Providence, Rhode Island is a city famous for its top-notch food scene. From the local Italian foods of Federal Hill to the late night eateries on Thayer Street, no palate is left unsatisfied. There are so many great places to try that it can be hard to decide where to eat – especially for incoming college freshmen. To save Brown students from having to spend time Googling “best restaurants near me,” here is a guide to all things food and drink in PVD.

1. When you’re cramming for exams and the library is crowded: Blue State Coffee


Photo by Susanna Smith

For a cozy spot to get your study game on, you can never go wrong with Blue State. Grab a textbook, order a cup of perfectly roasted coffee, and choose a seat overlooking Thayer Street. An assortment of snacks, including gluten-free almond granola and peanut butter cookies, will provide the perfect pick-me-up when your coffee runs out.

What to order: I’m not sure how they do it, but Blue State’s Layered Espresso is truly a work of art. Pair it with another bold option: The Elvis Cookie, a delicious peanut butter, banana, and bacon concoction inspired by the King’s favorite snack.

Location: 244 Thayer St, Providence, RI 02906

2. When you’re craving a slice: Flatbread


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Hungry for pizza? Get ready to lick your plate clean at Flatbread. Flatbread is sure to please any pizza lover with its wide variety of Vermont cheeses and wood-fired tomato sauce. Not only is Flatbread a better option than a typical greasy pizza joint, but they also donate a portion of their profits to local nonprofit businesses.

What to order: Mopsy’s Kalua Pork Pie. Think of it as an enhanced version of your favorite Hawaiian pizza. Free-range pork shoulder, homemade organic chipotle BBQ sauce, and whole milk mozzarella, all layered on organic dough. For those out there with a sweet tooth, finish off the meal with Barbara’s Homemade Brownie Sundae. Who doesn’t love a decadent chocolate brownie topped with all-natural ice cream and homemade chocolate sauce?

Location: 161 Cushing St, Providence, RI 02906

3. You need to grab lunch for under $10 between classes: East Side Pockets


Photo by Emma Giancarlo

This is a perfect pick if you’re looking for a spot in the middle of Brown’s campus and one that’s affordable. Not only is everything on the menu under $10, but who doesn’t like a pocket wrap on the go. With choices from freshly grilled meats, homemade hummus, and warm Syrian bread, East Side Pockets is a bang for your buck.

What to order: The star of the show is the falafel wrap, made from ground chickpeas and traditional organic spices. Fried in pure vegetable oil, doused with hummus, and served with fresh Syrian bread, this meal will only cost you $4.

Location: 278 Thayer St, Providence, RI 02906

4. When you’re craving a burger: Harry’s Bar and Burger


Photo courtesy of @harrysbarburger on Instagram

Missing In-N-Out or Shake Shack from back home? No worries! Located on Main Street, Harry’s Bar and Burger has got you covered with its fresh-ground sliders and locally produced toppings.

What to order: Get Harry’s M.O.A.B (aka Mother of All Burgers). This burger is made with freshly ground Hereford beef and is topped with bacon, mushrooms, and fried onion strings. No burger meal is complete without fries so be sure to add a side of sweet potato fries served with kryptonite aioli.

Location: 121 North Main St. Providence, RI 02903

5. When you have a craving for Mexican food: Baja’s Tex Mex Grill


Photo by Jackie Libasci

We can all agree that Chipotle is pretty awesome, but who needs Chipotle when you have Baja’s? Open untill 2am and always packed, Baja’s is a late night social spot where you can order flavorful nachos and burritos loaded with free unlimited toppings.

What to order: You can never go wrong with their classic “Build Your Own” burrito filled with Pico de Gallo, grilled vegetables, and guacamole. Check out the chicken fingers with fries. Two words: Fried. Heaven.

Location: 273 Thayer St, Providence, RI 02906

6. When you’re craving Asian: Denden Café


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Denden is gastronomic heaven on earth. Denden cuisine combines hearty dishes of Korea with Japanese cuisine. Its casual low light ambience is both welcoming and modern, making the dining experience truly unique. Upon arrival, customers eagerly order at the counter, with favorites that include flavorfully delicious hot-stone Bibimbap, seafood pancakes, and tastefully packed bento boxes.

What to order: Start off with the signature seafood scallion pancakes, a harmony of seafood and fresh scallions cooked in a flavorful batter. For an entree, order the Hot Stone Bibimbap, filled with sautéed vegetables and topped off with a sunny-side egg.

Location: 161 Benefit St, Providence, RI 02903

7. When you’re sick of Starbucks: Tealuxe


Photo courtesy of Eric K. on Yelp

Starbucks is a great spot, but sometimes it’s nice to change things up a little. Switch up your routine and head over to Tealuxe, a little tea shop with a seriously inviting atmosphere.

What to order: Pumpkin Spice Chai, Iced or Hot. It’s the perfect fall drink combining sweet and spicy and it’s far more sophisticated than your average Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Location:  231 Thayer St, Providence, RI 02906

8. When you’re trying to be healthy: Benefit Juice Bar & Café


Photo courtesy of Isabella S. on Yelp

This is a perfect spot if you’re trying to avoid the Freshmen 15. From fresh-squeezed juices to mouthwatering sandwiches, the healthy and delicious choices are endless.

What to order: No matter the season, Benefit Street’s Tomato Soup is the move, hands down. The soup itself is silky and delicious, but the mini grilled cheese croutons take it the extra mile. I’ll say that again, Mini. Grilled Cheese. Croutons.

Location: 404 Benefit St, Providence, RI 02903

9. When you’re trying to be romantic: Birch


Photo courtesy of Janine Tollady and @thedeanhotel on Instagram

This gem of a restaurant is a new American-style eatery with a focus on local produce and New England’s seasonal environment. Birch is really special – seating is bar height and situated around a u-shaped counter. The limited capacity for 18 people along with a dessert wine menu from Europe allow for a truly charming night.  

What to order: Birch offers a seasonal four course menu for dinner, so be sure to choose the seafood options and the New England fruit for dessert.

Location: 200 Washington St, Providence, RI 02903

10. When you’re craving something sweet: Pastiche


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Don’t have the time to study abroad in Paris? Here’s why Federal Hill’s Pastiche is Better Than a Trip to Paris. Behind the fountain in DePasquale Square sits Pastiche, a lively Parisian style nook. I’ll admit, it’s certainly a little more expensive than spending points on a Blue Room muffin, but wait till you see the fresh fruit tarts. Sometimes you have to just #treatyoself.

What to order: It doesn’t get more parisian than fruit tarts: a buttery tart shell filled with vanilla custard, topped with fresh seasonal fruit.

Location: 92 Spruce St, Providence, RI 02903

11. When you or your friend don’t eat meat: The Grange


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If you have some vegetarians amongst your group, head here. The Grange excels at catering to the vegetarian crowd (vegan or gluten-free on request) in it’s inviting earthy friendly atmosphere. With satisfying tapas plates, this is the kind of place that’ll make a carnivore go vedgehead.

What to order: Forget avocado toast, you will never forget The Grange’s vegan seitan chicken and waffles. Served with spicy maple syrup and maple butter, you will not be disappointed.

Location: 166 Broadway, Providence, RI 02903

12. When you’re craving Italian: Pane e Vino


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One word: tradition. Characterized by simple Italian comfort food made with the freshest local ingredients, you can taste the heritage of “Little Italy.” Sitting in the comforting, rustic Italian atmosphere is only an added perk to Pane e Vino’s menu of hearty flavors and fresh pastas.

What to order: The gnocchi comes highly reviewed. Baked in clay with four cheeses and served with a San Marzano tomato cream sauce, this is no spaghetti and meatballs.  

Location: 365 Atwells Ave, Providence, RI 02903