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*ANY* suggestions in Princeton-Skillman-West Windsor?

I'm possibly moving to that area soon and my priorities of course are very responsible. Instead of checking on cost of living, schools, etc.......I'm checking on FOOD! RESTAURANTS!

Regardless of the type of restaurants, most reviews on other sites seem to be average at best....so I'm here on CHOW to find out more!

*Family Restaurants....typical American sit-down place. Any recs?

*Thai........any recs?

*Indian (authentic)

*Italian

*Mexican

Basically, looking for non "foo-foo" places. ANY suggestions? I can't go live in a place with bad restaurants, so here I am asking the experts.

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  1. Only place I've been to in that area is the Rocky Hill Inn. Went there for Mother's Day. It was good.
    http://rockyhilltavern.com/

    1. I just happened to stumble on this, and to have some time to type something out. I'm a critical eater but not an extreme foodie, but still I spend a lot of time between New Brunswick, NJ and Princeton, NJ, and otherwise traveling around the state.

      There is some good news and some bad news here, I think for NJ in general, and Princeton in particular. You will be able to find good Indian and Italian within driving distance, as well as some pretty good "foo-foo" places. A quick look at your recent post history (3 seconds) suggests DC, so you will even find a decent Ethiopian place up in New Brunswick (Makeda). There is, IMHO, one good Japanese place in Princeton (Ajihei), but you'd be better off treking out a little bit to Shumi in Somerville, NJ (not far).

      IMHO, you won't find good Thai, and whether you will find good Mexican is a kind of existential debate about just what authentic Mexican is, and how downscale you have to go to get it, if you can even get it there. (There's lots of TexMex cheesy stuff around.) Princeton has Tortuga's, and if you have an interview or vacation in the area you might try it out. (That's a neutral comment not an endorsement, but it might be your best bet in the immediate area.)

      Indian: Up route 27 from Princeton you have some south Indian places like Dosa Grill (even Udipi Cafe) that are more popular with actual asian Indian folks than are places in Princeton, with are more northern Indian and college oriented (parents/students). Those places on 27 are actually also very affordable. If you can get up to Oak Tree Road area in Edison/Islen you can get some real Indian food in one of the densest Indian populations in the U.S.. It is a rapidly changing scene.

      Italian: Mom and pop places are all around NJ (some good!), but you probably want to come up to New Brunswick to Due Mari.

      Foo-foo: Princeton is/has been famous for these places that are expensive but not great. Some that are arguably good: Eno Terra just north in Kingston and Elements just out of town in the other direction. Just north are Due Mari, Stage Left, Frog and the Peach, etc., in New Brunswick.

      You didn't ask about what Princeton might have that one wouldn't necessarily expect. I will swim against the crowd and say, check out:

      Blue Point Grill. Expensive, Yes. However, if you have a craving for very high quality fish, simply prepared with nice sides, try here. It reminds me of high quality Northwest seafood restaurants -- all about decent portions of very high quality fish, carefully prepared.

      Family/American food: Harvest Moon has beerpub fare. Alchemist and the Barrister patio or bar isn't horrible and they have some decent beers by the bottle.

      [I'm editing this note: if you care this much about food, Princeton has the advantage of easy access to both NYC (via the NE corridor train) and Philly (by public transit or car.) We also have some 'destination' restaurants within a pretty small state. If you need something on a weeknight basis, I think I've given my 2c. If you need to know that you won't be trapped for weeks on end in a food wasteland, worry not!]

      1. welcome to the area. here's a thread with a ton of local info that may be of interest to you. even though it starts in 08, the recent 2011 posts cover a lot of your interests.

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/542130

        1 Reply
        1. re: Foody4life

          and a couple updates to the above thread.

          - Da's Thai has moved to nearby Hopewell.

          - Osteria Procacini for great pizza is now open in Kingston and Pennington.

          - Downhill alert for the Ferry House in Princeton - long overdue for a makeover in the kitchen and dining room.

          - There a fairly new place - Tusk on 206 in Skillman that fits the family restaurant request but the food is average at best and the dining room is beyond loud.

          - Bobby Flay Burgers will be opening later this year at the Market Fair mall on Route 1.

          - Cheesecake Factory will be opening later this year at the QuakerBridge mall on Route 1.

          - Wegmans, Whole Foods and Trader Joes are all within a mile on Route 1 for the nights you want to cook at home.

        2. oh, dear. you are going to live in a place with bad restaurants. i have been here nearly three years and still bang my head against a wall because of the truly confounding lack of good options. here are the only remotely decent places
          ajihei sushi in princeton (pretty good)
          blue bottle in hopewell (decent)
          nomad pizza in hopewell (good)
          one 53 in rocky hill (between average and decent - i guess that would be pretty decent!)
          elements in princeton (decent)
          blue point grill in princeton (average)
          conte's pizza in princeton (average)
          pho 99 vietnamese in franklin park, nj (decent)
          peacock inn, princeton (pretty good)
          little chef pastries on tulane st. in princeton (good)
          witherspoon bread company (average)
          bon appetit european market in the princeton north shopping center (pretty good)
          bent spoon ice cream (good)
          griggstown farm chicken potpies available at whole earth market!
          whole earth market prepared items (veggie - pretty good)
          teresa's italian in princeton (average)

          the following places are gross yet people persist in the fantasy that they are good:
          tortuga's mexican in princeton (truly gross)
          da's thai in hopewell (yuck)
          rhong-tiam thai in plainsboro (lame)
          soonja's pan asian/korean in princeton (bland and disppointing)
          anything with terra at the end of the name - just avoid this local mini empire which is overpriced pretentious unimaginative and ultimately not very good.
          makeda or whatever the ethiopian place in new brunswick (really bad)
          frog and peach in new brunswick (pretty gross, totally tacky place)
          peasant grill in hopewell (lame)
          acacia in lawrenceville (completely disgusting)

          1. Cranbury: worth a stroll

            I enjoyed a tasty soup of the day at the Blue Rooster bakery.
            The Champagne Brunch at Cranbury Inn is nice, pretty traditional.

            Also, I had some excellent cocktails at Cranbury Station.

            4 Replies
            1. re: GraydonCarter

              "Cranbury: worth a stroll"

              Please elaborate. I've always wanted to go to either/both of the places you mentioned but wonder what else is worth visiting.

              1. re: ambrose

                It certainly isn't destination eats but if you live in Plainsboro or West Windsor you probably drive thru Cranbury all the time. It is a very small historic township. I liked the little hardware store on Main street, the old Presbyterian church, the fire house, and the dam and lake at Cranbury Brook.

                1. re: GraydonCarter

                  and the cheesesteak at Cranbury Pizza is worth a try! Better than most in Philly.

                  1. re: Foody4life

                    Okay and this will be probably the third time on Chow that I've recommended the buffalo chicken cheesesteak at the Original Steak & Hoagie in Plainsboro.