The town of Princeton is essentially four square blocks of deliciousness that never quite gets old. We have some chains: your Panera for macaroni and studying, your Qdoba for post-day party indulgence, your Starbucks for the guilty pleasure basic mixed drinks.
But when I think of Princeton, I think of the food's personality. The best bites in Princeton have a story, a vibe, and a following. Here's a list guaranteed to make you nostalgic when you're off campus:
Olives Number 4
Olives is the first stop when I’m back on campus (and typically the second, third, and fourth…). A trip to Olives guarantees run-ins with several friends and an impossible choice between the glorious options. The number 4 is a classic: the warm and comforting go-to. It encapsulates all that is good about Olives—fresh, healthy, iconic, avocado. I also find myself daydreaming about Olives’s Famous Chicken Salad and the other wonders behind the pick-three glass.
Bent Spoon Banana Whip
The Bent Spoon is definitely a paradise of non-mainstream ice cream goodness, but the banana whip is legendary. It lets you convince yourself you took the healthy route while digging through hot fudge and cocoa nibs. Other ice cream shops can’t replicate the perfect texture and unique taste.
Small World Coffee NOLA
Small World coffee is more than a beverage; it is a lifestyle. It is making the choice at Frist if it’s a Grumpy Monkey or Crispy Hippy kind of day. It’s snagging an elusive table and people watching at the shop on Witherspoon. It’s whipping out that loyalty punch card and getting that 11th coffee free. When you see the welcoming, unassuming, all-lowercase red logo, you know you’re back on campus.
Drunken Thai Village Pad Thai
There’s a lot to love about Thai Village: the historic upstairs room, the BYOB, the prices. But it's hard to describe the elation of seeing that hefty plate of steaming chicken pad thai approaching when you’re a few glasses in. It’s warm, it’s undeniably satisfying, and it’s Princeton.
House of Cupcakes Mini Cupcakes
House of Cupcakes has every sweet you could possibly stuff your face with: enormous cookies, donuts, cakes. The mini cupcake means you are allowed to eat a dozen single-handedly. With flavors like beer with peanut butter, this Princeton gem will never get old.
Falafel, chicken kabobs, lamb shawarma, and anything you can submerge in Mamoun’s hummus—which you start eating with pita, resort to relentlessly dipping anything in arm’s reach, then ending up just spooning it into your mouth. A drool-worthy classic that will make you think of Princeton.
Murray-Dodge Free Cookies
Murray-Dodge, the hidden gem of campus, is the summer camp we all wish we had never grown out of. Going down the stairs to the mysterious basement is escaping Princeton to a wonderland of tea and couches and the occasional Kumbaya circle. I respect the sentiment of “Please limit yourself to two cookies,” but, unfortunately, I cannot comply.
PJ’s Pancake Sampler
PJ’s Pancake House is the coziest booth in Princeton, no contest. PJ’s feels like home and happiness no matter what exam you have lurking or all-nighter brewing. The pancake sampler is the ultimate rainy-day saving grace or hangover cure.
Teresa’s French Toast
Teresa’s provides classy brunch escape from the monotony of the dining hall. A classic birthday spot and favorite parents-visiting dinner, the pizza and pasta favorites make it impossible to choose.
Late Meal Tenders and Fries
Yes, it is served all day, but late meal gives food an unmatched aura. It’s fleeting, it’s a mad house, it’s free. The classic, beloved tenders and fries combo guarantees friends will approach to weasel their fingers into your fries. Once drunk meal comes around, the combo elevates to a holy delicacy.
Wa Grilled Cheese
Yes, the Wa is a chain. But its presence on campus, open 24 hours, makes it feel uniquely ours. The Wa has your back for late-night Tostitos and Ben and Jerry’s runs or even to stock up during the winter storm Jonas. The grilled cheese epitomizes the Wa: warm, gooey, and always available.
The town of Princeton may be small, but it is mighty. Every bite has a taste of Princeton and comes with a memory: your favorite escape from Firestone, your post-Street drunk craving, your best BYOB dinner, your special date-night spot. These uniquely Princeton items will always remind you of home.