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Providence, RI City Guide Update

by Sabrina Smelko

Providence-cityguide

It’s not every day that a city guide pulls me in enough to make me want to move there, but Christine Chitnis‘s guide to Providence, RI is definitely one of them. Christine originally grew up in Torch Lake in Northern Michigan, but has called Providence home for over seven years. This charming, unpretentious city is finally having its well-deserved moment in the limelight due to its affordability, beautiful architecture, awesome food and easy-to-love culture. And though Christine is thrilled it’s finally being recognized, she’s left wondering: “what took you so long?!”

In the past few years, dozens of publications (Architectural Digest, Wall Street Journal, Travel + Leisure and New York Times, to name a few) have been showering praise upon this city, and countless other newspapers and magazines keep writing about it, which Christine knows a thing or two about. Having written three books, including Little Bites (Roost, 2015) which will hit bookshelves in July 2015, she’s now helping people get published through her online workshop, Pitch Perfect. More than five years ago, Christine wrote the original Providence guide for us, and today she’s back with her updated and exhaustive guide, which is overwhelmingly awesome! –Sabrina

Providence-2

I wrote the first guide to Providence back in 2008. I had only lived in Providence for a year, but I spent that first year exploring every nook and cranny. Now, seven years later, I am even more in love with this city (we’ve had our ups and downs, but we’re in a good place now!).

I’ve settled into a routine when it comes to eating/shopping/adventuring; a steady rotation of favorites, if you will. I’m still always up for checking out the hot new restaurants and cafes, and indeed, this past year has seen several of these newbies quickly make their way onto my favorites list. However, instead of aiming for an overwhelmingly comprehensive guide, I thought I would share a handful of my favorite spots in each category. This guide could easily carry you through a weekend visit, or better yet, an entire week.

I’d love to hear your favorites in the comment section; together I bet we can build quite a list!

Providence Architecture

Coffee Shops

With a large student population, it’s no wonder that Providence is a city that craves its caffeine. You can find incredible independent coffee shops in every part of town, from White Electric on the West Side to Blue State on College Hill. This past year saw three exciting additions to the coffee scene: The Shop, Bolt Coffee (inside The Dean Hotel) and a Providence outpost of Dave’s Coffee.

Bolt Coffee, 122 Fountain St., 401-455-DEAN; Located inside The Dean Hotel, Bolt Coffee brews up artisanal coffee and offers a small selection of locally made baked goods.

The Shop, 460 Wickenden St., 401-684-1140; A small but impeccably designed coffee shop serving a selection of locally made baked goods along with top-notch coffee. The staff is super friendly, and every last detail is gorgeous, from the bread boards hanging on the wall, to the tile decorating the floor. This has quickly become my favorite morning stop.

The Shop The Shop1

White Electric, 711 Westminster St., 401-457-3007; I’m probably a bit biased when it comes to this coffee shop. I just love the laid-back vibe, the owners are a super sweet couple, and the food is healthy. I wrote my second and third books here — I order a latte, White Electric salad and Hungry Boy cookie and write for hours. I really love this place.

White Electric coffee

Dave’s Coffee, 341 S. Main St., 401-322-0006; A well-loved Rhode Island craft coffee roaster, this is their first Providence location.

Coffee Exchange, 207 Wickenden St., 401-273-1198; A sustainably minded neighborhood coffee joint popular with RISD students.

Blue State Coffee, 300 Thayer St., 401-383-8393; Organic, fair-trade coffee served in a politically charged environment. There’s also a Blue State located within the Brown Bookstore, also on Thayer Street.

 

Breakfast/ Brunch

I dare say brunch is one of the most popular meals in Providence. At some of these local favorites, such as Julians and Kitchen, you’ll find lines out the door every weekend. The food is always well worth the wait.

Olga’s Cup and Saucer, 103 Point St., 401-831-6666; Great breakfast and lunch place with the cutest outdoor seating area and phenomenal, fresh-baked goods and breads.

Kitchen, 94 Carpenter St.; With only a handful of booths at this teeny, tiny place, you will be waiting, but it will be worth it. Hearty, home-cooked-style breakfast; exceptional muffins, omelets, bacon and sweetbread french toast. NOTE: Cash only.

Julians, 318 Broadway, 401-861-1770; It’s hard to choose a favorite dish when visiting this well-loved brunch spot: the Monster French Toast is amazing, as are their creative Egg Benediction options, and their Pulled Lamb Hash. And you certainly won’t go hungry, thanks to the generous portions.

The Grange, 166 Broadway, 401-831-0600; We love The Grange for date night as well as brunch, which is served only on the weekend. The menu offers creative vegetarian fare, smoothies, and exquisitely crafted cocktails. Don’t miss the Pretzel Bread French Toast — insanely delicious.

The Grange The Grange1

Seven Stars Bakery, 820 Hope St., 401-521-2200; This bakery is an absolute must if you are in Providence, their almond chocolate croissants and lemon cake are to-die-for.

 

High-End Restaurants

Providence is home to Johnson and Wales, a college renowned for its culinary program. Many of our most lauded chefs got their start there and decided to stay in town after school, which may account for the staggering number of amazing restaurants in our small city. These tend to be special occasion/ date night / high-end places, where the food is astounding and the atmosphere a bit upscale.

New Rivers, 7 Steeple St., 401-751-0350; A cozy and welcoming vibe, serving all local food and creative cocktails — great for date night.

Bacaro, 262 S. Water St., 401-751-3700; Hearty, upscale Italian food — Baccaro is our favorite place to take visiting friends and family. Sit upstairs where you’ll have a nice view of the river and the city. Save room for their made-to-order desserts; especially the in-season, rustic fruit tarts.

Al Forno, 577 South Main St., 401-273-9760; THE culinary destination of Providence — home of the famous wood fired pizza, incredible Italian food, and made-to-order desserts.

Gracie’s, 194 Washington St., 401-272-7811; Impeccable service and an ever-changing menu built around local ingredients, Gracie’s is our go-to for special occasions; birthdays, celebrations and anniversaries.  Across the street from Gracie’s is their bakery, Ellie’s — serving breakfast and lunch, along with coffee and baked goods.

North, 3 Luongo Memorial Square. 401-421-1100; A relatively new kid on the block, North quickly became the talk of the town with its creative, upscale, ever-changing, mostly Asian menu (plus chef James Mark is a Momofuku vet, which equals instant street cred). Seating is very limited (30 people max), and they don’t take reservations, but you can grab a drink at The Avery, which is right across the street, while you wait for your table. North has great cocktails, but the bar area is tiny and it can be hard to get a spot. During the day check out North Bakery — great for a chocolate chip cookie and coffee.

birch, 200 Washington St. 401-272-3105; An entirely unique and interactive dining concept — guests are seated at a communal table with a small kitchen/ chef’s counter in the middle. Watch as your meal is prepared using the fresh, local ingredients.

Local 121, 121 Washington St., 401-274-2121; Farm-fresh, local food and a great nightlife in this restored 1890s hotel, stop in for a drink; their bar is always hopping.

Providence streets

Casual Eats

While I wouldn’t dare call these fine establishments “cheap eats,” they do offer more affordable eats than what you’ll find at the high-end restaurants. For true cheap eats, you can always grab a slice of pizza from Nice Slice or a sandwich from Geoff’s. Or track down one of the many great food trucks that circle the city.  These restaurants are casual, but the food is exceptional.

DenDen, 161 Benefit St., 401-270-5269; Newly opened and already immensly popular, DenDen is serving up the best Korean and Japanese food in town. With exposed brick walls and high ceilings, the atmosphere is cozy, yet modern. We love grabbing a bite here before catching a movie at Avon Cinema over on Thayer Street — it makes for the perfect casual date night.

Garden Grille, 727 East Ave., Pawtucket, 401-726-2826; Right over the Providence city line, Garden Grille technically falls in Pawtucket, but I had to include this vegetarian and vegan restaurant for its creative and hearty dishes. Be sure not to miss Wildflour, the vegan bakery (by the same owners) just a few doors down.

Rasoi, 727 East Ave., Pawtucket, 401-728-5500: Just next door to Garden Grille is our favorite Indian restaurant.

Ken’s Ramen, 69 Washington St.; Elevating a simple bowl of ramen to a whole new level; think homemade, whole chicken paitan broth that is simmered for over 30 hours. Cash only and no reservations accepted; be prepared to wait, both for lunch and dinner. It’s always packed.

The Duck and Bunny, 312 Wickenden St, 401-270-3300; An all-day cafe and snuggery (What is a snuggery, you might ask? A cozy, comfortable place, of course)! Their crepes are killer!

Duck and Bunny

Loie Fuller’s, 1455 Westminster St., 401-273-4375; Authentic French bistro vibe, also serves an awesome brunch.

Three Sisters, 1074 Hope St., 401-273-7230; Homemade ice cream that attracts lines out the door on hot summer nights. Try the Dirty Garden Mint, or Coffee Heath Oreo Crunch. Also serves breakfast and lunch.

 

Bars and Nightlife:

With two young kids at home, I’m certainly no expert on the Providence nightlife scene, but here are a few of my favorite places to grab a well-made cocktail.

Avery, 18 Luongo Memorial Square; A chic bar raising the nightlife scene in Providence. Located on the younger and hipper West Side.

The Dorrance, 60 Dorrance St., 401-521-6000; I love taking out-of-town visitors to The Dorrance for drinks, simply because the building itself, formerly a Federal Reserve, is breathtaking. Soaring ornate ceilings and a long, elegant bar make for a unique and upscale setting. The bartenders are friendly and knowledgeable and there’s live jazz on Friday nights.

The Dorrance

The Eddy, 95 Eddy St., 401-831-3339; A dark and sexy jewel-box of a bar, grab a perfectly crafted cocktail and an upscale snack. Don’t miss the Bavarian soft pretzels with sweet maple butter, and farm fresh deviled eggs.

Thee Red Fez, 49 Peck St., 401-861-3825; I love their motto: “The restaurant that drinks like a bar! The bar that eats like a restaurant!” And it’s true — great food, great drinks.

 

Shops and Bookstores:

The shopping scene in Providence is a bit spread out. There are small pockets of great shops here and there, but in order to hit all of my favorite shops, a bit of driving or biking is required. Instead of running all over town, I often visit my favorite shops when I’m in that part of town for coffee or a bite to eat; for example The Grange is just down the way from Cluck and Jephry Floral Studio. Seven Stars Bakery shares a street with Frog and Toad, as well as Studio Hop, Olive del Mondo and Kreatelier.

Arcade Providence, 65 Weybosset St., 401-454-4568; The nation’s oldest indoor shopping mall recently received a full renovation that brought it back to its former glory. Inside you’ll find coffee shops, cafes and shops on the first floor, while the second and third floor house 48 residential micro-lofts.

The Arcade

Studio Hop, 810 Hope St., 401-621-2262; A great art studio featuring the work of over 40 Rhode Island artists, also offers a selection of vintage home decor (amazing Danish / mid-century modern finds).

Providence, around town

 

Frog and Toad, 795 Hope St., 401-831-3434; Charming, quirky gift shop chock-full of great finds, a sure thing for unique hostess gifts.

Stock, 756 Hope St., 401-521-0101; Impeccably sourced and curated kitchen tools and cooking resources for food lovers and avid home cooks. The aesthetics of this store are top-notch; modern and colorful.

Kreatelier, 804 Hope St.; All handmade goods, crafty workshops for kids and adults.

Olive del Mondo, 815 Hope St., 401-383- 5733; As an avid home cook who loves to use the freshest ingredients possible, I couldn’t be a bigger fan of this shop, which offers fresh, extra virgin olive oils and vinegars on tap.

Moon Tide Dyers, 468 Wickenden St., 508-221-6477 ; A funky indie clothing line, all made locally, featuring soft, stretchy jersey separates including tees, leggings and dresses.

Shoppe Pioneer, 253 S. Main St., 401-274-7467; My go-to for fashionable (yet affordable), one-of-a-kind pieces. If I need a special occasion dress, or just a great date-night shirt, this is my shop.

Simple Pleasures, 6 Richmond St., 401-331-4120; An adorable gift store tucked a bit out of the way, but totally worth the trip. Unique selection of items, all with a very global, eclectic feel.

cluck!, 399 Broadway, 401-274-1160; Probably my favorite shop in Providence; an urban farm and garden supply store housed in a former auto repair shop. Outside the shop you’ll find beehives, a chicken coop and gardens, while inside you’ll find a host of beautifully curated gifts and goods, as well as the down-and-dirty stuff you need to feed your chickens and grow your veggies. Drake, the owner, is super knowledgeable and always eager to help aspiring growers. Don’t miss their calender of urban farming and gardening classes.

Cluck

Jephry Floral Studio, 432 Broadway, 401-351-3510; My favorite place for creative and inspired floral arrangements. The shop itself is very sweet, and has a small selection of gift items.

Jephry Floral Studio

Piñata Center, 300 Broadway St., 888-974-6282; This store is my secret weapon for my kids’ birthday parties — handcrafted piñata in every size, shape and color you can imagine. But there’s more than just piñatas; it also has some beautiful, globally-sourced goods from South America, such as textiles, purses and leather goods. Just a funky, interesting little place.

 

Bookstores:

Ada Books, 330 Dean, 401-432-6222; Tiny, yet well-stocked book store around the corner from White Electric Coffee.

Symposium Books, 240 Westminster, 401-273-7900; Indie book store with low prices and plenty of hard-to-find titles.

Books on the Square, 471 Angell, 401-331-9097; Fantastic independent book store with a very sweet children’s section.

Cellar Stories Bookstore, 111 Mathewson, 401-521-2665; Amazing selection of rare and used books.

 

Things to Do:

Besides shopping, eating and drinking coffee, Providence offers much to see and do. Architecture buffs will enjoy the many historical buildings around town. Art enthusiasts will enjoy the RISD Museum and campus, as well as the many arts organizations and galleries throughout the city. Foodies will enjoy the farmers’ market scene, while those looking for some outdoor activity will find it on the East Bay Bike Path.  There really is something for everyone.

Brown University: This Ivy League university draws a diverse crowd of students. The campus rambles through the East Side; beautiful buildings, green spaces and glimpses of student life are all part of its charm.

Brown Campus

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD): A renowned school of design, RISD’s museums and galleries are all worth a visit! A few of my favorite stops:

RISD classroom RISD Nature Lab

Nature LabRISD MuseumRISD WorksFleet Library

Blackstone Boulevard, Historic East Side Providence neighborhood with beautiful homes and a greenway with a 1.6 mile bike path and running trail.

East Bay Bike Path; A 14.5-mile bike path running from India Point Park in Providence to Independence Park in Bristol.

AS220, 115 Empire Street; A nonprofit community arts space in downtown Providence, the gallery space and classes are definitely worth checking out. Be sure to check out the restaurant, Food at AS220, for healthy, creative, affordable eats.

AS220

The Steel Yard, 27 Sims Ave., 401-237-7101; A one-of-a-kind arts organization located at the historic Providence Steel and Iron site, their 10,000-square-foot industrial shop includes everything from welding and blacksmithing space to a ceramics residency. They offer a packed calender of events and classes for artists, community members and tradespeople.

WaterFire; Providence is famous for this art installation, which consists of fires burning all down the river in downtown. Music, food and beer gardens makes this a crowded, lively event. Waterfire occurs on select Saturday nights, see website for the calender.

Southside Community Land Trust; SCLT is an amazing, nonprofit organization committed to providing Providence residents access to the land and resources necessary to grow their own food. Visit their City Farm, which grows two tons of food in its 3/4 acre space — it’s such a great example of a thriving urban farm. Once a year they host a rare and unusual plant sale that is every gardener’s dream!

City Farm1

Farmers’ Markets: Providence has a number of wonderful farmers’ markets. There’s one almost every day of the week, though 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.

Farmers Market

Providence Athenaeum Library, 251 Benefit St., 401-421-6970; Founded in 1836, this independent, member-supported library is housed in a breathtaking Greek Revival building.

Federal Hill: This is the Italian section of town, our very own “Little Italy.” The food, art galleries and atmosphere make it a must-see while in Providence. There are so many restaurants on Federal Hill that it would take an entire guide just to name them all…but don’t miss Pastiche, an incredible little dessert place, and Tony’s Colonial, an Italian market.

 

Theaters, Music and Dance:

I hope by now you are getting the sense of Providence’s robust, creative energy.  This includes a vibrant theater, music and dance scene.

Avon Cinema, 260 Thayer, 401-421-3315; A great indie theater nestled into the bustle of Thayer Street.

Cable Car Cinema, 204 South Main St., 401-272-3970; An artsy theater that replaces uncomfortable theater seats with couches! An annual host for the RI International Film Festival.

Cable Car Cinema

Movies on the Block, Corner of Westminster and Union; Different movie every Thursday night at dusk, all outdoors and FREE.

Trinity Rep, 201 Washington St., 401-351-4242; Founded in 1963, one of the last long-standing resident acting companies in the country.

Columbus Theater, 270 Broadway; This gorgeously restored theater, with a packed roster of everything from films to live music, opened its doors again in 2012, after a much needed renovation.

Festival Ballet, 825 Hope St, 401-353-1129.; Rhode Island’s premiere professional ballet company, also offering lessons for young, aspiring ballerinas.

Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel, 79 Washington St.; Popular live music venue featuring big name acts. In existence since 1975, Lupo’s has a rich history including past live performances by James Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis, Iggy Pop, Willie Nelson, Green Day, Radiohead, The White Stripes and even Justin Bieber, to name a few.

 

Where to Stay:

The Dean Hotel, 122 Fountain Street, 401-455-DEAN; Finally, a boutique hotel in downtown Providence that offers a hip, clean, modern aesthetic. You’d never guess it was housed in a former brothel…but then again, this is Providence!

The Dean-2 The Dean

 

Children’s Shops and Activities

I’ve been at home with my kids for the past five years, so I feel as though I am something of an expert on the kid scene here in Providence. Our typical haunts include the various playgrounds and parks, the Saturday farmers’ market and the many fabulous public libraries around town. RISD Museum also has children’s activities, and a walk through Brown’s campus can be fun for the kids (there are always students throwing around the Frisbee and kicking around soccer balls, which my boys love to watch). We also love cheering on the various Brown sports teams throughout the year — in particular, hockey and soccer. Here are a few other additions to that list:

KidOInfo Blog; The best blog for kids activities in Providence!

CreaTOYvity, 808 Hope, 401-351-5718; A toy store with both old-fashioned fun and all the latest toys.

Providence Children’s Museum, 100 South Street, 401-273-5437; This hands-on museum is a great way to pass an afternoon

Roger Williams Park Zoo, 1000 Elmwood Avenue, 401-785-3510; Who doesn’t love a great zoo?

Rock-a-Baby; Why suffer through precious, humorless music classes with your baby when you can rock out with the talented and often hilarious musicians that put on this weekly music class (by registration only)?

Providence

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Comments

  • This is a great guide to our little city!

    These are my add-ons:

    Tallulah’s Tacos
    Ives St. off Wickenden

    Studio 539 Flowers
    Wickenden St.
    Great spot to pick up flowers for arranging yourself and they have floral design workshops.

    Chez Pascal
    Hope Street
    Get the escargot and thank me later!

    Simple Pleasures
    Richmond Square
    Enchanting, high end little shop with housewares, clothing, jewelry, children’s gifts, cosmetics and more!

    I’d also add that for visitors on a time constraint, don’t panic if you can’t get into Al Forno. There are LOTS of locals (ahem, like me) who think the food doesn’t live up to the hype. If I had to pick between waiting 3 hours for a table at Al Forno or just calling ahead for a reservation at Bacaro, go with Bacaro without a doubt!

    • Thanks Jaclyn- I totally agree with everything you said! I have been dying to try Tallulah’s Tacos, and finally made it there last week. Too late to add it to my guide, but oh my…it was outstanding! Freshly made churros. Yes!

      And Simple Pleasures is so charming…a little off the beaten path, but worth a visit!

      Thanks for your additions!

  • This is so great! I live about 30 minutes from Providence, but that’s far enough that I don’t spend a lot of time there. I’ll be using this over the summer to have some adventures with friends!

  • as a transplant to providence almost nine years ago, I fell in love with this city fast and hard! This is a fantastic guide to our beautiful city and hope that it brings more people here to see what it has to offer. I will certainly be keeping this guide for future visitors and even for myself as a reminder of all the places and options to go outside of my normal routine as well! Thank you!

  • It would be amazing if someone could plot these on google maps! Heading to Providence this weekend, and it would be so helpful to be able to view it by neighborhood. Thanks!

  • Definitely stay at The Dean, staff are helpful and kind, the lobby is a great place to hang out and the rooms are well designed.

  • I have been living in Providence for 3 years. This is an awesome and very comprehensive guide! Nice work! :) There are even some places I haven’t heard of that I’m totally going to go check out.

    As far as other press goes, I thought the WSJ piece on the perfect weekend in Providence was also spot on. I love how much press PVD has been getting lately – it really is a great place to live and visit.

    Happy to see you mention a couple places that are harder to find – like Simple Pleasures and the RISD Nature Lab.

    Here are some other tips I would add:
    -BEST TACOS: agreed with the poster above – Tallulah’s on Ives!
    -BEST PIZZA in Providence: Bob and Timmy’s in Federal Hill, followed closely by Providence Coal-Fired Pizza downtown.
    -BEST NEW ART GALLERY/SHOP: LORE Collection in the Arcade. Everything is made by RISD alums and the prices are really reasonable. Plus you can grab a coffee at New Harvest while you shop.
    -BEST USED BOOKSTORE: Paper Nautilus in Wayland Square (formerly known as Myopic Books).
    -BEST VIEW OF PVD at night in the summer: Hot Club. They don’t have artisan cocktails but their patio on the river can’t be beat for just grabbing a beer and sitting down to enjoy a warm summer evening with friends.
    -BEST WAY TO SPEND A SUNDAY AFTERNOON on College Hill: walk up and down Benefit St. to ogle the historic homes and visit the RISD Museum (free on Sundays to all).

  • Nice list! I would like to add CRAFTLAND!
    Craftland carries exclusively handmade gifts from USA and Canada! We represents about 100 local and national artists in our bright and colorful store. Over half of our artists are from MA and RI. We are located at 212 Westminster St. in downtown Providence. We are one block away from the Arcade and a couple of blocks from The Dean Hotel! Thank you for featuring our little city!

  • Awesome updated guide Christine!! There are also some really great record shops/vintage clothing spots on the west side if you’re into that sort of thing…and Craftland downtown for handmade gifts!

    -Cook & Brown hands down best fancy cocktails (in my opinion) and one of my favorite brunches!
    -Tallulah’s for Tacos, Breakfast Burritos and Churros!
    -Ellies for its amazing sweets
    – Wildflour for smoothies, vegan deliciousness
    – Wurst Window @Chez Pascal for sausages, hot dogs, etc
    -Not Just Snacks for inexpensive and delicious Indian food

  • I love this list, I have lived in RI my whole life, it’s so nice seeing Providence get such great recognition. I clearly need to get to Tallulah’s. A few newer places worth mentioning that I have been to and have loved are NAVA (New And Vintage Apparel) on Wickenden St, I’ve bought amazing candles there, stationary, two quilts, clothing, jewelery, beard oils, etc, the owners have great finds all the time. I loved Ogie’s Trailer Park, such retro fun, wonderful food & beverages, definitely worth visiting. Also, Salted Slate in Wayland Square, I had brunch there Sunday, it was fantastic, and I went for drinks on a Tuesday night, brilliant blends of liquors, the bartender Scott was awesome. I can’t wait to check out some more of the great places listed above. Thank you!

  • Great list! I have to add to the restaurants though. I think Nick’s on Broadway is the best restaurant in PVD, bar none. Go there first for dinner, then walk to Julian’s for a great beer.

  • So happy that you put this list together, so many great places!
    Here are a few more!
    The best sushi is at Sushi Yama! It’s a tiny place on Westminster…it closes at 9pm so get there early, but it has amazingly fresh sushi and delicious ice cream!
    Local 121 is a great bar for a classy drink and sometimes has live music.
    Geoff’s Superlative Sandwiches has like 100 delicious sandwich options, classic Rhode Island.
    Joe Marzillis Old Canteen is a classic italian restuarant with all over pink decor, amazingly old school! Great for a date night.
    Enjoy!

  • I moved here almost 8 years ago, also from the great Midwest (Madison, WI!) and while it took me awhile to adjust to life here, I’ve grown to love it! That said, I’d like to add our fantastic record shops in PVD and a couple of other things:

    *Olympic Records
    580 Wickenden St.
    *Armageddon Records
    436 Broadway
    and
    *Round Again Records
    278 Wickenden St.

    *Small Point Cafe on Westminster. A fantastic little coffee shop, with excellent sandwiches in the heart of downtown
    *Queen of Hearts/Modern Love
    Quirky clothing and shoe options, great jewelry!

  • Providence native and Latina, just letting you know the Pinata Center on Westminster is actually a store that carries Guatemalan products, not South American :-)

    Also for authentic cheap eats:

    Mexican : La Lupita in Olneyville!
    Dominican food : Carolinas on Broad St.
    African Food : Sue’s Restaurant on Winter St.
    Cambodian/Thai : Apsara on Public St.
    …and so much more!

    There’s more to Providence than fancy/hip curated spaces It’s a very diverse, beautiful little city. Loved seeing AS220 on here! Worked at that amazing space for many many years!

    • Hi Gaby,

      I have to respectfully disagree with your comment that the guide just features fancy/ hip spaces.

      That being said, this is a design-focused site, and I wanted to highlight many of the shops and restaurants that have interesting/ well-thought out interiors, as well as outstanding products to offer. As I wrote I asked myself: “If I were showing around a design enthusiast, where would I take them.” Though it should be said that many of the restaurants and shops highlighted have been around for decades, and I’m sure they would cringe at being called “hip.” The word that comes to mind instead is “authentic.” I tried to include many types of cuisines too including Indian, Korean, Japanese, French and Italian, to name a few.

      Additionally- the guide ranges from the East Side to the West Side and everywhere in between- geographically, I think it is pretty diverse. And I tried very hard to call attention to some of the important organizations doing great work in our city: The Steel Yard, AS220, Farm Fresh RI, and Southside Community Land Trust.

      Finally- I wholeheartedly agree that it is a diverse and beautiful city. As far as the beauty of our city, a stroll through Brown’s campus, or along Blackstone Blvd, or a visit to Federal Hill or the RISD Museum, or a walk along Benefit Street, or a wander through Southside’s City Farm should offer plenty of natural/ architectural beauty.

      It pains me to see this guide dismissed as hip/ fancy/ trendy when I really tried to make it very encompassing. I hope you’ll give it another read!

      p.s. My apologies- The Pinata Center indeed carries Guatemalan products. My mistake.

  • My husband and I try to visit Providence at least once a year for an overnight because we love it. Every time that we visit I find something new that makes me love this city even more. We went last weekend and had An amazing breakfast at Nicks on Broadway, up on Federal Hill. There is usually a wait but you can call ahead and put your name on the wait list. It is all about the biscuits. I am a vintage clothing fan and just down from the Grange (another favorite spot to eat) is a little shop called “white buffalo”. I never leave without at least one funky piece and the owner is super nice. Over in Fox Point at 243 Wickenden st. At Nostalgia Providence, we found a huge old Chase and Sanborn shipping crate that I am going to use as an end table for $60.00. I can’t wait to go back in the fall.

  • The Athenaeum cannot be missed! One of my favorite buildings and libraries in all the world. And as out-of-towners, we met with local friends for drinks at the Dorrance on a Saturday night and were completely wow’ed. Loved our weekend at the Dean!!!

  • As a lifelong Rhody, I’ve always loved Providence and exploring its nooks and crannies. New spots are always opening up, and I love a lot of the places listed here (get the po’ boy & pommes frites at the Grange!), but I’d have to add Nick’s on Broadway, Ellie’s, and North Bakery to the mix. Nick’s has the best food in the city, brunch or dinner, it’s all to die for, and Ellie’s has the most delicious sandwiches and pastries, all so carefully crafted, plus they have an ice cream macaron sandwich cart in the summer time! Ad North Bakery has such inventive cookies and other yummy goodies. Then there’s La Creperie on Thayer for crepes and smoothies. You need at least a week in the city to hit all the good spots!

  • Thanks for this guide, on behalf of Pinata Center & La Tiendita Boutique, we thank you for referring us in this article, just wanted to update some of our info, our pinatas are handmade, some of our pinatas are imported from Guatemala and some are made here by local artisans, our other items are handcrafted products from Guatemala such as leather bags, wool items, recycled Mayan fabric pillows, ground and wholebean coffee and many more handmade products.

  • Great list! There are so many new places to see since I studied in PVD.

    I agree with Emmy. Paper Nautilus (Myopic Books when I was an undergrad) is the best. They have great random antiques here and there that are always interesting.

    Also to represent the tea lovers among us, Tealuxe on Thayer Street is a must. They even have bubble tea.

    East Side Pockets is also a great, inexpensive late night institution – at least among the Brown/RISD set.

  • Hi Siri, unfortunately Sushi Yama has closed :-( my boyfriend & I tried going last week and there was a sign on the door stating it has closed for good. This makes me sad, as the food was unbelievable!

    • Oh no! Maybe the chef is opening a bigger spot?!….with a bathroom…
      I also wanted to add the Rhode Island Antique Mall(in Pawtucket) and the antique shops on Wickenden are great places to find little gems. And! if you like to make jewelry def go to Wolf E Myro for dead stock supplies.

  • Nice guide! A few of my favorites that were missed are already mentioned in the comments. I’ll add Los Andes on Chalkstone. If you haven’t been, go, right now!

    I haven’t been to The Grange since it’s first opened, but I struggle to like it. I want to (I love their sister restaurant Garden Grille) but I just can’t. Maybe I’ll try again.

  • Love seeing my little city on here! I’m shocked that Nick’s didn’t make the list! By FAR the best brunch in town, as some other commenters mentioned.

  • Great article and great comments filling in some blanks re: great places in the best city evah!
    My own small business, West Side Sewing Studio, may not be for the short time visitor but if you happen to be hanging around for awhile you might like to sign up to learn how to sew. WSSS offers individualized sewing instruction in a small group setting; you can design your own curriculum and sew whatever you want.
    I’m also a ceramic artist and teach at The Steel Yard as well as at School One here in Providence.
    I love my city!
    https://www.facebook.com/westsidesewingstudio

  • My favorite place for a drink is AS220. They have a large selection of beers & cider on tap, and the trendy cocktails are tasty & inexpensive.

  • Great suggestions, and so many additions from all the comments, I’m not sure that there’s much to add. You’re spot-on with your suggestions.

    One of the great things about our city is that there’s always something happening. You can fill a weekend with activities, classes, get-togethers and events.

    The people, food and art are fun, friendly and eclectic. We’ve only been here seven years, ourselves, but we love Providence and are proud to call it home.

  • Love this list and frequent many of these little gems! I would also add Chez Pascal for fine French fare on a date night or a fabulous gourmet hot dog from the Wurst Kitchen window after shopping at Farmers’ Market on a Saturday.
    We have also attended RockABaby for the past four years and will be soooooo sad when we “age out.” Such a musical treat!!! Another beautiful childhood experience is Lindsay’s story time at the Athenaeum on Benefit Street twice a week. Not to be missed!!! Precious!! The building itself is magnificent and smells of old books.

  • Concur, concur, concur! I came here 34 years ago to go to art school and vowed to get the blink outta here as soon as I graduated. Lucky for me, it got complicated. PVD is a GREAT place to live.

    I agree with someone above who suggested adding Los Andes on Chalkstone to the must visit list.

    Local 121 is amazing (executive chef Tyler Demora has a gift).

    A visit to the State House is a nice idea for people who appreciate architecture and/or history.

    And what about the local craft breweries? The Bucket Brewery is a great place to taste very good original craft beers. There are also local pubs with live music to recommend…

    Finally, go catch a PawSox game before they leave McCoy Stadium. We don’t know where the team will end up, but this is where the longest game in professional baseball was played, and it’s a truly fun thing to do on a summer night. Being there is like reliving older times, when life was simpler. This year’s team is exciting to watch, and the best seat in the place costs about $13.

  • A couple of good ones to add–
    Brunch: Nicks on Broadway. Stellar dedicated deliciousness!

    Chez Pascal for fine dining date nights, or if you’re me, a place to host your uber small wedding reception. They double as casual eats too with their Wurst Kitchen; walk up or head inside for some lunch or casual dinner that you won’t want to miss! The owners & staff are amazing!

    Myopic Books–funky and yet you might find exactly what you never knew you needed (So. Angell)

    Tallulahs Tacos on Ives–oh my God are they good. You will never go to chipotle again!

    Sushi–Haruki East in Wayland Square. The Katano will leave you reeling with umami.

  • looks like I had my email entered wrong. BTW, my family is from The Mitten! Spent every summer there as a kid and visit at least once a year!

  • I love all this hometown love!

    Not sure if anyone has given a shout out to these awesome places but if you havent been to…

    Los Andes for Peruvian

    la Lupita for Mexican

    Malachi’s for great bagel sandwiches

    The Red Fez for beers and deliciousness

    Ran Zan for sushi (not fancy just deliciois)

    You need to go! See you all around our beautiful city, Cheers!

  • I see a lot of posts about tacos and no mention of El Rancho Grande? Head there, get a taco arabe, die happy.

  • Love this guide! I grew up in Providence, have lived on the East Side for 4 years now, and am a dancer with Festival Ballet- so happy to see that shout out to FBP in the arts section! This list has all of my favorites. I love that PVD is starting to get the exposure it deserves!

  • Great guide on our capital city. Thank you! We couldn’t help but notice that you left out our new favorite, Sunday stomping ground in the summer–The Providence Flea, a weekly showcase of local artisans along with vintage vendors, community non profits, a rotation of almost 20 local food trucks and carts, and live local music. A Best of RI and Best of New England by Yankee Magazine, The @ProvidenceFlea hopes you’ll consider us in your next go-round! (providenceflea.com)

  • Wonderful guide! I’m pinning it to Pinterest so I don’t lose track. I’ll chime in with the “add Los Andes and Chez Pascal!” crowd. But I have to disagree w/Tallulah’s Tacos….I was disappointed and much prefer One More Taco on Hartford Ave…yes, it’s juuuust a skotch over the line into Johnston, but no more over than Garden Grille is into Pawtucket! (which I also love).

    The Dorrance wasn’t actually A federal reserve, it was a restaurant called Federal Reserve which opened in the mid-90s. Before then it was a series of local banks, ending with the banking crisis of 1991.

  • I should have clarified….the Tallulah’s Tacos I said I was disappointed in was from other commenters, not one of your suggestions. I agreed with all of your suggestions that I have been to…and this lifelong RI’er has a few new places to check out. Thank you!!

  • Chiming in with one more restaurant recommendation – don’t miss Easy Entertaining on Valley Street! They serve breakfast and lunch (awesome donuts on Friday mornings!) using local foods, and the atmosphere is really laid back and chill. Servers are passionate about the food and make great recommendations, and they have special dinners a couple nights a month. My husband and I LOVE burger night!

  • This guide was all I used on a recent visit to Providence, thank you! I had the best meal of my life at Gracie’s! Olga’s was also amazing for breakfast.

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