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Feb 14, 2011 08:27 AM

Foods unique to Rhode Island

Hello All,

I'm working on a small travel guide for Rhode Island (see link below):

I'm looking for suggestions for great Stuffies, and New England chowder (or RI style...though I haven't been a fan of it in the past. Admittedly I've only tried it a few times, it's not very wide spread)...

My favorite chowder is at Aiden's in Brisol, with Liberty Elm in Providence a close second!

..and while we're on the topic of unique RI foods, can anyone clear up what a Cabinet really is? It's supposed to be a milkshake (i.e. ice cream, milk, flavorings) , but what does that make a "real" milk shake? I've heard that a milkshake here is just milk blended with flavorings....but I'm not sure I've actually ever seen that anywhere. Can anyone recommend a place that has separate items called cabinets and milkshakes?

Here is the link to the guide I'm working on .....RI food related travel guide:

Thanks for the help!

Liberty Elm
, Providence, RI 02903

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  1. Gee, hard to be unique in a postage stamp state - even the Rhode Island reds have fled the coop.
    One item unique to RI is the "southsider" ,a delicious rum, mint, lime, and ice smoothie that was Hugh Auchincloss' concoction at the Spouting Rock Beach Club (AKA Bailey's Beach), in Newport, which is still their signature summer coctail. And he drove an old Valiant to and fro Hammersmith that reeked of dog urine, go figure. An otherwise likeable guy.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Veggo

      I disagree actually! I'm amazed at how many "unique to RI" foods there are, especially considering the size of the state..

      Hot Wiener's (or Hot Weiner's if you prefer)
      RI style clear broth clam chowder
      pizza strips
      RI style calamari
      Johnny Cakes
      Coffee Milk
      Clam Cakes
      The Diner!

      Etc. I know a lot of "full sized" states that don't have that many things specific only to their state!

      Never heard of the Southsider! Sounds delicious though! I'll put that on the list for things to try this summer....


      Johnny Cakes
      6 N Water St, Greenwich, CT 06830

      1. re: ezra9876

        You make me homesick. I would pay a Somali pirates' ransom for a bowl of RI clear broth clam chowder.

        1. re: Veggo

          You're from RI? Aren't you the one I always see with insight into Yucatecan food? How interesting...have never met anyone else from RI who's also lived on the Peninsula! :)

          1. re: GabachaYucateca

            I grew up in CT but also lived in Newport and Boston, I moved to Q. Roo in '96, when PDC had 2000 people. I enjoy your Cancun posts.

        2. re: ezra9876

          I remember in the 80's getting a thick, red chowder in Cranston. Can't forget clam cakes(like clam donuts), grilled pizza, chow mein sandwich and chicken dinners, a la Wrights.

          1. re: trufflehound

            What is the story with Chow mein sandwiches? I gave it a try today at Evelyn's and have never been so upset about a dining out experience. That was inedible.

      2. Have you seen this web site? Amazing resource.

        And yes, in RI a cabinet is a milkshake with ice cream. You should be able to get both at a Newport Creamery (I think there are still some around, like Roy Rogers down here in the DC area). In Boston and points north, it's called a frappe (pronounced frap).

        3 Replies
        1. re: Bob W

          Bob, remember when we could buy tokens for the toll bridge at the original Newport Creamery for half a dollar?

          1. re: Veggo

            Hi Veggo -- I grew up in Pawtucket. Newport might as well have been on the far side of the moon (you know Rhode Islanders and travel).

            What I do remember most about Newport Creamery, of all the great stuff I used to get there, is the cream cheese-and-olive sandwiches!

          2. re: Bob W

            It is a great a great website! (I reference it in the "links" section of the guide)


          3. Del's Frozen Lemonade is wonderful. I get it every summer in R.I.

            1. And do not forget about AWFULAWFULs. About the chowder...years ago, there was a chowder and clamcake place called Emery' was on 1A across from the then Howard Johnson's right before the left turn into Wickford. It was one of my favorites (this was fifties and early sixties) on the way to the beach. It was clear chowder, and the clamcakes were a nickel each. It was owned by two old Yankee ladies, and, you could leave your pie tin with them, go to the beach, and then pick up a freshly baked pie on the way home. Anyone else remember Emery's?

              Howard Johnson
              401 Russell St, Hadley, MA 01035

              1. How about New York System hot dogs in the East Providence area??

                Is that still an option?

                New York System
                1246 Main St, West Warwick, RI 02893

                1 Reply
                1. re: algct

                  Oh it's an option!

                  Sparky's Coney Island is one of my favorite wiener (weiner) joints! (that just doesn't sound right somehow)