Turners Falls: A Small Village Feeds Big Appetites

By Erin MacLean and John McNamara as told to Marykate Smith Despres | Photographs by Dominic Perri

The village of Turners Falls, one of five villages comprising the town of Montague, is located in Franklin County, just off Route 2.

Our tour guides are Erin MacLean and John McNamara. Seven-year residents of Turners Falls, they were attracted to the town’s commitment to arts and culture, which they saw flourishing through local businesses and the initiatives developed by RiverCulture. Their love for Turners Falls inspired them to open their own shop, Loot, three years ago.

When it comes to food, Erin is a vegan and John prefers fish to red meat, so their dining suggestions reflect restaurants that cater to these preferences.

The Rendezvous

78 3rd St. 413-863-2866 RendezvousTFMA.com Open daily

Patrons of The Rendezvous can get comfortable at the bar, on the patio, or at a booth inside, and enjoy drinks, snacks, meals, and entertainment. “The Voo,” as locals affectionately call it, has monthly Quizznite, Bingo, and movies; open mics and karaoke twice a month; plus live music, dance parties, art openings, and a full calendar of other events in between. The expansive, eclectic menu includes small plates, entrées, burgers, panini, and pizza.

Great Falls Harvest

50 3rd St. 413-863-0023 GreatFallsHarvest.com Open Thursday–Sunday

Great Falls Harvest is true farm-to-table dining. They have created organic, locally sourced menus for dinner, Sunday brunch, and feature a thoughtful, complete menu for vegetarians and vegans. With offerings like gorgonzola fig salad and maple-brined pork tenderloin, and a special three-course Thursday menu, Harvest provides fine dining in a comfortable atmosphere. Appetizers and drinks are also available for those wanting to relax at the bar.

Jake’s Tavern

66 Ave. A 413-863-8938 Find them on facebook here  Open daily

Jake’s is the place for fish sandwiches and Friday night raffles. This neighborhood bar and restaurant is known for its seafood, chowder, and its ability to make you feel like you are home. If you are not in the mood for seafood, there is a full menu of sandwiches, burgers, and sides. Jake’s is open for lunch, dinner, and takeout.

2nd Street Baking Co.

104 4th St. 413-863-4455 ◆ Find them on facebook here ◆ Closed Monday

Whether you’re looking to sit down for soup and a sandwich on house-made bread, grab a locally roasted coffee and a pastry to go, or order an intricately decorated fondant cake for a special occasion, 2nd Street Baking Co. has you covered. Despite its name, the bakery has made its permanent home on 4th Street, right across from one of Turners Falls’ abundant community gardens.

Black Cow Burger Bar

125 Ave. A 413-863-5183 ◆ Find them on facebook  here ◆ Closed Sunday

Build your own burger with house-made sauces, cheese, and toppings on one of Black Cow’s Angus beef, black bean, or salmon burgers. Wash down your burger with a cold draft, a glass of wine, or a frosty milkshake. In honor of the space’s former resident, Equi’s Candy Shop, Black Cow even makes handcrafted chocolates.

RiverCulture’s Third Thursdays

TurnersFallsRiverCulture.org

RiverCulture is a community partnership promoting the arts and cultural programming in Turners Falls. Third Thursdays manifest this mission through monthly events featuring the work of local artists and performers and by showcasing the community’s diversity of culture and industry, both past and present.

Great Falls Discovery Center

2 Ave. A 413-863-3221 ◆ GreatFallsDiscoveryCenter.org 

Open Friday and Saturday in winter, daily in summer

In addition to their permanent exhibits on the history, culture, and ecology of the Connecticut River watershed, the Great Falls Discovery Center hosts weekly children’s storytimes, monthly live-music coffeehouses, lectures, art shows, and other special events. Admission is free.

The Shea Theater

71 Ave. A 413-863-2281 TheShea.org

Converted from a 1920s movie theater, The Shea is a performance space that houses community theater, live music, comedy, and film screenings. The Shea is home to several theater groups including the New Renaissance Players, Ja’Duke Productions, and The Young Shakespeare Players East.

Old Depot Gardens Farm Stand

504 Turners Falls Rd., Montague RedFireFarm.com

Open daily: May 1–November 1

Granby’s Red Fire Farm offers the folks of Franklin County and visitors a chance to get their fill of fresh, organic produce, flowers, plants, and other local products like jam, pickles, and kombucha at this charming roadside farm stand (though closed for the season at the time of this printing). Their hearty bundles of kale come especially well recommended.

The Lady Killigrew Café

440 Greenfield Rd., Montague 413-367-9666

Find them on facebook here  Open daily

Nestled just outside of Turners Falls alongside the Sawmill River, The Lady Killigrew offers local beer and wine, coffee, baked goods, and a small but perfectly and consistently executed menu of sandwiches and salads. Their peanut noodles are a favorite and the apple and brie sandwich alone is enough to warrant a visit. Ingredients are sourced from local farms and bakeries, seating is indoors or out, and The Bookmill is right next door.

 

Also Worth A Visit

Loot

62 Ave. A 413-863-9500 LootTheShop.com Open Wednesday–Sunday

Erin and John’s shop Loot is nothing short of a menagerie of useful industrial artifacts, multiples, and handcrafted items and jewelry from local artists. From vintage typewriter tables, to milk crates, to notepads salvaged from old mills, visitors can find objects that function as furniture, storage, or the raw materials for making art.

 

Funk*Shun

38 3rd Street, Turners Falls 

Find them on facebook here

 

Nina's Nook

125A Avenue A, Turners Falls

Find them on facebook here

 

Five Eyed Fox

37 3rd Street, Turners Falls

Find them on facebook here

(opened Oct 4)

 

Evoke Liquid Glass Collective

149 3rd Street, Turners Falls

Find them on facebook here

 

The Wagon Wheel

39 French King Highway, Gill

Find them on facebook here

 

Marykate Smith Despres writes about food, art, and knitting for various blogs and publications. She has worked as a baker, but learned how to cook from her mom, who taught her that everything good starts with a little butter and onions in a pan. Marykate is the program manager at Whole Children in Hadley, a recreation program for people of all abilities. She lives in Turners Falls, where she bakes lots of cookies and grows a small, edible garden with her family.