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Jun 12, 2012 07:57 AM

Rhode Island - Providence & Newport


I have heard rumors that Providence is a foodie destination but there doesnt seem to be much chatter on the boards.

We are thinking of coming down that way for a four day weekend and we are looking for the best the state has to offer for lunch and dinner.

We eat it all, and will probably split our time between providence and Newport.

If you had one day to live and could select a place for breakfast/lunch/Dinner where would it be?

What do you reccomend? Fine diing, seafood shacks whatever!

We have a car and can move around easy so even if not in Providence/Rhode Island thats okay.



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  1. I think the lack of chatter about Providence is because it has all been said before, so to speak. But I am happy to recap some highlights:
    Breakfast - Nick's on Broadway (my pick) or Julians (completely different vibes and slant on food but both excellent).
    Lunch - rarely eat out lunch, so will throw a curve and recommend going to the Hewtin Dog mobile food truck. Sandwiches made by the owners of Chez Pascal. So damn good. Then take your food and eat it at Prospect Park, overlooking the city.
    Dinner - so many to pick from depending on what you are in the mood for. High end fancy French or the American equivalent - Gracies, Chez Pascal, New Rivers, Cook and Brown.
    Italian - Bacaros (my pick) or for a scene go to Federal Hill and eat at Sienna, Constantino's, Mediterraneo.
    Uniquely Providence and really good - Broadway Bistro (my pick), Loie Fuller, La Laiterie.
    Believe it or not there are more good places but this is a start...

    13 Replies
    1. re: Jenkins

      Hi Jenkins,

      Thanks for the reccomends! The food truck idea seems like a winner so i can save som $ for the main event.

      Are there any other trucks you reccomend. I live in Montreal and wish we had a food truck scene.

      Do you reccomend any great bars? Well made cocktails and all that.

      Thanks so much


      1. re: Kangagirl83

        The food truck scene is starting to heat up here, but that is the only one I have tried, and I really like it. As for cocktails - Cook and Brown really does it up right, take their craft seriously, and make interesting adult drinks. For a bar-only type of place - the Avery has lots of style and gets high praise for it's vibe and drinks. P.s. I am a big fan of Montreal. Providence is of course much smaller, but I think you will like what you find. If you can come on a Waterfire night it is quite the experience.

        1. re: Jenkins

          For Broadway Bistro i noticed they dont take reservations. We would probably be around on a weekend does it fill up fast?

          1. re: Kangagirl83

            It does, but things seem to slow down in the summer so you probably will be ok. Keep in mind one reason I like BB so much is their price point and neighborhood feel.

          2. re: Jenkins

            We hit La Laiterie last fall (our annual visit for a Pats game), and while I am not a big cocktails guy, they had a very interesting cocktails menu and I could not resist.

            La Laiterie also uses some very interesting parts of various animals. I think it's a really great little place (and I emphasize little).

            1. re: Jenkins

              A couple of other food trucks are, Poco Loco which is a taco/burrito truck. Good, fresh tasting food there. There is also a Korean BBQ truck that I haven't tried yet but, gets pretty good reviews.

              1. re: RIRider

                That would be Mama Kims. Its great

            2. re: Kangagirl83

              One more option on good drinks - Gracies had $5 cocktails at the bar at one point as a standard offer, not sure if it is still in effect, but if so it is a super deal.

            3. re: Jenkins

              Are there any good steak houses in Providence?

              1. re: RayP

                Sure - Providence Prime on Federal Hill. Also the chains Ruth Chris, Flemmings, and Capital Grill.

              2. re: Jenkins

                I'll third or fourth that as a great summary.

                The lack of chatter is, as Jenkins implied, that all of the above has been covered extensively and many area Chowhounders have tired of answering the same questions over and over (and the CH mods discourage non-Q&A style chatter and don't like "summary" posts).

                Since the beginning of the recession, there's been fewer new establishments opening as well. For a while, the openings and closings were coming fast and furious but things have quieted down somewhat now, although that's true for most areas I imagine...

                1. re: Jenkins

                  As for Newport, TSK and Perro Salado. For seafood, Anthony's in Middletown.

                  1. re: ebell10

                    Agreed. Also add in Tallulah's. Really, really good and fresh.

                2. Everything Jenkins suggested is spot on. The only places I would add to the fine dining list are Persimmon in Bristol and The Dorrance in Providence. (full disclosure - I have not been to the latter for dinner but have heard good things).

                  A few non-fine dining/uniquely Rhode Island to look into:

                  Mike's in Cranston. Located in a VFW hall, they do homey Italian-American food very well and inexpensively.

                  A clam shack for for Clam Cakes and Chowder. I am partial to Blounts and Horton's but there are many good options.

                  O'Dinis in East Providence for great Portuguese

                  Finally, you need to check out the bar at Local 121. The space is magnificent.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Frobisher

                    I have been to the Dorrance and can vouch for it - gorgeous space and creative, unique food. Portions are small, so I would highly recommend an app as well as the an entree, which will make your total bill fairly expensive.

                    1. re: Jenkins

                      I went to The Dorrance today with five people for lunch. Gorgeous space and creative food, as you say, although we didn't find the portions small, especially for the price. None of the entrees on the lunch menu were more than $14, and we ended up trying pretty much everything on the short list of offerings including the bavette steak frites, the short ribs, the fresh fish of the day (pollack), the duck rillettes appetizer, and a few others I can't remember. The duck rillettes were overly salty, but were balanced out by the accompanying fresh, flavorful vegetables.
                      They also have about 10 house craft cocktails, and we tried a good portion of those including their takes on the Corpse Reviver and Mai Tai. All were well-balanced, refreshing, delicious, and cheap (around $10) for those used to NYC prices.
                      Service was excellent and friendly. We were surprised that no other customers came into the gorgeous 1901 restored bank vault for lunch, except for a back area occupied by a group of fundraisers listening to Senate candidate Barry Hinckley speak.

                      Just a block away around the corner on Westminster St is a great looking tapas spot called Flan y Ajo. The owner of the wine shop next door told me it's BYOB, which is a happy coincidence for his place.

                  2. Chiming in kind of late, as I've been away, but I think the regulars have nailed Providence and the board activity accurately. The days of the week of your trip are important, as many of the more popular places mentioned here are closed Sunday and Monday.

                    To add a bit, I know Nick's gets a lot of love (justifiably) for breakfast, as it's probably the best breakfast/brunch in town, but if you don't get there early you will wait, possibly for quite a while. But the excellence of the brunch means it doesn't get mentioned quite as much as a dinner destination, and that's a shame, because it's a great place for that. The menu will be limited, maybe 5 entrees, but they do a very good job, very largely with local ingredients.

                    You mention Newport, which nobody really responded to; there are many options there, even though summer traffic can be a real bear. I'd recommend searching this board with "Newport" as a key first, and come back with questions. I'm partial to Tallulah, but it's a small space and reservations are a must. If the weather is nice the Castle Hill Inn is in a breathtaking location, with very good food (which, in my opinion, isn't quite up to what the price would lead you to expect.) A lot of options more in town, though: 22 Bowen, Clarke Cook, Scales & Shells, others which have been written up here many times.

                    1. Wow. Thanks so much everyone. I will get my research going on all your suggestions and will def write up a trip report.

                      One last question. I live in Montreal and suffer under a brutal regime of liqor control.

                      I am a huge rum fan and i want to find a great liqor stor that specialise in speciality/hard to find liqor.

                      Any recs?

                      Once again thanks so much. I know ppl said that this is been all written before so i am very gracious for your resposes.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Kangagirl83

                        My favorite liquor store in Providence is Bottles. They do seem to carry some unique stuff, although you could do better on prices at somewhere like Yankee Spirits just over the line in Massachusetts.

                        1. re: Jenkins

                          I'd say Yankee Liquors is a pretty decent spot--it has a really solid selection of beers + wines + spirits, and the prices are really good. I've found some fairly out of the ordinary liqueurs here, though they on occasion they don't have ones I'd assume they might. (like nocino). But overall, it's a good store and worth checking out for things..

                        2. re: Kangagirl83

                          I find ENO in Providence to have a great selection of bourbons. Have not checked out the rum options.

                          1. re: Kangagirl83

                            On one your trips between Providence and Newport, stop by Joyals in West Warwick. Its about 15 minutes from the highway down Rt. 117.

                            Far and away the best selection in the state and at fair prices. You can find their full list of rums here:

                            1. re: Kangagirl83

                              Yes, the SAQ dictatorship is terrible, I know.

                              If you're driving down the standard way, you might also wish to stop in at the NH State (liquor) Store, which is conveniently right on I-93. Mostly high-volume and standard brands, but the prices are outstanding. Just try not to mention it at the border on the way back.

                              For low-volume stuff, though, Frobisher is right, go to Joyal's. A little out of the way, but worth the trip. If you're there, you might want to time it to get dinner at Trattoria San Vivaldo, very close by. A very good Italian resto, if a bit, um, quirky for some.

                            2. You should probably check out Julien's for brunch. Cheap and good. Great beer. And Al Forno!! Famous for a reason. Don't take reservations so you have to get there early. Having grilled pizza and dessert in their outside dining area makes for a perfect dinner. Oh and Campus is also a good local liquor store, not fancy, but nice people and prices.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: ebell10

                                Al Forno is great (by far best restaurant in Providence in my opinion).

                                People here tend to denigrate it for some reason; perhaps because it doesn't feel like a restaurant in Providence? I think they have a collective self-esteem problem!

                                1. re: brokentelephone

                                  I've denigrated Al Forno here on Chowhound and for one reason only. .....I had a subpar yet overpriced meal. I had a baked pasta dish that was probably 18 tiny shells in a single layer, dried out. Ridiculous.

                                  1. re: brokentelephone

                                    It may have been the best restaurant in Providence a quarter-century ago, but not now. I'd be curious to know what other top-tier restaurants you've eaten at that you consider inferior.

                                    I think people denigrate it because you can easily get better food for the same prices or equally good food for less money. A lot has changed in the Providence dining scene in the last 30 years, there are many fresh and creative places to eat, and it's a shame for them that so many people (mostly tourists) vaguely recall some magazine article from 20 years ago and say "Oh, Providence -- let's go to Al Forno."

                                    Just for grins, here's a thread started 8 years ago! on precisely the same topic.

                                    Some places can stay the same for decades and fill a niche superbly. Peter Luger is fantastic because it is what it is. Al Forno isn't in the same category.

                                    1. re: Gin n Tonic

                                      It's not just all the things you mention. It's the *attitude*. I remember once when I was training at Brown years ago (about 7 now) I was coordinating a welcome dinner for a visiting speaker from out of town who requested to go to Al Forno (because he had been there, like, 10 years prior and loved it).

                                      I called them to set up the reservations for about 10 or 12 people and the person on the phone asks for my credit card information. "Why?" I asked. Be aware, this person says, that if your party is more than *15 minutes* late to your reservation it will be cancelled and your credit card will be charged 80 dollars, or something like that. I explained our situation about the VIP speaker and that we were bringing this guy directly from the airport. So, let's say this guy's plane is late a half hour, they would cancel us and charge me? Yup, they said, with a tone that implied that he could totally care less.

                                      Needless to say, we instead had an excellent dinner with that speaker at Mill's Tavern when he came to town and I've never gone back to Al Forno.

                                      1. re: Garris

                                        Garris, that was a long time ago. The attitude has really changed there and I see that they no longer ask for credit cards to hold reservations--hence no charging for lateness!

                                        1. re: thegreenfish

                                          Good to hear, and that's how places change reputation, by word of mouth. Their word of mouth from locals, here and elsewhere, has been quite poor for some time, so maybe it is time to check them out again.