Lily's fantastic post about the best sandwiches on campus last week got me thinking - what are all of the other amazing places to eat (sandwich-shops included) that are not on campus but scattered throughout downtown Amherst? Considering we are consistently ranked among the top college towns in the country, with a large portion of that coming from the terrific restaurants in town, an expert's take (mine) on the best places to eat in town seemed warranted for the readers of this blog who will soon be frolicking (and eating) all throughout town. Ranking them will be incredibly difficult, but in the name of your stomach and happiness I would highly recommend checking out each of these local joints!
8. Pasta E Basta
If you're looking for a restaurant to go on a nice date at, or to take your parents to so they can buy you dinner, then look no further than Pasta e Basta. It is one of the fancier and more expensive restaurants in town (which isn't saying much because there's so much cheap food), but it's only because their pasta is just so good! My personal favorite dish is the Lobster Alla Mare, a heavenly lobster ravioli, but I am constantly going back to try new dishes on their extensive menu!
7. The Black Sheep
The Black Sheep is a delicious deli and bakery located right in downtown Amherst! Self-described as a "delicatessen, all-butter scratch bakery, café, gourmet food purveyor, and full service caterer", they have amazing sandwiches, bagels, sandwiches on bagels (!), and delicious homemade treats for you to try! The Black Sheep's owners are supporters of Bernie Sanders, and have a hysterical "Republican Cookie" that is "full of fruits and nuts", and the proceeds from the cookie they match and donate to Sanders' campaign! Additionally, they have some of the best coffee in the area, using Dean's Beans, a socially responsible organization whose profits are reinvested in the communities they get their coffee beans from! The Black Sheep has performances in their shop on Thursday night which I have yet to check out, but I know that I have spent long hours there doing homework, drinking coffee, and people watching the folks of Amherst.
6. Amherst Chinese
I went to Amherst Chinese for the first time last summer with a couple of my friends in the MAIA program, as they insisted that it was the best Chinese food in Amherst. They ordered us food and bought us lunch (!!!) and it was absolutely incredible! They serve an authentic Schezuan cuisine, which is a little more spicy than the food I was used to, but my friend Kevin happened to be from the Schezuan province and guided us through the menu! Unfortunately, I don't remember what it is that he ordered for us (all of the ordering happened in Mandarin), but in going back I have tried the Chicken Egg Foo Young and the Dragon and Phoenix Feast, which were delicious and encourage me to keep going back! It's also a great takeout option!
5. Crazy Noodles
Less fancy and less expensive than Pasta e Basta, Crazy Noodles is one of my favorite spots in town for a quick bite! To be honest as I am writing this blog post I just made the decision to go to Crazy Noodles for dinner tonight. They have six different types of noodles (!!!), and a variety of soup and rice combinations. My personal favorite dish is the Pad Mee Leung, but my customer card where you get a free bowl of noodles after your 10th purchase keeps me coming back to try new dishes!!!
4. The Lone Wolf
The Lone Wolf is delicious and amazing and I have a hard time not ranking them #1 on this list because I love breakfast so much!! With an extensive menu and various vegan options, the Lone Wolf is the best (and most popular) breakfast spot in town! The Lone Wolf is quiant but busy, with delicious bottomless coffee and arguably the best breakfast burrito I've ever had, The Chama Wrap! Also worth trying are the Cheese Blintzes, Challah French Toast, and Billy Omelet! They serve breakfast until 2 pm on weekends, and you may have to wait a few minutes for a table, but it is certainly worth it!
Now that we are getting to the top of the list, the differences among these restaurants are just about negligible - Antonio's is literally the best pizza I have ever had. (Update: I'm now going here for dinner tonight...) Ask any student what their favorite flavor is and you'll get a difference answer, but some of the most popular are Chicken Bacon Ranch, Black Bean Avacado, and Pesto Tortellini! They are open late, and have $1 cheese slices after midnight on the weekends! It is a staple of downtown Amherst, and the pizza-by-the-slice format makes it an easy bite on the go. I'm talking from experience - I've shamelessly gotten a piece of Barbeque Chicken Bacon Ranch too many times on my way to class at Amherst College... The best part about Antonios though? They take UCard debit, so you can tell parents you need money to print and do laundry and spend it on pizza instead!!!!!
2. Glazed Doughnut Shop
Words truly cannot capture the beauty that are Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts. You just have to go. You know they are serious because they spell donut with a "u" and a "g" and an "h". These donuts are homemade, huge, and have flavors from Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (my personal fav) to Maple Bacon Bars (with so much in between). Admiteddly, I'm not sure what it means to be "in between" those two donuts, and it doesn't really do any of their donuts justice, as they are all beautiful creations that stand on their own. Last week, People's Market, a cooperatively run student business in the Student Union, announced that they were going to be having Glazed at the market and my heart (along with everyone else's on campus) fluttered a little bit. You really just have to try a donut to understand... Go look at their menu right now...
1. La Veracruzana
I love burritos. Everyone who knows me knows that to be true. I suffered a real separation anxiety when I moved away from my hometown and couldn't go to my favorite local burrito shop anymore. Luckily for me (and everyone who lives here), Amherst STEPPED UP and is home to the best burrito I have ever tasted - the chicken burrito at La Veracruzana. With shops in Amherst and Northampton, Veracruzana is real, authentic Mexican cuisine (sorry Bueno y Sano) with an impressive menu that includes much more than just burritos and quesadillas. My bias towards burritos brings to the position that this is the best food in town. A must try!!!!
As I finish this list, I am sad about all of the places that were left off this list. I know that seems hard to believe, but there is so many delicious restaurants in Amherst that a humble list of 8 could never cover them all. Why Brock, you may ask, don't you simply just make a longer list? And that is a valid question with two answers - 1) I'm hungry and I wasn't kidding about going to Antonio's and I am going there once I publish this list and 2) You need to come to Amherst yourself and try all of these restaurants for yourself!!! An excellent time to do that is over the summer, when the town is quiet and the sun is warm.
So are you an incoming student in the Class of 2020 who's dying to get their hands (and mouth) on a piece of Antonio's pizza? Consider joining the Jump! program, a 4-week transitional program from June 26-July 23 housed in the Commonwealth Honorrs College Residential Community at UMass Amherst:
Are you a high-school student salivating while reading this post and trying to find an excuse to get to Amherst? Consider joining one of our expansive pre-college programs for high school students: