Just a short two-hour drive from Boston - or three, if you live in New York City - are the Berkshires, a picturesque land filled with mountains, lakes, and great fall foliage. The sheer number of farms out there means it’s also overflowing with milk and honey, and, if all that wasn’t enough, it’s home to some amazing museums as well. At some point, however, you’ll need a break from all those activities, and there’s no better break than grabbing a meal. So whether you’re a leaf-peeper, a wild honey enthusiast, or a “The weirder the better!” modern art lover, here are the best places to eat and drink in the Berkshires.
Mezze Bistro + Bar
Technically Mezze is located right outside Williamstown, not North Adams. But don’t let geographical nuances or the short 15-minute drive keep you away - this is one of the best restaurants in New England. Located in a house that could easily double as an art museum, this farm-to-table spot (with a rather romantic outdoor patio) serves some really great seasonal dishes. The heirloom tomato salad comes with homemade sourdough croutons and green olive salsa verde. The bolognese has a generous sprinkling of garlic breadcrumbs, adding texture to a dish that’s normally rather - for lack of a better term - squishy. It’s all very well thought-out, and at $50 per person for a three-course meal, also one of the more affordable fine dining options around. If you only have time for one place in the Berkshires, Mezze should be at the top of your list.
A-OK Berkshire Barbeque
Chances are you’re probably in North Adams to visit Mass MoCA, and luckily for you, A-OK is right on-site. They have the best barbecue that you can find on the grounds of any world-class museum. It’s a statement we’re confident making because the statistical odds are in our favor (where else in the world do smoked ribs and modern art co-exist?), but also because A-OK has some really great sausages. Their sandwiches come on house-made bread too, which pairs well with the respective meats. Sometimes they do run out of food, so visit earlier in the day to secure yourself a very happy meal.
Bright Ideas Brewing
Just like A-OK, Bright Ideas is also on Mass MoCA’s campus, and we should all be eternally grateful to the urban planner who decided that $20 soggy sandwich and bottled water museum meals should no longer be a thing. To absolutely no one’s surprise, the draft list at Bright Ideas is heavy on New England IPAs, but they do pair well with the barbecue offerings at A-OK. Consider it an upgrade to the Diet Coke you usually get.
Christo's Famous Pizza
Maybe you’re saving up for the new Lego Star Wars Cantina set, or a Death Star toaster. Both are legitimate reasons to be on a budget and therefore eat somewhere other than A-OK Barbeque (meals run about $20 per person there). A short walk away from Mass MoCA is Christo’s, a casual spot with pizzas, sandwiches, and some Greek specialities too. A pepperoni slice sells is less than $4, which is impressive given that the slice is almost a quarter of a pizza. Large grinder sandwiches are $7.50 - they’re big enough to split, which is perfect since you’ll want to save room for baklava too.
Flavours Of Malaysia
Great Malaysian food in Western Mass? We were skeptical too, at first, but there’s a reason that Flavours has been a Pittsfield staple for a number of years. The menu is rather large, with a wide range of seafood options like sambal udang and grilled jumbo prawns. They also do dim sum, but we recommend sticking with classic entrees like nasi goreng and beef rendang instead.
Berkshire Mountain Bakery Pizza Cafe
The original outpost of Berkshire Mountain Bakery is right next to the Housatonic river. It’s a picturesque setting, and a great spot for some sourdough on a picnic table. But to experience this idyllic Berkshire scene, you do have to go out of your way as Housatonic isn’t exactly close to much. For the sake of convenience, you can head to the bakery’s Pittsfield branch, which also makes sandwiches and sourdough pizzas. There are no soothing water sounds in the background, but convenience always seems to come with a price.
The Lost Lamb
Before heading to the Norman Rockwell Museum, you’ll probably want to grab a bite to eat. We’re partial to the chocolate croissants and quiches at The Lost Lamb, a small bakery and cafe in the downtown area of Stockbridge. There’s also a small outdoor patio under the trees, so if you decide to stay for a while to sip a latte and have a bowl of cassoulet, just remember the museum closes at 5pm.
The Red Lion Inn
Right across the street from The Lost Lamb is the iconic Red Lion Inn, a hotel that opened way back in 1773. The longevity of the place is either an amazing or terrifying thing, depending on how you feel about red carpet, fine china, and floral wallpaper. Order some chowder and chicken pot pie from a rocking chair on the front porch, and think back on some simpler times, like when a trip from Boston to Albany would take three days by horse-drawn carriage.
No. Six Depot Roastery & Cafe
No. Six Depot is one of three coffee roasters in the Berkshires, and while we certainly wouldn’t turn down a cup from Barrington or Tunnel City, we really love the dark blue and teal hues of No. Six’s renovated train station. You may think that architecture has nothing to do with caffeine, but when you’re sitting outside this roastery, sipping a cup amidst the slick siding and perfectly manicured plants, you’ll understand.
Guido's Fresh Marketplace
Guido’s is a little like Whole Foods in that there’s a wide variety of local, organic produce for sale. But the comparisons fall short after that because there isn’t a gazillion-dollar CEO in charge, and you don’t have to scan a QR code at checkout to get a five cent discount on an $8 shot of cold-pressed coconut-hemp juice. We’re not bitter, Jeff. In any case, if you’re looking for great ingredients, either to snack on or to use for a home-cooked meal, then head to Guido’s. The fruit, vegetable, meat, and seafood offerings are all excellent.
We’ve tried a lot of ice cream over the years (and there are certainly some pretty unique flavors out there), so we’re comfortable self-proclaiming our expertise. And our adept selves are telling you that you need to grab some scoops at SoCo Creamery. They’re incredibly rich, but in a way that still allows for flavors to come through. Opt for the espresso cookie or Mexicali chocolate, if you’re looking for a “That’s surprisingly good!” time, but virtually everything is great here.