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Looking for a good lunch in Princeton

My (Bucks County) husband and his busy (Connecticut) daughter, neither of whom live in the Princeton area, are meeting in the middle there at the end of July for a hopefully nice lunch to spend a little time together. I rely heavily on Chowhound, so I thought I'd help them by asking for your help, hounds. Thank you! Price, since this is a rare occurance, is not much of a factor (though if there's a non-expensive good place, so much the better). Both are very eclectic and open in their preferences.

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  1. The Ferry House on Witherspoon might be a nice choice for American eclectic fare. It's generally quiet atmosphere would be conducive to conversation. Witherspoon Grill is a newer place with the focus on steaks. I've been there for dinner but not for lunch. Food was good, place is a bit noisy, but that was during the early evening. Also, for seafood is Blue Point on Nassau St. Great seafood, comfortable, and great service...or, at least that was my last experience there about 2 months ago...............

    1 Reply
    1. re: pfarrell

      I would have to second the Ferry House. Good food and service. The Blue Point Grill however is closed for lunch.

    2. I think Mediterra is a nice place for a relaxing lunch. The food is pretty good, or at least has been the few times I have had lunch there. Some friends went for dinner a few months ago and really enjoyed their meal (first visit there).
      It's in downtown Princeton; off of Palmer Square.

      1. I don't care for Mediterra any more -- too inconsistent, but I am fond of Tre Piani. Owner/Chef is also Central NJ Convivium Leader of Slow Food, and he does a great job of letting the food speak for itself. Uses a lot of fresh, local ingredients. The restaurant is airy and service is spot on.

        1. Skip all that and have them meet at Conte's on Witherspoon st. for a great thin crust pizza. It's a big open old school bar room, last decorated in the 50's (maybe the 30's).

          Have them order the salads ( Iceburg lettuce, onions, pink green house tomato) with blue cheese on the side. Order a large sausage and mushroom. Pitcher of soda. They will have fun!

          Then they can go park downtown and get some ice cream and walk around a bit.


          1. I'm a chowhound who has been living in downtown Princeton for a number of years. My two top recommendations would be The Ferry House or Witherspoon Grill. Both are wonderful for lunch or dinner. Tre Piani is also good, but requires a short drive out to Rt. 1 since it is not in town.

            Blue Point Grill is closed for lunch, but otherwise awesome.

            Meditera certainly looks inviting, but I've had some surprisingly inconsistent and poorly prepared meals here so I don't go anymore.

            Contes - I will continue to try...but after having the pizza dozens of times, I continue to be left wondering what all the fuss is about. It's mediocre to me and the atmosphere resembles a cross between your grandmothers house and an old military mess tent. I much prefer Old World Pizza (or Iano's or Massimos or Pizza Star).

            The biggest standout in Princeton is The Bent Spoon, on Palmer Square. Dessert only unfortunatly. It's an 'artisinal ice cream' store, and makes some of the best Sorbet's and Ice Cream's around. Easily on par, or better, then il laboratorio del gelato or Otto in NYC.

            2 Replies
            1. re: frackit

              Thanks, hounds! I will pass it on to my husband. I think you have saved them wandering around aimlessly and hitting the first place with a table because they're hungry and just want to eat already.

              1. re: watercress

                I like Laheire's. It's classy and the food is great. A lot of people poo poo it as a has been, but we have had some fantastic meals there in the past couple of years.

            2. Finally had a meal at Tre Piani. Their Slow Food involvement is misleading: if the food is poorly done, you can't eat slowly and with pleasure—you just want to leave. The pasta was overcooked and dull, and the special soft shell crab was inedible. Even the decent bread they served gratis had been cut too long before and was stale, and the wine not properly chilled.

              1. Princeton is justly and famously a desert for good eating. You might try Ajihei, a sushi place, pretty authentic, and quiet, too. On Chamber's St not far from Palmer Square.

                2 Replies
                1. re: jolivore

                  What about Triumph Brewery? Also, I have not yet tried the Salt Creek Grille in Princeton, but I've heard mostly very good reviews - especially for the lunch

                  1. re: hotfoodhot

                    Triumph Brewery - a resounding "meh". Not impressed. It's like they try to get fancy and just manage boring. The beer ain't bad though. Burgers are fine.

                2. Tre Piani does a nice lunch. They also support Local New Jersey Farmers, so the produce is sure to be super fresh!!

                  1. No one has mentioned Teresa's on Palmer Square in the heart of Princeton. I haven't been there for awhile but I always had very nice lunches there and it was pretty reasonably priced. It is an Italian trattoria with pizzas, salads, pasta dishes, etc. Has it gone downhill?

                    1. Ferry House may be good for lunch. I have looked at the lunch menu and I like it better than dinner. I have only one dining experience at FH several years ago. It's a BYOB. We entered the lobby and were greeted and asked for our wine. The hostess disappeared for several minutes and then reappears sans wine, where upon we were escorted to our table. I have ALWAYS felt that our wine was being evaluated to decide upon what kind of table to give us. I found it highly insulting and have never gone back. I would avoid Mediterra, it is nosy and the food is not all that good. I once got Osso Bucco (the last time I ever went) and I said to the waiter “This is not like any cut of Osso Bucco I have ever had” and he said “They don’t always deliver what I would think is right either.” AVOID Laheire's unless you are collecting Social Security. Then you will fit right in. Only old P-ton blue bloods are all that eat there – IMHO.

                      I give my vote to Tre Piani. But they must eat upstairs – not in the bar downstairs. It is very elegant upstairs.

                      Teresa’s is a BYOB is good for pub grub Italian – pizzas and pasts – not much else.

                      They might be better off meeting in New Brunswick, which has many excellent restaurants. Frog and Peach being the first to come to mind.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Will5352

                        Teresa's is not a BYOB, it has a full bar. Tortugas Mexican is good for lunch if that is your thing. Avoid the new place JLIvy unless you like poor food and service. Triumph Brewerty is alright.

                        1. re: avidcook

                          I have to agree on Tortuga's - I've always had a good meal there. Just remember it's cash only!

                      2. Tons of great suggestions! We've only been to Ferry House and Witherspoon for dinner, but both were great. Love the BYO factor at Ferry House. Tre Piani does indeed do a great lunch, but have not been there for dinner yet. The bar downstairs in the Palmer House has nice fish and chips if that is your thing. I think I had a decent burger there as well. Tiger Noodle near Blue Point is OK, and the Thai place across the street from there is good as well. There are also 2 resturants in the shopping center off of Harrison worth checking out. One is the little Mexican place that is good and pretty authentic, and the other one is Main Street Bistro. Both are great and my wife frequents them as she works downtown. Also check out Olive for a quick sandwich! Love that place! And there is always "The Soup Man" for some delicious lobster bisque! -mJ