From Attleboro to Cranston et al (long)
I moved down to the Attleboro area from Boston a few months back, leaving behind lots of good spots that I'll miss dearly.At first I was a little worried that I'd be able to hunt out spots to fill the void down this way, but I've learned that just a little driving will do the trick, for the most part. It's a change from my old method of strolling or hopping on the train to find what I want, but it'll do.
FWIW, I thought I'd do some quick summaries of the stuff I've found just to recap my experience since I've been lax about posting lately in the main. I've talked about a few of these spots previously here and there, but for completeness' sake I'll go over them again.
Attleboro itself is a bit of a wasteland, I've really only had fair NY system dogs in the hot dog joint downtown and sort of OK Mexican food at El Azteca on Rt 123. The latter is really only passable in the sense of it being a decent ethnic restaurant in the neighborhood, but it's no great shakes. There's also a Guatemalan bakery downtown that has sort of weak looking bakery items but is a good place to score tortilllas and crema and guatemalan sausage. I have not yet tried the Col. Blackington Inn which is supposed to be pretty good--I'll likely try that a little later in January.
Heading out on 95 into Providence proper has been much more successful for me. I often go to Federal Hill to hit the Italian markets, especially on Sat. mornings in the earlier fall when I would hit the Hope St Farmer's market. Another frequent stop on these jaunts was the cheese shop at La Leiterie--the single place in Boston that I miss the most is Formaggio on Huron where I went every week, and it's nice that there's at least somewhere that I can head for top quality cheese and meat and bread. I also tried out the New Asian market on Broad St next to the Pho place which had a decent selection of Asian goods, and poked my head into Mekong market across the street which at least looked promising at a glance. The little, slightly odd Thai place next door to there also has an OK $2.50 banh mi--not really too special in the larger scheme of things but alright in the cheap lunch sense.
I also hit the Sat. winter's farmer's market in AS220 a couple weeks back which was pretty solid (Hill Orchards and the cheese vendor especially) but unfortunately the noon start is not all that convenient for me so I don't know how much I'll head to that. Great if you live close by, though.
My one single trip into Cranston resulted in a nice meal at Thai Orchid at 800 Park Avenue--had a really nice golden tofu app and a good plate of pad see ew. This place is run by a sweet Thai family--Mom waited on us, while Dad and a brother and sister made food in the kitchen. I'd love to go back here and try some more stuff. Also right on Park is a market that I think is called Sophia's that of middle eastern bent and has a good selection of spices as well as stuff like lamejun and labneh and bastirma. I didn't pick up a lot of stuff here, but the place was clean and the people were nice and it might be worth trying the food from the counter that they serve.
Two other stops I made here right on Park were the little candy and cake supply place nearby which is a total throwback and the first area place I've found to get flavorings for the candy I make on occasion. Right down the block is a GREAT little asian market called the Chinese mini-mart (or some such) which I think is the best place I've been to yet for Asian groceries. (I have yet to go to Asiana on Warren in Providence). Really good selection here of a whole range of stuff--good choices for rice and things like Japanese made soys and rice vinegars, which I much prefer. Japanese pickles, kim chi, excellent looking produce, etc. Worth a stop if you're over that way. Also went into the Chinese seafood store just around the corner in this neighborhood, but it didn't smell all that great in there so I was dubious about the quality of their wares and didn't pick up anything.
But best of all around here so far, and just a quick ride from Att are Pawtucket and Central Falls....I've had great luck eating in these towns so far, from La Arepa to the Shish Kebab place across the street and the cool old style bakery nearby where I've been meaning to go back because on Sundays they have Portuguese doughboys. (there's also the wonderful spot that is Hartley's Pork Pies just up the road, though I guess that's not Pawtucket.
Also went to a place in Pawtucket called the garden grille cafe when a couple of my vegan friends were in town, and while this really isn't my thing the salad I ate for lunch was really fresh and the two of them loved it.(The pizza-ish thing my gf got here was at least OK too, good ingredients but a little uninspiring.) All in all a pretty good choice if you've got non meat eating friends, though. Also great was that we decided to go to Rasoi next door and score food for dinner, only to discover that on Sat. they have a vegan buffet that the very gracious host allowed my friends to buy and take for takeout. Needless to say they were thrilled, and in the meantime the gf and i loaded up on stuff like naan and saag and were pretty happy when we ate it later at home. They also seem to have some good non-standard un-Punjabi things on the menu here which I plan on going back to try out sometime soon. I also can't say enough about how nice the people were here.
I've also had successful Pawtucket/Cf meals at Pho Horn (where the food was easily on par with anything Vietnamese in Boston's Chinatown) and La Casa del Pueblo, the latter being a fantastic mexican place with great menudo and goat. I'm going to really try and get here again this weekend to eat the tacos arabes, a Pueblan specialty that you don't really see all that much. I'll post about these when I eventually get to them.....Pawtucket is also loaded with all sorts of awesome little ethnic markets too extensive to get into here. Suffice it to say that if you drive around a little, you can easily take a globe trotting tour of various ingredients. Last but not least is that Colombian bakery in Pawtucket (Caprichos Antioquenos) which I've mentioned before and that I really can't recommend too highly--the place is really amazing, i love those bunuelos and those empanadas and just the atmosphere in general in this bustling, delicious spot.
Anyway, this post is getting a little long so I'll skip some of the further flung things I've hit up (though I did like my trip to Wright's Dairy Farm) and won't lament too much that I have yet to eat a dynamite in Woonsocket, test out El Paisa in pawtucket or Iron Wok in Seekonk or take my friends on a long planned food tour of Rhode Island (NY System wieners-Coffee Milk-Cabinets-Clam cakes-Pizza Strips, they won't know what hit 'em) or even to try out some apparently popular Chowhound spots like Chilango's or the Puerto Rican place on Atwell's in Providence. In any case, I needn't have worried that moving out of Boston to a much smaller place would be a detriment to my eating out or my ability to find ingredients or really good cheese--there's sure plenty down this way to keep me busy.
In parting, a blanket thanks to all the chowhounds whose previous posts allowed me to find most of what's on the list above--without you, I may have just been still floundering around randomly entering restaurants. This is really what makes this place such a valuable resource.
As a life-long Rhode Islander, I found your post interesting. I'm always curious to see what out of towners find worth a stop -- or some praise. I think you've done pretty well so far.
A helpful and interesting post, well done. There are a number of interesting places for you to try at a slightly higher price point, including Red Stripe in Providence, just around the corner from Farmstead (the name of the cheese shop connected to La Laiterie) for inexpensive bistro cuisine and great fries, or Stanley's for really cheap burgers with good fries in an old-fashioned atmosphere in Central Falls. There's also Seven Stars bakery in Providence, and Olga's. Have you tried either of their baked goods? They're as good as the best places in Boston. Also, you should check out Venda Ravioli, Caserta Pizza and Pastiche (fabulous cakes and pastries), all within 50 feet of one another on Federal Hill.
thanks for the tips, i've been meaning to get to stanley's and seven stars and olga's. the federal hill stuff i'm familiar with--even though i lived in boston for years i do know providence fairly well, since both of my parents were born and raised in olneyville. so venda and caserta are no secret to me (tho i did leave the wimpy skimpy off of my ri food tour list!) and i've sampled the good stuff at pastiche in the past.
Yup, Seven Stars and Olga's are good.... but not as good as Clear Flour Bakery and you probably know them if you lived in Boston. We miss them, still think they have the best bread. Can't comment on pastries so much.
For dining options, just a hop from Attleboro you have Andrew's Bistro (off of 295 in Cumberland.) Try it out -- Just great food and service and very likeable prices. We just love going there. And have you found Bistro 45 in Attleboro proper? We've heard of it but haven't made it there yet. Also, more expensive + a bit more driving involved, but a nice spot is Coriander in Sharon. In Providence, there are many good options and obviously a wide range in tastes and prices -- one recomm. I have is to avoid Temple. Had dinner there twice and we were pretty upset both times at miserable service and lousy food (and all at top dollar!) - a big disappointment.
Very nice and comprehensive post!
If you enjoyed La Casa del Pueblo, I do think that you'll be disappointed by Chilango's.
La Antigua Bakery on Dexter Street in CF has great, thick tortillas and yummy baked goods. The tortillas are too thick for everyday eating, but delicious once in a while, especially with soupy beans.