Crushing on Vegan-Friendly Northampton, MA
It recently occurred to me that I haven’t really done any posts yet on just a location that I really like. I’ve liked a lot of towns and cities I’ve been to so far but Northampton really caught me off guard. And hey, ya gotta start somewhere. So, here we are. My first post that’s less restaurant focused and more locale focused.
I arrived in Northampton only a few hours before one of the rare 2012 seasonal snow storms drifted in. The timing was actually quite brilliant because I quickly learned that this beautiful little college town looks stunning when covered in dreamy white crystallized water. Snow tends to make me feel all warm and romance-y as it is. Add in an über vegan-friendly environment and I’m basically in heaven.
Upon arrival I was planning to immediately hit up one of the most famous all-vegan joints in the area, Karma Restaurant. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that they were currently closed as they’re moving to a new location (again, dear restaurant owners, please oh please keep your website and/or social media content up to date). Karma has since added a note on their website about the move. Anywho, I parked around the corner, walked over and was totally bummed to see they were closed until the Spring.
I broke out my faithful iPhone for a quick search on a nearby locale that had free wifi. What I found basically made my trip to Northampton: Haymarket Café! THIS PLACE IS FRIGGIN’ AWESOME (sorry for yelling, but it really is awesome). :)
They’ve got unlimited, open, free wifi, freshly pressed juice (come to mama!), vegan snacks (tofu scrambles, cookies, explicitly vegan hot chocolate and mochas), and boat loads of seating. They’ve got two levels, the wifi works great on both. Some corners are private and cozy or you can sit in an area that’s more open and you might sit next to folks you don’t know. They’ve also got full on meals (vegan options included, of course), and are open from at least 8AM to 10PM every single day. This is a work-from-laptop-ers dream come true. And if that’s not enough it’s within walking distance to a few other vegan-friendly eaters including Bela Vegetarian, Butterfly, Paul & Elizabeth’s and The Green Bean.
I was so overjoyed by discovering Haymarket Café that I sat there most of the day…which resulted in forgetting to check on Gerty as she was in a metered parking space. First parking violation ticket of the trip: check!
As I’m focused on vegan restaurants I did not get to sample all of the vegan-friendly restaurants in the area. However, I did have brunch one morning at The Green Bean as well as dinner at Bela Vegetarian (pics below).
Brunch at The Green Bean -Tempeh, Arizona: grilled tempeh marinated in tamari sauce and sesame oil. Served with a side of steamed mixed vegetables and vegan corn pancakes. It was very, very good. I don’t know why but I went in not expecting much but I was pleasantly surprised. Not only that but the servers know vegan lingo. “Here is your side of Earth Balance butter.” Oh, why thank you, friendly server, Lady.
Dinner at Bela Vegetarian – Vegetable Medley: steamed, mixed vegetables stir-fried in soybean sauce, lemon juice, and sesame oil glaze with brown rice and seitan bits. I really enjoyed this dish. It was simple but exactly what I was looking for. And very filling.
Another observation about Northampton is the seemingly close community, hip vibe, and friendly residents. It seemed as though everyone knew everyone, when they were coming and going there were always folks who knew each other and had friendly chats. It’s also heavily populated with college kids. Surprisingly this didn’t take away from my enjoyment of my stay. Ha! And it was so easy to walk and drive around. Fellow drivers easily let me change lanes, and waited for me to turn or park. It’s something I’m not used after spending so much time in Boston. ;)
It was really just a lovely experience over all, and it was only over 2.5 days! If you get a chance to visit Northampton, do take it!
Special thanks to Alec and Kathryn for letting me sleep two nights in their spare bedroom — and to Adam for connecting us all together!
Keep on keepin’ on, Northampton. We shall meet again someday…if not sooner in my dreams. ;)