By Brian Block
Sitting at my desk in Trenton City Hall at 2 p.m. last Tuesday, I wondered to myself where I could grab a satisfying lunch in less than 20 minutes. It then hit me that right across the street was a little inconspicuous pizza parlor that I hadn’t yet tried out. To make a long story short, Latino Americano Pizza — generically humorous name and all — was a terrific choice, with its very large and tasty slices of specialty penne vodka pizza. In, out, very cheap and unique is how I can best put my experience — risking the invitation of sexual jokes, of course.
A few weeks back, I enjoyed a shrimp quesadilla with rice and beans that puts every one of Taco Bell’s menu items to shame, and as a college kid guilty of late night trips to North Olden Avenue, I would know. Where did this crustacean meal come from, you ask? Chapala II Mexican Grill over in Trenton’s South Ward. As I write this, I am digesting an unparalleled meal of red snapper, mac n’ cheese, and plantains from my housemate’s favorite place to eat in Trenton, Sunshine Restaurant, which features authentic Jamaican cuisine. The price for this two-meal-sized feast … 10 dollars flat.
Why am I recanting my eating habits in the campus paper? Well, the point of recanting my eating habits is that we cannot so soon forget the lesson that “Eat Trenton” bestowed upon us only a month ago: there are top of the line, affordable eateries in the town over, if we are just willing to get past our irrational fears and give them a try. Not only should you and your friends go out one night soon and patronize one the many restaurants in Trenton because they are better than the generic crap on Route 1, but you should do it because these restaurants and the locals that own them need you to survive and eventually to thrive. Personally, I am sick of getting Facebook invitations to organization fundraisers held at Applebees and Wendy’s. Not only is the food that these types of places not quality, but often it is expensive and unhealthy. I don’t care about half-price appetizers and the dollar menu. Try something outside the box and get more bang for your buck.
Chain restaurants do not need your money, I promise you. The various untapped, family-owned eating establishments, on the other hand, do. Diversify your meal selection — eat Polish, eat Jamaican, heck, eat American, but do it in Trenton. As an institution of higher education, we have to practice what we preach. We all wish to see a turnaround in many of New Jersey’s inner cities, but to see such events, as the next generation of leaders, we have to take it upon ourselves to do the little things that can go a long way towards this goal. Spend some money in Trenton, and not just at KatManDu. You will not regret it, and you will certainly go back for more. Visit the Trenton-Downtown Association’s website at trenton-downtown.com/eatandshop, for a full list of restaurants and their addresses. And while you’re at it, wear some the College apparel while eating to show the staff that our school is going to come through for them.