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Sunday Brunch/lunch in or near Providence?

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Meeting up with some friends on a Sunday later this month. Friends are staying in Wakefield RI, and we are coming down I495 from MA. So we have flexibility in the location, could be downtown Providence, could be somewhere else.

I'd like something that is nice without being too upscale or expensive. If it was Boston, I would pick Eastern Standard in a heartbeat, so that might give you an idea of what I'm after. Can anybody suggest a place relatively easy to get to, easy to park, not overly pricey, that serves good food?

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  1. Nick's on Broadway is the place for brunch in Providence. Simple, classic brunch fare done just right, with attention to detail and better-than-average ingredients. A bit pricey, but if you're thinking Eastern Standard you won't have a problem. They've slid a little since expanding, but not enough that anywhere else in town comes close, really.

    6 Replies
    1. re: celeriac

      Nicks would be my choice too, but bear in mind it's small and doesn't take reservations so you may have to wait awhile depending on your party size.

      Another option with a fun vibe (though I don't think the food's as inventive) would be Downcity.

      1. re: frobb

        Ugh, the service at Downcity is atrocious!

        1. re: frobb

          Keep in mind Nick's can be crowded and loud. It's not the place to go for quiet conversation.

          In my experience brunch-wise, there's Nick's, Julian's, and then kind of everyone else. Brickway does a good breakfast, but nothing unique or special. Rue is high quality, but somewhat dull and unimaginative. I was unimpressed with Downcity in the past for brunch (haven't been since they've reopened) and I have not had good experiences at brunches at Restaurant Oak or Tazza (I have no idea how someone talked me into Tazza for brunch). My fiancee wasn't impressed with Blue Elephant for brunch.

          Are there any other brunches in the city of significant uniqueness or quality?

          1. re: frobb

            I think we will only be a party of 6. But I do have a slight preference for being able to make a reservation (on the other hand, since several parties have been unable to commit, perhaps no-resv is a good idea...)

            Nicks looks good, so does Julians.

            Would it be a reasonable assumption that parking on a Sunday will not be difficult? I'm very unfamiliar with Providence.

            1. re: ChinaCat

              Nick's & Julian's are both WONDERFUL. If you to Julian's, get the "hash" of sweet potato, broccoli & swiss cheese. Out of this world. Gingerbread pancakes too if they have them that day - spicy-hot!

              Nick's & Julian's both have easy street parking. Keep in mind Julian's isn't "pretty"...almost a gritty look inside....caters to a hipster "world music" sort of crowd. The food is outstanding though.

              I was once a fan of Blue Elephant but they simply don't try hard enough. I wanted to love them but they just wouldn't let me. Weird service issues, food that just isn't up to par. Too bad so sad.

              1. re: ChinaCat

                Parking is not a problem.

                If you want a place that takes reservations I have a good brunch of two at Bravo which is downtown. One caveat in line with others' comments, I've only gone to Bravo when the wait at Nick's and/or Julians was too long for others in my party.

                One other caveat, the bartender at Julians used to show abslutely no interest in serving any of the dozens of people waiting for tables It amazed me how much money the place lost in Blood Mary's or Mimosas that could have been served to hungry, thirsty waiting brunch goers. I haven't been in a while so I don't know if that is still an issue.

          2. Man, I hate to drop this tip, but since I'm moving out of state, I feel it my civic duty to my fellow RI hounds: if you get to either Nick's or Julian's before 10, there is no line. Even if it's just 10 minutes until 10, you're money. 10 is definitely when the chaos begins.

            Also, don't go at any time on the hour. Everyone always says, "Oh, we'll meet you for brunch at such and such time", which is usually 11, 12, 1, etc. Go at 11:20 and voila, a shorter wait.

            Do get the hash at Julian's. Do sit at the bar. The service is a trillion times better.

            1. I am a big fan of Eastern Standard but am relatively new to the Providence dining scene, so take that into account here. I have been to Julian's several times and love it but the environment is not the same as Eastern Standard. Don't let that stop you, but I would not put them in the same category.

              In terms of food and atmosphere, I'd add one more place to this list of recommendations which is The Red Stripe in Wayland Square. The major disappointment for me is their drinks menu which can hardly compare to that of Eastern Standard. I have heard people ask for their specialty drinks to be met with a blank stare from the bartender. The atmosphere is similar to Eastern Standard,however, and their menu is similar, as well. There are a lot of reviews on this board for The Red Stripe so you can check those out. It's easy to get to and parking is easy, too.

              I am a HUGE fan of Eastern Standard and have yet to find anything like it in Providence. Any suggestions are welcome.

              2 Replies
              1. re: mvi

                I always forget about Red Stripe since I live a block away, but it's very solid/stolid. Not a fraction as imaginative or extensive as the brunches at the Nicks/Julians duopoly, but wonderful food always.

                It's funny about the bar at Julians. Thinking back, you're right. Never an ounce of interest in serving drinks to those waiting.

                How is the brunch/breakfast at Amy's Place on Wickenden?

                Invino: Where are you heading?

                1. re: Garris

                  It pains me to admit it, but Central Mass, a la Worcester. There's not too much good chow, but I'm still only 35 minutes away from Providence. I'll have to make it down as often as possible.