Would you like blueberry pancakes with eggs from the farm across the way … or an almond croissant with cafe au lait? In the Berkshires, restaurants and cafés draw in influences from Brooklyn and Cambridge — and Malaysia and Paris — and pick parsley out of the garden.

When I travel, I want someone local to tell me where they go to relax on a sunny afternoon. I’m looking for a bohemian sandwich shop or a restaurant in a hay barn, where the chef cooks from scratch and talks with regulars and the woman at the cafe counter recommends science fiction.

I like somewhere with a sense of flavor and skill and fun, and I like places that feel as though they belong where they are. So I’m sharing some of my places with you. This is not a comprehensive view of every restaurant in the region — these are places I’ve come to and want to come back to. Some of them I’d happily drive an hour to visit, and all of them I can’t find anywhere else.

Restaurants & cafés

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Berkshire Mountain Café

French toast from sourdough chocolate bread, with local maple syrup; cherry pecan French toast with sweetened goat cheese and honey … imagine the possibilities. Aura Whitman, former owner of Café Reva, has joined forces with Berkshire Mountain Bakery’s pizzeria and café — and they are forces of nature.



Up at Brewhaha, Barry Garton smiles when he hears about the farm-to-table movement as a new phenomenon, because he has been cooking that way since the 1970s — local and homestyle, with fair trade coffee, soups and omelettes and his signature muffins — pumpkin chip, chocolate banana and more.


Chocolate Springs

Joshua Needleman makes his own chocolate from scratch in Lenox. Dark chocolate caramelized hazlenuts. Melting bars of ganache flavored with raspberry or spice. His Chocolate Springs is half kitchen and half alchemy, a wizard’s lair. And it is also a café. You can find assorted chocolates to take home in whimsical flavors and shapes, or sample them over a cup of coffee.


Egremont Barn

The old barn at the Egremont Village Inn gives refuge on a windy night. Tables gather around an informal stage with a piano. And concerts, comedy and karaoke have been drawing a community here at the Egremont Barn for pub comfort food and music.



For more than 20 years, Tom and Elizabeth Ellis have been serving an Italian-inspired menu with a touch of Lebanese flavor. They make everything from scratch, from the broth and the sausage onward.


Hancock Shaker Village

From 1783 to 1960, a Shaker community lived and farmed here. Today the village is a living history museum known for its Round Stone Barn, with farm animals and CSA gardens, art and craft, and dinners and music.


Prairie Whale

Mark Firth was a restauranteur in Brooklyn before he came to the Berkshires. Out here he has raised his own pigs for his own kitchen — he named his new venture for them: A ‘Prairie Whale’ is a hog. He also turns to local farms for fruits and vegetables and meats.


Public Eat + Drink

Public Eat + Drink is the kind of place that has purple potato chips on the menu, and homemade ice cream sandwiches — and local hamburgers so thick they can last for two meals. It’s the kind of place that will be crowded to spilling over at 5 p.m. on a Wednesday in a soaking rain. The word has gotten out.


Red Lion Inn

The Red Lion Inn has stood centrally on Main Street since 1773, when it served as a stage coach between Boston and Albany. The old clapboard building has a history going back to the Revolution, and today it brings locals and visitors to its restaurants and shop of goods from local artists and artisans.


Steam Noodle Cafe

Steam Cafe is a cheerful place, and the menu is pure comfort food — soups and dumplings, steamed buns, spring rolls. A bowl of Thai noodle soup comes in a generous portion, ample for many meals, mild on the spice and rich with chicken and vegetables.


Tunnel City Coffee

A college hangout and an anchor on Spring Street for decades, Tunnel City roasts its own coffee and has a loyal following for its house blend — its roastery has recently moved to the renovated Norad Mill in North Adams. It is more bakery than cafe, known for treats like chocolate cheesecake, fruit tarts and linzer hearts.