Bueno y Sano – The food that got me through college

I started my freshman year at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in the fall of 1998 as a vegetarian with some picky eating habits and quickly developed a major aversion to the food served at Berkshire Dining Hall, the closest on campus food facility to my dorm. Unlike the young whippersnappers of today who seem to have some pretty tasty on campus eats, we had cereal and a salad bar plus a variety of atrocious options heated, reheated, and then heated some more, served to us and called food. If you ate meat, you had chicken finger night to make up for the rest of the week; if you didn’t eat chicken, things were pretty bleak. Sure, make-it-yourself waffles with sugary fruit toppings and fake whipped cream or a make your own sundae bar were nice, but as someone who had already begun a journey to eating both well and balanced, these things grew old fast. The thought right now makes my teeth hurt. Clearly, I had to find something within my meager budget that would satisfy my desire for healthy and quality food. Enter Bueno y Sano. Located off of the lovely Amherst common, Bueno y Sano is a tiny restaurant that serves excellent, healthy tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and salads for dirt cheap. As students, it appealed to us because the food was cheap, filling, delicious, and healthy. For those very same reasons, I crave Bueno today. The quality cooking, as you can read on Bueno’s website, comes from an El Salvadoran family who definitely put a lot of love, tradition, and great ingredients into the food. Over the years I have tried many of Bueno’s burritos like grilled tomato and garlic, veggie chili, and sautéed spinach, all delicious and healthy in their own different ways. But I always go back to simple, bean soft tacos with crisp lettuce, chopped tomatoes, black beans, hot sauce, a slightly sharp white cheese, and yogurt. I love that Bueno was one of the first places that offered yogurt in lieu of sour cream. PA191569   I think I am actually getting worse at photography. What sets Bueno apart from all other taco and burrito shops for me, however, is their homemade hot sauce. For years I have wanted to crack the mystery of this addictive, spicy goodness, and I have not been able to. In college, life was good. I spent $1.25 on a taco, then helped myself to 4 cups of sauce, one which I would consume with the taco, the other would be brought home and eaten with anything I could find, chips, crackers, bread, and sometimes with a spoon. This hot sauce is that good. When I get to Amherst, I stock up, but it is so fresh it must be eaten within a couple of days. I am quite lucky to have good friends who are in Amherst fairly often; they always bring Bueno out East to me. It is hard to believe, but Bueno opened a Boston location years back, and it failed. They now have restaurants in Northampton, MA, Springfield, MA, and Burlington, VT. If they came back to Boston I would love them forever. Well, I already do. Bueno was a huge part of my college life as we ate there at least a couple of times a week. And, not like I ever did ;), but if you happened to “overindulge” at a party or local watering hole, Bueno provided the best cure for headaches and other ailments the day after. If you are in any of these towns, and I can definitely recommend visits to Northampton, Amherst, and Burlington, check out Bueno y Sano. It may not be the burrito place you are used to, but I can almost guarantee you will find something that you love whether you are a vegan or want a burrito chock full of steak. Do you have any favorite budget food memories? Are they still foods that you like or miss?

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Tags: Amherst, Food

  1. Simply Life’s avatar

    This looks great! I felt a bit limited in my college dining options as well and went back a couple years ago and was SHOCKED at how many delicious and healthy options!


  2. Elina’s avatar

    I went to UMass too and Bueno y Sano was the first Mexican food i’ve ever had (I used to think it was greasy food, full of onions). Since then, I’ve been a Mexican food addict. Can’t believe they used to have a Boston location!!!


  3. talesfromtwocities’s avatar

    I don’t know how I survived the dining hall at PC! We used to go to this Mexican place near Brown called Tortilla Flats. We thought it was the best place ever. I went back like a year after I graduated and thought it was disgusting though! Very dissapointing. Funny how your standards can change!


  4. Grace’s avatar

    Everyone I know that went to UMass-Amherst is OBSESSED with this place!


  5. Abby’s avatar

    Wow, that place sounds super great!! College towns are the best.. always a ton of resturant options!! :)


  6. leslie’s avatar

    oh, cheap college food. the memories are good and bad haha. there is an amazing thai restaurant called spice near nyu that i used to go to at least once a week for lunch. $6.50 for curry, rice, and a free appetizer. and the food was delicious – can’t beat that, especially in the city!


  7. Lindsay’s avatar

    When I was in college there was a local fast food mexican place that had the best quesadillas. They were like $3.00 and delicious! I loved going there to get away from the cafeteria food. They weren’t healthy but they were well worth it! I still crave them!


  8. Sharon’s avatar

    My husband and I both went to UMass, and one of the things we miss the most about the Pioneer Valley is Bueno’s! They seriously make the best burritos. Thanks for posting this!


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