It's that time again. Late August means back-to-school and back-to-school means farewell peaceful village of the summertime, and welcome back to the Fighting Violets of New York University. Yes, Sunday is freshman move-in day for NYU...
Last year, I made the mistake of going to Trader Joe's on the last Monday in August. Yes, I know the cardinal rule of shopping at the Trader is don't go Monday night after work when everyone is scrambling to grab some sort of sustenance to stock their pantries after a weekend of dining out. Nonetheless I was out of bread and milk and cereal and chocolate, so I decided to just suck it up and deal. When I got to the Trader I immediately noticed that the store was strikingly barren--even for a Monday night. There was exactly one box of cereal left. No milk. No bread. No chips. Not much beer. A few stray boxes of cookies. The staff looked shell shocked. "What happened?" I asked. "NYU." NYU.
Learn from my mistake! Here's a list of the top places to avoid in the village on Sunday and during orientation week. Most of the upperclassmen will show up sometime between now and Labor Day, so the craziness isn't expected to subside anytime soon...
*Trader Joe's: I think we covered this one. You will show up. There will be no food. Go this Friday or Saturday and stock up.
*Republic: With their communal tables, pitchers of sangria, and waiters with touch pad ordering this Asian inspired noodle place on Union Square is very popular with the student set. It's also very loud and insanely crowded when school is in session. There are better and cheaper places in the city for noodles.
*Spice: Even when I was a wee Violet myself, I avoided Spice. I always heard it was good, though the jury seems to be out on that at yelp. Not sure if my friends were into it because of the food or because they are centrally located and take campus cash. In either case, they're always super crowded and their pumping electro soundtrack might give you bad flashbacks. If you want actually cheap Thai with a soundtrack but friendly service and few students, check out Song in Park Slope.
*Josie Woods: Fraternities at NYU...they really do exist! And you'll find them here at Josie Woods pounding $3.50 pints of Yuengling. Do I really need to say more?
*Red Bamboo: Ok, I love Red Bamboo. This is one place that I still go to for their awesome vegetarian buffalo wings with soy blue cheese sauce (yes, it's a freak of nature, but I don't argue with something that tasty). RB is a tiny place and they won't seat you unless your entire party is there. With NYU's large veg crowd, expect lines. Those buffalo wings are worth it though.
*Artichoke: Thought the line was bad during the summer? There are three dorms housing close to two thousand students within a couple blocks of Artichoke. College students love pizza and have free time to stand in line. Avoid! Avoid!
*Magnolia Bakery: "OMG! This is like where Carrie and Samantha and Miranda, and Charlotte got cupcakes. OMG! We have to go. OMG! They're open late! OMG!" So many reasons to avoid, unless you are a fan of surly service and overly dry cupcakes with cloyingly sweet frosting, and fellow customers busting out in the "Chronic(what?)cles of Narnia." If you're in the village and hankering for a delicious cupcake, check out Batch. Excellent cupcakes that come in a variety of flavors including carrot cake with salted caramel frosting.
*St. Mark's Place: There will be students getting tattoos and buying cheap sunglasses and band t-shirts and eating expensive chain burritos, best to avoid this strip all together.
Sorry returning upperclassmen, Senor Swanky's is kaput.
For your sanity, here's a map with the predominantly undergrad housing:
View Larger Map
Every cloud has a silver lining and the return of the NYU students must mean that campus dining is reopening, which means, Chick-fil-a! The only one in the entire city is in the Weinstein Food Court. Time for me to go undercover: break out the ratty undersized t-shirt, aviator sunglasses, newsboy hat, and some American Apparel leggings. Watch my back, Blondie. I'm going in!
*If there are any NYU kids out there reading this, I used to be one of you. When you get some distance from your time at NYU, you too will realize how annoying the student body is to the rest of the city. So try to be a good neighbor, enjoy your time at school, and get the most out of it--this means getting a couple internships under your belt before your graduate. Your parents aren't paying good money for you not to take advantage of the city and to move home with them after you finish college. And though there are a lot of bitter NYU alums out there, we take care of our own, so I look forward to welcoming you to the NYU mafia in 4 years.
Looks like the orientation folks have put together some good programing. Way better than they had back in my day. If I were a student I'd totally go on the Career Development Office's tour of the Food Network at Chelsea Market on Thursday, August 28th.