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Serious food in Providence, on a budget

I'm headed from NYC to Providence next week to visit a friend. She's a grad student, and I'm temporarily unemployed (or as I prefer to say, on sabbatical).
We love to eat. Ambience not necessary; chairs are optional. All cuisines.

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  1. Taqueria Pacifica in AS220 has damn good So Cal Tex Mex and a nice selection of beers in a funky atmosphere at cheap prices.

    1. I love your "chairs optional" designation. Sometimes that says it all.

      1. Chilangos on Manton Ave is probably the best Mexican food in the city, and they even have chairs! There are cheaper taquerias, but I think Chilangos is well worth the extra buck or so, and still plenty cheap.

        There are numerous Asian restaurants that are quite inexpensive in the elmwood area, the most reknowned of which is Apsara (not to be confused with the Apsara Palace on Hope St, which is unrelated. Apsara's portions are huge, so you could certainly split a starter and a main and be full.

        1. The Red Fez. Great meal, inexpensive. Not cheap eats.

          1. Just want to second Taqueria Pacifica - delicious, fresh, and definitely in your budget.

            I'd also recommend Nick's on Broadway for breakfast or lunch. They just recently started dinner service, but I don't know if it would be out of your budget (haven't checked it out yet).

            If you do a web search, it will say that they're at 259 Broadway. But they recently moved up the street - into the 500's - but I don't know the exact street number.

            Finally, Bob & Timmy's makes a great RI-style grilled pizza - I would recommend anything with their mixed grilled mushrooms. Yum.

            1. cuban revolution on washington street. http://www.thecubanrevolution.com/

              apsara mentioned above (thai/vietnamese/cambodian/i think there's some chinese in there too): 716 public street, off of broad street. (and BYOB

              )

              also second the recommendation for red fez. you can get starters for $4-8 (which make a pretty good meal), middling meals like a mindblowing grilled cheese and miso noodle bowl for around $10, and fancier entrees for $17. it's all very creative and yummy and the drinks are great.

              not just snacks on hope street (near the miriam hospital) is really good and inexpensive indian food.

              this is sort of random, but i'm a big fan of sicilia's deep dish pizza on atwells ave, and that's definitely pretty cheap and very yummy. it's just a heartattack on a plate. but if you're in the mood for pizza and salt and gooey cheese and tender crust i would highly recommend. if you can spend a little bit more, you can go next door to cassarino's for a RI italian meal. they serve sort of typical italian restaurant fare but it's pretty good and much cheaper than most of their neighbors on atwells (around 12 or 15 for an entree).

              further down atwells is a bar called lili marlene's which you can easily miss--it looks like it should be part of an apartment building, because it is. it's on the left side of the street and is one of the last restaurants on atwells before the bottom of the hill. the menu is limited and not all of it is good, but it is ridiculously cheap and if you are looking for a martini you will find no better (and no better priced). the fries and the shrimp po-boy sandwich are peerless in this city in my opinion. but that's sort of a limited option.

              also quite inexpensive and yummy is east side pockets on thayer street (falafel, gyros, baklava, if you're really nice they give you free falafel bites or a piece of baklava), which if your friend is a grad student at brown she will probably know about.

              sakura on wickenden street is inexpensive and good sushi, also BYOB. if you go try the sakura roll.

              1. Serious food on a budget? Apsara on Public St, hands down.
                Chilangos is quite alright, especially if a non-bogus $5 margarita matters to you. For more Serious Mexican food go to Taqueria Lupita on Dexter St in Central Falls.

                1. OK, these are great suggestions. My trip has been whittled down to 24 hours. To honor all your hard work, I will work overtime to hit as many of these spots as possible and report back. It's a tough job, but I've got what it takes...

                  1. -Apsara Palace on Hope St, which is unrelated-

                    Jeez, I thought this myth had been debunked already. Since when are blood relatives unrelated?

                    I guess all those times Kim sat at our table with us to say hello at the old Apsara, before she opened up her new place, were just a figment of my imagination!

                    And while I'm at it, I'll put in my 2 pesos worth for Mi Guatemala!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: photorc

                      Thanks for clearing that up, I had always read the urban legend that they were unrelated.

                      1. re: photorc

                        Huh, interesting. The Broad St Apsara does (at at least DID) have signs up that read "There is only one Apsara, we do not have any other branches." or something to that effect. Inter-family feud? Or were those signs trying to debunk another Apsara pretender?

                        1. re: celeriac

                          Yes, celeriac, I'd say "Inter-family feud" sums it up pretty well.

                          I can see how the sign about no other branches would lead folks to this misunderstanding. It's ironic, though, that I pretty much never see the word Apsara on chowhound without the phrase "not related", when they are in fact blood relatives. For many years, we would not refer to the old Apsara without speaking the name Kim!

                          Not to get in the middle of a feud, but Apsara just hasn't seemed the same to us, or as warm, since the days when Kim used to sit with us with her infant child, and call my parents "grandma" and "grandpa"!

                      2. Tina's on Atwells...jamaican. They moved there recently. Used to be on broad st right after the I 95 crossing. Its homemade jamaican food with horrible ambiance. Some good fish dishes and classics (ox tail curry, jerk chicken) the dishes all come with sides and im pretty sure they are around 10 dollars or so at most. If you have an extra two bucks to spare, try the homemade ginger beer.

                        For guatemalan, i have only tried el chapincito which was good, but not spectacular. I am actually not sure if thats wat it was called it might just be el chapin. Pretty cheap.

                        Nick's is very good for breakfast/lunch. On weekends there are very long waits though and its not exactly cheap but for its kind there is none other in providence that I know of at that price.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Sambossanova

                          oh but apsaras on public is probably the best

                        2. I'm back, and I'm sad that we didn't make it to Apsara. We had lunch at Taqueria Pacifica. The veggie taco was ok, but fish taco was great.
                          It was too cold to walk around for dinner so we ordered pizza from Fellini. It was also ok.
                          Had lunch at Cilantro downtown. Not bad. Tried to get to Fez, but they don't do lunch.

                          Thanks for the help. My friend is psyched to try these other places.