Recently, I was lucky enough to tag along with my hubby, Sean, and a couple of our friends on a quick business trip to Providence, Rhode Island. While they were there to work, I went to play. I didn’t know much about the “Ocean State”, besides it’s teeny stature, but I was excited to explore what the area had to offer.
With only one rental car between us, I knew I was going to be on foot for the duration of the trip. Lucky for me, we were in a great spot just north of center of the bustling and walkable downtown, also known in the area as Downcity. The 90 acre downtown is packed with a pretty unique restaurant scene, offering flavors all across the board.
We flew into a rainy Boston on a Friday afternoon and began our trek into Providence. It was a pretty drive, and with the “it’s the freakin weekend” traffic, we got to really check out the scenery. By the time we got settled into our hotel, it was late bar food hour and we were in the mood for a beer!
This place was just a block from our hotel, which was appealing since it was still drizzling and one of the friendly fellows at our hotel gave us a free appetizer coupon (with purchase of course!)
We started by ordering a tasty beverage. They offered a nice selection of their own brews, but lately, I have been all about the pale ales, so I had to go with their "Uncle Vic's Secret". This brew had EVERYTHING that I have been loving in a craft beer. It was hazy, juicy, hoppy but not too bitter on the back end, really packed with flavor. At 5% ABV, Uncle Vic's Secret won't knock you on your butt, which worked for me since there was a lot more beer to be sampled in the area! This turned out to be my favorite local beer. The brew was a collaboration with Cheyne Tessier, the brewer from Proclamation Ale Company, a brewery about 30 minutes South of Providence, in West Kingston, Rhode Island. We didn't get a chance to visit Proclamation, but if Uncle Vic's is any indication of their style, we will be back to check them out! Great job guys!
With our free appetizer coupon, we decided to munch on some Calamari. The style was new to me, loaded with pickled cherry peppers, shallots and Pomodoro sauce, it had a very pickley profile. Now, I love anything pickled, but to me, this could have used about half of the sauce that it came with. Interesting flavor though and I'd be interested in playing around with a recipe. We also ordered a BBQ pulled pork pizza, but I think Providence has much better pizza to offer. Overall, I would save my belly space for the beer at this spot.
61 Washington St, Providence, RI 02903
This Parisian inspired bakery was a cute stop for breakfast the next morning. The downtown digs were quaint, with a line to the door, but that gave us a chance to drool over all the sweet treats behind the glass! Sean and I both ordered a Cortado, a rich shot of espresso mixed with equal parts steamed milk. We shared a ham & gruyere croissant and their breakfast sandwich, which consisted of a farm egg, cheddar cheese, tomato jam, and their own homemade English muffin. Points! You had the option to add meat to the sandwich, but we went sans. Look at those flaky layers in the croissant! I could have used about twice the ham & cheese (hungry girl!), but it was really tasty. They offered an almond croissant that looked delish...kinda regret not going for that and some macaroons....and some cookies!
Later that night....
385 Westminster St, Providence, RI 02903
They had me at coal fired! This style of pizza is fast fired, with a crispy, chewy crust. I love those little burnt bubbles! The restaurant had a good feel to it. The bar had a generous amount of seats surrounding a pretty healthy selection of draft beers and a large selection of wines and liquors. They also had a pizza bar surrounding the coal fired oven, where you can really feel the burn!
Of course, we ordered a couple of beers, both of the pale ale variety. The Grotto is an IPA brewed by Foolproof Brewing, in Pawtucket, RI, just north of Providence. The 6.5% ABV was bright and juicy with a nice hoppy finish. We also had a Connecticut beer, the Half Full Bright Pale Ale. This Blonde/Pale Ale hybrid was was a little lighter, at 5.2% ABV. Both went well with the pizza, but I really liked the hoppy flavor of The Grotto!
For dinner, we ordered the super shroomy, Baby Bella pizza. This beauty was loaded with Oyster and Crimini mushrooms, truffle oil, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. Soooo good! The crust was perfectly chewy and crispy and held up to the somewhat heavy toppings. I added some crushed red pepper for a little spicy bite. This was one of my favorite spots, and the leftover slices were even better as a late night snack...and for breakfast the next morning.
Next, the long awaited....
32 Custom House Street, Providence, RI, 02903
This elevated donut spot was on my list before we even got on the plane! I knew I had to have one of these babies. I had the day to myself, so I went solo on this donut run. Just a 10 minute walk from the hotel, I made my way there in no time. The old Victorian style building, 32 Custom House, is home to not only the delicious donut digs, but also offers a handful of apartments upstairs for lease. The building is eye catching, sleek & modern, with an old gothic charm.
They offered everything from Old Fashioned, Cake style, Brioche and filled donuts, fritters and coffee and even some vegan options. I don't think I actually drooled on the glass, but I wanted to! I ordered a large iced coffee and a big old Brown Butter Pecan donut! They also offered samples of their Blueberry Lemon Basil donut, which you know I tasted! The flavors were unique and bright. I got through half of the donut before tapping out and bagging up the rest. And yes, it was still delicious the next day.
Later that night...
334 Westminster St, Providence, RI 02903
This place caught my eye because of its lengthy craft beer selection. Sean and I wanted to try some more beers that we couldn't get back in Louisiana, so this seemed like the obvious choice. The bartender was great, offering up samples of beer faster than we could ask for, based on the styles we liked. We settled on two brews from Heavy Seas, a brewery in Baltimore, MD. The Loose Cannon, their flagship brew, is a triple hopped, American IPA with a nice piney flavor. The beer packs a little punch at 7.25% ABV. The other was their double IPA, Double Cannon, standing tall at a whopping 9.5% ABV! It had a little more of a sweetness to it, so personally, we both liked the Loose Cannon a little better.
The Malted Barley also offers up a food menu, featuring salads, sandwiches and made to order gourmet pretzels, which of course we had to try. According to the bartender, a popular choice was the Jalapeno & Cheddar stuffed pretzel with Apricot Butter, but we ended up choosing a more traditional Asiago & Parm pretzel with marinara to get our dip on! It was pretty darn delicious. Look at that end to end, cheesy goodness! This was a great place to grab a beer and snack.
278 Thayer St, Providence, RI 02906
On our last afternoon in Providence, we made the short, uphill trek past the Rhode Island School of Design & Brown University to the College Hill neighborhood. Being from the ultra flat, South Louisiana, it felt like we were climbing a mountain, but in actuality, it was a subtle climb and a great way to work up an appetite! Earlier on the trip, I had seen East Side Pockets come up in my google search for cheap eats in the area. Once I realized we were headed in that direction, I suggested we check it out. We made our way to Thayer Street, not realizing what a bustling area it would be. The street was lined with unique restaurants, coffee shops, & local stores. The area seemed to be geared towards the students of the area and people on foot. We made it to East Side Pockets and as soon as we walked in, we knew it was going to be good! The menu was extensive and very reasonably priced. We shared the Combo Salad, a Greek salad piled high with all of the fixings, including tabouleh and pickles (yay!), finished off with tahini and hummus. For the "combo" part, we chose Chicken kabob and falafel. Hands down, best falafel I've ever had, seriously! This salad was so satisfying and delicious, it's no wonder, they've been around for 20 years!
Well there you have it! These were the most memorable stops of our quick trip. While we packed a good bit into our short visit, I know Providence has so much more to offer, and I would love to visit again someday!
Other tasty spots we visited:
Places we wanted to visit but missed:
Until next time, Providence!