As with any new place we go, we found the following restaurants by asking where the locals like to eat. Paying attention to community signs (for farmers’ markets and food events) is another great way to explore how people in the area spend their time and what the regional foods are. After driving and dining around Pawtucket and greater Providence, there are four areas worth checking out:
PAWTUCKET AND NORTHBOUND–
The first time I visited Ryan in Pawtucket was with my family who was in town from Denver.
- None of us had been to the area, but we were meeting friends who suggested Doherty’s East Ave, an Irish pub right near the ballpark. Doherty’s is the perfect place for post-game grub. They have over 80 beers on tap (most of them local) and a menu of well executed bar food. The nachos, burgers, and chicken sandwiches are all great. Ryan gets the Ole’ Smokey- a bbq burger with cheddar and bacon. If trivia gets too noisy, head out to the patio. Overall a great atmosphere for hanging out with friends.
Modern Diner The rusty train car sits on the side of the road looking anything but modern. Ryan and I decided to adventure there one morning after seeing the place packed on a Sunday. Put aesthetic standards aside, the food is great. I had an order of the pumpkin pancakes topped with granola, caramel, and a cinnamon butter. Ryan had the breakfast sandwich with a poached egg, tomato, spinach, and cheese and an order of the challah french toast. It’s worth dining there a time or two- our three main dishes and a side of oatmeal came to $17.
The final stop in the Pawtucket vicinity is northbound on Highway 95 towards Boston at Ward’s Berry Farm. I took Rachel to meet met my extended host family for some treats on a perfect fall afternoon. We both took home bags of goodies! I recommend their breads; I had the pumpkin chocolate chip and Rachel had the potato. Make sure you buy the other baked goods in the morning, or the tend to dry out over the day. The store carries fruit and vegetables that are grown on premises and have a lunch menu with sandwiches and smoothies. A great stop on the drive north from Pawtucket and the perfect place to support local business.
While downtown Providence is about 20 minutes from Pawtucket, there are three areas worth exploring in Greater Providence that are much closer. They host many locally owned restaurants that offer a variety of cuisines for everyone to enjoy.
Hope Street runs a stretch of about two miles in East Providence and is packed with little gems awaiting your eager taste buds. The one you can’t pass up is Apsara Palace, a Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai, and Chinese restaurant that is no bigger than a small New York apartment. They have an extensive menu of apps, noodle bowls, soups, and stir fry dishes. Don’t miss out on the crunchy thai chicken salad or the nim chow, a rice paper roll served with peanut sauce. The food is addicting, the portions are huge, and dishes are no more than $8 an entree. A place worth repeating over and over again.
Within the same few blocks of Apsara are Seven Stars Bakery for coffee and mouth watering breads and baked goods, Blaze for contemporary American cuisine, and Hope Street Pizza. All great restaurants for homemade food and casual atmosphere.
Continue east on Hope Street and you will find Lippitt Park, the host of the Hope Street Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I pulled my car over immediately when I saw the size and variety of the market. There are probably 40 vendors selling produce, meats and cheeses, art, and baked goods. Food trucks also sell ice cream, vegan products, and hot grilled food. It really seems to be a community event and draws in the masses on Saturday mornings.
India Restaurant sits on the opposite corner of Lippitt Park and has a great buffet that they offer on weekends. The tandoori chicken is tender with a strong punch of curry, the cucumber salad was light and refreshing, and the channa masala is divine. They also have a sample booth outside the restaurant on Saturdays, where for $3 you can get a cup full of different dishes to sample. Great for the weary Indian food diner!
Thayer Street is one of the main stomping grounds for Brown students and has a few dozen restaurants that are geared for all types of diners. The perfect day on Thayer would include the following eats and a trek around the Brown campus:
Andreas for a Greek outdoor lunch on a nice day. The menu is perfect for sharing; three girls split the Horiatiki Salad with artichoke hearts, feta, roasted peppers, and olives and the Dip Platter with homemade tzatziki, hummus, and eggplant dip. Ryan ate a Chicken Souvlaki sandwich that looked great as well.
After walking around the campus try Paragon for dinner, another Meditteranean restaurant with a nice bar. The strawberry arugula salad is great for a light meal, as are paninis and burgers for something a little heavier.
For evening entertainment visit Spats Restaurant and Pub. They serve “tubes” and “vessels” of a variety of beers, which are 100 oz and 180 oz respectively. The nachos are perfect for sharing and the atmosphere makes for casual night of drinking with friends.
Before you leave for home, make a quick stop at Fro Yo World for do-it-yourself frozen yogurt. You pay by the ounce and can make your own perfect decadent dessert.
Federal Hill is just west of downtown Providence and home to many European restaurants and bakeries. Take a walk down Atwells Ave or Spruce Street and there are dozens of places to choose from. Get in touch with your Italian roots and go to Caffe Dolce Vita for their homemade pastas (especially the linguine ai fruitti di mare with shrimp, clams, and calamari). Skip the pre-set menu and stroll just a few doors down to satisfy your sweet tooth at Pastiche Fine Desserts, a small cafe with a multitude of cakes, tarts, and cookies. Ryan’s family and I had a few to share, the lemon cake being my favorite. They loved the chocolate cake if you are into that sort of thing 🙂 .