With most Princetonians fleeing campus far and wide over fall break, culinary options for those of us trapped in the Bubble were few. With only RoMa open for meals, the loss of breakfast in favor of brunch for the whole week, a one swipe per meal limit, and, most depressingly, the disappearance of Late Meal, the gastronomic delights on Nassau Street and beyond looked all the more appealing. This week we pitted Mamoun’s Falafel against Princeton Soup and Sandwich Company in the ultimate battle for King of Cheap Eats.
Mamoun’s, a short trot down Witherspoon Street, was my first venture out of the Campus Dining cartel. The place was packed to the rafters the night I visited it with a friend. We were quickly served, though, and the food arrived after a short wait. Sandwiches are on the smaller end, but that’s probably to be expected considering the cheap prices: $4.50 for a vegetarian one, and $6.75 for a meat one. The sides menu provides an easy solution to this problem. I loved the falafel, which was addictively crunchy on the outside without being too dry in the middle. What the food lacks in quantity, it makes up for in flavor. My lamb shawarma was well-spiced, and the tahini sauce accompanied the meat wonderfully.
For somewhere a bit more low key, I gave Princeton Soup and Sandwich Company a go. Just off Palmer Square, it’s more of a squeeze than Mamoun’s — the place only has a dozen or so seats — but it seems ideal for a late lunch at a less busy time of day. Thankfully, the restaurant has a homey vibe and friendly staff. The menu is long, though the melted pastrami for $12 on the Souper Fall Specials board immediately caught my eye. Though there was too much sauerkraut, the flavors were well-balanced, I adored the mountain of cheese and tangy Russian dressing, and it was certainly too much to finish. It went deliciously with the tart homemade lemonade.
This week’s winner is a tough battle. Both of the restaurants I tried had good food and were of reasonably good value for their cost, coming in at under $15 for a full meal with a drink. After careful comparison, however, I the Princeton Soup and Sandwich Company takes the crown for its homey vibe and extensive choices, though whether it can live up to its title of “World’s Best Lobster Bisque” is an adventure for another week!