Alan Chartock: Berkshires' best places for dining



One of the best things about living in Great Barrington is the amazing selection of fabulous restaurants in and around town. There's truly something for everyone and my mouth is watering just writing this column. People are always asking me where they should eat so here are some choices.

The Bell and Anchor on Main Street is a fabulous new place, frequented by hipsters. The menu changes daily and is always interesting. Plus, it's a great place for people-watching.

My favorite, Café Adam, is moving to wonderful new digs in the Jennifer House on Route 7. Wait until you see it. Your eyes will pop. I love the young people who run it.

You can get a great sandwich at The Meat Market opposite the
K Mart. Also on Route 7 is the unpronounceable Xicohtencatl. It's fabulous and always filled for good reasons.

Then there is the always consistent Castle Street Café. Michael Ballon may be the most professional restaurateur in the Berkshires.

If you head out of town on Route 23 going west, John Andrews is always great. Before that is the Old Mill which some people swear by. It's been a long time since I've eaten there. The last time I was there, someone threw a rubber chicken at me.

A little further down the road, you get to Swiss Hutte at the base of Catamount which has been a Chartock favorite for years. (Best duck in the Berkshires.)

Every once in a while, you will find yet another gem. As we emerge from the Triplex (aka the "Triple X"), Roselle and I will walk through town. If the front table is available at Celestial Bar at Castle Street, we go in. If some interlopers have our table (How dare they!), we keep walking.

That happened the other night and we stopped in at one of genius Matt Rubiner's enterprises. By day, it's Rubi's Coffee and Sandwiches and a restaurant of a different color at night. Many of you will know Rubiner as the cheesemonger who was formerly in Richmond and then bought the entire ground floor of one of the best buildings in Great Barrington at Rotary Way. The cheese shop is in the front of the building. It's very successful. One sees all the Connecticut swells pulling up to trade there.

Around the back is Rubi's which features excellent coffee and great sandwiches every day. But on Friday and Saturday nights, they serve oysters and mussels (big, fat, plump mussels). Word of mouth has brought a lot of people into the place. I had a lamb burger done to perfection on the outside grill. It was fantastic.

On the main street, you'll find Fuel which has phenomenal coffee and unbelievable culinary concoctions that can't be beat. There's a group of resident writers who inhabit the back of the place.

If you go south on Route 7, you'll see the fabulous Bizalion's Fine Food right before the Big Y. This is the home of the ex-pat community in the Berkshires. You don't have to speak French to the proprietor, Jean Francois, or his Irish-born wife, Helen, but it certainly helps.

On the other side of Route 7 is the Route Seven Grill that features barbecue food. And back a bit toward Great Barrington is my friend Marvin ("Bagelman") who, with his wife, Judy, runs a fabulous bagel-oriented place. They draw a knowledgeable delicatessen crowd who know good nova when they see and taste it. It's a great place to meet everyone you ever knew.

Don't even get me started on pizza. The town is loaded with great places. Baba Louie's is hard to get into but worth the wait. Some people go to the Baba Louie's in Hudson or Pittsfield to avoid the wait in GB.

I could go on and on. It's no wonder I'm always on a diet.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.


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