The Best Restaurants In Providence

Where to eat like a local (complete with clam chowder) in Rhode Island’s capital.
The Best Restaurants In Providence image

photo credit: Laura Michaud

There’s a popular, self-deprecating saying in the Ocean State that, “nobody leaves Rhode Island.” If you stick around long enough, the bartenders, bank tellers, and grocery store cashiers will get to know your name. People even drive around with “Hi-Neighbor!” bumper stickers from Narragansett Brewery on their cars, a not-so-subtle nod at the fact that you can travel across the state in a mere hour (without traffic). Literally everyone is your neighbor. 

It's not hard to see why people stick around. We have everything we need right here (great food, great beaches, a Dunkin’ on every corner) and the capital city of Providence is no exception. Restaurants serve up fresh seafood, red sauce Italian, locally-made kielbasa, grinders loaded with pepperoncini, stuffed bánh mì, and more. Providence is also the birthplace of grilled pizza and home to some true food oddities, like hot wieners “all the way”: rusty red hot franks served with mustard, meat sauce, celery seeds, and chopped onions.

In this guide, you’ll find our recommendations for some of the best restaurants that Providence has to offer. There’s something for everyone, so who knows—maybe you’ll never leave Rhode Island either. We also have a guide to nearby Newport in case you're taking this whole never-leaving thing to heart.


photo credit: Grace Kelly



$$$$Perfect For:Date NightSmall PlatesDrinking Good CocktailsSpecial OccasionsDinner with the Parents


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If Gift Horse (the buzzy new restaurant from the folks at Oberlin) could be summed up in two words, it would be weird and fishy—and we mean this in the best way possible. A boggle-eyed horse stares out from a stained glass montage above the bar, while the colorful wallpaper creates a dizzying effect in the bathrooms. At the center of it all is the raw bar, a glittering seafood shrine of ice, shellfish, and crustaceans.

The Slack Tide tower is a must-order with dainty littlenecks, gently cooked mussels, smoked fish dip and nori chips, crudo speckled with flaky salt, and oysters served with kimchi mignonette. Definitely get the caviar and doughboys—a savory twist on the local, greasy beachside staple. The cocktails naturally have nautical names, like the Devil in the Deep Blue Sea: a potent mix of amaro, amontillado sherry, madeira, and falernum that’ll grow hair on your chest faster than Blackbeard’s pistols went off. Only sort of kidding.

Pizza Marvin wants to be the pizza joint you grew up with—checkered serving paper, a guy with a ‘stache behind the counter, and unpretentious digs (think high tops and bar stools). But they don’t just sling your average joint’s pizzas, hence the long list of pies that include the Roni Island (pepperoni, cherry peppers, honey) and the Voyager I (kale, green goddess, lemon, taleggio). Grab a whole pie or fly by the slice, and don’t overlook the thick, faintly sweet, chewy, and overall phenomenal tomatoey slices. 

Also, try one of their cocktails, like the famous pepperoni negroni or their fizzy, fruity proprietary Pizza Wine—it pairs perfectly with a saucey slice, hence the name. They also have a combo raw bar and pizza tower, and snacks like mozzarella-stuffed Buffalo chicken bites that are pure unadulterated, cheesy goodness. Don’t leave without some soft serve either.



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With a big menu of dishes from Puebla and Oaxaca and a bright blue interior, this restaurant on Ives Street brings the sunshine year-round. Come with a group and start the night with a pitcher of sangria tinta with pomegranate seeds swirling around. Dolores also has an extensive cocktail list replete with Mexican spirits that go beyond tequila and mezcal (like sotol and Uruapan charanda rum)—try the Cura Espantos for a smoky, coconut-laced take on an Old Fashioned. 

Foodwise, there’s a lot to choose from, but the mole pistachio and chile relleno are two rich dishes worth saving stomach room for. Even if you don’t want a full blown-meal, though, you can still come here to snack and drink. Get the tetela filled with goat cheese and serrano peppers and topped with spicy salsa roja or a round of tostadas with salsa, paired with a Sotol sour.

Federal Hill is where you’ll find most of Providence’s red sauce Italian spots, but if you’re looking for something a little lighter, head to Bonnano Vinicola. Expect spritzes, Sicilian wines (some from women-owned producers), and regional specialties like octopus salami, mozzarella di bufalo, and smoky cured bonito tuna.

You’ll probably be served by Max or Luigi, who will encourage you to try their experimental limoncellos and push tiny cups of espresso onto your table. Definitely order dessert: it’s sourced from Scialo’s, the 106-year-old Italian bakery across the street. They do a Sicilian cannoli that might make you weep tears of joy with each slightly sweet, orange-tinted ricotta-filled bite.

This College Hill bar isn’t as crowded and chaotic as somewhere in Seville or Granada, but Palo still does the tapas tradition justice. You won’t need to order much more than the tabla combinado (a plate of meats and cheeses) and a few other snacky things, like anchovies with guindilla and piquillo peppers, to feel full. And the cozy, pub-like interior is a great place to nurse a Treaty of Cordoba with tequila, mezcal, rojo vermouth, and sherry, or one of their Spanish-style gin and tonics.

If you’re a local, Oberlin is the place to take your artsy friends from New York for dinner when you want to show them that Providence is chic and has good food, too. It’s tucked away in the heart of downtown with an attentive waitstaff that’s happy to help if you’re stuck between dishes or don’t know which sake to order.

Sit at the bar if dining solo, or grab a table outside when it’s nice out and order a little bit of everything, including some rotating crudos or any other seafood plates. Don’t miss the creamy salt cod brandade with herbs and grilled housemade country bread. If you like what you eat at Oberlin, the folks here are opening a raw bar called Gift Horse, complete with seafood towers, that we’re excited about.


Fancy multi-course dinner spots are few and far between in Providence, but if you’re looking for a reason to throw down lots of cash for some stunning dishes, Gracie’s is the place to do it. It’s the kind of restaurant where a dish of Point Judith sea scallops is followed by a string of ingredients that leaves a lot to the imagination (i.e. peas, leeks, pork belly croutons, red wine shallot jam). Gracie’s is also smack dab in the middle of the theater district, making it a great start to a slightly less expensive Broadway-esque dinner-and-a-show type of evening.

This waterfront institution is renowned for its grilled pizza, which makes sense, since the owners arguably invented it back in the ’80s. It also happens to be one of Ina Garten’s favorite restaurants, which for us is reason enough to have a meal here. Unsurprisingly, Ina knows what she’s talking about: while any pizza on the menu is a good choice, go with the pepperoni-topped version that’s crispy, slightly charred, and also comes topped with scallions. Order a side of grilled bruschetta with buffalo mozzarella, a glass of red, and try not to get any sauce on the white tablecloths.

While the term “New American” means everything and nothing these days, the chef from Persimmon has been a real pioneer in the local farm-to-table movement. And this restaurant still feels under the radar, even though everybody in Providence and their parents have been coming here since they opened in 2016.

The menu changes daily (you won’t find a concrete answer to “what’s for dinner?” on their website), but we’ve recently loved the cornichon-studded beef tartare and the subtle spins on classics, like lamb wellington or the local asparagus with hollandaise (unassuming, but a banger). And with a bright but cozy interior, it’s a perfect and intimate option whether you’re trying to impress your date or your parents.


Chilangos is a cozy cantina that’s been around for more than 20 years, and it’s the kind of restaurant where the owners always greet you at the door. Generally, it’s just a great place for a relaxing dinner after a long, active day. If it’s nice out, grab a patio table and order a margarita and some verduras en escabeche to start before digging into the cochinita pibil roasted in banana leaves or a gooey quesadilla with hibiscus.

With pothos dangling from the rafters and a tap list chock-full of local beers, Bayberry is a modern beer hall that’s lowkey enough for a quiet Thursday evening, but also ramps up for a real Friday night out. Order a frothy pilsner (or anything else on tap), a housemade pretzel with beer cheese, and a chicken schnitzel sandwich with curry aioli. If you don’t want to share one of the community tables, booking a reservation might get you a cozy nook.

If you want the best polenta and meatballs in the state, go on a short drive outside the city to Mike’s. It’s a cash-only, cafeteria-style spot inside a Veteran of Foreign Wars outpost where you’ll probably hear lots of tales about “the old days” and a cacophony of Rhode Island accents. You might also make a few friends who’ll give you more tips on what to do while you’re in town, like where to find the non-touristy beaches (e.g., Barrington Beach in Barrington and Blue Beach in North Kingstown).

But the best part about Mike’s is the polenta: a custardy, creamy square topped with gravy (a.k.a red sauce) and a big meatball or Italian sausage. The fried smelts with pickled peppers are also worth ordering.

Come to Durk’s to kick back with a glass of the rotating house punch (likely made with whiskey or bourbon) and a damn good brisket sandwich loaded with fall-apart meat and charred jalapenos and onions. While barbecue is the main draw here, Durk’s pierogi are downright excellent: they’re plush and oniony, the dough has just the right amount of chew, and bits of smoked pastrami are scattered on top because, yes, they smoke meat here. They have sidewalk seating when it gets warm, so you can watch fancy folks strutting into Gracie’s as you dab barbecue sauce from your mouth and take another bite of your smoked meatloaf sandwich.

Since this is Rhode Island and you’re only a few miles from water at all times, you don’t have to drive to the beach to get your fresh seafood. Case in point: Dune Brothers, a seafood shack plopped squarely downtown that’s great for a quick lunch. 

But what to choose—the creamy white chowder and three honking big fried clam cakes, or a crackling hunk of fried fish with a potato chip crust? You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but what really gets us hungry is the crab roll: Jonah crab is mixed with just the right amount of mayo and a shake of Old Bay, allowing the sweet, flaky meat to shine. It’s a sleeper hit that pairs well with a cold ‘Gansett (for out-of-staters, that’s Narragansett beer), or even a locally made Yacht Club soda. After ordering, walk across the shell-strewn patio and grab a picnic table to fork your fried fish on the premises.

Bring a date to Den Den Cafe Asiana, and they’ll fall in love with you over the chicken karaage. Bring your parents here on family weekend, and they might want to visit you more than you’d like. Bring anyone here, really, and you’ll win their admiration, love, affection, and all of the above. Everything on the menu is stellar, with flaky kimchi pancakes, umami-laden kimbap, and deep-fried mushrooms stuffed with spicy tuna. Settle into a cozy corner in the warm brick interior, enjoy your food, and watch the RISD kids float in and out.


Amy’s is within walking (or biking) distance from downtown, and it’s worth the scenic jaunt over the pedestrian bridge to get a breakfast sandwich and a smoothie or coffee to fuel your day. In our search for the best breakfast sandwich in the state, Amy’s is a top contender with the Hash it Out: it’s got egg, it’s got cheddar, it’s got a crispy hash brown, it’s got spicy mayo, and most importantly, it’s got a sweet, Portuguese bolo bun holding it all together. Clutch a dirty chai in your other hand as you devour it, and we promise you you’ll have a great day. Order ahead since the line gets long, and seeing everyone else enjoying their food might make you hangry.

Tallulah’s has long been one of the best places in town to grab a burrito. The glossy tortillas are packed tight with beans, rice, and tender meat (or papas, if you want to go meatless). The same goes for the tacos or tortas, both of which are stuffed, completely messy, and really good.

While you could take your order to go for a picnic at nearby India Point Park, they do have limited outdoor seating during warmer months where you can drink some house margaritas or agua frescas on the patio. They also recently opened a location on Sims Ave, so you can eat inside their new-ish space or wander around the Farm Fresh building and check out the farmers market.

Head to this cash-only spot when you’re looking for a quick bánh mì for lunch or something to bring to nearby Roger Williams Park for a picnic. The light, crispy-but-chewy house bread that bookends the Vietnamese sandwich is worth the crumbfest, and all the filling options are great, though we’re partial to the sticky sweet barbecue pork. Specials like brisket bánh mì pop up here and there, so keep an eye on the chef's Instagram.

We love pepperoncini. Sandwich Hut loves pepperoncini. Therefore, we love Sandwich Hut. This spot in Hope is one of the best places in Providence to get an Italian sub. Our favorite, the Allitalia, comes stacked with prosciutto, capocollo (a.k.a. gabagool), pepperoni, and, of course, a whole bunch of crinkly neon-green pepperoncini. It’s a takeout joint, so accept the fact that you might get oil and crumbs all over you as you house that thing during a scenic afternoon walk on nearby Blackstone Boulevard.

This breezy cafe located near Brown University serves up teas from across Asia, in addition to cocktails, natural wine, fun iced and hot drink creations, and snacks. The best way to experience the breadth and depth of their offerings is to take part in a tea ceremony. This requires a special reservation that gets you an intimate tasting experience led by a tea apprentice, and doubles as a calming break from the swarms of tourists visiting Thayer Street and Brown. But if you’re just looking to switch up your morning caffeine routine, you can still stop by and order a cup of tea, or perhaps an iced strawberry matcha latte with a giant gummy bear.

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