Around Princeton University: Food Stops to Bear in Mind
enture just 20 minutes from downtown Princeton and you'll find yourself surrounded by luscious expands of greenery where farms and dairies dot the land. This terroir contributes to the bustling restaurant scene where multi-cultural dining options abound. The beauty of Princeton, aside from its scholarly charm and its role in the American Revolution, is that this town celebrates diversity - and it's a philosophy that can be savored in its food.
Princeton's Sweeter Side
Princeton's openness is perhaps why it was a natural choice for gelato makers Gabrielle Carbone and Matt Errico. Back in 2004, the pair opened The Bent Spoon, an artisan gelato and pastry shop on Palmer Square. The Bent Spoon specializes in producing unique flavor combinations honoring Jersey produce - flavors have included heirloom tomato sorbet, NJ corn old bay ice cream and creme fraiche gelato. In the winter, the shop also serves a killer European hot chocolate with homemade marshamallows.
Another popular ice cream shop is Thomas Sweets, which specializes in small-batch ice cream and chocolates. It's a very popular place for children and families. For a bit of a hipster feel, swing by Halo Pub, an award-winning ice cream shop on that offers live music on Saturday nights.
For sheer decadence, a visit to Chez Alice is in order. This European-style pastry shop offers some of the most coveted treats in Princeton so feel free to indulge. If chocolate is more your thing, you'll find the answer to your prayers just a few blocks down at Lindt chocolate shop.
Grabbing A Bite
So where does one enjoy a fine meal in this famous college town? The elite dining district sprawls across Nassau Street, named in honor of King William III, Prince of Orange and Nassau and Witherspoon Street, named after John Witherspoon, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
You'll want to swing by the recently opened Agricola restaurant located at 11 Witherspoon Street. The restaurant features rustic farm-to-table cuisine that highlights the area's finest produce. Just down the street at Witherspoon Grill (next to the Princeton Public Library) you'll find juicy steaks, risottos to die for and a fabulous wine list. If relaxed dining is more your style drop by Alchemist & Barrister, a gastro-pub that has become a Princeton landmark, or the Blue Point Grill for a lovely seafood dinner.
Coffee, Beer and Late Nights
Any university town worth its salt will have at least one cozy coffee shop where students linger, study, catch up with friends or cuddle up with a book. Princeton's java oasis is Small World Coffee, a cafe that serves organic, fair-trade artisan coffees and assorted baked treats. If you want to accompany your morning cup of joe with a freshly made chocolate waffle or a short stack, head on over to PJ's Pancake House. Situated across from Princeton University, PJ's also happens to make a killer hash.
When nothing but an ice cold brew will do, a visit to Triumph Brewery is a must. Triumph serves craft beers and locally grown organic foods. If you are interested in tasting all their beer varieties, be sure to order a sampler. Winberries Restaurant & Bar and The Ivy Inn are two other popular hangout spots.
After a long night of fun, nothing but a hoagie will do. Hoagies are to Jersey folks what subs are to the rest of the nation. Hoagie Haven is the top spot for late night munchies.
Shopping Around Town
Interested in purchasing gourmet Italian products? You'll find everything on your wish list at D'Angelo Italian Market, which serves traditional Italian food and desserts like sfogliatelle, cassata and cannoli. Just a few doors down you can pop into the Savory Spice Shop where you'll find a host of intriguing spices and seasonings. The owners and staff are extremely helpful and are quick to offer cooking tips, ideas and recipes.
In the summer, Princeton hosts a farmer's market at Hinds Plaza (next to the Princeton Public Library). The market runs from April to November every Thursday from 11 a.m to 4 p.m.