With a restaurant around every corner, Providence is a food-lover’s paradise. And with six collegiate schools within the city limits itself, plus seven others in the surrounding area, it has an abundance of hungry college students who are balling on a budget. Like many of my fellow classmates, my sacred budget is always dwindling, due to it being spent on all the food that this eclectic city has to offer. Four years might not be enough time for you to hit all the best places to eat in this city, so here’s a list of 10 go-to restaurants to hit before graduation day.
Owned by a Johnson & Wales baking instructor, Olga’s Cup & Saucer is the ultimate spot for breakfast or lunch. But on the weekends, these two meals are combined to make everyone’s favorite meal nowadays: brunch. Not only is all their bread baked fresh in house every morning, Olga’s is a huge supporter of local markets, insuring their hungry customers get the best strawberries to put on top of their homemade granola that’s served alongside some organic yogurt.
The location of this brunch spot is right in its name, on Broadway. Nick’s is known for their incredible brunch which is seasonally inspired from local markets. With menu items such as a frittata with local broccoli, wilted greens, and Narragansett Creamy feta or their vanilla-battered, house-baked brioche French toast with Vermont maple syrup, this place is definitely mouth-wateringly good.
With everything from quesadillas, to burrito bowls made out of an actual deep fried tortilla shell, Baja’s is the go-to for your quick Mexican fix. Not only is the food here delicious, the guac is free. That’s right, free. The convenient location right on Thayer Street makes this a great spot to grab something after that long, grueling day of listening to your ancient professor drone on in class. Did I mention the guac is free?
Located right off of Providence’s well-known Federal Hill, Bob & Timmy’s is one of the best pizza spots in town. Fresh cheese, homemade tomato sauce, and other endless amounts of toppings are grilled on handmade dough over a wood-fired grill. This pizza has been featured on Man vs. Food, USA Today, and was even ranked the fifth best American pie in GQ Magazine. If you’re not in Providence, you can get this cheesy goodness at one of their two other locations.
Known for their incredible selection of mussels (that you can get prepared ten different ways), Red Stripe is an American brasserie located on Angell Street. For those of you who don’t go to the prestigious culinary school Providence has to offer, a brasserie by definition is “a laid back restaurant that serves good beer and hearty food”, which is exactly what you’ll find here. They have a great dinner menu, but most items are also served at lunch, which helps you save a few bucks to help pay for those books you still haven’t bought yet.
Although this tiny restaurant located in the West End section of Providence doesn’t take reservations, their “Asian inspired American” food is definitely worth the wait. If it isn’t the menu (that changes multiple times a season) that keeps you coming back for more, then it’s their drinks (AKA slurpees with booze in them, every college student’s dream). And let’s not forget North Bakery, a “non-traditional American bakery” owned by the same people just a short walk down the street, where they serve all your favorite classic bakery items such as chocolate chip cookies and coffee cake.
There’s just something about eating killer Latin American food on an outdoor patio that makes this place a go-to. Good portions for a good price, and not to mention the house-made sangria to make you feel like you’re lying on a beach somewhere back on spring break. Their seafood is so fresh you can’t help but wonder if it came from the large saltwater fish tank behind the lit up bar. The service here is almost too good it makes you wonder if their waiters practice reciting those incredible menu recommendations in their sleep.
A little more on the pricy side, this is a great restaurant to take your parents to when they’re in town to visit their starving little college student, especially when they’re footing the bill. An American, Asian, European, and Island fusion restaurant right on the canal, Café Nuovo pairs their good food with even better plate presentations that are totally Instagram-worthy.
#SpoonTip: make sure to mention the number of Easy Mac cups you’re eating a week to your mom and you’ll be eating their signature chocolate cake after devouring your 14-oz. New York Strip.
Striving to utilize the freshest ingredients in both the kitchen and behind the bar, Milk Money is a new addition to the Providence restaurant scene that is definitely worth checking out. Their menu is designed for sharing, so ordering their grilled oysters, venison and chorizo empanadas, and their house-made jerky all at once is not frowned upon, but encouraged. The items change seasonally to ensure they’re serving the freshest of the fresh to their customers who keep coming back to try these new dishes. They also have a killer cocktail menu that will make any bar-loving college student swoon.
If you’re looking for good dessert in Providence, there’s nowhere else to go but Pastiche. Offering the best quality homemade desserts with consistent delivery, this café is known for their classic recipes made from scratch. Their trained baristas will whip you up the most perfect cappuccino you’ve ever had while you drool over the case of endless cakes, pies, and pastries. Chocolate caramel cake, homemade eclairs, and butterscotch crumb cakes are just a few mouthwatering items you can either enjoy there or package up to take home with you. The hardest part: choosing which one you’re going to eat first.