If there’s one thing we know freshmen, post-grads, and transfer students are hungry for, it sure as hell isn’t “knowledge.”
Good, healthy, and most importantly cheap eats are not always easy to come by, and there isn’t much worse than the feeling of trying to live off buttered noodles and the drive-thru dollar menu because you accidentally spent half your tuition at the dining hall.
Luckily, with three popular local universities within its boundaries — The College of New Rochelle, Iona College, and Monroe College — one town is particularly well practiced at the art of catering to ravenous students within their budgets. Being a touch farther inland, Iona students might want to make a friend who has a car.
Here’s Westchester Magazine’s list of some of our favorite recommendations for NewRo’s newest.
Sometimes there’s just no beating a good egg roll (or seven). New Rochelle students will be very pleased with the wide selection in the area, including cheap take-out/delivery options and even the requisite Chinese buffet for hangover curing lunches. For Monroe and CNR students, New Golden Wok, Wok King, Chinatown, and Golden Imperial are all solid options.
Hibachi Express is an excellent pan-Asian choice for sushi lovers, and while it’s not a sushi house by trade, Vento Bistro has a dynamite sushi menu. On the other side of the Japanese front, Roc-N-Ramen basically across the street from the Regal Cinemas New Roc, which makes it the perfect place for dinner-and-date night.
Korean BBQ Grill is also a fantastic over-the-counter lunch spot for those looking for a good and quick bite between classes.
Burgers & More
While New Rochelle has no dearth of taverns that will serve you a quality burger or bar-bites, there are quite a few dedicated burger barns that are worth fairly regular trips.
Smokehouse Tailgate Grill’s flagship location calls the city home and is serving up some of the best burgers, wings, and small plates in the county. They’re open late — until midnight weeknights, 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 10 p.m. on Sundays — and even have an excellent assortment of adult beverages for the 21-and-older crowd.
POW Burger offers a more dedicated selection (think old-school burger-and-a-malt shop), with beef, turkey, veggie, chicken, and soon even crispy cod patties served up with a plethora of toppings and sides, plus the aforementioned malts and wonderfully bad decisions like fried zeppole-battered Oreos.
AJ’S Burgers on North Ave. might be a little pricier than a dining hall burger, but the difference in quality is clear. One look at their Instagram will have you drooling. You can grab a basic sandwich for under $10 pretty easily, but we’re suckers for their award-winning specialty menu: The Burrata Burger, Club Curber (or it’s Junior option), and the Bacon Mac & Cheese Burger just call to us.
We’d also be completely negligent in our duties as local experts if we didn’t mention Chili Dog Restaurant. It’s exactly what it sounds like, and it’s practically a gen-ed requirement for new students. If you can make it through a whole semester without drunkenly stopping by between pre-gaming and the bars, you might actually win a prize. (Hint: The Prize is a trip to Chili Dog.)
Chili dogs segue nicely into one of our staff’s guiltiest pleasures: Chicken Joe’s. Yes, they have plenty of salads and other, healthier options, but the biggest draw of this eatery is its monstrous wraps and sandwiches, which you can load up with the house’s hand-cut chicken nuggets, mozz sticks, fritters, and more.
If Southern comfort is more your style (not the whiskey), The Wooden Spoon is a fantastic choice, balancing old-world staples like fish and chips against Dixie standards like fried chicken and waffles or baby back ribs. They’ve also got burgers and other hot sandwiches, as well as eclectic apps like street corn, buffalo wings, fried ravioli, and “totchos,” sort of a tater-tot take on classic nachos.
Sweet Potatoes on North Ave. has a similar flavor profile, with cuisine deeply rooted in the Carolinas. In addition to lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, this southern joint is also open for special Sunday brunch, perfect for rejuvenating yourself before Monday morning classes. They also cater, which is something to remember for barbecues, sporting events, and other off-campus functions.
This is Westchester. If you can throw a stone and not hit at least a decent deli you’re probably just in one of our county’s many lush nature preserves. That being said, New Rochelle students will be overjoyed at the variety and multitude of places they can score a good cold cut. Some of our recommendations include Avenue Deli for Iona students, and Gino’s Deli or the eponymous New Rochelle Deli for those studying south of the thruway.
We know, we know … college students aren’t known for their healthy eating habits. But no man can subsist on a diet of 5-piece chicken nuggets and dining hall pizza forever. Even a college town like New Rochelle has some greener selections, benefiting from its status as a fairly major city in the county.
Rocbody Fitness Café specializes in healthy choices for every nutrition level. Whether you’re trying to bulk up as a bodybuilder or just want to grab a morning shake or an afternoon salad, the tri-state company has what you’re looking for. Busier students will also appreciate the café’s meal prep service, which can be fully customized to any dietary level and make a week’s work of meals available for both pickup and local delivery.
Pop’s Espresso Bar, despite the name, is truly more of a breakfast and lunch café, sporting a full menu of breakfast wraps, salads, sandwiches, and even a few more bougie options like avocado toast and a braised pork belly breakfast sandwich.
On the north end of Main Street, Tzatziki Greek Grill is also a wonderful way to snatch up a filling lunch that’s also fresh, delicious, and not too gluttonous. (We make no pretenses about our love of baklava.) Located in the city’s business district, it’s ideal for anyone working after class or on an internship.
Westchester is a bastion of Latin-American cuisine, and New Rochelle is no exception. Lovers of Mexican, Ecuadorian, and even more Caribbean flairs will be very happy studying here, but here are a few of our favorites:
La Herradura is a great Main Street stop for delicious, inexpensive Tex-Mex and drinks. If that’s not south-of-the-border enough for you, Little Mexican Café is just a few doors southward, with Salsa y Brasa just beyond that.
On the Iona side of town, Mister Taco is a family-run dine-in and takeout joint with nearly four decades of culinary experience serving up authentic Mexican. Try the fresh, house-made tortillas on Sundays — with some horchata (if you’re of age)! Farther north along Main you’ll also find Caracas Fusion, a new takeoff on Venezuelan beach cuisine you’ll come back for again and again.
Another staple of Westchester culture, we could write a whole guide just for the pizzerias and brick ovens along Main. That being the case, and though we’ll surely offend some by not naming every amazing slice in NewRo, we’ll suffice to say that it’s pretty hard to go wrong grabbing a pie from Sorelle’s Pizza, Fratelli Pizza & Pasta, the Brooklyn-styled La Rosa, or Patsy’s Pizzeria, which has been cranking out piping hot pies since 1933.
Where to Go When Mom and Dad Are Paying
If you like your southern food with a little bit of a Caribbean flair, you can’t go wrong with Alvin & Friends. The restaurant is routinely a top contender in our Best of Westchester, Burger Bash, and Wingfest competitions, and it only takes one visit to see why.
Dubrovnik is fine dining with a Croatian spin, meaning you’ll love the fresh seafood as much as the restaurant’s aged steaks, hearty pastas, and decadent desserts. (Try the palacinke!) They also feature holiday prix fixe menus fairly regularly, which makes Dubrovnik a great option for date nights and special occasions as well.
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Lastly, for a good old-fashioned steak, skip the local Applebee’s and Texas Roadhouse when it’s not your wallet on the line. Hurley’s Steakhouse & Pub is a far superior option with appetizers like tuna tartar and sizzling slab bacon and mains like racquetball rib eye, oysters on the half shell, and aged prime filet steak sandwiches.
What to Do For Fun
We mentioned the Regal Cinemas New Roc, which is great for an afternoon movie or the latest blockbuster in IMAX, but New Rochelle also benefits from a prime location on Westchester’s Eastern shores.
The Picture House, with its rotating assortment of new and classic art house films and educational one-off screenings, is a short drive away in Pelham. Slightly farther North — about 15 minutes by car, if there’s traffic — there is also Mamaroneck’s Emelin Theatre. Featuring everything from bluegrass to rock, plus comedy shows, film screenings, kids’ content, and musical theater, the Emelin is a fabulous place for weekend entertainment.
While New Rochelle no longer has a true dedicated shopping mall, there are still plenty of spots to grab necessities and niceties without trekking all the way out to Yonkers or up to White Plains.
Consign It On Main and Sweet Preserves are quintessential vintage shops with some serious street cred: They’ve provided period pieces to all kinds of films and TV shows, including perhaps most notably The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
WalkingGeek | flickr
Remember all those nature preserves we mentioned? (It’s cool if you skipped over that section.) Well despite being a city, New Rochelle still packs in enough greenery to feel like Westchester.
From Ward Acres Park at the North end of town to Glen Island, Five Islands, and Davenport parks and Hudson Beach down on the sound, students who like a little grass or sand between their toes will be very happy come the spring semesters.
There are also plenty of hiking trails throughout the city, and with so many golf courses and country clubs either within the city limits or NewRo-adjacent, getting in a few quick holes between classes (or as a team!) won’t be hard.
Team Building, Parties, and Any Time You Decide You Want to Strangle Your Friends
If Rubik’s Cubes and Jeopardy! have lost their luster for you, Hour to Exit has the solution to your boredom. In one of Westchester’s newest and most popular escape rooms, grab some of your closest friends and see if you can solve the mysteries trapping you before time runs out.