Just in time for Restaurant Week in Providence, I thought I’d put together a list of my favorite restaurants in Rhode Island. Providence has received many accolades for being a great food city; including being named one of the best new food cities by Jetsetter, a best foodie destination by 10Besties Readers’ Choice Travel Award, one of 10 “Off the Beaten Path” destinations for foodies by Fox News, and one of the best small cities in the world for dining by Saveur magazine Culinary Travel awards. But Providence doesn’t have exclusivity on good food in Rhode Island. Here is a list of the best restaurants in RI (at least in my humble opinion.) Do you have others you think I should try? Leave a comment below and I’ll update this post as I discover new gems.
Best Restaurants in RI
I don’t claim to have tried every restaurant in Rhode Island and obviously food preferences are a bit objective, but here are my favorite restaurants in RI grouped by cuisine.
La Masseria — the owners of this East Greenwich ristorante have roots in Capri, Italy and you can tell from the authentic cuisine from the Puglia region. I’ve never had a dish I didn’t love at La Masseria but my very favorites include the crispy fried zucchini, the fettuccini with eggplant and smoked mozzarella, the house special pasta with egg and truffle (OMG amazing), and the creamy ricotta cheesecake.
Bacaro — located right on the riverfront, Bacaro is my favorite Italian in Providence and a great place to eat on a Waterfire night. The crispy, thin-crust grilled margherita pizza is unbelievably delicious and I can never stop eating it until it is gone. While it is easy to fill up on all the tasty small plates and salumi, I always save room for the amazing Pasta con i funghi, tagliatelle with butter, parmesan-reggiano, white truffle-scented egg and mushroom duxelles.
Matunuck Oyster Bar — only a year ago I discovered the delicious sweet brininess of oysters. My very favorite are the small, sweet sensations at Matunuck Oyster Bar. Farmed just off their docks, these little delicacies have just right right mix of flavor, brine and sweetness. You will always find a line but you can wait it out in the outdoor bar with their delicious bloody mary’s. The raw oysters are amazing but you should also try the grilled oysters and oysters rockefeller.
Midtown Oyster Bar — this restaurant in downtown Newport has it all — location, atmosphere and food. Of course I love the oysters but they also make some mean appetizers and fries. The open and airy interior is classic American but if you can, try to get a table on one of the two outdoor terraces.
Blount Clam Shack — located right on the waterfront in Warren, Blount Clam Shack has the best lobster roll I’ve ever tasted. I love the casual atmosphere and the views of the marina but the real treat is the fresh lobster dipped in butter or the crispy hot clamcakes.
Nick’s on Broadway — Nick’s may be small but it is just the best when it comes to fresh, local produce prepared in a unique and thoughtful style. Whether it is lunch, dinner or the chef’s tasting menu this Providence westside bistro is a must try for visitors and locals.
Mill’s Tavern — this Providence classic is my go-to restaurant for date nights or special occasions. The brick and wood interior gives it a sophisticated and romantic atmosphere. It went through a rough patch a few years ago but it seems to have regained its reputation for fine dining. The oysters, littlenecks, foie gras and steaks are delicious but I make sure to save room for their bread pudding.
Pot au Feu — serving French cuisine since 1972, Pot au Feu is Providence’s longest running French restaurant. Located in the lower level of the historic Wilcox building, Pot au Feu is small and cozy, offering the classic French dishes that Julia Child introduced to America. It took me years to finally get to Pot au Feu but I was really impressed with the deep richness of their Boeuf a la Bourguignon.
Red Stripe — if casual bistro fare is more in your game, Red Stripe in Providence’s Wayland Square offers delicious salads, grilled cheese and mussels. The service can sometimes be slow but if you have time for a leisurely lunch or brunch, Red Stripe is a good choice.
Burger and Brews
Blackie’s Bull Dog Tavern — Blackie’s in Smithfield is a popular after work hangout that doesn’t take reservations so if you go, you need to be prepared for a wait. It is worth it though for its giant, juicy burgers and the huge Bulldog nachos, which are smothered in chili, cheese, guacamole and salsa.
Congress Tavern — I love the tin ceilings and old-time interior of the Congress Tavern in Providence as much as their delicious homemade potato chips. While popular G Pub across the street trumps on atmosphere, the food at Congress Tavern is much better and the vibe is more relaxed.
Harry’s Burger Bar — Harry’s is just a fun place to get a burger with friends — cozy, funky, with a college town vibe. They feature small, slider size burgers that come in pairs, delicious salt and pepper fries (and I’m picky about my fries!), and the snackable “chocolate crack” dessert. If you go early, also try the bacon bloody mary with bacon-infused vodka and a strip of bacon.
Asian & Indian
Jacky’s Waterfront — its location on the riverfront in Providence makes Jacky’s a perfect location for a pre-Waterfire dinner. Its beautiful atmosphere and diverse menu makes just about everyone happy. The Mr. Mango sushi fusion roll and pineapple fried rice are some of our favorites.
Lim’s Restaurant — this sushi and fine Thai restaurant in Wayland Square in Providence is worth a visit just for its amazing mango sticky rice — one of the best desserts I’ve had.
Kabob & Curry — This Indian eatery on Thayer Street in Providence offers some great combination meal deals that make it easy to order a lot of food and share among friends.
Los Andes — this Providence eatery is no longer an undiscovered gem. In fact you better make a reservation well in advance if you expect to get a table. The word is out that the food is delicious, the service is great and the prices are low.
La Arepa — I first tried to make arepas a few years ago and found them to be tricky to get just the right consistency so I was really excited to discover La Arepa in Lincoln. This traditional Venezulean eatery offers the best arepas (I’ll never attempt them again) stuffed full with chicken, cheese, steak, pork or my favorite, shrimp — all for a very low price. Just check and see if they have gotten their liquor license yet or if it is BYOB.
The Grange — after years of hearing non-vegetarians rave about The Grange, we finally gave it a try and not only was the food delicious, but I was so full that I couldn’t finish my meal. My favorites are the fried oyster mushroom po’boy on a pretzel baguette and the General Tso’s tacos.
Breakfast and Brunch
Modern Diner — this historic diner in Pawtucket serves up the best breakfast around. It is worth the wait and no frills atmosphere for their stuffed french toast specials, unique eggs benedicts and omelette creations.
Circe — this is my favorite place to have brunch before a matinee at the Providence Performing Arts Festival, offering sophisticated dishes in a modern and refined setting.
Castle Hill Inn — the best mother’s day brunch I’ve ever had was at the Castle Hill Inn. They offer an elegant brunch buffet with beautiful views across their lawn to the water below.
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