Putting Forbes Back on the Map


Now that the construction on the new Arts and Transit neighborhood has cleared around Forbes College, the paths to that “faraway place” are shorter and more accessible. As a Forbesian, it’s always amazed me how many Princeton students never make it down to Forbes. There are so many reasons to visit, but this year, one has really stood out: the Forbes dining hall. The dining hall feels like home for Forbesians and the lucky students from other colleges who are willing to make the walk. Just in case you’ve never heard of it, never seen it, or never stepped across Alexander Road, here’s all you need to know about this hidden gem.

Photo by Lisa Gong

This is Forbes. It used to be named the “Princeton Inn College” because of its renovation from the former hotel that overlooked the Springdale Golf Course. Who wouldn’t want to come home to this every day?

Photo by Lisa Gong

Once you enter the front door, you are greeted by a refurbished lobby with extensive seating and a grand piano. You may just need those comfy chairs when Forbes brunch is (understandably) so busy that the line extends into the lobby. This used to be the mailroom for the old Princeton Inn College, but now it has been converted into a lounge. The Forbes dining hall allows you to bring your food out to this lounge, and when you’re studying here, food is just a few steps away.

What’s New:

Forbes dining hall underwent renovations this summer with the addition of a new pizza oven and extension of the servery. The Forbes Multipurpose room was reconfigured to allow for the new oven in the kitchen, and now Forbes has a permanent pasta bar, sandwich bar, and pizza bar. This made room in the rest of the kitchen for the usual dining hall staples, an extensive salad bar, and on many occasions, a noodle soup bar.

When to go:

Forbes is known for its fabled “Sunday Brunch” (which, unfortunately, seems to have such a following because of the fact that Sunday mornings are the only time when Princeton students are willing to walk the distance!). Some of the highlights include the chocolate fountain, shrimp cocktail, baked brie, full bagel and cream cheese selection, a cheese platter, and Forbes’ famous “crustless quiche.” You have to experience it sometime during your four years here, and the earlier, the better: you might just make it your Sunday morning routine. Who wouldn’t want to see this view on a beautiful spring morning?

Photo by Lisa Gong

Special Theme Nights: Forbes is always looking for ways to create themed-meals. Some of the recent nights have been Jersey Shore Night (with boardwalk food and awesome decorations) and BBQ Night (with ribs, cornbread, and a huge display of southern comfort food). The staff is able to transform the dining hall in ways that Ro-ma, Wu-Wilcox, and Whitman just can’t.

Vegetarian night

Forbes is also famous for its Vegetarian Nights. Already boasting a large salad bar and frequent vegetarian options (in perhaps a higher proportion than any other dining hall), the eating area gets transformed into a ballroom-style buffet with “cultural stations” where diners can enjoy different vegetarian cuisines from around the world.

Photo by Lisa Gong

In general, lunch is delicious at Forbes. You can count on getting almost anything (including eggs) from the grill, and some days, there will be a noodle bar. Forbes provides all the Asian-inspired fixings you could ask for and gives both meat and vegetarian options. If you’re able to make the walk down University Place around noontime, you’re in for a treat.

The Atmosphere

Unlike the castle-like, Hogwarts-esque feel of Roma or Whitman, Forbes could be the ballroom of a country club (and it really does feel that way—the beautiful views of the Golf Course and the Graduate College help).

There are mostly long tables with some round ones in the back. On special meals and for all brunches, some tables are removed from the center to create beautiful displays adorned with colored napkins and flowers. For breakfast and lunch, Forbes Dining Hall is quiet, and you can often find Forbes students working and studying. The busiest time is probably dinner, but you’ll never find yourself out of a seat unless it’s Sunday Brunch. Tired of making the rounds in Wu-Wilcox trying to find a booth, or much less, even two seats adjacent to each other on one of those long tables? Forbes is your answer.

The People:

Photo by Lisa Gong

The Forbes Dining Hall staff includes some of the nicest people on campus. Stan is up every morning and greets Forbes students by name—it’s such a friendly way to start the day. Bob often works the grill, and he’s always willing to talk about sports or ask you about your day. Maude makes the best omelets. Really.

Extra Perks:

Hang out with Forbesians! They’re the coolest kids around, and wouldn’t it be nice to come visit THEM once in a while, rather than make them leave this “island paradise” and go up to your dining hall on the “mainland”? You don’t know what you’re missing.

Photo by Lisa Gong

Forbes staff also lets you leave your prox at the card-checker station to sit out on the patio. The patio has hammocks, Adirondack chairs, and picnic tables. On a beautiful fall or spring day, you’ll find Forbes students lounging with their books and their meals overlooking the golf course and the spire of Proctor Hall at the Graduate College. Who wouldn’t want to live at the Inn?

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