozen yogurt is made from fresh, local ingredients, and the flavors rotate every week. Be sure to stop by when they’re serving Nutella! And definitely choose Rao’s cookies as one of your toppings.

13. Fresh Side
39 S. Pleasant St.
(413) 256-0296
Fresh Side’s menu features innovative Asian fusion offerings. The restaurant’s tea rolls are a must-try — they’re like very small burritos and are filled with combinations of rice, meat, vegetables and tofu. The spicy chicken and pad thai tea rolls are especially tasty. The restaurant also serves a good seaweed salad. But beware: Service can be slow, and splitting checks is sometimes a hassle.

14. Arigato
11 N. Pleasant St.
(413) 253-1070
The place to go if you’re craving sushi. Service is generally slow here even when it’s not crowded, but the food is surprisingly good. It tends to be a bit pricier than other area restaurants, but it’s the only place to get sushi unless you’re willing to travel to Northampton.

15. Judie’s
51 N. Pleasant St.
(413) 253-3491
Take your parents here for all-American fare. The servers are attentive and local artists’ work adorns the walls of the restaurant. Judie’s is famous for its popovers — flaky, bready pastries best enjoyed with apple butter. Prices here are a little high, but the menu is expansive, and the food is very good.

16. Bueno y Sano
1 Boltwood Walk
(413) 253-4000
Tired of Chipotle? Bueno y Sano serves up football-sized burritos and other standard Mexican fare. Affordable and close to campus.

17. Paradise of India
87 Main St.
(413) 256-1067
A place to check out if you’re looking to try something different. Paradise of India is less popular than other Amherst Center restaurants, but the food is tasty.

18. Amherst Coffee
28 Amity St.
(413) 256-8987
Another place to caffeinate if you have a long night of paper writing ahead of you. You’ll pay more here and get a smaller cup than Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, but the café offers strong coffee and espresso drinks, artisanal teas, and fresh pastries. Seating is limited, so it’s a less popular study spot.

19. The Taste
25 N. Pleasant St.
(413) 256-5421
This restaurant is one of Amherst Center’s newer eateries. It serves delicious Thai food at a reasonable price. The menu is large, and the service is quick. It offers a variety of curries that range from mild to super spicy. Be sure to order to the pad thai. Of the Amherst area’s Asian restaurants, The Taste serves the best version of this dish.