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Thayer Street in Providence

If you had to pick one place, and one place only, to eat on Thayer Street, and money wasn't an object, but the restriction of it being located on Thayer Street was unchangeable -- where would you go?

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  1. I always liked Andrea's when I lived in that area...

    1. The falafel joint. Slim pickings on Thayer.

      2 Replies
      1. re: JaneRI

        Is Geoff's still on Thayer? When I lived on Block Island, we'd take the ferry to the mainland just to have sandwiches there. Well, and to go to Dunkin' Donuts, I guess, but mostly for Geoff's.

        1. re: ctscorp

          Not sure, but the original Geoff's is still there on Benefit. Just ate there over the summer (after many years not eating there, and many years eating there constantly before that). Still good!

      2. Money being an object is kind of irrelevant, since most of the things worth eating on Thayer are cheap. East Side Pockets, Via Via, Nice Slice, or Bagel Gourmet, honestly. Or a burger at Paragon, but the higher-end food I've had there has been lousy.

        9 Replies
        1. re: celeriac

          Paragon does have a pretty good brunch buffet style thing. Not super fancy, but if you're nursing a hangover, you'd do well to go there. The "Champagne" in the champagne brunch can be substituted for a great bloody mary...

          As for the one place I'd eat on Thayer?
          Byblos aka "the falafel joint" (much better than East Side Pockets!)

          Nice Slice comes in at a close second, but I could eat pizza for every meal of the day and be pleased.

          1. re: modysoul

            What do you think of Curry & Kebob (is that the right name?) or Blue State Coffee? Do they serve real food? Or just coffee and nibbles?

            1. re: FeedMeMore

              Kabob & Curry would be my pick on Thayer. It's my favorite Indian food, and I pass two places to get there. Solidly great, great ownership, etc.

              Bagel Gourmet Ole is a close second. Breakfast burritos from there----mmmm.

              Have been going to Andrea's since they opened (I was a teenager) and they're also consistently good.

          2. re: celeriac

            Can I ask what you liked about Via Via? I wasn't that impressed with their pizza.

            1. re: malyna

              Their BBQ chicken pizza is great. When we lived in Boston, we probably had it delivered at least once every other week.

              1. re: Frobisher

                Maybe I'm misreading your post, Frobisher -- Via Via in Providence delivers to Boston? That's got to be a record for area coverage, as one's about an hour's drive away from the other.

                1. re: bachslunch

                  Uhh not quite--Via Via is a chain. There's one in Boston and another in Newport, RI and maybe some others.
                  I'm not a big fan of Via Via but it's the only place on Thayer that's open past 2 AM (unofficially, of course, and not all the time).

                  1. re: Saturnine

                    Not really a chain, just a family operation with more than location.

                    I grew up in Newport patronizing the original location off Bellevue. The Boston one has since closed, perhaps due to our move to Providence. So I think now they are down to the 2 in Newport and Thayer.

                    As to delivery, definetely not to Boston. They won't even come over to Elmhurst.

              2. re: malyna

                Via Via has good dough with a nice flavor and a decent chew. They stretch it to a reasonable thickness for an NY-style slice, and they have a wood burning oven which gives them the temp necessary to nicely crisp the bottom of a slice. I will say that I have not found their whole pies to be as good as their slices, which is true of many places where the slice is reheated. It's slightly underdone so that with the reheat it's just right. So if you got a whole pie, maybe that would explain your being underwhelmed. Or perhaps it's just another case of food being subjective.

                The only gripe I have with them is that their sauce can occasionally be too sweet or too garlicky, but besides that I find it to be by far the best vaguely NY-style slice in Providence.

                By the way, they have plenty of topping combos I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot-pole, but that's true of many places. Beyond the plain slice, the four cheese and white spinach and portobella are both good.

            2. Blue State Coffee sells (a selection of) pastries from Seven Star Bakery's and coffee from New Harvest...One place? Meeting Street Cafe? Does that count? If not, I second the "burger from Paragon"

              1. Blaze has opened a Thayer Street outpost - I haven't been, don't know if it measures up to the Hope Street location, which is a good, fun, neighborhood bistro.

                I was pleasantly surprised once by the food at Shanghi on Thayer - better than we expected Chinese.

                I also think that Phonatic, just off Thayer on, um, Meeting? is nice - decent pho, really nice people, we enjoyed everything we ordered. Nothing spectacular but I'd definitely go back there for dinner.

                5 Replies
                1. re: jsd

                  Forgot about Shanghai----we really love it. I'd get it a lot more (takeout) if not for the parking and relative inconvenience (I often have my kids w/me on the takeout runs). It's a good place!

                  1. re: jsd

                    The food at Blaze on Hope is mediocre, for the price you pay.

                    1. re: malyna

                      i've had a bad experience at blaze on hope too. i had their tamarind pork chop and it was salty beyond salty (and i love salt). my bf's steak frites with chimichurri sauce was also mediocre and not at all authentic tasting

                      1. re: sprinklez

                        Sadly I have to 3rd the negative Blaze on Thayer comments. Been 2 or 3 times and each time something was wrong with the food. Not up to the Hope Street standards at all.

                        1. re: Jenkins

                          Okay then! We had a fun and perfectly fine dinner at Blaze on Hope about 6 weeks ago but clearly mileage varies.

                  2. Kabob & curry. Hands down.

                    1. I have heard so many good things about Thai Spice around the corner on Waterman St., but I have not yet been there. Just wanted to throw that one into the mix. Anyone been there?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: cajuntoast

                        I posted a review recently on providence.urbanplanet.org, and I wasn't impressed. Here was my review:

                        "I also went to Spice Thai Cafe on Waterman near Thayer recently, and it too is nothing more than "OK." It's tucked into the back of that retail space, literally behind the coffee shop there (you have to walk through the coffee shop space to get to the restaurant space). The decor and setting is one step above mall food court...

                        I tried vegetable Pad Thai, vegetarian nime chow, and lab chicken, which are my standard "tester" dishes for Thai places. The nime chow were big and packed with fresh veges, but they lacked any savory herbs or greens. No basil, mint, or cilantro to be found... The pad thai was strange, being somewhat drenched in a sauce that almost reminded me of the brown sauce that you'd find in Americanized Chinese cooking... Odd... Not really sweet, not really spicy, this was a visual and culinary miss... The lab chicken, on the other hand, was a pleasant surprise. Finely ground, light, and with a real spicy kick, this was everything the pad thai wasn't and is among the better lab chicken dishes in town.

                        However, on the whole, this feels like "Thai for the students" near Thayer, and isn't in any way a destination place. Even for those in the neighborhood, I'd recommend they go a bit out of their way to Sawaddee on Hope near Wickenden, which has far better and tastier Thai (more sweet than spicy)."

                        - Garris

                        1. re: Garris

                          I, too, was sorely disappointed by this place -- cold, odd atmosphere and food that I wished I hadn't ordered as soon as I sampled the first bite. I ordered tom kha gai... blah, blah, blah. I often cook Thai food, and I know that this coconut soup can be prepared in many variations, but it seemed that they didn't even bother with any of the standout ingredients. I couldn't taste lemongrass OR ginger, which for me are a big part of that soup. I agree with Garris -- this is watered-down Thai for the Brown kids. I would always choose Sawaddee on Hope -- the atmosphere is also much more fun there, and the food is excellent (coming from someone who spent months in Thailand)!

                          1. re: Garris

                            Oh, that's too bad! Nime chow certainly wouldn't be the same without the herbs.

                            I will take your recommendation and try the lab chicken if I go.

                        2. Kabob and Curry is good...but one meal on Thayer would have to be Antonio's pizza. The interesting slices never disappoint.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: jmac42

                            Via Via is much better than Antonio's. They lack a wood burning oven AND I always experience dry topping (i.e. chicken for example) OR too many bland toppings slapped together. hm.

                            1. re: HungryHipster

                              ok...I will have to try it...thanks...Antonio's has sentimental value from my Amherst days

                          2. Practically everything on Thayer street is mediocre to awful. Half of the restaurants, the full service ones that is, are owned by the same guy. All these restaurants have unlimited demand because of the student population etc...They have no incentive to make good food or provide good service cause college students will continue to come.

                            As for kabob and curry...its practically the definition of tamed mediocre food. I guess it's alright overall, but definitely nothing special. The place I would choose is Meeting Street Cafe whose solid sandwiches and dishes make me nostalgic for good diner food. Plus, the giant cookies and the BYOB policy makes the experience complete. I know its not exactly on thayer but its like 20 feet from thayer.

                            1. If money is no object, get a ride somewhere else to eat. Heaven help you if being on Thayer Street is really "unchangeable." Sambossanova is right.

                              Once at Andrea's the special was steamers. Yum! I saw them at lots of tables. When mine came, I said where is the broth. She said huh? so I explained about how with steamers you get the hot broth they steamed in so you can dunk and rinse them. She went to the kitchen, came back and said well, this is how we serve them. By now I was pretty stoked for steamers so I ate them grit and all but Damn. I should have sent them right the hell back. I noticed hardly anyone else ate theirs- I guess the steamers were gritty and no one knew all they needed was some broth. Bizarre. Sad.

                              I will never go back to Paragon, Andrea's, or any other place that I suspect is owned by "that guy."

                              But if you need to eat on Thayer street - Satisfactory or better fast food can be had at Nice Slice, Spikes, East Side Pockets. Antonios is gloppy but I can't say I didn't enjoy it when it was the kids' choice. I need to try via via and Byblos.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: atheorist

                                SPIKE'S! spike's all the way. and definitely meeting street cafe all the way, too (though their sandwiches are legend, do not discount their entrees, either--they do a pretty good and comforting veggie lasagna. and you can't leave without a giant cookies and a hot cocoa).

                                Andreas' food is always a little disappointing for me (except for the burgers & fries, which are the same as at Paragon, because it's 'that guy'), but it's not terrible if you really are somehow forced to stay on Thayer and you have to go somewhere sit-down.

                                what I find really tragic is the demise of Ocean's (in the space that has now been taken over by that godawful Thai place/coffee joint). during college, it was the best place to go for inexpensive but wonderful food--I still miss the lentil soup and lemon chicken sandwich.

                                but yeah, otherwise get the hell out of Thayer street. all the good stuff is elsewhere.