Are you a Big Ten fan thinking of traveling to a Rutgers game this fall? If so, then I am excited for you! I’m a recent graduate of Rutgers University and boy would I give anything to experience Rutgers and aspects of it for the first time again. Obviously, a short weekend trip to New Jersey is not at all the same as being a student, but oh man. I’ll never forget the first time I drove around campus and saw the red banners with white Block R’s on them, when I saw the New Brunswick skyline and the Raritan River while driving south on Rt. 18, my first visit to Stuff Yer Face, being greeted by a mastodon in our Geology Museum, or the first time I set foot in our stadium on game day (I was in the marching band of course, so my first step was a little different than most). I get emotional just thinking about it.
Wednesday would typically be reserved for “traditions,” for OTE’s B1G 2017 Previews and Analyses, but honestly? I can’t think of much to add to my article from last year (linked here), that wouldn’t make another traditions piece a total rehash. Instead, I had this better idea to make a guide of things to do if you visit Rutgers!
Anyway, I’m prepared and well researched to give you compelling reasons to make your Rutgers visit an actual destination outside of the football. So if an away game at Rutgers is circled on your calendar, I do hope this is an article you can save and come back to reference in the fall.
Rutgers fans, if you have anything to add to this list, definitely add it to the comments or Tweet at me for a RT!
Restaurants and Bars
Alright, restaurants are, of course, the main attraction to visiting football fans. Every college town has THAT restaurant, and a few others that have a famous bar with iconic drinks and good food. In New Brunswick you’ll generally find two types of restaurants/bars— Those on Easton Ave, which are mainly where the students hang out, and George Street, frequented by New Brunswick residents, older students, and alums (and then offshoots of these two main streets). This first list will be of food— the first four are known for their bars as well. A list of purely “dive-style” bars is the next topic.
Food (and Drink)
Stuff Yer Face.
Want to get an amazing freshly-made stromboli with whatever toppings you want inside, coupled with house marinara and other sauces to dip it in, that comes in 9 inch or 18 inch sizes? Then Stuffs is the place for you. Wash your “boli” down with a “Fishbowl” which is a huge fruity drink that you really should share with friends. Rustic in design, Stuff Yer Face offers that classic college town restaurant feel complete with vintage Rutgers pictures on the walls, outdoor bar and eating area, and an upstairs area that usually hosts a few larger parties. Definitely RU’s classic go-to restaurant. However, because this is such a go-to place and on Easton Ave, I recommend going at a weird time. The after game crowd rush can be nuts.
A bit off the beaten path, and deeper in the New Brunswick city area, Destination Dogs is an amazing restaurant with hot dogs that I can’t even begin to describe. Like, they don’t just have your classic “Coney Island hot dog” (they do though, it’s called the Cyclone and it’s great), but they have an entire manner of unique gourmet hot dogs and sausages (wild boar, chorizo, alligator and shrimp sausage, etc.) with fresh toppings each based on the theme of some world location. This two floor restaurant is very classy, has a nice bar, and a small game area. There’s one in Philly too, but the New Brunswick location was first. (I had my 21st here).
Clydz was voted “best bar scene in Middlesex County,” and one of the best bars in New Jersey and it really is deserving of this and the million other awards it’s gotten. Clydz is a restaurant/martini bar with fancy food and delicious cocktails. The Big Ten apparently filmed a recent Campus Eats special here and... just visit here. Also, it’s cool because it’s technically underground. Fewer students, more working professionals I find.
Harvest Moon Brewery & Cafe has, as you can tell in the title, their own beers (which I hear are good) and excellent food. It has two floors, a pretty long L-shaped bar, and also has a generally up-scale and classy feel. One of the George Street bars of New Brunswick, it is particularly aimed at a more mature crowd. Try the calamari.
I have not experienced Tumulty’s under its new owners (it was sold some time last year and reopened in February), but I hear it’s still good and has the same “Irish charm.” With that, you can guess that Tumulty’s is an Irish pub with great food and great drinks. It’s also a cool place because when you look at it compared to the city buildings around it... well:
And the inside is BEAUTIFUL. I recommend just for the look of the pub.
General List of food only places that get Zuzu’s stamp of approval
RU Hungry— Home of the “Original Fat Sandwich,” RU Hungry now has a shop (their classic Grease Truck trailer is closed :( ) that is one of the stores at The Yard (a student housing complex) on College Avenue.
Mamoun’s— Some of the best freakin’ Middle Eastern food you will have. The hot sauce is HOT, this is not a drill.
Skinny Vinny’s— Some of the best pizza around (but eyy let’s be honest, this is Jersey, all the pizzerias have good pizza).
Giovanelli’s— Great pizza, fat sandwiches, and grill food like cheesesteaks.
Hansel ‘n Griddle— Grill food and awesome smoothies.
Noodle Gourmet— Their noodle soup bowls are amazing.
The Knight Wagon— I’ll plug my old employer for a moment. The Knight Wagon is a food truck run by Rutgers Dining Services and is usually at games outside the stadium. The food is actually SUPER good.
Judy’s Kitchen— Huge portions of AUTHENTIC Caribbean food. These lovely people kept me fed for my last summer in New Jersey.
Thomas Sweet— Ice Cream. Good ice cream.
(Also FYI, most of the grills on Easton do fat sandwiches)
Okay I need to stop. I don’t want this to turn into a Restaurant only article because it easily could. New Jersey was rated as best food state for a reason by Saveur Magazine. The cuisine is so varied and diverse. Now that I am living in... not New Jersey, I realize how good I had it and I MISS IT SO MUCH. Oh man, I didn’t even mention diners... bah, you’ll find one. The best ones are Greek-owned, in my opinion.
Next up are bars. When it comes to straight-up bars, you’ll find most of these on or near Easton Ave.
B a r s
I’m just gonna list them in no particular order. I’ve had a great time at all of them. Some also have food, however, I’ve personally only experienced the bar side of them.
Olde Queens Tavern
Golden Rail Pub
Huey’s Knight Club
Ale ‘N ‘Wich Pub
Garden State Ale House
There are soooooo many other restaurants and bars that I’ve never even been to. I seriously can’t do Rutgers and New Brunswick justice with this limited list to be honest. Hopefully, the comments will expand this for you Big Ten peeps.
Attractions and Events
Rutgers Geology Museum
The Friday hours are 10am to 4pm, the Saturday hours are 10am to 2pm. I HIGHLY recommend you visit if you have the time. Located on the Old Queens College campus which is on the main College Avenue campus of Rutgers New Brunswick (Rutgers has a lot of campuses within campuses... or is it campi within campi? Hmm). Anyway, this place is awesome if you like natural science and history. From exhibits showcasing rare fluorescent rocks from northwestern NJ, and New Jersey Native American artifacts, to dinosaur fossils and mummies, this museum packs a major educational punch for its size! It features a cool peripheral upstairs area reached exclusively by spiral staircase.
180 acres of 100 year old beauty. Rutgers Gardens are actually a little bit off campus, but the drive is easy they gardens are open year round from 8am until sunset. If you want to know more, definitely watch this short video which gives great insight into what is in store at this beautiful outdoor attraction. The bamboo forest is one of my personal favorite areas. There are tons of birds too for bird watchers.
Zimmerli Art Museum
This is a really nice art museum located on the College Avenue Campus on the brochure perfect Voorhees Mall. Definitely check it out if you’re into this kind of scene!
Robert A. Schommer Astronomical Observatory
Like space? Depending on how early in the week you make your trip to Rutgers, maybe you’ll be able to experience public nights at the Rutgers observatory. The website says this:
“Members of the Rutgers University community and the general public are invited to observe the night sky through the 20-inch optical telescope of the Robert A. Schommer Astronomical Observatory on the second and fourth Thursdays of every month, weather permitting. The observatory is open for two hours starting at 8:30 p.m. (October through March) or starting about one hour after sunset (April through September, when it is not yet dark at 8:30 p.m.).”
Mason Gross School of the Arts
Doesn’t look like any of the fall 2017 events are up yet, but I know for a fact that ensembles like the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble have Friday concerts. You may get lucky and catch one on a game weekend. Having been around the instrument side of Mason Gross for all my four years, I can comment on the instrumental ensembles in that they are excellent and are taught by world class musicians, with some of them associated with the New York Philharmonic. However, all of the performance programs at Mason Gross are quality. Check one out! Nicholas Music Center is quite the performance venue.
There are many other things you can do on your Rutgers visit. See a cheap movie at Rutgers Cinema, experience nature through hiking and biking in the massive Rutgers Ecological Preserve, play with cows on Cook Campus’ farms, visit one of our many massive libraries, take a romantic stroll around Passion Puddle, check out Kirkpatrick and Voorhees Chapels, State Theater events, and go history spotting. Rutgers is now the oldest school in the Big Ten and there are tons of things on campus which commemorate its historical aspects. It’s also a HUGE campus which spans two cities and sprawls down a chunk of highway. I recall a comment last year about someone saying that they did not see any academic buildings when walking around after hitting up bars. Sounds about right. Honestly, if you want an easy way to see the campus, just hop on a Rutgers bus (they’re free; weekend buses go to each campus) and relax. I used to do this all the time. Also, for you agriculture folks, while you’re at Rutgers you should buy seeds to grow your very own Rutgers 250 Tomatoes, a NEW better version of the Rutgers Tomato, aka the Jersey Tomato. Or buy seeds for Rutgers Scarlet Strawberries, a Rutgers-made (10 years in the making), sweeter, more balanced strawberry).
Additionally, a lot of people tout a Rutgers visit as an opportunity to see New York City. Rutgers is super close to the city (you can see the NYC skyline on bright days from high New Brunswick buildings) and we are a short train ride or drive into it (the drive is shorter, train easier). So if NYC is a place you’ve never been to, then by all means go experience it! But just know that Rutgers and New Brunswick have cool things to offer too.
If you have any questions about Rutgers or Jersey, let me know in the comments!
Man... I miss my school.