We moved to Providence, Rhode Island 48 hours ago, and have had a decent meal every six hours on average. With no particular bias except geography, here are the first eight Rhode Island restaurants we tried since we became residents of the state. I’ve ordered these from what I thought was the worst to the best, for fun, so the reader can understand my personal preferences for food and why.
8. Haven Brothers Diner – By far the worst meal of the lot. I’ve been to this movable diner once before at 2am, and it seemed a lot better than it did on my recent day visit. Nothing is cooked to order, frozen food is reheated in an underpowered microwave in unwashed containers. The staff is all family and perfectly friendly, but tonight they are much more interested in the novelty of running a diner than the food quality. One would think the novelty would have worn off considering that they’ve been around forever. Walking up those stairs into the portable restaurant is really great, but the food is worse than poor. Save it for 2am. (Fulton and Dorrance Streets, Providence, RI)
7. Minerva Pizza House – Standard fare. Americanized Greek and Middle Eastern food. I didn’t try the pizza yet, but falafel fell short. A heavily seasoned grilled chicken salad (iceberg lettuce) wasn’t half-bad. (20 South Angell Street, Providence, RI)
6. Amenities – This little owner-run deli makes decent sandwiches, with good proportions, on fresh bread. A few inventive items decorate the whiteboard menu. A turkey Reuben was tasty the other day, and the sandwich was made to order with care. (10 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI)
5. Eddie & Sons Diner – [Ed. note: Eddie & Sons has closed permanently] The atmosphere at this central downtown diner can’t be beat. Newspapers waiting in a neat pile for their readers to pore over during a breakfast taken with black coffee. They failed my official ‘diner litmus test’ with canned hash, but Michele liked the pancakes, which is no small feat. Lots of gossip, lots of regulars, and even a refusal to serve a customer — “I can’t fill that coffee cup, it’s too big,” our waitress practically hollers to a workmen who walked in. “Let him fill it,” a voice rings out from the back. “I already told him I won’t!” she shouts back. I love it. Potatoes (another test) were not crispy but otherwise very flavorful. (4 Dorrance St Providence, RI)
4. East Side Pocket – The long line is a giveaway. This place is good. Fresh-made sandwiches, and solid Middle Eastern food. Chips and hummus where both the hummus and chips taste homemade. (278 Thayer Street, Providence, RI www.eastsidepocket.com)
3. Seven Stars Bakery – These simple sandwiches of ham, cheese and butter on a baguette could have been made in Paris — tasty although a bit dry (here you are welcome to add mustard or mayo). They also make a delicious cinnamon swirl bun and ginger star cookies. They carry soda made in Rhode Island! (820 Hope St and 342 Broadway, Providence, RI www.sevenstarsbakery.com)
2. Loui’s – This snug diner offers great diner food at reasonable prices. Favorites are the delicious (and huge) breakfast sandwiches on toasted long rolls or English muffins and tasty pancakes (no maple syrup though). Sometimes the portions are a bit absurd, like two scrambled eggs that look more like five. They also have lunch and dinner items — although we tried to go there for dinner on Monday, and they were closed. The service is perfect — our quick-handed waitress was able to save a huge OJ from being knocked off the table by an over-eager Madeline. We’ve been back quite a few times since we first discovered this place on one of our trips to Providence — it’s a keeper. (286 Brook St, Providence, RI)
1. Farmstead – Glad to see this top-notch little sandwich shop in Wayland Square. A BLT with thick, smoky bacon (perfectly cooked, IMO) on even thicker bread is a delicious, if a bit heavy of a lunch. The braseola with fig jam, cheese and lettuce definitely won us over. They have a wide selection of cheeses, and even sell chips and sodas made in New England. (184-188 Wayland Avenue, Providence, RI, www.farmsteadinc.com) June 2014: Farmstead has been sold and will no longer be run by Chef Matt Jennings
Check out the Modern Diner on East Ave in Pawtucket. Great old fashioned diner serves breakfast food all day long. My kids love the banana pancakes. I like the poached eggs. Wall of specials includes over 4o items to choose from including not your usual diner fare. Be prepared for a long wait on the weekends.
Congrats on your move. I live in Providence, and have for most of my life, and I just stumbled across your blog. You’ll come to find that we have some really amazing food here, despite being small, if you’re willing to branch out and try new thing. Check out a few places on the West Side when you have the time:
Nick’s on Broadway – http://www.nicksonbroadway.com/
Julian’s – http://www.juliansprovidence.com/
Broadway Bistro – http://broadwaybistrori.com/
Loie Fuller – http://www.loiefullers.com/
and Ama’s, which has no website yet.
There is also a myriad of ethnic fare to choose from – Japanese, Korean, Indian, (authentic) Italian, Mexican, and every color of Caribbean known to man. Enjoy yourselves, and enjoy your time in one of the most bizarre and charming cities in America.
Thanks so much for the suggestions — we will definitely check them out!
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