Small town vibe; big college campuses, Amherst — where the ‘h’ is (always) silent — is truly one of the great college towns in the east. But it's not just about college; this place is about so much more. There's culture farms, thriving small-business commerce, outdoors activities, and a devoted community making sure the wheels keep turning.
Plus there are endless "something to do's" nearby. Like exploring the Amherst College Wildlife Sanctuary which includes approximately 500 acres of fields, wetlands, flood plain woods, river, upland woods, plantation pines, and ponds.
Or go learn more about some arts heroes and visit the Emily Dickinson Museum (born in Amherst and student of Mount Holyoke College). And adjacent to Hampshire college, Ken Burns' and Eugene Mirman's alma mater, lies the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, a fun spot to take the kids.
Our point? There's lots to do there.
There's also lots to eat. You can find everything you’d expect in a great college town: late-night pizza, cozy cafes for endless hours of studying, and hip bars with cheap drinks. You can also find some of the tastiest food in the "there be dragons" territory of the state.
Although there are many good eats nearby, we're staying in town and keeping the college experience in mind. Here are our favorite eatin' spots in Amherst.
WHAT'S FOR BREAKFAST?
Bread & Butter
Crisp home fries cut into thin medallions, fresh egg dishes, buttermilk pancakes, and liege style waffles — it's no secret that Bread & Butter is serving up the breakfast of scholarly champions. With every item on their menu made in-house and from scratch, it's a delicious way to start the day.
We can't get enough of their pork belly Benedict, made with poached eggs, a maple-Sriracha infused pork belly and one of the creamiest and butteriest hollandaise sauces we've tasted, all atop a fluffy english muffin. It's both satisfying and scrumptious, and one of those hearty meals that is sure to keep you going all day.
If meat and eggs aren't your preferred way to start the day, go for the housemade chai latte topped with whipped cream, and some blueberry pancakes. The spicy chai, combined with the light, airy, and fruity cakes will surely wake your senses up.
68 Cowls Rd., N. Amherst, breadandbutteramherst.com
Cushman Market & Cafe
Cushman Market and Café has been selling local art and goods since 1892. It's a beloved neighborhood joint, located in the historic district of Amherst, that has felt its share of changes while spending over 100 years deeply rooted in the surrounding community. And in its current life, now includes a small seat café that's serving some of the tastiest brekkie in the area.
It's one of our favorite spots to Sunday brunch on a college budget. We love kicking back and relaxing on their outdoor patio while enjoying some live local jazz and eating a Hobo bowl (Cushman's signature breakfast bowl). You get a heaping pile of breakfast potatoes, a delicious variety of meats, veggies, cheeses and sauces, depending on the bowl type you choose, all topped with a perfectly cooked over easy egg. No frills needed for this one; the fresh, local ingredients are the stars, and with a price tag of $8.88 are very easy on the budget. This is truly one of the last breakfasts of its kind.
491 Pine St., N. Amherst, cushmanmarket.com
I mean, what sounds good? Southwestern fare like Huevos Rancheros? Yep. Challah french toast made with a cinnamon, vanilla batter? You bet. I guess the better question to ask is "what are you homesick for?" There's a good chance that Lone Wolf has some form of your favorites on their breakfast menu, and they're all made with locally sourced ingredients. We can't thank of a better gift for a college student jonesing for home.
One of our favorite orders is the Guadalupe breakfast burrito. A large flour tortilla is stuffed with some of the tastiest home fries in town, salty bacon, a southwest scramble full of vegetables, and topped with an addicting green chile verde, melted cheddar, and salsa on the side. It's a fantastic one dish meal that will keep you full all day.
Feeling indulgent? Do yourself a big favor and order a cup of the Lone Wolf signature hot chocolate, piled with whipped cream and chocolate chips. It's comforting and delicious.
63 Main St., Downtown Amherst, thelonewolfamherst.com
OFF CAMPUS LUNCH SPOTS
Judie’s Restaurant has been serving up fare in historic downtown Amherst since 1977. Overstuffed sandwiches, soups and stews, sautés; all homemade and meant to give your taste buds an indulgent treat. Judie's is the perfect place to take the family when they come for a campus visit.
We recommend the spicy seafood gumbo chock full shrimp, sausage, scallops, salmon and lobster meat, with some green peppers, onions, roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts for some veggie representation. It's fresh. It's spicy. And it's ohhh sooo tasty.
One of their signature items is the Popover, a traditional New England bread. Judie's serves them up giant, light, and fluffy. Combined with their ridiculously good homemade apple butter - it's a cravable combination.
51 N. Pleasant St., Amherst, MA, judiesrestaurant.com
Crazy Noodles Cafe
Crazy Noodles is combining Thai, Cambodian and Italian cuisines into some crazy and unforgettably delicious dishes. It's a favorite among the students and the locals for a tasty and affordable quick bite.
We can't get enough their basil fried rice. It's a fresh mix of chopped onion, scrambled egg, your choice of protein (chicken is a personal favorite), and a super healthy serving of the most fragrant Thai basil you can find. It's the freshest plate of fried rice in Western MA!
For appetizers, go for the golden tofu triangles. Fried tofu is topped with crushed peanuts and sesame seeds for some texture, and served with the rich peanut dipping sauce. You won't forget it.
Lunch is served from 11am - 3pm daily and all orders are served with a delicious house tofu soup (dine-in only). And at just $7.00 for dishes like wonton noodle soup, pad thai, or penne de creme, you won't hurt the budget.
36 Main St., Amherst, crazynoodlescafe.com
COFFEE SHOPS FOR STUDYING
Find a good book to cozy up with and head to Amherst Coffee. There are big tables and comfy chairs all over the place, and a complete menu of carefully crafted coffee and espresso drinks and artisan full leaf teas to keep you hydrated. It's the perfect combination for creating this amazing atmosphere that makes you feel welcome no matter how long you plan on staying.
OH. And not only do they serve coffee, they also have a fully stocked bar with select wines, whiskeys, and spirits. The bar opens at 3pm every day, so save the hard stuff — like studying for finals — for the "hard" stuff.
8 Amity St., Amherst, amherstcoffee.com
"Better days start with better coffee." That's the motto at Share Coffee. And we couldn't agree more. The location is the perfect place to linger and do work in the midst of the ambient noise of a bustling coffee shop. If that's the plan, make sure you go early to snag a table because it can be busy (especially on the weekends).
The mochas, cold brews, and iced vanilla lattes are delish. And they have a huge variety of food options like pastries and desserts, soups, salads and sandwiches, to pair. Grab a friend and share a muffin; it's the perfect brain food for a last minute cramming session.
Share also operates a weekly doorstep delivery service for their die hard coffee lovers. It's a great opportunity to skip the lines and test out new varieties. Learn more about it here.
17 Kellogg Ave., Amherst, sharecoffeeroasters.com
SAVE ROOM FOR (DOUGHNUT) DESSERT
Glazed Doughnut Shop
We love doughnuts. I repeat, we LOVE doughnuts. Especially delicious, gourmet doughnuts like the ones Glazed Doughnut Shop makes. They have everything, including cake donut varieties, gluten-free and vegan options, and other sweet offerings for the non-doughnut fans. But we think what's most important is that they REALLY know how to take care of a yeast doughnut. Yum.
We love the maple bar topped with a generous helping of chopped bacon. The sweet and salty combo is unbeatable, and the monster size of the pastry will keep you full well past your next meal. We also can't get enough of "The Elvis", a combination of banana, peanut butter and chocolate packed onto a doughnut. It's a great one to grab for later when you're jonesing for something sweet after a long day of classes.
Glazed is involved in the annual "Amherst Dessert Crawl", a Reader to Reader Inc. hosted event that supports literacy and learning opportunities for under served communities. You can be sure to find a rotating variety of doughnut specials on any given day that are in full support of the cause... just to sweeten up the experience even more. We love this place.
9 N. Pleasant St., Amherst, glazeddoughnutshop.com
FOR THE LATE NIGHT OWLS
Pizza is always good. Always.
But why (and how) does it taste better late at night? We don't know. We just know that it does. And man, does Antonio's know how to scratch that itch. And if huge slices are your thing, you've already got something in common with the infamous pizza joint. These guys have perfected the art behind selling individual huge slices without burning a hole in the wallet.
Spicy buffalo chicken, chicken bacon ranch, black bean avocado; just a few of 20-something unique and delicious pies that they've been serving up for the later part of two decades. The local favorite? It's the $1 cheese slices. You can only get them on Friday nights after midnight. And they are delish.
31 N. Pleasant St., Amherst, antoniospizza.com
Located right in the heart of Amherst is High Horse, a unique, hip, gastro pub and hot spot for grabbing a drink and playing pool with friends. It's also a great spot to bring the family for dinner during campus visits. Either option will benefit from the restaurant's booming nightlife and amazing menu that changes regularly with what's growing locally.
And the best part? They're serving it until 1am.
Our hearts belong to the poutine. Vermont cheddar curds and a Quebec-style brown gravy on top of perfectly crisp french fries? It's incredible and pairs well with a variety of beers on the menu. We recommend the Satisfaction IPA, Artifact Cider Project, or the Young's Double Chocolate Stout.
24 N. Pleasant St., Amherst, highhorseamherst.com