Some of the experiences we had in Providence were hosted by the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau. All opinions are our own.
Providence, Rhode Island, is one of those places that you visit once and can’t wait to visit again. There’s so much to do in this artsy, innovative, and historic city. Founded by Roger Williams, a religious refugee from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Providence stays true to its roots in tolerance, providing a diverse and exciting place to visit.
Close to the both the Providence River and Narragansett Bay, Providence is known for its incredible seafood. Its large Italian population provides delicious tastes of the old country. Providence is rich in food, and we loved eating our way through it more than once.
To give you an idea of the incredible eats you’ll find, here are a few of what we consider the best restaurants in Providence.
Costantino’s Venda Bar & Ristorante
Providence is home to many people with Italian roots, and there’s nowhere better to experience a slice of that Italian culture than Costantino’s Venda Bar & Ristorante in Federal Hill, Providence’s Little Italy. The pasta is made fresh and has been for more than 70 years. You can’t go wrong ordering pappardelle, cavatelli, rigatoni, ravioli, or whatever is being served up on the day of your visit. Pizzas include classics like the Margherita and modern delights like fig and prosciutto. Be sure to enjoy some wine from the huge award-winning wine list, too.
Work off your meal or go for an early morning stroll around the DePasquale Plaza. Stop into Venda Ravioli and feast your eyes on the 150 kinds of fresh and frozen pasta at this revered Italian food emporium. With loads of Italian prepared foods, cured meats, cheeses, gift baskets, cookbooks, and more, you’ll have plenty of treats to try or buy and take home.
Grab an espresso and a snack or stay for a meal. Dine at the counter or sit at a table in the cafe and watch the locals shop, stroll, talk, and eat.
Nicks On Broadway
The brunch at Nicks on Broadway is legendary in Providence. The restaurant’s description says that “Nicks specializes in seasonally inspired, locally focused food, put forth humbly with thoughtfulness, passion, and honesty.” We found that to be absolutely true.
We loved the veggie omelet, pancakes, and other fresh and seasonal dishes. The French toast is another winning dish. And for the ultimate treat, be sure to indulge in a breakfast dessert. These change with the seasons, but include things like chocolate chiffon cake, dark chocolate bread pudding squares, and house-made ice creams and sorbets. Resistance is futile.
For a bit of Down Under hospitality, visit Sydney Providence. Australia is the inspiration for this cozy cafe and coffee shop that serves up breakfast, brunch, and lunch. Low-key, casual, and inviting, Sydney is an open space that’s the perfect place to snack and spend some time.
Smoothie bowls, salads, sandwiches, soups, and seasonal fare are all on offer. But most of all, we enjoyed the creative toasts. The avocado toast is yummy, and the ricotta toast is deliciously different. Fresh fruit and light ricotta cheese on a chewy, crunchy, rustic piece of bread make for a unique and satisfying meal.
The bakery items go well with the creative drinks -- try the red velvet hot chocolate, maple bourbon latte, Vietnamese iced coffee, matcha green latte, or chai tea latte.
Olneyville New York System Restaurant
We love to find the quirky spots that locals know and love, and Providence has plenty of those. One of the best is Olneyville New York System Restaurant, a local treasure.
Though encased meat is served here, you shouldn’t call them hot dogs. In Rhode Island, they are wieners -- specifically, hot wieners. And this is the place that many say serves the very best. The Olneyville wiener has a natural casing. It’s placed in a steamed hot dog bun, given a squirt of yellow deli-style mustard, and garnished with chopped Spanish onions, celery salt, and soybean oil. Finally, it’s topped with the famous ground beef sauce. You can sit at the counter and watch the magic happen.
While you’re there, try a coffee milk (coffee syrup mixed into milk). The locals will start chatting with you like you’re a native. Who doesn’t love that?
Providence is really walkable, and it’s easy to explore its different neighborhoods. Along the way, you’re sure to find many hidden gems serving some of the very best food in town. Tallulah’s Taqueria, a colorful little restaurant tucked into an East Side neighborhood, is one such spot.
If you’re longing for some authentic Mexican eats, you’ll love Tallulah’s. Tortas, tacos, burritos, bowls, and quesadillas abound. You can customize your order however you choose with fresh and seasonal ingredients.
Lots of locals stop in to get their “Chicano cuisine on the go,” but there’s also space to eat inside as well as a cute outdoor dining area. Enjoy your meal and get a churro to nibble on as you continue to explore.
We can be pretty demanding when it comes to Greek cuisine. Our natural inclination is to look for authenticity as well as innovation (but not innovation for innovation’s sake).
That’s why we were thrilled to find Kleos in Providence, where classic Greek dishes like moussaka, roasted lamb, and souvlaki are executed perfectly. On the innovative side, its saganaki was truly unique. This Chicago-created dish typically comes flaming in a pan. But Kleos serves it surrounded by crispy phyllo dough. And it was so good! The Rhodes calamari comes Rhode Island-style, lightly battered with hot pepper rings and lemon. It was positively addictive.
Try something from the creative cocktail menu, too. The whole place will make you feel like doing “Zorba’s Dance.”
When locals keep mentioning the same place as the best one to eat, you need to take them at their word. The fun and colorful Los Andes serves authentic Peruvian and Bolivian cuisine that will knock your socks off. We knew from the llama in the logo that we were in for a treat. And that is an understatement.
Be sure to arrive with an empty stomach. Portions are substantial, and you will want to enjoy every bite. You can start off with delicious appetizers like ceviches, empanadas, salads, and soups.
The chaufa de pollo and chaufa de res feature interesting Asian influences. Chifa is a culinary tradition that fuses Cantonese and Peruvian elements. This is wonderfully exhibited in the wok-fried rice infused with kion; sauteed with strips of chicken or sirloin steak, kiko soy, and eggs; and finished with scallions.
The churrasco al gaucho is a 16-ounce Angus grilled rib eye served with ensalada rusa, fried yucca, and rice. Los Andes also serves traditional seafood dishes like paella and jalea, a Peruvian seafood medley.
All of the desserts are family recipes, so go ahead and indulge. It’s totally worth it. Our server was from Peru and proudly explained the cultural significance of each dish, which made for an even better experience.
It would be hard to list the best restaurants in Providence without mentioning seafood. Being so close to the ocean, Providence enjoys a unique connection to the bounty of the sea.
Located right in the center of town, Hemenway’s is a Providence institution. You could spend all night enjoying the raw bar with local oysters, clams, shrimp, and more. Or go for a traditional meal, starting with bacon-wrapped scallops, crab cakes, or Rhode Island-style calamari. Head for an entree of surf and turf, where you can create your own combination of meat and seafood, like an Angus filet mignon and lobster. There are many choices for seafood lovers and landlubbers alike.
The service is warm and gracious. It was easy for us to see why locals and visitors come to Hemenway’s time and time again.
Bacaro Restaurant takes a unique approach to Italian dining. You can eat whatever type of meal you want. If you just feel like some wine with prosciutto, fruit, and cheese, that’s fine. Maybe just a pizza. Or perhaps you’re really hungry and want a salad, pasta, entree, and dessert. You can have whatever you choose -- and whatever you choose will be delicious.
We loved the pasta con i funghi, a fresh egg tagliatelle prepared with butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, white truffle-scented egg, mushroom duxelles, and crushed red pepper. For something special, try the grilled pizza, a crispy thin crust with the freshest toppings.
Leave room for some house-made ice cream, churned fresh daily. Or have a grappa-scented, custard-filled bombolini -- we just call it a flavor bomb.
The vibe is welcoming, and people wear everything from plaid lumberjack shirts to jackets and ties. Come as you like, eat what you like, and enjoy yourself completely.
These are a few restaurants in Providence that we’ve enjoyed. But there are so many more in this food-loving town!
For more on Providence, see this page.