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Mar 18, 2010 08:17 AM

Lunch on Saturday in Princeton

I'm going to the McCarter Theater Saturday afternoon. Is there anything special (even at a hole in the wall) to eat in Princeton? Has seemed like a foodie wasteland to me, but I may be wrong.

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  1. I was going to suggest elements, but Saturday is the only day they don't serve lunch. They've done the most, recently, to pull Princeton kicking and screaming out of it's foodie wasteland! : ) Give them a try on another visit.

    Most of what you'll find in town is pretty pedestrian. Olive's on Witherspoon is a great deli that serves a selection of hot & cold items, sandwiches, etc. They have the best chicken salad. They have a few counter stools in the back, but it's supposed to be 70's on Saturday, so get a lunch at Olive's then walk a block further north (away from the University/Nassau St) on Witherspoon to the library and eat outside at one of the tables in the large square.

    After lunch, go to the Bent Spoon on Palmer Square West and have the best gelato this side of Italy.

    Small World Coffee a few doors from Olive's on Witherspoon serves the best in town to get you ready for the theater.

    Enjoy your visit.

    The Bent Spoon
    35 Palmer Sq W, Princeton, NJ 08542

    Small World Coffee
    14 Witherspoon St Ste A, Princeton, NJ 08542

    1 Reply
    1. re: Foody4life

      Definitely don't miss the Bent Spoon! For lunch, you might want to try Underground Bistro on Witherspoon. It was recommended to me on this board a while back and I will be giving it a try as soon as possible. The menu is interesting. But Small World is a good bet too, prolly.

      The Bent Spoon
      35 Palmer Sq W, Princeton, NJ 08542

    2. Hoagie Haven is a little hole in the wall worth checking out for a quick sandwich. If you want a good eggroll, check out Tiger Noodle. If you want to browse a nice little wine shop and do a tasting while you're in town, check out CoolVines at Nassau Street and Harrison. They will be tasting white Burgundy on Saturday from 2PM-5PM. The wines included in the tasting will be Colin Chassagne-Montrachet as well as the Marc Colin St. Aubin Premiere Cru. Hope that helps! -mJ

      1. I'd second the Olives/Bent Spoon/Small World selections, especially the latter two, all for some easy al fresco dining. You can "picnic" at the Princeton library, or find a cozy spot on campus.

        If you're looking for some seafood, the Nassau Street Seafood does takeout lunches, and there are plenty of tables in front (hint: you can usually eat "inside" the next-door Blue Point Grille restaurant, although the restaurant itself is not actually open until dinner. (Don't miss for dinner, at that!!!) It's a nice stroll down Nassau Street.

        Personally, Underground Cafe scares me. My opinion went downhill vis-a-vis the fact that they make one of their wait-staff stand outside and practically beg people to look at the menu. I once saw a waiter run out into the middle of the street to give a driver in a passing car a sample of whatever they were shilling. That just smacks of "we have a kitschy name for our creepy location and we're just slightly desperate" - oh, and the fact I've rarely if ever seen anyone inside.....

        7 Replies
        1. re: ChefSeth

          I've eaten at Underground Cafe a few times. I think their location hurts their appeal. The food is fresh and flavorful. I believe the chef/owner is Bulgarian. I've tried the Bulgarian burger as well as their stuffed pepper and shish-ke-bab. Their website states they have an excellent rating from Zagat. For something a little different than what we're used to in Princeton, give them a try.

          1. re: BelleJo

            I had no idea this place was even there. How long have they been there? Do they have a sign? From the map on their website, it looks as though they are right across the street from Halo Pub, but closer to the corner? Is that right?

            Anyone had their gyro? Is it the real deal, hot off the spit? Or is it the processed prefab flat sliced and grilled on the flat top meat? Might have to try it one day over the weekend! Cheers! -mJ

            1. re: njfoodies

              They've been there a couple/few yrs. Used to be a dance studio. Entrance is about 50' from the corner of Witherspoon. We've walked/driven by 100's of times and had no desire to stop in for some reason. Maybe the subterranean location is a subliminal turnoff?!! Instead we go to Lambertville for our Eastern Euro fix! May also have to give them a shot.

              1. re: Foody4life

                We checked it out on Saturday, and Zelda enjoyed her falafel. I made the mistake of trying their gyro as I love them, and it left me uninspired. Regardless, the menu looks nice, and there are other things I would try on the menu. Service was great. I'll try to cut and paste me review when I get home tonight. In the meantime, it's posted at -mJ

                1. re: njfoodies

                  Thanks for the blog post. We went to Lambertville Saturday and had just an OK experience at Marhaba. Very good hummus as before, & piping hot, fresh pita's followed by wayyyyyyyyy overcooked kababs. My mixed grill was beyond well done. Best part of dinner was the ripasso valpolicella we brought with us! Place was busy as usual - completely full by 6:30. I think next time we'll stay local and check out Underground.

                  1. re: Foody4life

                    Haven't been to Marhaba since it changed names from the old place. Definitely loved their fresh pita! YUM! And they had a hell of a good gyro there too. It is so disappointing that it is SO HARD to find a good gyro around here. We had them on every corner in Chicago. Such a bummer.

                    Maybe we'll have to make a Lambertville run this weekend to check it out again. And that gives me an excuse to check out the toys are the bike shop there too!

                    Maybe not thourh as overcooked kebabs do sounds the least bit appealing to me. Is grilling kebabs really that hard? We did see one kebab at Underground that looked good, but it was served dangling on this ridiculously large aparatus. The gentleman actually asked the waiter to remove it from the table and remove the meat from the skewer for his wife. Gordon Ramsay would have had a field day with that one. -mJ

          2. re: ChefSeth

            The takeout lunch service at Blue Point Grille's fish shop is outstanding. You can get their soups, sandwiches, wraps, and some salads. You order in the shop and then walk over to the restaurant next door and make yourself at home (inside or outside). My wife is a fan of the blackened salmon wrap or the fish and chips. I like the shrimp po'boy. It's nothing fancy or high brow, but the price is right and it's a good, casual lunch in Princeton.

          3. The Ferry House is quite good.

            Ferry House
            32 Witherspoon St, Princeton, NJ 08542

            1. When someone mentions Princeton, I immediately think "BENT SPOON!!!!". Get ice cream there, but also, grab a cupcake to go. You won't regret it. Of course, that doesn't solve the lunch issue.

              As for food:

              If you like mexican, there is great Mexican kinda hidden a few blocks from downtown, Tortuga Villiage. BYOB and no credit cards.

              If you like Indian, there is Masala Grill on Chambers Street.

              Teresa's Cafe in Palmer Square is decent italian and brick oven pizza

              For hole in the wall, Hogie Haven is great. I have friends who will still drive an hour for one of their sandwiches.

              If you're willing to drive outside of downtown (which since McCarter's not quite walking to downtown, you'll need to be in a car anyway), Tre Piani is also nice in Forrestal Villiage.


              Masala Grill
              15 Chambers St, Princeton, NJ

              1 Reply
              1. re: mickeygee

                The Witherspoon Grill is decent and won't break the bank. The servers are friendly and will get you whatever you like.

                Witherspoon Grill
                57 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, NJ 08540