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Spending a few months in Providence - help me look like a local

My husband is going to be working in Providence for the next few months, and we want to make sure we make the most of the time we have there. So, what are some of your recommendations? He'll be living in the Elmwood area but will have a car, so daytripping will be planned.

We'll be spending a lot on plane tickets, so cheaper is better than fancier. Quality of the food is more important than the decor -- white tablecloths aren't needed, but nothing roachy, please. Interested in beer more than cocktails. Extra points for extra spicy. And we'd like to make sure that we get in some good seafood, good Portugese, and anything else that we can only get in Providence.

Thanks in advance for all your help.

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  1. Hi Heather!

    My suggestions...

    Angelo's Civita Farnese (Atwells Ave), good old-fashioned red sauce Italian at rock bottom prices.

    Mexico (also on Atwells, but further down, past the trendy areas) for authentic mexican food.

    I'll post again as I think of more.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. Providence has a ton of great restaurants! The previous post mentioned Mexico... I've had so-so results there, but on Federal hill I love Bob & Timmy's wood grilled pizza and check out Pastiche for dessert... Dolce Vita also good for dessert and drinks. Over on Broadway is Julians... hipster feel with great food, especially brunch and just down the street in Nick's on Broadway. Both good and pretty affordable. Downcity there's a cool Cuban place called Cuban Revolution... cheap and good. Around the corner is AS220, an artsy place with burritos and a great bar. A bit further into the city is Red Fez... dark again artsy, with the best mac and cheese around. I live on the east side and our two favorites are La Laterie (a cheese shop with a great little restaurant next to it... very little) a bit more pricey, but worth it and on Hope Street Aspara Restaurant... a small Thai, noodle place, no atmosphere but great food (spicy) . Just down the road from there crossing over into Pawtucket is LJ's BBQ... really good and Rasoi Indian food... a bit pricier than others but good, for cheap Indian food go to Wickenden Street and stop at A Taste of India and for good all around regular food stop by Paragon on Thayer Street.
        Hope that helps!

        11 Replies
        1. re: jenluxy

          we just went lili marlenes on atwells st cheap food and its really good too.and a good beer list also,theres no sign out front,and the place is completely dark inside,its awesome.422 atwells enjoy

          1. re: im hungry

            No one in Providence should miss Seven Stars Bakery on the East Side on Hope Street at the Fourth St. corner. Best bread and pastries of all eastern seaboard cities as far as I'm concerned. Amazing spinach calzone for lunch, and wonderful iced cofffee made with coffee ice cubes so none of that annoying weakening of your drink as the ice melts. Sheer genius.

            1. re: Baltimomma

              Seven Stars has been serving coffee (no lattes and other stuff, just coffee) under a tent, along w/some breads and baked goods, for about a month now, and basically gutting the entire interior and remodeling. They should reopen within weeks. BUT. (and hope this doesn't make them either jump the shark or just go into a bad direction that sometimes comes from not just Doing What One Does Well) I went to the tent specifically for some calzones to take to my Dad about two weeks ago, and was told that they no longer will be making calzones. That when they reopen, there will be no calzones, but instead a full sandwich menu.

              So. Still best coffee and breads and baked stuff, but no more calzones and here's hoping on the sandwiches. I love them overall and will err on the side of liking them unless something is truly no good. Worth a visit there when you first get to Providence----you'll be a regular before you know it.

              1. re: Moonpie1

                The tent seems to be gone, but they're not done with renovations yet. It looks like construction is in high gear. So no Seven Stars on the East Side for a bit, but their West Side location is up and running.

                Thanks for the heads up on the sandwiches! Something to look forward to while we go through withdrawal.

                1. re: Tartinet

                  I was waiting for someone to say something about the West Side location. Its 342 Broadway.

                  Come on over for the full service while their east side location is being renovated. Cross 95, its okay, you might like it! :)

                  1. re: Tartinet

                    They reopened this morning, and I'm still nursing the best cafe au lait that I've had in a long time. I only noticed it from driving by---didn't know when exactly they'd reopen. Menu is all the same for now---I didn't see any sandwich menu---the breads and other stuff is all there. The huge-ass oven over to the right is gone. The place has a cleaner, darker, different look. Yay that they're back.

                    1. re: Moonpie1

                      By the time I was there today, they had the sandwiches in the case next to the pastries. There were a few different kinds, all on baguettes. Looked really good. I almost got one just so I could report back, but I had just had lunch. I guess I need to turn in my 'hound credentials now. :-)

                      1. re: Tartinet

                        So the sandwiches were pre-made? I guess that's okay----a calzone is pre-made, right? Will have to try one in the next week or so.

                        1. re: Moonpie1

                          They were pre-made, but I was kind of glad to see that. I know they have super-high standards, so I'm not afraid of getting a stale or soggy sandwich. And I had been apprehensive about how they would deal with the complexity of "pick a bread, pick a meat, choose your cheese, you want mayo, chips with that?" I'm happy to see them keeping it simple, so they can really shine at what they do best.

                2. re: Baltimomma

                  I strongly disagree. I was passing there store on Broadway and needed some pastry for company that night. Very deceiving. That is not a bakery. It is a coffee house that has a few muffins and cookies. They have bread but when I see bakery I want pastry, cakes etc... That is a bakery. I did get some bread for dinner and was very disappointed it had no taste and was full of holes. I suggest you try some other bakeries like Scialo's, Palmieri's and La Sallle and then you'll see a bakery.

                  1. re: Tammy

                    I'm not a huge fan of Seven Stars' bread myself but first off, they have their bakery up in Pawtucket. it's not baked in the very building, but it's baked that day. Tomy mind they are certainly a "bakery." They make loads of pastries, which are far better than their breads in my opinion. They don't do cakes that I know of, but that doesn't make them not a bakery.

                    But I'm mostly replying because to complain about bread being "full of holes" is the silliest thing I've ever heard. Bread has to have holes. That's what leavens it. Without holes, it would be rock hard and inedibly dense. Now, you may not LIKE big air holes in your bread, but it's not a mistake. That's just a type of bread, a particular "hole structure."

            2. Also on Thayer (or just off of it, right next to the Ben and Jerry's on Meeting Street) is Providence Byblos, for some of the best falafel etc anywhere.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Whippet

                Not that I think eating on Thayer St does anything to help anyone "eat like a local," but that notwithstanding, wouldn't East Side Pocket be the choice for falafel? I've never even bother to try the johnny-come-lately Byblos given how great that long-standing institution of Eastside Pockets is. is Byblos really that good?

                Heather, I'd go with Taqueria Lupita in Central Falls (although maybe you'd find that "roachy," i don't know--I don't, but I'd never worry about that either.) or Chilangos on Manton for great mexican in slightly "nicer" surroundings.

                MuMu on Atwells for great, reasonably priced Chinese.

                Not Just Snacks for great, no frills Indian.

                There are interesting Laotian/Northern Thai places around town too, generally in Smith Hill, but I don't really have one to recommend. There are some good Asian place sin Elmwood too, like the above-mentioned Apsara.

                (also, not to hate, but I'd pass on Cuban Revolution too. I think that place sucks and is overpriced.)

                1. re: celeriac

                  Thanks for the suggestions. When I say "roachy," I just mean that there is a certain class of foodie that equates "autheniticity" with "not so clean." I don't mind if people are touching food with their bare hands (horrors!), but I'd like to think they have washed them ;)

              2. Just develop a taste for red, white, or pink clam sauce to go on your linguine, vinegar on your fries, and coffee cabinets. You'll do okay.

                3 Replies
                1. re: RIChowderhead

                  So, I looked up "coffee cabinet" in Wikipedia, and I have to admit I'm intrigued. Where should I go to get a good one?

                  1. re: heatherkay

                    Heather: try this site. They will help you really eat like a local, which means getting to know -- in addition to coffee cabinets -- pizza strips, clamcakes, weiners, stuffies, and other delights. And since it's summertime, don't forget the frozen lemonade!

                    http://quahog.org/cuisine/

                    Anyone visiting RI should print out their lists of local eateries specializing in various treats.

                    1. re: heatherkay

                      If you want a great coffee cabinet, get thee to Gray's Ice Cream in Tiverton Four Corners. It's about a 40 minute drive from Providence in the East Bay, but it's a very picturesque drive.