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Welcome, new readers! You can read all about my travel here.

My perfect Massachusetts getaway in Hampshire County of Western Massachusetts included just a fraction of the amazing restaurants and cafes in the region. It’s the most productive farmland in New England, and Hampshire County is a foodie paradise.

After I checked into the beautiful Lord Jeffrey Inn, I decided to check out Amherst Coffee, which I had heard great things about, for a cocktail. Amherst Coffee isn’t just a coffee shop; it’s also a whiskey bar after 3:00 p.m., making for a space that is multi-use, and it is one of the coziest places ever. I loved all of the dark wood, the friendly and warm staff, and the craft cocktail menu.  I ended up visiting two days in a row, opting twice for the Walnut Old Fashioned, the perfect balance of sweet and bitter.

Amherst Coffee

I had a hard time deciding on dinner, because Amherst has so many great restaurants, but since The Lumber Yard was new-to-me, I decided to wander  in the cold, starry night down to this cozy restaurant, located near the railway station I used to travel through as a student at UMASS. It was the perfect choice.

The Lumber Yard Amherst

The Lumber Yard Amherst

The Lumber Yard mixes Amherst country charm with everything a cocktail lover and foodie would want, including a full bar with great wines by the glass, charming service, and delightful locals at the bar.  While sipping a penicillin at the bar and chatting with some local ladies, I felt the need to move to Amherst ASAP. Truth be told, I feel that every time I visit. There’s a relaxed free feeling about the place, and at my core, I am the nose ring decorated, backless shirt wearing, Phish following hippie I was in college, molded into a more conventional life in the city.  I like the old me, and that nose ring may make a reappearance.

penicillin cocktail

But back to the cocktails and food. . . everything at The Lumber Yard was SO good. The cocktails were so perfectly made, and my fries with dips and the warm lentil dip I had were both amazing. The Lumber Yard was one of the best dining experiences I have had lately, and I wish it wasn’t two hours away. It is well worth a visit.

perfect fries

The Lumber Yard Amherst On my way back to the Lord Jeff, I spied a live music session happening at one of my favorites, The Black Sheep Deli.  I had plans to have breakfast the next day at The Black Sheep, but I couldn’t miss the music so stepped inside for some toe-tapping fun for a few minutes.

Black Sheep Amherst

The Black Sheep has always been one of my favorites, and I loved seeing their window signs welcoming refugees and got a kick out of their Brooklyn Bernie sandwich.

Black Sheep Amherst

I only made a few stops in Amherst due to the limited amount of time I had there, and I am so grateful I get the chance to work with Hampshire County and to visit the region on a regular basis.

bueno y sano amherst

And of course, no visit to Amherst is complete without a stop at Bueno y Sano for a taco fix and Atkins Farms for their famous cider doughnuts and other local products.

Atkins Farm Donut

In the interest of full disclosure, I do PR  work for the Hampshire County Regional Tourism Council, but I chose to arrive early and stay in Amherst after my work was done and paid for all of that myself just because I love it there so much.

It’s a special place, and I am thrilled I get to share even a little bit of it with my blog readers.

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Tags: Amherst, Dining out, Food, food blog, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, Travel, travel blog, Western Massachusetts

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

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