Welcome to New Jersey! Come share the many treasures of the Garden State. First, let me clear up a couple misconceptions for you.
- No, it will not smell the entire time you are there. Only on your drive from the airport and anytime you're downwind of a Rutgers fan.
- No, not everyone who lives there is Italian and uses "AY...OH..." as a universal language. It only seems that way sometimes.
- You will not meet anyone named Snooki or Situation. You will however meet a lot of Mike's and Anthony's.
- If you drive less than 70 MPH in the fast lane on the NJ Turnpike, you deserve to get run off the road and die in the fiery car crash like Toonces. Sorry.
- New Jerseyians do not appreciate hearing your Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen jokes, however at 11:30pm after five shots of Goldschlaeger, they will happily throw their arms around one another and sing along to Livin' On A Prayer every single f**king time.
Now that you've got the basics down, I wanted to share a couple thoughts and recommendations. As a longtime New Jerseyian and someone who grew up 20 minutes from Rutgers, I know a thing or two about this wonderful spot where Route 1 and Route 18 intersect.
First things first, make sure you consult TexanMark's Tailgating Guide for all the big picture stuff.
The Grease Trucks - Why are you going to this game? To watch Syracuse possibly clinch a bowl berth and do it by beating Rutgers? Eh, that's just the appetizer. The real tragedy would be to go and not stop by this parking lot of heart attacks in waiting. It's a hike from the game (other side of the river) but I assure you, if you are still young and have the stomach lining of a German WWII tank, you will not regret it.
I'm sure there's a Grease Truck connoisseur out there who will tell you one truck is better than the other. I'm not really sure. I remember one in particular called RU Hungry and if I had to tell you to pick one, go with that one. The menus are all pretty much the same. Different types of sandwiches all called the Fat Something, for obvious reasons. Dietitian Marcus Garand says of the No. 1 selling Fat Darrell (chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, French fries, and marinara sauce on a bun), "I couldn't figure out a way to make it any unhealthier. ... This is probably the unhealthiest sandwich you could ever devise."
The Hilton East Brunswick - If you're already staying here, well there you. If not, you'll need a car to get here. I'm not sure but if I had to guess, I'd say this is where the team is staying. Pretty good sports bar too if you need a place to decompress on Sunday and watch the NFL.
BONUS - check out the grand ballroom and you'll get to see the space where I bartended for Hasidic weddings over winter and summer break for a couple years.
Rutgers Bars - If you want the true Rutgers student experience, I'd go with Olde Queens Tavern, Golden Rail or Knight Club (whose officially website is a MySpace page, how cute is that?). Good dart boards at the Queen and Rail, FYI. Just remember, you are in hostile territory, alcohol is present and you are in New Jersey. Enter these establishments in orange clothing at your own risk.
Cluck U Chicken - Need a wings fix. Look no further than Cluck U. Back in my day, the Clucker was about as low rent as a chicken wing establishment could get. They served two things...wings and fries. And the only question was how hot you wanted your wings...Atomic, Nuclear or Thermonuclear? Looks like they've classed up the joint these days but I figure they've still got the best wings in town. If you're up for it, take the 911 Challenge. And if you do...good luck doing anything else for the next 24 hours.
Harvest Moon - A little bit older, a little bit wiser and a little bit more discerning about the taste of your booze? Harvest Moon it is.
Princeton - New Brunswick the city leaves just a little bit to be desired. There's a couple nice parts but you really don't want to head in any one direction for more than five minutes. A much better way to spend a lazy Sunday (or Friday) would be to hop on the train to Princeton. Trip takes about 20 minutes, you get off at Princeton Junction and take the 145-year-old Dinky Train over to downtown Princeton right next to the campus. There are worse ways to spend your day than walking around the small town. Lots of good pubs and breweries to choose from and if you want a killer sandwich, stop by Hoagie Haven and then thank me when you get back.
If you're planning on venturing out a little further than that, let me know and I can make further suggestions. I'm guessing there's only so much of Central New Jersey one can take in a weekend and well, I can understand that. Just go rep Cuse well, you'll figure the rest out.