—by Bushra Hasan, Zehra Madhavan, & Hannah Mitlak—
House of Cupcakes
The cat is out of the bag on this place. After winning the televised competition Cupcake Wars, House of Cupcakes was on fire, and then it literally burned down, forcing the small shop to renovate and then relocate to a bigger space, adjacent to the original. Now, besides the 12 daily flavors that they have in store, the House of Cupcakes has broadened its horizons. The once small shop is nearly unrecognizable, with its newly-added cookies, pastries and, most notably, gourmet doughnuts. The old reliabilities of this place, as the name suggests, are clearly the cupcakes, always offering a visually appealing and delicious option for every taste, with a grand total of 35 options. The bright teal walls bring a lively tone to the place and the new seating space makes it a place to linger rather than to walk in and out of.
Small World Coffee
If you need coffee while you’re in Princeton, forget Starbucks. Small World is the only option. The coffee is rich, but the experience is richer. The drinks at Small World are absolutely sublime. The quality of their dark roasts parallels that of much more pretentious coffee dispensaries, and it also offers many original iced and blended drinks. In addition to its quality drinks, it also has a small pastry section complete with muffins and cookies to complement any beverage. But quality food and drink is not new to Princeton. Small World is a quiet and cool study space by day, and a trendy post-dinner spot at night. With weekly performances, new artists decorating the walls, and sporadic summer dance parties, Small World blends the homey feel of a coffee shop with the perfect amount of hipster vibes and liveliness. If you need a shot of energy or plans for Friday night, for a small and personal feel, enter Small World. Pro-tip: it’s a cash-only place. The tell-tale sign of a tourist is the flash of his plastic credit card.
Mamoun’s Falafel is one of the newest additions to the Princeton scene, and it has quickly become a local favorite. The restaurant is a branch of the popular Mamoun’s chain of New York City fame, and it serves traditional Middle Eastern dishes in a fast, casual style, meaning the food is not only extremely tasty but also easy to grab and eat. Middle Eastern cuisine is not commonly served in this area, so Mamoun’s is a unique establishment that promises to open new doors for its customers. The restaurant offers a variety of vegetarian and meat dishes, and the signature falafels and hummus are musts if you come here. Visitors can also purchase delectable specialty items, ranging from drinks like blackberry juice to desserts like Baklava pastries. The atmosphere in the restaurant is always very homey and lively, making for a great overall dining experience. For those looking to try something new and exotic, Mamoun’s is certainly the place to check out.
Olives Deli & Bakery
This restaurant is a long-time staple of Princeton, but it’s not just any typical, run-of-the-mill deli. Olives offers countless Italian and Mediterranean dishes buffet-style, so visitors browse the impressive array of food at the counters and request portions of the dishes they’d like, which can be heated by request. Olives is mainly a take-away restaurant, but don’t let that deter you from visiting. The deli’s selection is sure to please any foodie, and the nicest part is that visitors can take the delicious food and eat it on-the-go anywhere in the town. Favorite dishes include the Tabouleh salad and Baked Ziti with Artichoke, but it’s hard to go wrong with any of the dishes. The other side of the restaurant, a delicatessen bakery with treats like specialty cookies and pastries, offers the perfect accompaniment to any meal. Next time you’re in Princeton, be sure to head over to Olives; you won’t be disappointed.
Located in the heart of Palmer Square, Teresa’s Caffe is sure to please any Princetonian with its wide variety of pastas and gourmet pizzas. Not only does this trattoria offer savory Italian entrees, but it also vigilantly serves local and organic produce. According to its website, Teresa’s “source[s] other fresh, local ingredients to create unsurpassed seasonal pasta dishes and pizzette,” including antibiotic-free and hormone-free chicken. We’d absolutely recommend the bruschetta to start: familiar flavors like the thin apple slices are combined with new flavors like the sheep milk ricotta (which tastes like a more delicate cottage cheese) for a new gustatory experience. As for the entrees, you can go with either the lighter or heavier dishes. The Scottish salmon, in particular, practically falls apart on your fork because of its tenderness. This restaurant is very earthy and welcoming, with its brick arcs and warm lighting, and we’d recommend it for any relaxing evening.
This restaurant opened near the beginning of October, so the staff has shortened the store hours—but that’s not to say the restaurant doesn’t get any business. Upon entering, you notice the walls jam-packed with various preserves; the wood panel flooring also gives a homey, cabin-like feel to the place. Jammin’ Crepes offers, naturally, crepes, but it also has a menu with some standard breakfast and lunch entrees. Jammin’ Crepes is dedicated to serving seasonal crepes, using as many ingredients as possible with the Fair Trade and Organic standard, so you know your food is coming from a fresh and sustainable source. The restaurant has a variety of sweet crepes, including Nutella-based crepes with fruits and nuts. My personal favorite is the “classic cinnamon toasty,” which is filled with a warm cinnamon syrup that has the perfect amount of sweetness. If you’re not up for sweet crepes, the “Veggie Goat” is a great lunch option. The sourness of the balsamic vinegar complements the bitter flavor of the arugula, and the goat cheese dilutes the flavor for a refreshing entrée.