Lunch in Providence on Sunday
My SO and I will be spending a few hours in Providence this Sunday. It will be the first trip to the state for both of us. We are looking for a great lunch(but preferably NOT brunch.) We only have a few hours in the city, so I'd love for the restaurant to be in a great part of the city for walking around, sightseeing, and window shopping, so we can just park the car and enjoy ourselves. We'll be just coming off a camping trip, so nothing too fancy! We love all kinds of foods, but particularly things that show the local flavors of the area.
Hi marketpeach! I like both of the recommendations below, although I'd say there's more to see downtown around Tazza than in the west side neighborhood immediately surrounding Nick's (at least on a Sunday afternoon).
The first thing that came to my mind was the Hope Street neighborhood on the East Side. For food, you could go to Cook & Brown Public House (it is brunch, but that have lunchy items). Alternatively, you could grab some of the most amazing hot dogs, sausages, sandwiches, etc. at Wurst Kitchen right across Hope Street. It's a walk-up window and the passion project of one of the best restaurants in the city. There's outside seating right on the sidewalk or a great park across the street. There may even be a craft fair in the park (although I seem to recall those generally happen on Saturday.) Hope Street is a great neighborhood with lots of good window-shopping opportunities. Some of the great shops at that end include Studio Hop, Kreatelier, Pippa's Papers, Frog & Toad, Olive del Mundo, J. Marcel, Stock cooking goods, etc. If you have room for desert, you must stop at Seven Stars Bakery--it's a Providence treasure.
My other thought for eating/strolling/sight-seeing would be to grab something to eat on Benefit Street/Wickenden Street on the East Side of town and then walk on Benefit Street. I think the local tourist bureau likes to refer to Benefit Street at Providence's "mile of history"--it's got to be one of the most dense neighborhoods for colonial to federal era buildings in New England and it's really, really beautiful. There's not much to eat on Benefit Street itself except for Geoff's sandwiches, a local institution. Personally, I think their sandwiches are fair to good, but maybe I'm a little blase from overexposure. You've got a few more options on Wickenden Street (which also has more window-shopping opportunities, it's got a sort of boho vibe.) All the dining is pretty casual and solid, not stellar. I'd take a look at Amy's Place, Duck & Bunny (cupcakes/crepes), Brickway (brunchy), or Cafe Zog. If you are coffee drinker, definitely stop by Coffee Exchange--it's been serving up great coffee for as long as I can remember. You could easily spend a few hours checking out Wickenden and Benefit Street, munching on a sandwich and sipping coffee. If you're not too tired after camping, try to make it all the way to Prospect Park for a panoramic view of the city!
Great post, RRH. Benefit Street is a treasure trove of nicely restored colonial houses in the country. It's quite remarkable, especially since, when I was a kid (in the 60s), those were close to slums. Then the concept of "plaque houses" took off.
Returning to victuals, I second the rec of Coffee Exchange as a "must stop." If the weather is nice, the patio is a great place to take a load off. It's right near the end of Benefit St on Wickenden.
Seven Stars at the other end of Hope St. is absolutely worth a stop as well for tasty treats. Unfortunately the nearby retail outlet of Garrison Confections (located in Central Falls!) could not survive the economic downturn and closed a few years ago.
As for Geoff's, I always liked that place, but haven't been in at least 20 years. I would recommend the Susan Farmer, especially since its namesake just passed away. The Juggs is another great Geoff's sandwich.
You might want to check out Tazza on Westminster St. Their brunch menu carries several items from their standard lunch menu, it's pretty casual, and it's pretty central. You can check out the shops on Westminster (I especially love Craftland, which is like a bricks and mortar Etsy!), and easily walk over to Waterplace Place Park and take a stroll along the Riverwalk . You would also be within relatively easy walking distance to the RISD museum, if you're into that.
Another option might be Local 121, which is just about a block or so away on Washington St. Not sure if they will be too brunch-y for you on a Sunday, though. It's also a touch "fancier," but not over the top.
I'm a HUGE Nick's devotee, and it would usually be my first recommendation. But I don't think it fits the "park the car and explore the city" part of the request. Same thing with Hope St - it's a lovely residential walking neighborhood, which is great, but perhaps not what I would choose to highlight the city.