Washington Square Park is the closest thing NYU has to a true “quad,” but between the subway and four residence halls, many students find themselves spending plenty of time around Union Square. Though dining options abound, from cheap street food to fine dining establishments like Gramercy Tavern, careful navigation is key. Here are three student-friendly destinations in the area.

Photo by Becky Hughes

Get Your Croque On
With fifteen renditions of the classic French sandwich, La Maison du Croque Monsieur is a great spot for expats or anyone looking for a bite of cheesy comfort. Keep it simple with the “Croque Mr Henry” ($8), or get a little more adventurous with the “Mr Joaquin” ($8) – a roast pork, ham and pickle filled riff on the traditional Cuban sandwich. Though the menu leans toward rich and meaty, vegetarians are also in luck with options like the “Mr Gore” ($7.25), which pairs wholesome portobello mushroom and sundried tomatoes with crunchy pine nuts and creamy goat cheese. Want to look like a true New Yorker? Opt for a bag of North Fork (as in, this North Fork) potato chips to go with your croque de choix. (Tip: Try more of the menu by going with a friend and choosing two sandwiches to share).

Photo by Becky Hughes

Get a Taste of the Future
Recently opened off of Union Square, Pizza Vinoteca offers a taste of the future with a visually appealing iPad ordering system. Thrown out of their traditional roles, waiters and waitresses navigate the large dining room refilling bottles of complimentary still and sparkling water while answering any questions that guests may have. Though jaded New Yorkers might think little of this futuristic dining experience, less tech-savvy parents and out of towners are sure to be impressed. Keep them impressed by ordering for the table – shareable dishes like the “spicy and sharp” meatball and kale pesto pizza, as well as the veal meatballs and prosciutto wrapped asparagus, are sure to please. Then, when all is said and done, return to the iPad to order dessert or request the check and bring your futuristic dining experience to an end. (Tip: If you have extra, Pizza Vinoteca also accepts Campus Cash).

Photo by Dylan Stilin

Desi Street Food Goes Mainstream
Started by a former management consultant and her desi (Pakistani) husband, Desi Shack offers rich and healthy Pakistani cuisine in a style and setting that caters to New Yorkers who are always on the go. Whether you opt for a traditional paratha roll ($5) or one of the bowls (basmati or salad, both $8.50), the nuanced, spice-heavy flavors are sure to satisfy. Carnivores should opt for the marinated chicken tikka, while the aloo masala – spiced roasted potatoes – is a vegetarian option rich enough to satisfy any palate. (Tip: Pair your order with a creamy mango lassi for a sweet treat that will leave you feeling satisfied and refreshed).