Providence, Rhode Island is known for several things: Ivy League schools, artsy colleges, the religious founder Roger Williams, and good ol’ Gansett beer. However, few people associate this city with good food. But the food is more than just good — it’s incredible.
Over the years, Providence has transformed into a food lover’s dream. While I can give you about fifty reasons why, I have limited it to the twelve best reasons:
1. Al Forno
Al Forno is an upscale eatery opened by an Italian couple back in 1980. It is hands down my favorite place to eat in Providence. From the grilled pizza to the fresh pasta, every bite you take will make you want to return for more. Surprisingly, it is worth a trip here just for the hand-churned ice cream. The pizza here has also been nationally recognized as one of the best — especially the calamari pizza. So basically, everything here is pretty great.
#SpoonTip: Dessert orders must be placed before the entrée order to ensure a proper amount of time for the chefs to prepare.
2. Los Andes
Los Andes is a one of a kind restaurant serving up some incredible Peruvian and Bolivian dishes. The rundown exterior says little about the cuisine being cooked up inside. The ceviche appetizer and paella entree are my regular picks, but the chef’s weekly specials are worth trying. As one of the few South American restaurants in Providence, Los Andes certainly outdoes itself. Yahoo even named it to its list of “The 50 Best Restaurants in America.”
Fellini’s has been a Providence classic for several years. It serves thin and crispy pizza by the slice or whole, with a variety of savory choices that even impress New Yorkers. The best time to come is late at night, right when that midnight hunger strikes. The chewy dough and experienced pizza chefs make this a favorite amongst locals.
This fast food restaurant is located in the popular night-life area of Providence called Thayer Street. Its Middle Eastern counter food features falafel and kebabs that are well worth the wait in the long lines. The homemade falafel is cooked to order and comes out piping hot. Local ingredients and truly authentic cooking techniques are the norm here. No matter what you order, you will not be disappointed. Plus, other Spoon-ies like it as well!
Gracie’s may be one of the most wonderful things that has graced Providence. It is the kind of food you simply cannot get enough of. Executive chef Matthew Varga will leave you in awe with a several course menu created from fresh, local ingredients. The plates are fresh, the menu is unique, and the food is worth every penny.
#Spoon tip: Make a reservation. They are always busy, no matter what day of the week!
6. Modern Diner
Don’t be fooled by this old train car — the food here is one of a kind. The wait can be long on weekends, but is totally worth it for one of the best breakfasts in the Providence area. The eggs Benedict is drool-worthy and their daily specials won’t disappoint. The stiff vinyl seats add to the authenticity and experience of eating in a diner train car, but real gem here is the food. Modern Diner serves the kind of food that makes your stomach smile.
7. Haruki East
Haruki Kibe is to credit for the remarkable sushi served up at two locations in Rhode Island. Born and raised in Japan, he is traditionally trained and an expert in all things sushi. With ume shiso sushi, Kibe blends the two most important qualities: flavor and beauty. There is no denying that the freshness of the ingredients defines the sushi here. The fish is fresh caught and their pickled vegetables are made in house. Reservations are recommended on the weekends, but the environment is comfortable and casual.
Luxe Burger Bar is the burger haven of Rhode Island. They offer a “build your own” burger menu with some crazy good options — mac n’ cheese, onion rings, chili, and even mozzarella sticks. The opportunities are endless. They will even use two grilled cheeses as a bun for your burger, an option appropriately named “fatty style.”
#SpoonTip: Looking for something on the lighter side? They offer turkey burgers, vegan veggie burgers, and ahi tuna. A meal here is never a disappointment.
Haven Brothers is a mobile food truck that has been a Rhody staple since the 1800’s. They are a family business that is serving up some seriously good burgers and shakes. Initially a horse drawn lunch carriage, the Brother’s remains one of the oldest mobile food trucks in the country. The infamous Triple Murder burger was even featured on Man versus Food with Adam Richman. It will keep you full, and will also keep your wallet full. It’s a Providence tradition best done late at night and with good company.
Pastiche is one of the many reasons worth traveling to the Federal Hill area of Providence for, but is certainly the number one reason for desserts. The lines are almost always out the door for this cozy, European-style place. From tarts to cakes and everything in between, it is the perfect way to end a night out.
#SpoonTip: Make sure to get one of the lattes too — they go well with their fruit tart.
I have dreams about this restaurant. By day, they are a family-run Italian deli serving up my favorite sandwich on the East Coast. By night (but only on Saturdays) they turn their deli into a gourmet eatery serving homemade Italian cuisine. The fresh, homemade pasta is the star of nearly all the dishes. My sandwich choice is prosciutto, although all the imported meats are worth try. A homemade dressing is added to all the sandwiches that is guaranteed to make your mouth water. Whether you come for lunch or dinner, do not pass up an opportunity to eat here.
Plouf Plouf is another mobile food truck, but a little more of the upscale side. It was created on the idea of fresh and traditional French food by a three Michelin-star chef, Mario Molliere. The experience he brings to his food truck is undoubtably a form of perfection. From the savory duck confit to the crunch of the creme brûlée, every part of his menu was crafted with care and elegance; not something always found in a food truck. Plouf Plouf has redefined mobile food in the best way possible.