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Finding Magic in Providence, RI

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Having lived in Providence for a decade now, I can honestly say that with each passing year this city just continues to up it’s culinary game. Although there is so much more to do in Providence than just eat, I thought we’d start with a food-focused guide because…well…priorities!!

Here are a few favorites for coffee, brunch and a fancy dinner out. Of course we have fabulous casual eateries too, but that would deserve a list of its own.

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Where to Eat and Drink: A Few Favorites

Coffee Culture

Bolt Coffee; With two beautifully-designed locations, one inside The Dean Hotel and the other inside the RISD Museum, Bolt Coffee brews up artisanal coffee and offers a small selection of locally made baked goods and eats.

The Shop; This is my favorite morning stop. The aesthetic is spot-on, their coffee is excellent, and they serve a small seasonal menu of breakfast and lunch items, such as porridge, ricotta and honey toast, and grain bowls.

White Electric; When I find myself on the West Side, a stop at this laid-back yet hip coffee shop is a must. The menu is extensive, offering breakfast sandwiches, salads, baked goods and sandwiches, and of course their coffee is excellent.

Blue State Coffee; Organic, fair-trade coffee served in a politically charged environment, Blue State is a hit with the Brown University crowd. They serve a menu of breakfast sandwiches, salads, soups, and other small bites throughout the day.

Seven Stars: Everyone’s favorite bakery, Seven Stars is simply a must if you are in Providence. Grab a cinnamon bun and a cup of their excellent coffee, and your whole day will be made!

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Brunch Time

Olga’s Cup and Saucer; Great breakfast and lunch place with the cutest outdoor seating area and phenomenal, fresh-baked sweets, bagels and breads.

Kitchen; Hearty, home-cooked-style breakfast; exceptional muffins, omelets, bacon and sweetbread french toast. With only a handful of booths at this teeny, tiny place, you will be waiting, but it will be worth it.  NOTE: Cash only.

Julian’s; Creativity is king when it comes to the menu at this well-loved brunch spot: the Monster French Toast is amazing, don’t miss Tha Jedi Mind Trick omelet, and the various Egg Benediction and Hash options are tops. And you certainly won’t go hungry, thanks to the generous portions, but be prepared to wait for a table since weekend brunch is their most popular time.

The Grange; We love The Grange for date night as well as brunch, which is served seven days a week! The menu offers creative vegetarian fare, and it is the place to bring friends who claim to be unimpressed with vegetarian food. They’ll leave The Grange with a whole new mindset!

Nick’s on Broadway; Ask any Providence brunch-goer their favorite brunch spot and most will answer with diehard devotion, Nick’s on Broadway. The entrees are delicious, but don’t overlook the small plates, which change frequently and reflect the seasons. Share amongst friends and top it off with a ‘griddled’ homemade muffin. It is pure brunch heaven!

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Getting Fancy

Gracie’s Fine Dining; Gracie’s is our go-to for special occasions; birthdays, celebrations and anniversaries. The menu is seasonally inspired, and the service is impeccable.  Don’t miss their bakery, Ellie’s, which is located across the street from the restaurant and serves breakfast and lunch, along with coffee and baked goods.

North; If you want to score a table at this incredible restaurant that took the Providence food scene by storm when it opened a few years back, I suggest arriving when it opens at 5:30pm. There are only a handful of tables and they go quickly as people line up for the seasonally-driven Asian cuisine. During the day check out North Bakery — great for a chocolate chip cookie and coffee.

Persimmon: James Beard Award nominee, Champe Speidel, moved his popular Bristol restaurant to Providence recently and has since been enjoying rave reviews for his seasonally-driven, creative, upscale cuisine ever since. If you can’t get a table, a seat at the bar is always a delightful dinner option.

Oberlin: With a true neighborhood feel, Oberlin is one of our favorite places for date night. Their seasonally-inspired and ever-changing menu includes handmade pasta, creative seafood dishes and a fantastic raw bar.  You’ll likely find my husband and I ordering several small plates to share. You’ll want to try it all, and make sure to save room for dessert.

Al Forno; Home of the famous wood fired pizza, incredible Italian food, and made-to-order desserts, Al Forno is one of the first restaurants that put Providence on every food-lover’s map.

Farmers’ Markets

Farmers Markets: If you prefer cooking at home, a stop at one of Providence’s numerous weekly farmers markets is a must. My favorite is Saturday’s Hope Street Market in Lippitt Park. In the winter, this market moves indoors to the Hope Artiste Village — which is definitely worth a visit.

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Things to Do & a Few More bites: Explore Providence by Fresh New England

Rhode Island School of Design Museum – This gem of a museum has over 10,000 works of art. From ancient art to textiles to Monet to Degas, there’s something for everyone.

Hope Street – Hope Street has a wonderful array of restaurants and independent local shops. Keep an eye out for block parties and special events.

The John Brown House & Museum – Take a tour of this stately 18th century home belonging to one of the wealthiest and most influential men in Rhode Island. Explore history and learn about the important issues of the day.

Benefit Street –  Take a stroll down one of the prettiest streets in Providence. The architecture runs from the late 1700’s right through the Victorian era and is simply stunning. Bring your camera.

Providence Festival of Historic Houses – This annual tour of the best homes in Providence is great fun. Get your tickets early!

WaterFire – Watch as the Providence River is set ablaze with bonfires. Waterfire is a spectacular art exhibit and show and is a great night out for the whole family.

Providence Performing Arts Center – Why not take in a show the next time your in Providence? By the way, Hamilton is coming!

Tallulah’s Tacqueria – If you’re a die hard taco fan, there simply is no other place to get tacos. Everything is prepared fresh using local ingredients, including local fish…delicious.

Ellie’s Bakery  – Who doesn’t love fresh homemade baked goods, cakes and pastries and a light lunch? Ellie’s hits the mark when it comes to wholesome goodness!

What did we miss? Feel free to add your favorites in the comments below.

Christine Chitnis

Writer and photographer Christine Chitnis lives with her husband and sons in Providence, Rhode Island. Her latest book, Icy Creamy Healthy Sweet (Roost, 2016) features 75 recipes for easy-to-make homemade frozen treats.


Writer and photographer Christine Chitnis lives with her husband and sons in Providence, Rhode Island. Her latest book, Icy Creamy Healthy Sweet (Roost, 2016) features 75 recipes for easy-to-make homemade frozen treats.

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  1. Suzanne

    19 October

    This is a great post-thank you for sharing! While strolling down Benefit St, don’t fail to stop at the Providence Athenaeum. The architecture, the history, and the books make it more than a worthwhile visit! And, for a fun night out, try Bayberry Beer Hall on the west side. Craft beer, friendly people and a hip, relaxed setting!

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