Princeton town has a classy but expensive array of dining fare. If you like eating out or just trying the local sustenance, and you don’t happen to be the son or daughter of a wealthy oil family, then this food guide is for you. Read on, dear frosh, and explore some of our favorite food places where a meal can be had for under $10, if you’re clever about it.
The sub shop that has launched 1,000 late-night trips, Hoagie Haven is a Princeton classic. It’s far from the main campus, an island of junk food heaven an unfathomable distance from Princeton civilization (well, it’s not far from the E-Quad). Anyway, Hoagie Haven is a takeout/lunch counter-styled restaurant that serves the ultimate unhealthy subs. Some favorites include the “Phat Lady,” a cheesesteak with mozzarella sticks, french fries, ketchup and hot sauce, and the “Sanchez,” a sub which includes chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks, fries, cheese and a signature sauce. Often the ultimate destination to a night on the Street, Hoagie Haven is open really late. Also, buy a half-sub, not a full. Trust us, it’s plenty of food. We wish the best of luck to your arteries. Subs start at $5.50.
The savory crepes at this creperie across the street from Rocky College are solid, but the stars of the menu are definitely the sweet crepes (offerings include “Lemon & Lavender” and the Turkish coffee-infused “Toasty ‘Joe’ ”). Inside, the decor, replete with checks, cork and mason jars, recalls the restaurant’s farmers’ market origins and makes this one of the more Instagrammable cheap-eats joints on Nassau. Sweet crepes start at $4.50, savory ones at $6.50.
The Princeton outpost of this New York-based falafel restaurant keeps its menu simple: You can get a sandwich (which comes in a pita bread pocket) or a plate (which comes with two sandwiches, salad on the side and extra pita bread). Options for the contents of your sandwich include falafel, hummus, baba ghanoush, shawarma and shish kebob. The falafel, the insides of which are a surprising but pleasant kelly green, is a standout. Sandwiches start at $4.50.
Even if you’ve never been to the physical location, chances are you’ve had Olives’ excellent fruit platters at some sort of campus event. Perhaps the best deli in Princeton, Olives doubles as a lunch counter and food market, offering a fantastic array of Greek food. The deli’s excellent sandwich counter makes great subs and gyros. Moreover, the spanikopita, pasta, baked goods and pastries are not to be missed. A Princeton classic. Sandwiches start at $4.95.
Say Cheez’s menu riffs on the culinary perfection of the grilled cheese sandwich. The classic American cheese on white bread is of course an option, but if you’re feeling more adventurous, there are also more adventurous bread, cheese, topping and protein choices, such as glazed donut, feta cheese, sliced apples, zucchini and smashed meatballs. The best part? Say Cheez is open until 2 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, making it the perfect place for post-Street eats. Sandwiches start at $4.00.
PJ’s Pancake House
Hoagies aside, PJ’s is the gastronomical pride and joy of Princeton. The URL of their website is literally “pancakes.com,” so it’s not hard to believe that they’re as “legit” as pancakes get. Flavors include pecan, blueberry, peanut butter chocolate chip, dried cranberry and walnut, Oreo, spicy apple — and that’s only half the options. In addition to pancakes, PJ’s also does a great omelette and French toast. The lines get pretty long for weekend brunch though, so be sure to plan ahead. Pancakes (half-servings) start at $6.95.
Though by no means refined as far as sushi goes, Sakura is convenient, friendly, filling and above all, cheap. Its petite storefront down Witherspoon is always filled with regulars, including both students and Princeton residents. The menu covers every American sushi favorite you can think of: California, Alaska, Dragon, Rainbow, Spicy Tuna and many more. The kitchen menu also offers hot foods, among which the shrimp katsu is a definite standout. Rolls start at $5.75.
Princeton Pi has gone through several rebrandings over the years. Once it was Twist, a froyo place. Then it was renamed Sketch, also a froyo place, ostensibly to get people to draw sketches on the restaurant’s stationery and hang it up in the store. Well, another plot-“twist” later, it became Princeton Pi, a pizza parlor that doubles as, you guessed it, a froyo place. Princeton Pi is inexpensive, serves a variety of different sandwiches, and pretty good froyo, too. Worth your time if you’re in a rush, or the line for ice cream at The Bent Spoon or Halo Pub is too long. A personal pizza goes for $9.00.
Princeton Soup & Sandwich Company
If you get tired of the wildly inconsistent quality of dining hall soup (you will) and are looking for a simple meal in town, Princeton Soup & Sandwich is the place to be. The formula is simple and foolproof: there’s the regular menu and about three daily soup specials, which you can get in four different sizes along with various bread rolls. If none of the specials catches your eye, the Lobster Bisque is always delightful. The sandwich menu, which has several vegetarian options including Hummus & Avocado, also caters to a diverse customer base. Speaking of which, they also do catering! Soups start at $5.00.
Don’t be fooled: Nassau Sushi is actually the go-to for Korean food. Though the sushi menu is extensive, the entire staff is Korean and it’s really the Korean food menu that stands out. The pork bulgogi ($16.99), though pricier, is an absolute must for meatlovers. Thanks to its spacious accommodations, private room and BYOB policy, Nassau Sushi has become a popular choice for bigger parties. Rice dishes start at $12.99, sushi rolls at $5.00.
Ever wonder where that char-grilled scent near Labyrinth Bookstore is coming from? The answer is 30 Burgers. We hope this doesn’t come as a big surprise, but this gourmet burger joint offers 30 different burgers, featuring a geographical variety of sandwiches that include the “Athens Veggie Burger,” the “Maui Burger,” “Pete’s Crab Burger” and “Chicago Style Hot Dogs.” Or you just get a regular cheeseburger and fries. It definitely can hit the spot if, like, you have an exam the next day and the need the comfort of what may well be the national food of America. Burgers start at $6.25, hot dogs at $3.00.
Update: This article has been updated to omit an entry for Cheeburger Cheeburger as the restaurant has closed.