Two Rivers Burrito Company
Locally Sourced, Locally Served
by Brian Aurelio
Since opening in May of 2013 there has been a restaurant in downtown Westfield that has been gaining more and more attention. Despite being located just a few strides from the downtown green on Elm Street, many people seem to pass by this place without a clue of its existence. One of the most underappreciated restaurants in all of Westfield can be found at 36 Elm Street. Two Rivers Burrito Company provides a unique family inspired dining experience that simply cannot be compared to anything else in Westfield. Nowhere in Westfield will you find a burrito or quesadilla with as fresh and delectable ingredients as Two Rivers. All of these ingredients, from the jalapenos to the guacamole are locally sourced whenever possible to support other local businesses. Owned and operated by family and friends from Westfield, Two Rivers looks to restore downtown and the rest of Westfield to the glory it once held.
This family oriented restaurant offers a very simple menu with just three main meals; burritos, salads, and quesadillas. Accompanied by a delectable array of optional add-ons, such as their freshly made guacamole, beverages (including beer and sangria), and an incredibly friendly staff, Two Rivers provides downtown with a new and exciting place to grab a quick bite to eat. The atmosphere of downtown has been rather dull in the past few years, the edition of Two Rivers hopes is beginning to bring more life back to the area. As if the food and indoor atmosphere was not enough to attract customers, Two Rivers also boasts a unique spot outside to sit and enjoy a meal along Elm Street when the weather is cooperative. As we have begun to see changes being made in downtown, it is the hope that more people will willingly venture to Elm Street to enjoy the downtown experience that Westfield has to offer.
Although many college students do go to Two Rivers, it can be hard to attract the attention of those students who live on campus without cars and are unable to make the trip to downtown regularly. For these students, the PVTA shuttle bus provides a perfect solution. Without spending a dime on the transportation, students can get the chance to have a completely different food experience than what is provided on. Two Rivers is opened until 8pm which allows people plenty of time to grab a bite to eat amidst a day of enjoying the downtown shops and atmosphere. Typical of family businesses, they are not open on Sundays.
Though these limited hours may seem unusual for a restaurant located so close to two of the more popular bars in Westfield, it is important to realize that Two Rivers isn’t the late night food place you go to for a cheap, low quality meal. Rather, it is the locally supportive place to go after class or work to grab an affordable, filling, and delicious meal at an easy convenience. With parking along Elm Street as well as a parking lot out back, Two Rivers is an easily accessible place for a meal. If you are looking for a delicious local meal that supports the revitalization of downtown Westfield, the place to go is Two Rivers Burrito Company.
Who Doesn’t Love Cupcakes?
by Chelsea Cox
Cupcakes make everything better! I don’t think anyone can disagree with that statement. Located in downtown Westfield on 40 Elm Street is a local family-owned and operated cupcake bakery called Mama Cakes. The owner is Kimberly Mcnutt, whose passion for baking led to the inspiration of opening a bakery. It’s a nice place to socialize, study, or just enjoy some quiet time because you can hear yourself think with the sound of music softly playing in the background.
The set-up of Mama Cakes makes you feel welcomed and as though you are in your mother’s kitchen as she is baking a sweet dessert. The walls and decorative pieces are a pale pink, the furniture has a vintage style, and there are silver platters hung on the wall. The air is filled with the sweet and tempting smell of daily fresh baked cupcakes from scratch and hot coffee brewing.
The irresistible cupcakes are infused with flavor and artistically decorated, so treat your-self to a delicious cupcake or maybe two, for any reason or occasion because cupcakes are good for the soul. Mama Cakes change the cupcake flavors each week and there are always new flavors. Some of my favorites would be the perfect combination of mocha cupcake with coconut in the frosting called the mochanut, then there is the refreshing Andes mint, and then there is the strawberry dream which is a light cupcake topped with fresh strawberries. Start with a baby cupcake and work your way up to a mama cupcake. Let Mama satisfy your sweet craving with her lovingly made cupcakes that come in many different flavors!
A Unique Breakfast Experience
Looking for homemade, delicious, fresh, and yummy food in Westfield, Massachusetts? The newly opened Pancake Sundaes Restaurant & Bakery located at 266 Elm Street is the place to go! I suggest trying their “Baldwin” omelet made with homemade corn beef hash and cheese of your choice; it is to die for and the portion was more than enough! If you’re looking for something sweet, their name says it all! They will make you a sundae with pancakes and a variety of toppings and whipped cream! Or if you are in the mood for lunch try their Dirty Burger or any other number of lunch foods. I sure loved it
When you walk in the door you immediately feel the bright, warm and family friendly environment. Pancake Sundaes is family-owned and run, which is part of the reason they will make you feel right at home. Want to bring your children with you? That is a great idea because Pancake Sundaes has a table with some activities to keep the little ones busy. Feeling like you need something sweet to eat after your meal? Just try one of their baked goods and you’ll have to have another.
Ellen Baldwin is the owner as well as a hostess and waitress; she can do it all and is very enthusiastic about her business. She is the reason that the business was able to open in early 2015. The very first time I met Ellen I could tell she had a large role in the business and cared very much. Ellen’s son, the kitchen manager Frank, prides himself on his use of fresh ingredients and the presentation of each and every dish. Frank has about 15 years’ experience in the restaurant industry. Ellen and her son, Frank will be grateful that you stopped in.
Laurie’s Good Table
A great breakfast at a reasonable price is what Laurie Varelas hopes her customers will take away from her restaurant after a visit. Outstanding food, competitive prices, very friendly servers, and an inviting feel is what keeps people coming back to the Good Table time and time again. Owner Varelas is an extremely hard worker who understands how to run a small business in the most effective way. She’s had five days off in the last four years. Her strong work ethic and dedication to her restaurant have helped the Good Table to become one of the most popular and well-known establishments in Westfield.
The Good Table recently celebrated four years under Varelas’s management on September 2nd. She has owned and operated the business since 2011, although the Good Table has existed since the 1950’s. First the building served as a barroom, and then a bakery, before it finally became a breakfast/lunch restaurant. What keeps people coming back regularly is the delicious food. Some crowd pleasers include the gluttonous “911” omelette, which boasts eight eggs and has been called the “biggest omelette in the state,” huge breakfast platters, and delectable breakfast sandwiches. The Good Table is particularly inviting with a very friendly atmosphere. The walls boast photographs of local sports teams that the restaurant sponsors, as well as memorable moments of family and friends. The dining room was just recently renovated, so there are new tables, booths, and carpets.
Aside from the warm atmosphere of their restaurant location, the Good Table sustains an extremely positive reputation from their involvement in community endeavors. For starters, their small breakfast plates are named The Collegian, (Westfield State) The Bomber, (Westfield High School) and The Saint (Saint Mary High School.) This is just one of the ways that Varelas connects her restaurant to the community. Each year the Good Table caters a breakfast on the green downtown for Westfield State’s HOOT day. They always give donations to people who come in from the local schools in the area, as well as local sporting organizations. Both of Varelas’s sons were involved in sports growing up, so she believes that giving back to athletics is very important. The Good Table takes the time to genuinely get to know their customers, as you can see from their slogan, “Serving Our Friends Daily!”
You may have seen a photo of you or your friends on “Laurie’s Good Table Westfield” Facebook page. She takes pictures of her customers and puts them on the page for supporters to see. Her use of social media is very personable, and she loves focusing on her customers. Varelas explains, “I love the college kids coming in. I think they’re a great asset to the business, especially on weekends.” So check out the photos below of diners enjoying their experience at the Good Table, tell your friends, and go savor a meal yourself! They accept Owl Bucks and they’re open every day from 6:00am to 2:00pm excluding Thanksgiving and Christmas. Make sure that you’re ready for a photo opportunity- you could end up debuting in a customer appreciation post on the popular Facebook page.
The Home-Cooked Meal You’ve Been Missing
I am a man who loves food. I can admit that. I spend most of my time thinking about what my next meal is going to be like, and who I can have it with. I thought that going out to eat left me with options like Applebee’s, Five Guys, or various fast food restaurants. But up on Elm Street lies a little secret tucked back in the corner after the bridges coming into town. A little place called Pasquale’s Italian Restaurant.
Pasquale’s was opened and founded in 1976 by the Pasquale family and is still run as a family businesses spanning three generations. Since its beginning, Pasquale’s has strived to deliver an Italian experience made with fresh ingredients all for a fair price. Popular among the locals in town on the weekends, Pasquale’s hopes to bring in more customers from the University. In 2014 Pasquale’s started delivering, gaining more traction with the college students who didn’t have a way to get to the restaurant beforehand.
In addition to adding delivery services, Pasquale’s also started accepting Owl Bucks to bring in more of the college population. If you’re looking for a great place to eat with friends or family for a great price, head down to Elm street to try some of Pasquale’s best offerings, including pasta, chicken, seafood, burgers, pizza, calzones and Pasquale’s own favorite chicken francaise. Head down today, and discover your new favorite Italian home!
Santiago’s Restaurant: A Taste of the Islands
Have you ever had an authentic Puerto Rican meal consisting of well-seasoned, juicy, roasted pork with fresh rice and beans on the side? Or perhaps a creamy stuffed potato ball or sweet vanilla custard? If you have, you know how delicious Puerto Rican food is, and for those who haven’t, don’t worry Santiago’s Family Restaurant has what you need. Santiago’s is a family-owned and run restaurant serving the best Puerto Rican food in the city of Westfield. Santiago’s offers a unique environment that makes their guests feel as if they were in Puerto Rico and part of their own family, and will ensure that you are having a great time. 15 years of successful service vouch for their dedication to prepare delicious and authentic Puerto Rican food.
When you walk in Santiago’s Family Restaurant, all of your senses will come to life. The aroma of the fresh local ingredients such as the crushed peppercorns, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, vinegar, onions, garlic, cilantro, peppers and many more will awaken your taste buds. The restaurant is decorated with Caribbean instruments and items that represent the Puerto Rican and Caribbean heritage. On Fridays and Saturdays you will find Ismael Santiago, one of the owners and an accomplished guitarist, and his friends performing live music as guests enjoy their food. And their delicious food will have you craving for more.
The restaurant is family owned. The owners are Carmen Santiago and Ismael Santiago, a married couple who have been living in the Westfield area for nearly 30 years. Marcos, their son, can always be found in the restaurant cooking up a delicious meal. When asked about the restaurant’s longevity, Marcos said, “We’ve been here for 15 years now and there’s a reason. It’s because we do quality over quantity; nothing is ever frozen, and everything is made fresh.”
His siblings are also involved in the restaurant. His sisters Beatriz and Alexa can also be found cooking and waitressing. Ismael Jr. and Josue occasionally take the stage on Friday and Saturday evenings performing with their father. The whole family works perfectly in sync to ensure that you and your family or friends will have a great time.
The Santiago family provides the best authentic Puerto Rican food in the area at an affordable prize. Entrees range from 11 to 14 dollars, and they include rice and beans with your choice of a variety of specialty sides such as, stewed cube steak with onions, roasted chicken, roasted pork, ribs, and more. If you don’t have a big appetite, you can choose from their delicious and extremely affordable appetizers, such as,stuffed potato balls, empanadillas/turnovers, and many more. Appetizers are priced at no more than 2 dollars a serving. They also carry a simple but very satisfying dessert menu that promises to satisfy any sweet tooth. Dessert consists of flan, a vanilla custard, tembleque (a coconut custard), and dulce de papaya, which are glazed papaya slices. For drinks they offer a variety of sodas, bottled water, and well-known Caribbean and Puerto Rican drinks such as Malta, Cola Chan Pan, and Goya nectars. For those who prefer a bit of a kick in their drink, they also offer domestic and imported beers and wine, which you can purchase in individual glasses or full bottles. They also offer a staggering homemade hot sauce, free of charge and upon request, for those hot sauce lovers.
You can find this jewel of a restaurant on 34 Franklin Street Westfield, Massachusetts. They are open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 12pm to 7pm and Fridays and Saturdays from 12pm to 10pm. Cash, MasterCard, and Visa are accepted, and you can call during hours of operation at (413) 562-0210 for any additional information. Come down to Santiago’s Family Restaurant and enjoy an affordable and delicious authentic meal.
The Tavern Restaurant
Easily the finest restaurant in Westfield, arguably the best quality food at an affordable price, The Tavern Restaurant is located in the heart of downtown Westfield near the newly renovated “Green”. This restaurant is the former 1910 post office building constructed with 20- foot ceilings, arched windows, granite foundation, and limestone block walls. If that doesn’t exemplify the Tavern’s history, how about this: the building served as a former civil defense shelter during the Cold War. The décor is elegantly modern, and the atmosphere is just perfect—with live entertainment 4 nights a week in a festive bar atmosphere and concerts right outside the front door. Plus, it’s open until midnight every night!
The good time might bring you in, but the mouth-watering food and daily specials will bring you back. The Tavern welcomes all crowds, in the words of the owner John Bonavita, “I don’t treat anybody different, from president to student.”
Walk, run, skip, jump, take a bus, or bum a ride to the Tavern Restaurant: it’s a blast from the past with the taste of the future.
Stop and Smell the Coffee
Regardless of the time you have left here on the Westfield State University campus odds are you’ve had a day or two where you’ve wanted to mix up your routine a bit. Even if this isn’t true for you, I wish I had now that I can count the weeks I have left on campus on one hand. Sooner rather than later I urge you to get off campus and explore the unexpected downtown that is Westfield. Sold? Start easy. Grab the homework that you’d normally use as a reason to stay inside and bring it with you on your first adventure downtown and take advantage of some wi-fi.
The Press Room is a small coffee shop, but also a peaceful place to stop and chat, or read. The menu ranges from coffee and tea to muffins, donuts, bagels, and gourmet hotdogs, but what makes it really special is each locally sourced item on the menu supports local business. Owner Patrick Berry opened the Press Room after five years of consideration, within the building that houses his paper, The Westfield News. Utilizing the space that recent technology opened up in the newspaper business his goal was to create a place that people can gather, talk, meet neighbors and come together as a community. Entering the café with the decorations varying from art to local headlines and plentiful places to sit, it’s hard to argue that he hasn’t succeeded.
On the chance that you find yourself free any time between 7am-5pm Monday – Friday or 7am- 12pm Saturday – Sunday I suggest you shake it up a little. Perhaps you could read a local newspaper and learn about the town you are living in as you snack on a local donut and cider. Maybe a hot coffee, a cheddar bagel with jalapeno cream cheese and more pages of your textbook than you thought you could read are more your speed. Either way this quaint café is perfect for a bagel or sugary snack and a great place to do a little off campus homework.
Have a spot we forgot? Let us know below, what's your favorite spot near campus?