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Jan 24, 2007 04:45 PM

Best Dive Near Princeton University?

My son and I will be visiting Princeton in March and, being from Los Angeles, we are used to great Mexican and burger dives. What's not to be missed near Princeton? (Being raised in Northern NJ, let me give you a reference point: Rutt's Hut.)

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  1. Tortuga's Mexican Cafe. Excellent Mexican food. It's off of John Witherspoon street. Most people in town will be able to give directions if you can't find it.

    The pizza at Conti's is wonderful.

    Masala Grill is awesome Indian food. Very innovative.

    Alchemist and Barrister is not a dive at all, but I hear their burgers are incredible.

    Also, the Witherspoon Grill has gotten good reviews lately.

    And for just simple Italian, Sotto is very tasty.

    There's also a Bulgarian Cafe that I have yet to try...

    1. I second the recommendation for Tortuga's. It's off the beaten path, but they make really good food.

      I don't know if many people on here will agree with me, but my husband and I love the burgers at Winberries on Palmer Square. We were in town last weekend and craving burgers so we stopped in and they really, really hit the spot. Plus their fries are good. Even though they have a ton of other options, I'd only go there for the burger.

      1. I've only read about Tortuga's- every time I've tried to eat there (usually in the middle of the day), they've been closed- so check their hours or give them a call.

        My "usual" quick lunch in Princeton is the fish and chips at the Triumph Brewery - altho' I replace their french fries [which for a time were "seasoned/batter-coated"- ugh- but that may have changed] with their house-made potato chips. It ain't a "dive" and not particularly cheap (esp. with a couple of their beers) but it's close to the Princeton Record Exchange, so I don't have to move my truck...

        1. Tortuga's is good, but it's more Tex-Mex than Mexican. Try Sabor de Mexico (Taste of Mexico) at the Princeton Shopping Center on Harrison St. for some real Oaxacan food. The guacamole is made-to-order there, and is excellent.

          While you're there, stop in Shanghai Park a couple of doors down for really excellent Soup Dumplings (Xao Long Bao).

          1. Tortuga's is NOT a dive. It's also pretty overpriced for what you're getting and what you're getting is only so-so. That said, the guac is good and the salsa is spicy. I'd have to agree totally with cranrob's assessment of it being tex-mex more than anything. Sabor de Mexico is ok, though not great. On the positive side, they make pozole and menudo, and only on the weekends, which is cool, since both take time to make and therefore they're really cooking these stews with care and attention.
            Conte's is pretty dive-y. Pizza is good, not great, and definitely best right out of the oven, as in don't let it cool off much or the crust turns to cardboard. But it's a fun place.
            I don't think Princeton really does the kind of dive resto you're talking about. That's not to say there aren't good cheap eats here, but the ambience isn't going to be like that unless you hit Contes. Or, the Ivy, aka the D'Ivy, but there's only beer there...

            3 Replies
            1. re: brownie

              Brownie hit the nail on the head! I would have said the same exact thing. I agree on all accounts. bottom line - Princeton = no good for dives! Trenton...Delorenzo's,. New Brunswick....Stuff Yer Face.

              1. re: Alycia

                Hoagie Haven is a dive. As is Ivy Inn on Nassau Street.

                1. re: njeggy1

                  The Ivy definitely is. But there's no food at the D'Ivy! however, they're happy to let you BYOF from Hoagie Haven or wherever...