They're baaaaaack! The end of August means move-in time at NYU. Freshman got access to the dorms this weekend and upperclassmen will be returning throughout the week. Now that I have the perspective of a long since graduated Fighting Violet, I realize that NYU kiddos can be kind of hard to take especially en mass. That's why for your sanity, I've compiled a little list of spots to avoid during this move-in time and the immediate aftermath...
A few years back I made the mistake of going to the Union Square Trader Joe's (aka the only TJ's in the city at the time) 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.
Here's a list of the top places to avoid in the village during orientation week and frankly in the weeks that follow as the freshmen are relishing their freedom from mom and dad (read: getting wasted).
Let's start with NYU's "do it yourself Cheap Eats Walking Tour." This pdf guide is front and center on NYU's site with the welcome materials, so needless to say, any place listed in here is best avoided. For any of you NYU kids reading this, you won't be able to find Jamaican Flavors or BB Sandwich Shop. Both closed a few years ago.
*Trader Joe's: I think we covered this one. You will show up. There will be no food. This weekend will be especially terrible. Labor Day + upperclassmen returning = bad, bad time to go to the Trader.
*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. If you want good noodles, hit up Menchanko Tei in midtown or Zuzu Ramen in Brooklyn.
*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 (especially since this is on that Cheap Eats list). Those buffalo wings are worth it though.
*Maoz: Thought the line was bad during the summer? There are a handful of dorms housing thousands of students within a few blocks of Maoz. Everyone loves falafel and NYU student will be lured by their "free toppings" bar. Watch out for double dippers! 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, this is a skip for sure.
*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.
The return of the NYU students and the start of the fall semester does however mean that campus dining is reopening, which means, Chick-fil-a! The only one in the entire city is in the Weinstein Food Court. They didn't have a Chick-fil-a back when I was a Violet. The best we got was Burger King and Pizza Hut. Not that I'm bitter. Ok, maybe I am a little bitter...
*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.
Got suggestions of where to go or where to avoid? Leave 'em in the comments!