Hungry? The town’s got you covered. Since Princeton’s last in-person Reunions in May 2019, the downtown restaurant scene has seen the addition of a number of new restaurants offering everything from brunch to burgers to bread and boba.
Diesel and Duke’s, on the corner of Nassau Street next to Labyrinth Bookstore, sells both standard burgers and less traditional options, like the Holypeño burger (bacon, aged cheddar, jalapeno, caramelized onion, and spicy mayo) and their S.P.B.B (peanut butter, sriracha, and bacon). The burgers are decently priced at around $7.50 for a single patty and $9.50 for double, though their vegetarian Impossible burger is about a dollar more.
In addition to the burgers, be sure to check out Diesel and Duke’s poutine and fried Oreos, some of the menu’s hidden gems. There is no outdoor seating, but the diner-style interior has a few booths and high-tops for those who want to dine in.
On the other end of Nassau Street, Proof sells pizza both by the pie and the slice. Though Proof has expanded its options to include sandwiches, wings, and salads, the pizza remains the best item. Patrons can choose between specialties like the Porky Pie (sweet sausage, pepperoni, bacon, pork roll) and the Truffle Pie (garlic cream, roasted mushrooms, délice de bourgogne, truffle oil, and arugula) as well as plain pies that can be modified with their desired toppings.
The slices are of standard size, and if going with a few people, a pie or two should be perfect for the group to either take to go or eat at one of a handful of indoor tables.
Kristine’s is a French-style bistro that sits next to Witherspoon Grill by the Princeton Public Library. It sits on the slightly higher end, price-wise, and carries gluten-free fare. In addition to a number of protein-heavy main courses, the dinner menu also includes a variety of gluten-free starters, salads, and sandwiches.
If you happen to stop by between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Friday through Sunday, be sure to check out Kristine’s brunch as well. The menu is smaller than the dinner menu, with lovely benedicts and French toast. There’s both indoor and outdoor seating, but as Kristine’s can get busy on weekends and during peak hours, reservations are recommended.
Another restaurant with both brunch and dinner options is Meeting House. It’s located all the way down Witherspoon Street, but if you’re willing to make the 15-minute walk from Princeton’s gates, you’ll find a wide variety of both cocktails and traditional American cuisine.
Meeting House’s price point is about the same as Kristine’s, with a brunch menu featuring classics like chicken and pancakes, steak and eggs, brioche French toast, and a seared pork belly special. On Tuesday Burger Nights, you can order the Meeting House burger for two, three, four, or five. Overall, the restaurant has a nice ambience, with lots of indoor and outdoor seating.
Dvaraka, the newest restaurant on this list, sells Indian cuisine with a range of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. Located right on Witherspoon Street, it has no outdoor seating, but the cozy interior has a number of tables for enjoying a sit-down meal.
Entrees are priced from $13.99 to around $24.99. There’s also a lunch special that comes with a choice of a curry, Dal, Basmati rice, Naan, and the appetizer of the day for $11.99 if vegetarian and $12.99 if non-vegetarian. Dvaraka also has a children’s menu and options for dessert.
If you are looking for a post-meal treat, right across the street from Dvaraka is Junbi, a matcha-inspired boba and dessert shop. Junbi has a number of milk and fruit teas, but the best drinks are the matcha, or green tea, options: traditional ceremonial matcha or the classic strawberry matcha.
Junbi’s soft serve is not to be overlooked either — a cup of vanilla-matcha swirl is the perfect size for a light dessert and comes with one complimentary topping. Junbi’s drinks cost around $5 to $6 and are made to take away, but the restaurant’s clean, modern interior makes it easy to enjoy them at one of the succulent-adorned tables.
Part Greek grocery store and part lunch and snack spot, Ellinikon carries specialty imports direct from Greece — feta, chocolate, olive oil, and more. It also sells fresh Greek pastries, like spinach-filled spanikopita and feta-filled tiropita for under $10.
If you’re in the mood for a snack, Ellinikon also carries Greek cookies and coffees, and can make a real frappe — just like you’d find in an Athenian café.
This all-vegan spot comes from the same Princeton-native restauranteur behind Kaya’s Café. The menu features tacos, pitas, salads, kabobs, and bowls in the range of $10-20, many made with seitan and tempeh. Owner Omer Basetemur even used tofu for a vegan version of a Jersey classic: pork roll. “I always wanted to recreate that in a vegan version,” he told CommunityNews.org in January.
Ficus has not one but two eateries — a café is set on the ground floor and a fine dining restaurant is above. The café serves teas, soups, salads, and bowls — think goat cheese and squash, salmon with farro, or butter chicken, with prices from $10-20 for most lunch-sized items.
The restaurant above kicks things up a few notches with wagyu beef, duck, and mussels, among other dishes. Entre prices range from about $19 up to $38. And don’t forget to check out the artwork while you’re eating, as Ficus doubles as a gallery for student and local artists.
The specials at this addition to Princeton’s Thai offerings include pad thai with lobster and crab meat, crispy pork belly, and grilled honey duck. Curries, shumai, noodles, and vegan dishes also make an appearance, for a well-rounded selection where prices range from from below $20 to about $40.
Fresh breads and pastries fill this bakery on Witherspoon Street. Baguettes and loaves of olive sourdough and zucchini bread are all present alongside croissants, danishes, coconut orange bread, and pain au chocolat. For more filling fare, check out the selection of sandwiches including caprese on focaccia and kosher beef salami on rye, priced around $8-10.
Find a new restaurant that should be on our list? Email PAW’s digital editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.